The credibility trap is an idea from Jesse's Cafe Americain. The problem of nothing possibly changing is widespread in our current political climate. If Obama has served any purpose, it is to hammer home to the fools, "haha, nothing changes, even the minority progressive reformers are our puppets". The trap is defined in shorter form here in this statement.
A credibility trap is a condition wherein the financial, political and informational functions of a society have been compromised by corruption and fraud, so that the leadership cannot effectively reform, or even honestly address, the problems of that system without impairing and implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure, including themselves.You are corrupt enough to be let into the club, and by being dirty, will not expose any corruption. This is why the courts are not prosecuting, and regulatory capture makes our government agencies toothless. Fiat profits and paper wealth still has to find a home, so the credibility trap is lined with honey. As Jesse notes, it is often ended through an external force. War can do this, and so can sudden drops in living standards. The lies get swept away, and the rotten truth is left for all to see. New order forms.
This entire game is set up because of the conditions for the trap being set over 30 years ago. The US economy needed to either take its lumps, buckle down cost-wise and get more competitive, or it could try the FIRE economy route. We went with FIRE. Roughly at the same time, corporations realized they needed to spend money to grease wheels and elect politicians to fight back against government reach, especially the EPA. Money helped ideological allies against government interference on the Right. This scared the Old Left's mandarins like Bob Strauss, the Republican turned Democrats they had picked up in the late '60s and '70s, businesses friendly with the Left and some white politicians fearful of being junked by the New Left. The DLC helped the Dems take back the White House, and Robert Rubin showed the fear of losing an election could swing policy to Wall Streets way. Eventually the rest of the business world saw the Left could play ball.
Yet that is not the whole story. How does it get to that point? We have a voting system that assigns power to different interest groups. We also created with the 1932 election the idea that if there is something wrong with the economy, the government is obligated to help. Hoover himself bought into it, and was doing FDR's same pump priming during his one failed term. A growing economy became the obsession and yardstick for how presidents were measured. Banks just dominate now because of the FIRE economy's ascendancy, the tax game and winner take all markets skew to concentration on top of concentration of wealth, and FIRE being bipartisan versus the productive economy, which skews to the right in donations.
Yes, we need to break up JPM and Citigroup. Yes, we need a new political system. We also need a new economy. We also need a new way to measure our societal health. Life is not just maximizing shareholder wealth for a rigged stock market nor expanding GDP through debt issuance. It's all we have though as nearly all other social measures decline. Few even discuss other ways, but the SJWs do. An alternative measure and society to aspire to is definitely not the social justice warrior's dream world. The credibility trap will exist until exhaustion, destruction or a new system is dreamed up that gives enough people incentive to change. Forget the media dominated conversation on gender or race, this is the conversation we need to be having.