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Capital Mobility and Trumpism

[ 223 ] March 19, 2016 |

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As I have been saying throughout the election season, the collapse of the working class thanks to capital mobility is going a long way to feed Donald Trump’s popularity.

The fuzzy video, shot by a worker on the floor of a Carrier factory here in the American heartland last month, captured the raging national debate over trade and the future of the working class in 3 minutes 32 seconds.

“This is strictly a business decision,” a Carrier executive tells employees, describing how their 1,400 jobs making furnaces and heating equipment will be sent to Mexico. Workers there typically earn about $19 a day — less than what many on the assembly line here make in an hour. As boos and curses erupt from the crowd, the executive says, “Please quiet down.”

What came next was nothing of the kind.

Within hours of being posted on Facebook, the video went viral. Three days after Carrier’s Feb. 10 announcement, Donald J. Trump seized on the video in a Republican presidential debate and made Carrier’s move to Mexico a centerpiece of his stump speeches attacking free trade.

In fact, many Carrier workers here say that it was not so much Mr. Trump’s nativist talk on illegal immigrants or his anti-Muslim statements that has fired them up. Instead, it was hearing a leading presidential candidate acknowledging just how much economic ground they’ve lost — and promising to do something about it.

Mr. Trump has repudiated decades of G.O.P. support for free trade, calling for heavy tariffs on Mexican-made goods from the likes of Carrier. This has helped put him within arm’s reach of the Republican nomination.

Opposition to trade deals has also galvanized supporters of Mr. Sanders, helping him unexpectedly win the Michigan Democratic primary this month. At the same time, it has forced his rival Hillary Clinton to distance herself from trade agreements she once supported, like the proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 deal with Mexico that is an important part of President Bill Clinton’s political legacy.

Exit polls after the Michigan primary , for example, showed that a clear majority of both Republican and Democratic voters believe international trade costs the American economy more jobs than it creates.

Nicole Hargrove, a 14-year Carrier worker, said she was an undecided voter and was uncomfortable with Mr. Trump’s attacks on immigrants, particularly Mexicans. “But I’d like to turn him loose on the financial world,” she said. “Maybe if Carrier had to pay more to bring stuff in, they’d think twice about moving jobs out.”

Mark Weddle, 55, started work at Carrier 24 years ago and earns $21 an hour running a machine that makes heat exchangers. “I have two brothers-in-law from Mexico,” he said, explaining why he disagrees with Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant stance.

But when it comes to Carrier, “we’ve all worked our butts off,” he said. “And now they’re going to throw us under the bus? If Trump will kick Carrier’s ass, then I’ll vote for him.”

That’s pretty much what Mr. Trump has threatened to do. At rally after rally, to rapturous crowds, he vows to impose a 35 percent tax on Carrier products from Mexico. Then, the laugh line: “I want to do this myself, but it is so unpresidential to call up Carrier.”

And Mr. Trump vows not to take Carrier’s calls until it agrees to change course. “As sure as you’re here, they will call me up within 24 hours,” he promises, and say to him, “‘Sir, we’ve decided to stay in the United States.’”

Consistently in the comments of this blog, people wave away these connections or say it is an acceptable cost to pay for global capitalism. Well, maybe. But you have to live with the political consequences of a declining working class. And while people may support dreamy ideas like Universal Basic Income or more politically possible ideas that would help around the margins like an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, none of these things are happening now while all the manufacturing jobs are in fact disappearing. And whether that is because of capital mobility or it is because automation, we have zero concrete plans on what to do with millions of working class people. At best, we might give slight subsidies to retraining programs for careers that pay less and may not have a future anyway. At worst, we start drug testing for people who get on public assistance or slash those programs to nothing anyway.

The doctrine of unrestricted free trade has been basically bipartisan for many decades now. But no one ever thought hard enough about what this would look like when all the manufacturing jobs were gone. We are now finding out. This opens the door to demagogues taking advantage of what is worst about the United States–xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, political violence, strongmen, intimidating journalists, fascism. When you give working Americans no good options, we might think they would turn to socialism. And a few have, as the Sanders campaigns demonstrates. But without widespread leftist organizing in working-class communities, which in working-class white communities largely does not exist, the appeal of racial and class prejudice added to the appeal of seeing someone tell off the forces that have doomed them to stagnation and poverty, that’s very powerful. That’s the Trump voter. Unless we do something for working-class Americans, even if Trump is defeated this year, the door is open for more demagogues and political violence in the near future.

The question is what to do about it. The answer has to be, in part, jobs that pay well and allow people to live dignified, upwardly mobile or at least stable lives. And for proponents of unrestricted capital mobility and extreme globalization, they simply have no answer on how to do this. We as a nation are reaping the results of their indifference.

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  1. Funkhauser says:

    Hmm… maybe we should build more casinos to attract tourists, then all the former Carrier employees can get jobs as dealers and waitresses.

    And then instead of fleeing that town, politicians can sit back and grow fat off kickbacks and slush funds.

    On a serious note, good post.

  2. Can’t we just demonize the entire white working class so we can keep our upper-middle-class consciences clear as they’re liquidated?

    • N__B says:

      I swear I first read that as “Can’t we just liquidate the entire white working class…”

      • That’s already happening on its on.

        The question is, can we come up with a enough excuses to debate about whether they’ve got it coming to paralyze ourselves long enough for the project to be brought to completion.

        • N__B says:

          Of course we can. Fortunately, the number of people here who want to seems small. Unfortauenyl,m the number of people in general who want to seems to be big.

          Besides, the one Eastwoodism I quote is applicable here: We’ve all got it coming.

        • libarbarian says:

          I’d say the question is “can we come up with a enough excuses for why they are in such a hateful rage to paralyze ourselves long enough for their project to be brought to completion?”

          When a wild beast gets loose, first you stop it from wrecking shit and then you focus on who made it and how you keep it from happening again.

          • Right, liberbarian, because no one here can manage to speak out against Trumpism.

            joefromlowell.wordpress.com

            We’re all just paralyzed, unless we’re demonizing the entire working class.

            Animals. Nice. No one has ever used collective guilt or imagery of dangerous animals against a class of people they want to target.

          • Has it ever occurred to you how much you sound like people who Don’t Want To Hear It about the sources of Islamism, and want to indiscriminately put That “dangerous animal” down first?

            • Roberta says:

              Social justice is only for noble victims, apparently. Victims who react in the all-too-human way of finding people lower down the totem pole to kick can just go to hell.

              • I remember seeing any number of instances, when I hung out on the Reason blog, of libertarians throwing high levels of anti-immigrant sentiment among Africn-Americans is my face when discussing issues of economic need within American inner cities. It never once occurred to me to treat that seriously as a reason not to worry about the problem.

      • John Revolta says:

        We can hire half the working class to kill the other half!

        • Colin Day says:

          Jay Gould should have studied the Peasants’ War. One noble wanted to kill all of the peasants, but another replied that in such a case, who would do the work?

  3. Shakezula says:

    Walter Russel Mead has a solution:

    Change the zoning laws.

  4. Derelict says:

    But no one ever thought hard enough about what this would look like when all the manufacturing jobs were gone.

