Sunday, November 13, 2016

Class Resentment, Manufacturing and Higher Education

Here's the single most trenchant article written about the voting results.  It's concise and worth your time.  If you only have five minutes to spare, skip the rest of this blog and read that article instead.

Another good article, if you have the time, on the mind of the citizens who cast their vote for Obama is 2008 and for Trump in 2016 is this one.  Can Trump bring back lost, or save threatened, manufacturing jobs?

The article suggests that if he doesn't do so, he is on thin ice:

In interviews in recent days and in March, Trump voters here made clear that if he does not follow through on his promises, they are prepared to turn on him, just as they are seemingly punishing Democrats today for not delivering the hope and change voters sought from President Obama after he won as an outsider in 2008.

Further, throwing up tariff walls as Trump has suggested he might do (withdrawing from NAFTA, axing TPP, etc.) might not really solve the problem.  Emphases added mine:

As president, however, Mr. Trump will face a tough balance. Tariffs and trade wars stand to hurt American workers who make products that are exported to Mexico or China. Few voters will be happy paying more for imported goods.

And regardless of who is in the Oval Office, manufacturers are seeing relentless pressure, from investors and rival companies, to automate, replacing workers with machines that do not break down or require health benefits and pension plans. Wall Street hedge fund managers are demanding steadily rising earnings from Carrier’s parent, United Technologies, even as growth remains sluggish worldwide.

As always it is worth reading what Dean Baker has to say about the subject.  He touches on labor's recuperation, and how the Fed could undo it with an interest rate hike.  (I wish I had more time to get into intra-Republican bickering over the Fed today, but that's a whole post on its own.)

If Trump can't bring back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt as he has suggested he will do, one alternative might be to provide the unemployed with a college education, which has been proven to raise lifetime wealth.

The higher education plan that Donald Trump has floated is subject to change, but you can read about it here.  It places significant emphasis on training more engineers and fewer liberal arts grads.  On the one hand, you'd think this would produce a generation better geared to build "real things" rather than just discuss Plato.  On the other hand, that point of view might not hold up when scrutinized.  Either way, it would take a generation to see how this plays out.

I think we should all hope that Trump's infrastructure plans, and plans to return solid middle class jobs to America, work out.  We will find out if they will over the course of the next few years.  In addition to withdrawing from NAFTA and erecting tariff walls generally, he is going to have to find a way to grapple with automation, and the pressures shareholders place on manufacturers based in the United States to let their manufacturing workers go and replace them with machines.

On a more personal level, I just heard from a Trump-supporting relative that, based on this blog, I was "mad at the wrong people."  He then admitted that he hadn't read the blog because it was too long.  About 50% of Americans read on a daily basis to keep up with current events and around 36% read on a daily basis for pleasure, if this study is to be believed. 

I'm off to watch the Jets decisively not make America great again.  Have a wonderful day.

No comments:

Post a Comment