Arab spring. Israeli street sit-ins. UK looting.
What has happened of late? People on the ground seem to be rejecting longstanding situations - sometimes in vivid ways.
Here in SA, we hear much comment about how "outrageous" it is for a worker on say one or two thousand rand a month to want more than a CPI-indexed payrise. That system would put him on a compound earmings trajectory of say 4-6% per year. And yet we can also hear how marvellous it is for an executive on maybe several millions per month to get pay rises and share options etc all compounding to give her/him a high-based trajectory of around 20% - and often a tax rate of low teens (if CGT predominates) or some years zero (if dividends do). Who is being outrageous here?
Maybe the better question is - How long can this go on?
And all the talk of job creation - surely that is an unhelpful word, implying that some can do a Godlike wandwave, whereby jobs will appear in a flash of smokey light. Employment typically grows when there is an increase in small business activity. Small enterprises are more vigorous hirers (no "creation" by realists). Big business - the large enterprises who get so much airtime at Davos and similar talkfarms - are generally better at firing!
So yes, maybe change is due. The story below highlights how the debate is both vigorous and global:-
Belgian executive lockup
Belgian workers kept six executives of world steel giant ArcelorMittal locked up in their office for more than 24 hours until Tuesday over union demands for the reopening of blast furnaces. The managers were allowed to leave their fourth-floor office in the southern city of Liege on Tuesday afternoon after angry workers holding a protest had prevented them from leaving since Monday morning.
Unions decided to let them go after a "rocky meeting" during which some workers wanted to keep the executives sequestered, David Camerini, an official of Christian Union (CSC), told AFP. One of the executives, Etienne Botton, said they were kept in "terrible" conditions. "We had to sleep on the floor and were woken up regularly," Botton said. "Yesterday, we ordered pizzas but the boxes were empty when they arrived." The executives were not physically attacked and were able to eat Tuesday morning, he added.
Camerini said the unions decided to release the executives to prevent tensions from rising but they would continue strikes at ArcelorMittal in Liege, where 3,000 people are employed by the group. Unions want the company to restart activity at two blast furnaces and keep 300 interim workers employed.
Arcelor Mittal wants to keep only 200 workers at the furnaces and said it would only return to the negotiating table when the executives in Liege are freed.
Based in Luxembourg, ArcelorMittal is run by Indian chairman and chief executive Lakshmi Mittal.