    Maybe he didn’t think it through in a serious enough way to satisfy the intellectuals, but Ross Perot certainly predicted the future ably enough. The jobs most definitely did leave, and an employment vacuum has been left behind.

    As for what to do about it? In the short term, we could do a whole lot worse than hiring hundreds of thousands of people to fix our infrastructure. That, at least, would constitute an investment in America while lifting many out of poverty, and maybe giving us some political room and time to think about a real long-term solution.

    • Lester Freamon's Tweedy Impertinence says:

      I’ve thought for a long time that what we need is to bring back the CCC and the WPA. In fact, I really wish the stimulus had been mostly that.

      It seems like something that even wingers should be on board with (the poor ones, not the elites).
      What am I missing?
      ETA-besides racism. Which is probably, definitely it. The irrationality of human beings makes me despair sometimes.

      • JonH says:

        Wingers would demonize it as a union ploy. “You get people into a new CCC or WPA, and they’ll be roped into a union, then we’ll never get rid of ’em!”

      • We can’t afford it what with the money earmarked for RE-building the military (it’s only equal to the rest of the world combined, it should be greater than that) and more tax cuts for the wealthy.*

        *we even have to make Mexico pay for our motherfucking useless boondoggle of a wall on the border.

      • Phil Perspective says:

        It seems like something that even wingers should be on board with (the poor ones, not the elites). What am I missing?

        That the rich can’t make any money off of it? What do you think is behind David Cameron’s attempt to privatize the NHS? Or the rich’s attempt to privatize pretty much any public service? Why do you think it’s so hard to get Medicare-for-All here?

        • Lester Freamon's Tweedy Impertinence says:

          No shit? Rich people really do that stuff?

          I live in Wichita. I personally know people who work for the Koch brothers. Sam motherfucking Brownback is the fucking governor of my state. I know about fucking rich people and what assholes they are.

          The part of my post -that you quoted- that said, “not the elites” was intended to indicate that I have a rudimentary understanding of regulatory capture and the insidious effects of concentrated wealth. I’d hoped for something rather more insightful than, “rich people won’t like it”, but thanks anyway.

        • Brett says:

          Unless you route the program through private companies. That’s almost certainly something that could happen in the US, particularly in the conservative states – the government as subsidized labor contractor for private firms, either by offering them subsidies per worker hired or something else.

          It’s something I worry about.

      • galanx says:

        Why would they be on board with that? They hate/d the originals.

    • Mike G says:

      Perot at the time had substantial real estate interests in a free trade zone near DFW which would have been harmed by NAFTA.

      I worked for his IT company years ago and they had major outsourcing operations in India. He could talk a good line of BS but his corporation’s treatment of employees was as dirty as Wal-Mart.

    • Brad Nailer says:

      What? Paying ourselves a trillion dollars of our own money to fix our own infrastructure? It’s madness, I tell you, madness!

  5. humanoid.panda says:

    I totally on board with more and better jobs (I believe the path there includes making service job middle class and not pining for manufacturing jobs that are not coming back, but that’s a side point). However, 1972 was way before capital mobility, or outsourcing, or the free trade agreements, or China were a thing, and George Wallace seems to have mastered about the same 25%-33% of the body politic that Trump does..

    • Erik Loomis says:

      However, 1972 was way before capital mobility,

      No it wasn’t. Capital mobility was already near full swing by then. Millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared in the 1970s. What gets overrated in this narrative is NAFTA.

      • tsam says:

        Do you think that was a natural progression from WWII? I’m picturing it starting with the Marshall Plan, and all the American corporations that had ramped up production for the war (like Singer Sewing Machine, who made weapons). This expanded production, about a million GIs were coming home and needed jobs, then a baby boom, drastically increasing demand on consumer goods, the invention of the television…

        The overarching premise here is that as a matter of self preservation in post war America, we had to lower some trade barriers and seek out new markets, and that’s still going on today, except that we fucked up along the way and decided that regulation of trade was bad for the corporations who own the government the economy.

        What say ye?

        • Erik Loomis says:

          It really goes back to FDR on the national policy front, who hoped that quite a bit of steel production would move to Latin America in order to build the Good Neighbor Policy.

          Of course apparel companies were seeking to move out of New England by the 1890s to avoid unions.

          • tsam says:

            How did international trade work before that? (I know I’m asking questions that need more than a comment to answer, but I’m genuinely curious)

            • Davis X. Machina says:

              How did it work? That never had one answer.

              Trade was a massive issue in UK politics, and major parties split over free trade, preferential Commonwealth tariffs, and such — and more than once.

              A customs union (Zollverein) was one of the key stops along the way to a united Germany.

              And 19th century national-level politics in this country was about tariffs and trades whenever it wasn’t about slavery.

            • LeoFromChicago says:

              How did international trade work before that?

              Tariff of Abominations?

            • galanx says:

              Whichever country is Top Dog in manufacturing at the time supports Free Trade, while other countries put up barriers to industrialise themselves, and economists tsk, tsk, and point to Ricardo on port wine and wool to explain why Brazil should have concentrated only on rubber and Argentina only on beef.

            • Manju says:

              How did international trade work before that?

              I’m not sure that it did work to any substantial degree at that time.

              Paul Krugman:

              Given this lack of other opportunities, you could hire workers in Jakarta or Manila for a pittance. But in the mid-’70s, cheap labor was not enough to allow a developing country to compete in world markets for manufactured goods. The entrenched advantages of advanced nations–their infrastructure and technical know-how, the vastly larger size of their markets and their proximity to suppliers of key components, their political stability and the subtle-but-crucial social adaptations that are necessary to operate an efficient economy–seemed to outweigh even a tenfold or twentyfold disparity in wage rates.

            • Manju says:

              Krugman ballparks it around the late 70’s:

              And then something changed. Some combination of factors that we still don’t fully understand–lower tariff barriers, improved telecommunications, cheaper air transport–reduced the disadvantages of producing in developing countries. (Other things being the same, it is still better to produce in the First World–stories of companies that moved production to Mexico or East Asia, then moved back after experiencing the disadvantages of the Third World environment, are common.) In a substantial number of industries, low wages allowed developing countries to break into world markets. And so countries that had previously made a living selling jute or coffee started producing shirts and sneakers instead.

          • tsam says:

            Good Neighbor Policy.

            HAHA DEMOCRAT FECKLESS FOREIGN POLICY

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          Your mention of WW2 is apt. With the whole of Europe and Japan a clusterfuck, of course US manufacturing would do well. We couldn’t not do well.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          I need to rephrase my initial statement: capital mobility was a thing in 1972, but its most prominent manifestation were migration of capital from cities to suburbs, and from Northeast and Midwest to South and Southwest. And of course, suburbs and the South were Wallace’s stronghold.

      • Barry_D says:

        “No it wasn’t. Capital mobility was already near full swing by then. Millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared in the 1970s. What gets overrated in this narrative is NAFTA.”

        IIRC, Detroit started de-industrializing in the late 1950’s.

        • Linnaeus says:

          Yes, Sugrue discusses that in Origins of the Urban Crisis.

