The Winter Of Our Economic Discontent

Your Cover Story "Economic Anxiety" (Mar. 11) purported to provide readers with a "framework for thinking about the issues--and some suggestions." Sadly, we're still waiting. The chief culprit behind working America's "economic anxiety" isn't globalization, corporate restructuring, or technological change. It's class warfare--the successful campaign of the class that owns U.S. society and holds the bulk of its financial assets against the class that doesn't.

The single most honest statement in the story's 13-odd pages was the one attributed to William Bessemen, a former employee of an office-supply firm: "People at the top are stealing from people at the bottom." And the business press has led the cheers every step of the way.

David Peterson

Evergreen Park, Ill.

Your article discussed almost every "cause" of the current economic discontent--except the role of competence, personal initiative, and individual responsibility. For two-thirds of employees, real wages are flat to down, but the other one-third are doing significantly better. They have not been economic victims of these macro forces. What are they doing differently?

Those suffering from economic anxiety tend to be passive and expect to be taken care of by larger institutions. Politicians and the media are reinforcing these characteristics, thus adding to their frustrations. Passive and dependent workers are now floundering in a new, more competitive job market focused on individual accountability, capability, and productivity. Understandably, they feel powerless and anxious. Instead of being victims, people should acquire new attitudes and skills that will enable them to prosper and reduce their economic anxiety as they adjust to new realities. Looking for scapegoats and economic villains in the current macro arena will only add to their economic anxiety.

Robert B. Hermanson

Economics Professor

Western Washington University

Bellingham, Wash.

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