We're in the greatest economic crisis in 80 years. Thousands of jobs are being shed daily. There seems to be no reason to hold out any hope whatsoever that the economy is going to pick up anytime soon.

You'd think that all this news, being fed to us constantly via TV, the Web and by text messages, would begin to have an effect on the way people conduct their daily lives.

But, as far as I've been able to tell, it hasn't. People are certainly aware of the crisis, and they're monitoring events closely, but they haven't yet made the leap to panic.

Most of the people I know were struggling before the start of the depression; they remain struggling today and are, more likely than not, going to continue to struggle no matter what happens with the broader U.S. economy.

So they rightfully conclude that they're not going to be outraged by the fact that a formerly wealthy person has been shoved onto the same economic plateau as them - unless, of course, said wealthy person is a friend, relative or benefactor.

Given that outlook, there seems to be a palpable air of liberation and contentment in the spirits of the middle- and lower-middle class people I encounter - including myself.

On a scale of one to 10, where one represents total societal harmony and 10 equals an all-out guerrilla civil war being waged in the streets of our major cities, we've moved from about a three during the Clinton years to about six or seven now.

Partisans on each side of this conflict are strengthening their bases and ramping up the activities of the crime syndicates under their control. On one end, you have the billion-dollar swindles by Madoff and others and on the other, urban street gangs, who commit a very large percentage of violent crime, according to new FBI statistics.

The rest of that spectrum - that is to say, 80 percent or more of the population - are stuck in the middle. And most of us seem relatively unconcerned.

For some reason or another, the prospect of this future doesn't seem to be causing too much worry, at least yet, among the population at large.

Some of this, but certainly not all of it, comes from the fact that Barack Obama is living in the White House. But it's more than that, I think. I think there has long been a feeling of resignation and indifference to the fact that modern American life was not designed with our best interests in mind.

The deck has been stacked against the average Joe for many years now. The wealthiest among us are just now starting to feel the economic and social pain that long ago became the norm during the Bush Administration.

There's also a sense of expectation for some sort of cataclysmic event to happen, an event that might possibly be good but is much more likely to be bad. Everybody knows that the country can't continue on this pace for too many more years longer before everything starts to break down: our social systems, the rule of law and any notion of civility towards each other.

Obama's greatest accomplishment would be to restore faith in our government and to give Americans hope for a better future. But forces are aligned against him, just as they are for the common man and woman.

There can be no doubt that the conservative media will do everything in their power to obstruct any effort at national reconciliation, so the president will have to do it alone, while the vast majority of his constituents sit back and await something, anything, to happen.


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