          • Ronan says:

            Is sugrue still the best book to read on Detroit’s economic decline , or do you know have there been any decent, more up to date books on the topic?

            • Linnaeus says:

              An urban history specialist may know more, but I think that Sugrue’s book is still the best and a good first (academic) read on Detroit’s decline. A couple of other slightly more recent books are Heather Ann Thompson, Whose Detroit? and Holzer, et al, Detroit Divided.

              Several books have come out more recently (Detroit: A Biography, Detroit City is the Place to Be, Detroit: An American Autopsy, etc.) and they are good reads, but they are written as personal or journalistic retrospectives that are contextualized within Detroit’s recent history. They’re entertaining and even informative, so they’re worth a look, but they’re not rigorously historical or sociological.

    • humanoid.panda says:

      The mistake that Erick is making, IMO, is that he thinks you can somehow separate the productive “wheat”- the economic grievances of Trump supporters, from the “chaff”- their dislike of brown people and, to lesser extent, empowered women. The problem is that, in their own mind, the two problems are inseparable.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        I don’t think you can separate those things at all. The loss of jobs is not the only reason for Trumpism. But it is a major contributing factor.

        In a related note, I am consistently frustrated by how people, including commenters on this blog, so often say say people do or say things for ONE reason. They do things for many reasons. Multivariance is a thing.

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          I’m coining your phrase “Multivariance is a thing”…Cultural anxiety, according to multiple people, is the leading answer though. And the numbers support such a story.

          On the question of trade deals, Trump is offering a right-wing nationalist spin on a backlash against elite-led globalization that’s mostly been associated with the political left in the United States. Both Trump fans and, for separate reasons, labor union leaders would like you to believe that Trump could ride this growing tide of anti-trade sentiment all the way to the White House.

          But Gallup historical data strongly suggests there isn’t a growing tide of anti-trade sentiment to ride.

          Given all the outraged hate at Trump’s rallies, I’m inclined to go with the cultural factors. A large class of white Republicans is scared to death that the Dems want to Sharia-law gay marry them to a big Latino guy named Noriega.

          • libarbarian says:

            Bingo.

            If you could redo the last 20 years and leave the trade story the same but radically reduce the levels of immigration from what actually happened, then you would not have this outburst.

            This is as much about the appearance of brown people as the disappearance of jobs.

            I know this because I live in Trump country but in a city with a growing tech sector. There is plenty of support for him among middle class and up whites who are comfortably employed but have lived here their whole lives and don’t like the way the place is “changing”.

            The biggest predictor of trump support is their exposure to other countries and cultures. The less they have the more they like trump

            • Brien Jackson says:

              This is something that’s been recognized by political science for years as well: As white voters are presented with information of the shrinking share of white people in the general and voting populations, they become more conservative in their answers to subsequent questions.

          • But why would you limit your consideration to the tiny number of people who attend Donald Trump rallies? Most people are not highly-committed political partisans with fully-realized political visions. I’m sure that what you say is true of the committed Trump activist, but people like Nicole Hargrove, the undecided voter mentioned in the article, are many times more common in our society than committed political partisans.

          • Jackov says:

            You know what else those Gallup numbers support?

            there’s also no sign of a generalized backlash
            against foreigners moving here

            Notice the consistent 20-30 point gap in ‘favorability’ of trade between those with college degrees and high school graduates. It is almost like the overall numbers on trade and immigration tell us very little about the views of the outliers.

        • One-trick ponies do their trick because they get something for it. “Race not class” is a play for power within the Democratic Party.

          • ChrisTS says:

            I’m really not aware of anyone who says ‘race not class’ among liberals.

            Most liberals are at least somewhat aware of intersectional analysis. I think what you are referencing, here, is that some people are rejecting what they hear as ‘class not race.’

      • Nicole Hargrove, a 14-year Carrier worker, said she was an undecided voter and was uncomfortable with Mr. Trump’s attacks on immigrants, particularly Mexicans. “But I’d like to turn him loose on the financial world,” she said. “Maybe if Carrier had to pay more to bring stuff in, they’d think twice about moving jobs out.”

        Mark Weddle, 55, started work at Carrier 24 years ago and earns $21 an hour running a machine that makes heat exchangers. “I have two brothers-in-law from Mexico,” he said, explaining why he disagrees with Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant stance.

        But when it comes to Carrier, “we’ve all worked our butts off,” he said. “And now they’re going to throw us under the bus? If Trump will kick Carrier’s ass, then I’ll vote for him.”

        • Brien Jackson says:

          Yeah, they’re totally uncomfrotable with the racist, which is why they’re cool with the billionaire businessman who pals around with the other billionaires. Because there isn’t another candidate anywhere in the race who is saying mean things about Wall Street and outsourcing.

          • tsam says:

            I’ve never understood how someone could be comfortable with fascist racism and tribalism. What in the fuck makes people think they couldn’t easily end up on the business end of that shit in a single minute?

            • humanoid.panda says:

              It’s because, while the people interviewed here claim they are not racist, I’d wager good dollars that if someone would interview them in a structured way, they’d fall very high on the ethnic resentment scale, and there is pretty much 1:1 correlation betwen high ethnic resentment scale and voting for Trump…

              • tsam says:

                Right, but when we’re cheering for mass deportations (which WILL lead to mass killings–they always have before), how does a person not understand that they could be next? I mean–do they REALLY think they know the motives of the demagogues so well that they’re willing to take that risk?

                • Barry_D says:

                  ” I mean–do they REALLY think they know the motives of the demagogues so well that they’re willing to take that risk?”

                  Yes, they think so. Note some of the rhetoric around Trump. These guys look at a blowhard billionaire who has a habit of walking away from deals with money in his pocket (and everybody else broke), and want to give him massive power over the US economy.

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              What in the fuck makes people think they couldn’t easily end up on the business end of that shit in a single minute?

              Because they’re white men of course.

            • guthrie says:

              Lack of knowledge of history.
              Stupidity.
              Wishful thinking.
              A misguided belief that the big people have interests in common with them.

            • Jadzia says:

              Many people feel like they have been on the business end of a lot of shit since at least the 1970s.

          • So they’re all lying. You can tell. Through the Internet.

            • humanoid.panda says:

              No, but I can see public opinions polls that show that yes, ethnic resentment highly correlates with support for Trump.
              https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/03/no-ones-looking-out-for-the-white-guy-heres-what-political-science-knows-about-trumps-appeal-to-ethnic-resentment/

              Now- does that mean that every single Trump supporter is a racist? No, of course not, because America is so damn large (about half million African Americans voted for Romney in 2012..). I would however, be careful about taking statements like: I don’t mind Mexicans/have Mexican friends, etc, as a prima facie evidence that a given Trump supporter is not motivated by ethnic resentment.

              • But the question isn’t whether the people in that article have some predeliction towards unenlightened views on race. The question is whether that is what is driving their support.

                And even when they have just been thrown out of their jobs because of offshoring, even when they volunteer their discomfort with his racism as something they dislike, they’re all still just a bunch of racists driven by racism, and the economic angle is just a cover. Uh huh.

