They sense — and Woody and Friedman sense with a different reaction — that the Culture Wars are turning. It’s partly the Tea Parties, but it’s more than that. It’s the zeitgeist. The times, they are definitely a-changin’. Liberalism, as we have known it for decades, is on the defensive. With the welfare state unsustainable, it has nowhere to turn and its adherents are turning tail in every direction. They are mad and they are, in many cases, unmoored. Lifetime ideologies are beginning to crumble. Personality constructs are at risk.
I think the problems in Greece and the rest of Europe might be the last nail in the coffin of cradle-to-grave government intervention in the economy. It shows that you can't retire at 50 with an 90% pension and keep the model going hoping that some other guy pays the taxes for it. People riot and bank workers are burned to death when that happens.
One of the cornerstones of liberalism is that the government can take care of you economically. That model failed in Greece, as well as in California, and Illinois. What is worse people are actually realizing the real reason that the model is failing is that the government spends too much on worthless crap. They don't want to be be taxed any more because they know that extra money will simply be spent to prop up a union or bail-out someone that is not them.
They also see that workers unions pretty much cut unfair sweetheart deals and are bailed out if they can't pay for their largess. These unions can run auto makers into the ground, beat up black people, and terrorize the children of bankers and they are applauded by the people in charge.
They have been given the power to run their model and it seems that only about 30% of the people are actually supporting them. They thought Obama becoming President gave them a mandate to create a European Socialist state. Then the whole idea of the European Socialist state with their green jobs, their huge pensions, and their free health care collapsed when nobody wanted to lend them any more money.
Then you have the added humiliation that the oil spill is causing them. The idea that the all-powerful government is powerless while a private corporation is doing everything it can to fix a problem must be galling. The calls for the government "to take over" would actually make the disaster worse since they have no idea how to cap a leak a mile under the ocean. The whole idea that they need to drill a mile down was because guys like Woody Allen do not want them to drill in shallower water and mess up the view from their million dollar mansions.
All the government can do is "put the boot on the neck" of BP and hope for the best. Hated big oil is the only people that can prevent a slow motion disaster and all the "giant brains" in the White House and Congress can do is watch and pound the table. No amount of wealth redistribution or "windfall profits taxes" or even the nationalization of the oil industry will get that well capped. That is powerlessness.