                • humanoid.panda says:

                  Newsflash: human communication is not limited to truths and lies, and sometime people delude themselves, or are reluctanct to discuss their feelings at depth with an outsider. News update at 5!

                • Roberta says:

                  Yes, people sometimes delude themselves or are reticent about their feelings. That doesn’t mean anyone’s offered evidence that racism is the driving factor for the people in the article. Or that the racism is so intertwined with economic grievances that there is no separating the two issues for any significant number of Trump supporters.

                • Newsflash: human communication is not limited to truths and lies, and sometime people delude themselves, or are reluctanct to discuss their feelings at depth with an outsider. News update at 5!

                  Is any of this supposed to make your childishly-simplistic dismissal of anything but your very favorite, fact-averse, never-changing, single-variable explanation for why people who were just thrown out of their jobs aren’t really motivated by economic insecurity?

                  Because, in context, your comment looks a lot like projection. Faced with all the uncomfortable facts about the world being more complicated than you like, you put on your snotty superior act and insist that you’re being the worldly one.

                • And once again, panda – you keep refusing to contend with this point – applying your “one drop rule” and finding any degree of ethnic resentment in this population does not, repeat does not, disprove the presence of economic motive alongside it.

              • Roberta says:

                Economic grievances also have a strong correlation with support for Trump. Including living in an area where a lot of people live in mobile homes, don’t have jobs, and and are white people without a high school diploma:

                http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/upshot/the-geography-of-trumpism.html

                I also notice the article speaks of “ethnic resentments” and not “racism.” I don’t think non-Trumpist Republicans are less racist. I do think they’re less resentful, because they’re generally doing better.

                • humanoid.panda says:

                  To clarify: I am not saying that Trump supporters don’t have economic grievances! Of course they have them. The problem is that those grievances are closely intermingled with ethnic resentment (and yes, that’s not exactly the same as racism), in a way that’s impossible to disentangle.

                • Then you have no point, or at least no point that rebuts anything Erik or I have written.

                  No one is denying the presence of ethnic resentment.

      • djw says:

        As Erik notes and Joe’s quotes re-enforce, this homogenizes Trump’s support in a way that’s not remotely helpful. For some Trump supporters, the two main motivations for supporting him are deeply and intimately intertwined; for others, less so, for still others, not really at all. We can speculate about how many are in what category, but it’ll be pretty speculative.

        • Ronan says:

          Yes, there’s more than one cause. But a post titled “capital mobility and trumpism” with lines like

          “The doctrine of unrestricted free trade has been basically bipartisan for many decades now. But no one ever thought hard enough about what this would look like when all the manufacturing jobs were gone. We are now finding out.”

          Isn’t exactly acknowledging that

        • Brien Jackson says:

          I don’t really buy this, nor do I see any convincing argument/evidence in favor of it. It really is the racism, or at the least the full-throated defense of white privilege, that primarily differentiates Trump supporters in the white working class.

    • Ronan says:

      Yeah both of these points were my instinctive reaction aswell

      Also

      http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/manufacturing-jobs-are-never-coming-back/

      I don’t know why something like a ubi is more unrealistic than a return of well paying manufacturing jobs. The ubi doesn’t have to be taken literally,it can work as a model for what the solution might look like (ie future welfare policies) should look like

      • Ronan says:

        I mean look at Sanders favourite hobby horse, Denmark. It combines High levels of trade and low job protections with an extensive welfare state. Obviously this isn’t replicable everywhere, but it’s something approaching what the solution looks like

        • ChrisTS says:

          Denmark is also very racially homogeneous.

          • Ronan says:

            I think the racial homogeneity aspect gets a little overplayed at times,but I do agree that the US can’t really become Denmark. (The most notable factor imo is size differences). I do think there are still things, despite the differences, that can be learned from seeing how different countries cope with globalisation though (particularly, for my preferences, how they developed welfare states that are generous, extensive and get people back into work )

            • Linnaeus says:

              Which is what people in the US who use countries like Denmark as examples are really saying. But that gets distorted into “you want us to become Denmark!” as a way of waving that suggestion off.

              • Mike G says:

                Whereas Republicans always compare us with some of the worst examples on earth to demonstrate how all-round awesome ‘Murica is —
                “At least you’re not working for 50c an hour like in China”
                “Our immigration policy is better than Mexico’s”
                “Ladies, at least you’re not in Saudi Arabia wearing a burka”

                Those are pretty low bars. American Exceptionalism apparently means bragging because you’re not the worst in the world. You rarely hear a Republican compare anything to Denmark, Switzerland or New Zealand.

      • The thesis of that article – manufacturing jobs vs. service/retail jobs – is based on a shoddy understanding of how the economy works.

        Manufacturing jobs are base-industry jobs, meaning that they bring capital from outside the region into the region. The manufacturing plant sells products across the country and around the world, bringing that money into the region, where the people at the plant, from the janitors to the line workers to the supervisors to the accountants to the top management, can spread it around to the local service employees.

        Service and retail enterprises, for the most part, make their money from people in the same region. They depend on there being base industries bringing in outside money. There are certainly some service enterprises that operate that way, but much less than manufacturing. For the most part, if you want to grow your service sector, you still need a lot of jobs outside of that service industry in the region.

        • Ronan says:

          Sure, but the point I was highlighting was more that independently of the costs of “capital mobility” , productivity increases and technological changes were making the politics of a return of large scale manufacturing redundant

        • brewmn says:

          I think the interim solution is to subsidise those service -industry jobs to the point where they enable a middle-class lifestyle. Middle-class people buy stuff. Things I have read suggest that manufacturing is finding America a more hospitable place for manufacturing. More people buying stuff means more demand for manufactured goods that are much more likely to be made here than twenty years ago.

          Of course it’s highly unlikely that the political status quo will ever support the subsidization that would begin that virtuous circle. But that’s largely the fault of the electorate, and anyone that thinks trump is serious about issues affecting the white working class is fooling themselves.

          • Ronan says:

            You (generally, not specific to the US) could top up low paid jobs through the welfare state, cut into some of the major costs (healthcare, childcare, housing) people face. Put more emphasis on state led regional development etc. I don’t get the overemphasise on solutions from the post war era. You see this also in parts of the UK where the Labour left have basically abrogated any responsibility for realistic development policies for post industrial regions (claiming they could ‘re open the mines and bring back the big industries) and now have the worst regional poverty in western Europe

        • Brett says:

          It’s not manufacturing that does that, it’s investment of any kind into the town. That can come from an outside company opening up for business in the town, from people moving there and buying homes/cars/etc, from folks passing through, from the local banks lending out money as a multiplier of their reserves, etc.

          Manufacturing might actually be worse for keeping money in the town than services. Nearly all the revenue that comes gets sent back out again to pay for inputs, profit, etc. What’s left is what they pay in utility fees, upgrading the factory, and wages. Services tend to have a higher fraction of their expenditures in labor costs.

          Services might be going the way of manufacturing in that regard, too, with so many chains and giant corporations.

          • That can come from an outside company opening up for business in the town, from people moving there and buying homes/cars/etc, from folks passing through, from the local banks lending out money as a multiplier of their reserves, etc.

            Almost all of this is one-time investment, like a construction project that only produces construction jobs. Banks lending money is just avoiding the question, “To whom, for what?”

            “Folks passing through” is a valid one, and if a region can develop a tourism economy, that’s great, but there are obvious limits to how many regions can do so, and how big the tourism industry will be in a lot of places.

            Services tend to have a higher fraction of their expenditures in labor costs.

            This used the wrong metric. It assumes that the same amount of money is put into a 100-person service business and a 100-person manufacturing enterprise.

            • Brett says:

              Banks lending money is just avoiding the question, “To whom, for what?”

              That’s how money is expanded in part. Manufacturing doesn’t create money – it just moves it around.

              Construction is most definitely not a one-time investment. Individual projects may or may not be, but in any decently sized town or city you’re going to have on-going construction work, especially if the town is growing in size or attracting migrants.

              • That’s how money is expanded in part. Manufacturing doesn’t create money – it just moves it around.

                This is the most wrongheaded, polar-opposite statement about the economy I have ever read.

                Taking raw materials and turning them into more-valuable finished products doesn’t create value, you’re saying, while lending money (by itself, without reference to what the borrower does with it) does.

                That is completely a reversal of reality.

                • Brett says:

                  How do you think money actually gets into the economy? It’s not because of manufacturing.

                • The units of currency get into the economy through the U.S. Mint sending them to banks.

                  Actual money – meaning economic value – gets into the economy through the provision of goods and services that are valued by the recipients beyond the cost of providing them. In the absence of this, the provision of additional currency from the Mint to banks to banks’ customers would only produce inflation, not actual increases in economic value.

                  The lending provided by banks moves around the value produced by others, and can help them – them, that is – generate more value by allocating that value in useful ways, but to use the metaphor of blood cells, it’s the heart and blood vessels. Value-producing enterprises are the bone marrow that actually generates the stuff.

      • LeoFromChicago says:

        I saw the article and immediately thought, ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’.

        What if without manufacturing we can never ensure a decent income to the great majority of people? I mean, up till now we’ve been hearing how making things is just so ‘old-school’ and that there’s a better way — all the while that people’s incomes have stagnated.

        And this has gone on now for decades.

        • Brien Jackson says:

          Well then even so, that doesn’t address the issue of the global distribution of these jobs at all. Obviously a 1950’s/1960’s style economy where American manufacturing is exporting a massive amount of the world’s goods (which of course gets ignored in these arguments) can’t be sustained forever.

        • Ronan says:

          Well that’s the question. I don’t know the answer to it (I don’t really believe anyone does)

        • Brett says:

          It’s not really manufacturing that you need. You just need lots of decent-paying jobs for large numbers of people, preferably jobs that don’t require college degrees to start out in.

          The only real edge that manufacturing has over services in that regard is that it tends to be more productive, meaning more revenue that can potentially go to wages. If you have a factory where only 10% of the costs are labor costs, then as long as it’s still sufficiently profitable something like a 20% increase in wages won’t kill the business. But if you have a place that’s 80% labor costs, a 20% increase in wages likely either puts the business out of business or forces them to raise prices a lot.

          • Jadzia says:

            One good place to start would be to end the widespread requirement that people hold expensive college degrees for jobs that do not require college degrees. Why on God’s green earth does a secretary or a receptionist need a college degree?

  6. ringtail says:

    When I think about this, I struggle with where those jobs are supposed to come from. Obviously we can’t just will them into existence, there has to be something for people to do that we can pay them for. Plus, to be sustainable it can’t be some kind of global zero-sum game where we’re choosing to put a certain population out of work by employing “us” or “them” domestically vs abroad. I’m worried we’re quickly spiraling towards a Star Trek-esque end of labor, except we haven’t solved any of the scarcity problems that made it viable on TV.

    I can only think of two suggestions off the top of my head:

    Increased government hiring/spending on infrastructure. I like this because there are a lot of government services that could use more workers (ie providers and staff at the VA, inspectors at OSHA, etc), if it were just politically viable to get the taxes to spend on it. ETA: Derelict et al. beat me to it and I completely agree.

    Dis-incentivizing automation. If we could tax the bejezus out of robots and other machine tools (or even agricultural equipment or those damn self-check kiosks in grocery stores), could we force industry to hire more people? If we could, I think we would then have to have some kind of redistributive scheme and way to limit capital flight so ordinary people could absorb the increased cost of consumer goods and to keep employers from just closing up shop.

    • Scott P. says:

      So you’re raising prices _and_ taxes at the same time. I don’t see how that doesn’t lead to a recession.

      • ringtail says:

        I don’t know. I’m just spitballing and trying to wrap my head around the problem.

        How does slicing a little more off of the wealthiest incomes cause a recession? It doesn’t look to me like that money really *does* anything. If someone makes a thousand dollars a month, that’s all getting spent on “stuff” and “services” to live. If we take an extra 10 percent from the investment earnings of a billionaire, well, what was that money doing anyway except getting counted on some bank’s balance sheet or whatever?

        I’m not trying to be trite, either, I really am pretty dim when it comes to economics.

        • sapient says:

          I definitely think that investing money in infrastructure and government jobs (like inspectors, and other useful aspects of government that have been cut under Republican budget philosophy) would go a long way to helping this “jobs going away” problem. These investments are actually needed, and the only reason they’re not being made is because Americans have voted for a party who is allergic to taxes. There would be plenty of jobs if these things-that-need-to-be-done were initiated by public corporations. Because they have to be initiated by government, the Republicans are again’ it.

          Protectionism, and anti-trade policies are not the way to solve this problem.

    • jpgray says:

      There is nothing wrong with automation/robots. They increase productivity and reduce drudgery. Likewise for doc review and other thankless, mindless, non-manufacturing tasks.

      The problem is with how the benefits are distributed – a larger surplus labor supply, falling wages, and richer rich people are not any kind of “natural” results of automation, any more than a reduced work week, higher pay, and high fives all around would be.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        Indeed. And this, I think, remains the main problem with Loomis’ overarching theory in this realm of politics. He tends to dismiss alternatives as things that aren’t politically feasible, while simultaneously promoting plans that aren’t any more feasible in their own right. Which is fine, but at the end of the day it means he’s coming from a place of personal preference more so than “detached” analysis, I think.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          He tends to dismiss alternatives as things that aren’t politically feasible, while simultaneously promoting plans that aren’t any more feasible in their own right.

          There are a whole bunch of problems with this statement.

          First, I am completely fine with all of those plans I supposedly dismiss. I just don’t think they get at the root cause. Were they to pass, I would support them. They can be pieces of a puzzle.

          Second, setting import standards and creating a regulatory framework isn’t some pie in the sky idea. It’s what we had in the mid to late 20th century. We’ve regulated corporations before and rather effectively in many ways. We can do so again. The idea of creating corporate standards is workable precisely because it builds upon known successful methods in taming corporate behavior. Now it may not be all the answer either. But the next problem is the assumption that I should have the entire answer. I’m not smart enough for that. But I am trying to steer the conversation toward some ideas I think are useful. We have all sorts of regulations on what we will allow in this country and under what conditions. We don’t allow products made from ivory. We just moved to crack down on products made by slave labor, particularly in the fishing industry. By moving in this direction, we can seek to improve the standards of workers overseas while undermining the incentive for outsourcing, contracting, and capital mobility. It’s not going to put all the bad stuff about globalization back in the closet, but it will help.

          • sapient says:

            get at the root cause

            But the root cause, globalization, is inevitable, given the advances in communications technology, and the ease of travel. It’s a smaller world, and pretending that countries aren’t going to interact economically isn’t helpful. Corporations are multinational, not national, so they will go where they will make money. If US consumers don’t have the products that they want, they will demand them, and the rich will go abroad to get them.

            We need work done here. It would be a better task to convince people that infrastructure needs to be built and maintained, and that government pays for that with taxes. We need to overturn the Reagan revolution, not focus on globalization.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            But you can’t go from talking about mostly small regulatory changes that aren’t going to really engender any objections from other major powers and hand-waive that to a radical new judicial/regulatory framework that will directly provoke China and probably irk Europe by the sheer unilateral nature of it. Well, you can, (and this isn’t to say I don’t think these are great ideas on the merits) but the response is likely to wipe out a big chunk of the gains, and it’s not really an immediate term solution either.

    • Brett says:

      It’s got to be the first option. I’d argue there’s a moral issue at work as well, which is that we should have a minimum level of sustenance that people can’t fall below.

      The second option is terrible. It would be incredibly difficult and expensive to enforce, and immoral as well – do you really want to be throwing tons of people into unnecessarily tedious and dangerous work?

  7. JonH says:

    My brother made about $300k-$400k doing SAP programming work that facilitated this move.

  8. bargal20 says:

    These people’s white knight used illegal, underpaid, non-hardhat-wearing, homeless Polish construction workers to build his signature NYC Trump Tower.

    Sorry, these people may be righteously angry, but they’re still morons.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Why are they morons? How are they supposed to know these things? I mean, why not go all Kevin Williamson if you are going to talk about them this way.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        Well…do you actually believe that Trump is going to insist on trade agreements that are BAD for multi-national corporations?

      • John Revolta says:

        Dem politicians are supposed to be telling them. Not sure who the morons are but I’m pretty sure that they’re around somewhere.

      • Thirtyish says:

        Why are they morons? How are they supposed to know these things?

        I don’t think it’s too much to ask that someone at least minimally acquaint themselves with the political figure they choose to lionize. “Morons” might be a touch strong, but “willfully ignorant” seems perfectly apt.

        • Roberta says:

          The people in this article aren’t lionizing him. (One of them is in fact voting for Sanders because she dislikes Trump’s racism). They’re cheering a particular statement he made. They’re, at most, Trump-curious.

          Hopefully they realize he’s all talk when they look closer into his views.

      • bargal20 says:

        I’m white and working-class and I’ll probably be unemployed pretty soon; how do I know these things about Trump? I don’t have any special powers.

        The tendency of some liberals to infantilize working-class assholes annoys me.

      • Crusty says:

        Why shouldn’t they be able to figure out like those of us who have? We’re all super geniuses or something? No. We’re mildly informed, have a bullshit meter and are wary of anyone who comes around spouting typical jingoistic crap.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          I recognize that people like to feel superior to Trump supporters.

          That feeling of superiority helps absolutely nothing.

          • bargal20 says:

            Coming up with apologies for dickheads’ illogical voting choices helps absolutely nothing either.

            Trump isn’t a cypher. Information on him isn’t difficult to find. if he’s their choice then fuck them.

          • Brien Jackson says:

            With all due respect; fuck this noise. I’m very much in a similar demographic as 95% or so of the people supporting Trump, and me doing the same isn’t even remotely in question because I reject his blend of racism and fascism if nothing else. I am superior, morally at least, to anyone who would support that, and I don’t make any apologies for thinking as much.

            • Ronan says:

              But whatever about moral superiority, why not at least try and understand it? Perhaps racism/nativist is the primary (perhaps only) cause, and there’s no helping them, but..that seems perhaps unlikely?
              I mean would you write off behaviours or beliefs in a more favoured demographic (say among African Americans) or in contexts like Joe has pointed out above (opposition to the US in some middle eastern countries) as purely pathological ? Or is there more to be gained from taking the anthropological route?

              • Brien Jackson says:

                I don’t have a problem with trying to understand it, I’m just very much unconvinced by all of the “it’s not racism, it’s neoliberalism man” arguments about Trump support.

                • Ronan says:

                  That claim would be stupid. But , “it is (in part, and perhaps not all cases) racism, plus maybe x y and z”, is closer to the argument

                • Linnaeus says:

                  I don’t think anyone’s making that claim here.

                • Brien Jackson says:

                  Except, again, there’s absolutely no evidence cited whatsoever here. Trumpism is easily explained by following the trail of increasing white nationalist rhetoric deployed by the conservative movement and mainstream GOP since at least Obama’s election. Attempts to insert other causes just don’t work (Trump has, for example, outright said that American wages are too high). It relaly is just the overt racism.

                • Ronan says:

                  Well there has been some evidence offered. Roberta linked to the economic background of a significant part of trumps support, Joe to anecdotal evidence of why someone *might* support trump, erik offered a more long term view. I’m also sceptical, tbh. Or at least I think Erik overstates parts of it, but I’m not sure what kind of evidentiary standard you want at the minute, considering so little is known. I’m also not sure people are claiming that trumps true believer core are primarily driven by economic decline, but that there’s a larger on the fence cohort, amenable to nativism but not necessarily driven primarily by it.
                  Put it this way, you need a broader story, one that isn’t solely US focussed and that connects trump to the rise of the right in Europe, and I think you have two main choices. (1) racism/nativism in response to increased immigration over the past decade plus.(or in some arguments, which I don’t buy, as an inexplicable societal pathology) (2) the economic collapse of 2007/8 and longer hollowing out of the native working classes.
                  You can obviously emphasise one over the other, but I don’t see why it’s not obviously both (and for some more 1 than 2, and vice versa)

            • Linnaeus says:

              Finding one’s own views on a particular issue, person, idea, etc. to be superior on the merits is not mutually exclusive with understanding why others may hold views that you find inferior.

            • Ronan says:

              I mean this is TJ s argument, isn’t it? That he grew up in an African American neighbourhood, came from (afaicr) a relatively humble background, and never made the mistakes that others from his community did.
              And he gets called authoritarian for saying this….

              • Thirtyish says:

                No, he gets called authoritarian for making authoritarian statements that, presumably, reflect an authoritarian mindset. I don’t give a crap where he grew up; that doesn’t factor into it as far as I’m concerned.

                • Ronan says:

                  Okay, fair enough. It’s not why he’s called authoritarian. But it is why he’s (at times) chided for favouring anecdotes over analysis

        • Roberta says:

          You’re probably more than mildly informed if you’re spending any amount of your free time commenting on a political blog.

          People who think others are ‘morons’ for being ignorant about political figures show their own insularity.

    • UserGoogol says:

      Trump has a pretty consistent answer to that. Not a great answer, but I think it’s one Trump supporters can accept without being morons. He repeatedly defends questionable business deals by saying that he’s just exploiting the rules as they exist, and the global marketplace where America is insufficiently great. But that then as President he would be able to apply that sort of business acumen to America itself, and therefore [insert hat slogan here].

      If people are angry at businessmen for taking jobs away from them, then yes voting for Trump is massively confused. But if they blame America’s lack of greatness on the government, then Trump makes more sense.

      Of course, their trust that Trump will do that is massively unjustified, but trusting a demagogue will do what they promise is a more sophisticated error than what you describe.

      • galanx says:

        Reminds me of those sophisticated investors who knew Jack Abramoff was a crook, but thought he was a crook working for them.

        • UserGoogol says:

          There might also be a lesser-evil aspect to it. They may prefer a strongman who may or may not just loot the US for his own personal benefit to someone who is weak.

          • so-in-so says:

            It appears there are several facets to Trump’s support.

            Claims to support the working class (with little actual policy behind it).

            “Strong” authoritarian.

            Racism.

            People have a choice of populists to support. Those who like the one with the second two tick marks over the one who doesn’t incorporate them are probably not morons, but they are whatever someone who likes authoritarian, racist leadership should be called. They are also likely to be disappointed over his populist economic policy; probably not over the authoritarianism and racism.

      • Barry_D says:

        “He repeatedly defends questionable business deals by saying that he’s just exploiting the rules as they exist,….”

        In other words, Mr. Billionaire prospers by the laws which help billionaires and f*ck everybody else. And which were passed due to billionaires bribing politicians.

        But trust him, he’ll tear that system down if everybody gives him power.

  9. oaguabonita says:

    And do you (i.e., have some “idea on how to do this”)? Serious question, not being a smartass (this time).

    • Erik Loomis says:

      As I lay out in the last chapter of Out of Sight, you have to disincentivze capital mobility by creating international labor standards or import standards that include labor protections, environmental protections, and minimum wages that also apply to contractors. If jobs are going to move, the people of Mexico or Bangladesh need to have the ability to hold corporations accountable and build their own middle classes without corporations just picking up and leaving again. This limits the incentive to leave the U.S. and it limits the incentive to leave wherever else.

      • Morse Code for J says:

        Sure, but laws to create these labor and import standards are about as likely as a universal basic income if Republicans control one of the three legislative veto points.

        • Brett says:

          We have an existing law against corporations engaging in bribes to get business in foreign countries (aside from bribes to get basic services like electricity, water, etc) – the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The enforcement of it is mixed (Obama stepped it up IIRC), but it’s there.

          So it’s not unthinkable. It’s just really, really hard to get passed, and even harder to keep enforced. And there is some progress elsewhere – they finally closed the loophole on goods produced with slave labor.

      • Brien Jackson says:

        In practice this has a pretty clear problem of clearing the hurdle of Chinese opposition.

      • oaguabonita says:

        Thanks. Yeah, those are the broad-stroke criticisms (and hence, potential fixes) to “free”-trade agreements that I’ve been familiar with (and supported, and opposed pacts that lack them — which essentially means all of them) since at least NAFTA.

        Without those labor and environmental protections, you get what we have (and ever-increasingly so): a global race to the bottom for most of us; wealth beyond imagination for a tiny few.

        How to get there is more what I was getting at with my question.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        But doing these things doesn’t prevent Carrier from closing a plant in Indiana, does it? It seems like we end up with “Carrier jobs go away and the government does little” vs. “Carrier jobs go away and the government does more.” If those are the two options, the second is clearly better. But if the grievance that’s becoming formative of your political identity is that the Carrier jobs went away, there’s still no Carrier jobs and consequently the Carrier employee who got screwed is still going to be pissed off. I know Trump’s answer is that his deals will be the best because he’s the best at making deals. What’s the Sanders answer? What’s the Loomis answer?

  10. Scott P. says:

    And yet Americans in general don’t have a negative attitude towards foreign trade. Even for those with only a high-school degree, the positive view outweighs the negative.

    Trump is tapping into a current of dissatisfaction, but it’s not at all clear it’s deep enough to propel him to office.

    • Tyro says:

      I’m not against “foreign trade.” The essence of trade is that I get access to something from abroad easily that I couldn’t get access to locally. On the other hand, we already had access to Carrier’s products locally.

  11. Brien Jackson says:

    “Consistently in the comments of this blog, people wave away these connections or say it is an acceptable cost to pay for global capitalism. Well, maybe. But you have to live with the political consequences of a declining working class. And while people may support dreamy ideas like Universal Basic Income or more politically possible ideas that would help around the margins like an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, none of these things are happening now while all the manufacturing jobs are in fact disappearing. And whether that is because of capital mobility or it is because automation, we have zero concrete plans on what to do with millions of working class people. At best, we might give slight subsidies to retraining programs for careers that pay less and may not have a future anyway. At worst, we start drug testing for people who get on public assistance or slash those programs to nothing anyway.”

    I mean, with all do respect, who is this “we?” The Democratic Party, broadly speaking, supports some pretty robust monetary nd fiscal policy that would have a really sweeping effect on creating economic growth and new, decent jobs WHILE ALSO expanding the safety net at the same time. If the United States had a federal parliamentary government they’d have passed a lot of them in the past 7 years.

    The people who don’t have a plan for this are Republicans, and the peculiarities of American governance give them the ability to block these programs outright, or even prune them down significantly when Democrats have power.

  12. Major Kong says:

    Well sure. Businesses are going to flee a liberal high-tax state like………..um………Indiana.

    Yeah. I got nothin’

  13. tsam says:

    Consistently in the comments of this blog, people wave away these connections or say it is an acceptable cost to pay for global capitalism. Well, maybe.

    No–open, unrestricted free trade was always going to drag every worker in the world down to the lowest compensated worker IN the world.

    There’s a big difference between regulated trade and free trade.

    Also, I would think that most of the comments here are more acknowledging that the fart is out of the butt now, and putting back is going to be very difficult and probably hurt, rather than outright condoning the practice of free trade and outsourcing.

    • Dagmar says:

      I agree that the comments here acknowledge that labor mobility is a variable in the equation. Whether you judge it as evil, a necessary evil, or a boon to a thriving economy depends on your values. There is a viewpoint that the “Freedom to Farm” ag program of the 1990s was put in place to drive economically unproductive farmers out of farming, in order to prompt a physical migration to fill service jobs in the urban Sun Belt and other “more productive” areas of the economy. Contrast that with the social engineering of the income tax, where the mortgage interest deduction is one of the last tax breaks enjoyed by the middle class — encouraging residential permanency.

  14. jpgray says:

    This is why Bernie always seemed to me the superior candidate. HRC isn’t uniquely bad, but like Obama she is in the establishment mold, insofar as:

    1. You can always find money and political will for killing people, in the very teeth of public disapproval, but finding money for helping people is always impractical.

    2. State-prompted full employment is only possible if our need is measured in bombs and planes, impossible if it is measured in schools, roads, hospitals, transit, etc.

    3. Government spending cannot create economic security and confidence – this is the role of the business elite, and if they hoard cash or move factories nothing can be done up to the point of their own fatal danger or potential collapse, in which case government spending is necessary to reanimate them – for reasons of economic security and confidence, of course.

    These are so demoralizing and dispiriting as premises for any democratic leader that I’m surprised the Trump phenomenon took so long to materialize. If HRC were less smart/capable and had only her party establishment advantages to bludgeon Bernie (which would have been enough), establishment v Trump, ridiculous as he is, would mean a total bloodbath in November.

    • Brien Jackson says:

      None of this describes the position of mainstream Democrats post 2007.

      • jpgray says:

        The Afghanistan surge? Libya? Syria? TPP? Where was our party on these?

        I’d like to hear your case that these events represented clear and present dangers, for which political support must be forced where it isn’t found.

        For our own people, occasionally when they start dying of Legionnaire’s disease we finally propose a band aid for the carotid.

        You don’t see any difference in effort or scope?

        • Brien Jackson says:

          None of that has anything to do with your previous post but, cool story bro.

          • jpgray says:

            If only typing it made it so. :D

            • No, seriously, you just started typing random stuff there.

              • jpgray says:

                To try again, my point is that the political effort and fiscal expense on foreign adventures and policy/bailouts to shore up the “confidence” of business vastly exceed the effort and expense to improve the life of the average citizen. When the former gets even a bit needy, it never goes hungry, and you simply can’t say the same for the latter, even post 2007.

                This establishment bias is never more clear than when any project of similar scope and expense to the bailouts/wars is proposed to assist the average person. These projects are derided as ludicrous and costly in a way their military/business counterparts are not.

                • Brien Jackson says:

                  Again, this just isn’t remotely true. If you only look at the middle point of the Washington Democratic caucus, you have a party that is very much in favor of more spending on fiscal stimulus and job creation projects, expanded social welfare spending, etc. It’s only when you add Republicans and the rules of the American legislative process into the mix that your statement is even close to accurate.

                • jpgray says:

                  @Brien Jackson: There is no question whatever that the Congressional process stalls a lot of well-meaning efforts on the part of our party, and we win by leaps and bounds in comparison to the GOP in making those efforts. But our party is embarrassed, timid and fearful in these efforts in a way that is not comparable to its behavior on efforts concerning the military/business elite. Witness the entirely intraparty debate on the size of the stimulus during our majority, before anything was proposed publicly.

                • Brien Jackson says:

                  The focal point of the stimulus debate was Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and Joe Lieberman, none of whom were Democrats at the time.

                • Brien’s right about the stimulus bill. There isn’t even a Max Baucus you can point to on that one.

    • Barry_D says:

      “… Government spending cannot create economic security and confidence …”

      I’d love to see evidence.

  15. CSI says:

    The reason why offshoring is so popular isn’t because of some high minded commitment to free trade or compassion for foreign workers, but because it makes money. So Trump, being a businessman above all else, isn’t going to do anything meaningful to reduce its effect on American workers.

    I think the college-for-all push is some kind of reaction to this process. Unfortunately its not a solution, even if you could get everyone to attend and pass college, because there simply aren’t enough prestigious white collar jobs for everyone (and never will be) and there’s no guarantee these jobs can’t be offshored either.

    • Tyro says:

      The reason why offshoring is so popular isn’t because of some high minded commitment to free trade or compassion for foreign workers, but because it makes money.

      Correct. But any negative consequences for the working classes hurt by offshoring is met with, “so I guess you hate poor people in developing countries, then???”

    • twbb says:

      “The reason why offshoring is so popular isn’t because of some high minded commitment to free trade or compassion for foreign workers, but because it makes money.”

      Well, it’s perceived to make money; in a fair number of cases it ends up losing money, but by that time the CEO who made that decision is comfortably retired, and the consulting firm that set it up has moved on to the next sucker.

  16. AMK says:

    people wave away these connections or say it is an acceptable cost to pay for global capitalism.

    This is fine and dandy when the cost is still borne by lesser people who make furnaces and heaters for a living (even though, of course, having millions of unemployed people with no money to spend costs the whole economy). When the next generation of software algorithms and English-fluent Chinese/Vietnamese start replacing American white collar jobs in a serious way, it won’t be “acceptable” any more.

    • CSI says:

      Just like that old episode of South Park where time-travelling immigrants from the future start taking over people’s jobs. One character, who’s some kind of scientist, is fine with this. Until a time traveller takes his job, that is, then he joins the chorus of “they took our jerrbs!”

    • Ronan says:

      Well no , people here generally don’t “wave away these connections or say it is an acceptable cost to pay for global capitalism”. What they might do is acknowledge they’re incredibly difficult questions not solved through empty moralizing

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Of course I am not empty moralizing but rather am offering what I see as concrete paths forward, as laid out in the last chapter of Out of Sight.

        • Ronan says:

          In this case I was saying amk was engaging in the empty moralizing (though I think you are misrepresenting what some commentators have bee
          n saying )

        • brewmn says:

          Of course, what’s generating a lot of the pushback you’re getting has to do with the fact that you’re ridiculing people advocating one set of policy solutions (e.g., UBI) as starry-eyed idealists while at the same time advocating another set of solutions that are equally unlikely (at least) to be implemented.

          That, and the nonsense about how we shouldn’t condescend to criticize the white working class for supporting a ridiculous buffoon like Donald Trump (a notion that seems to be selectively and inconsistently applied, based on who’s doing the criticizing).

          This is a liberal blog; if we can’t bitch about how clueless these people are, where else can we? I mean, you probably don’t have to look very hard to see that Hitler was exploiting some legitimate grievances as well.

      • AMK says:

        I think a lot of the “acceptable cost” thinking among well-meaning people on our side of things (which I’ve seen in some postings here when this topic comes up) revolves around the idea that an American factory worker without a job is still much better off than a Chinese or Vietnamese or Mexican peasant without a job. So all humans being equal, globalization that helps even the odds for the third world is not a bad thing….or something along those lines.

        This sort of liberal internationalism on economics is well-intentioned, but ultimately naive and unworkable (not to mention easily co-opted by the right for self-interested purposes). It’s the same kind of liberal internationalist thinking that says we have to send in our marines every time one foreigner throws a rock at another, because Bosnian/Rwandan/Syrian/Ukrainian/Libyan lives and American lives are equal.

        Sure, all lives are equal in the abstract, but that does not mean we actually have it in our power to equalize them, and when we try to do it by chasing utopias without looking out for our own citizens first, it’s always a mess.

        • Ronan says:

          Okay, but a lot of people who were commenting didn’t accept the premise that it was zero sum, with the advancement of the poor in poor countries automatically being at the expense of the western working class. They were also saying things like capital mobility and trade were overstated as causes. Also that even if these trade-offs do exist in more limited form (which i agree they do) then there are possibly more realistic solutions which are potentially bette r for all.*
          But your initial comment (implying class callousness) doesn’t imply these people are “well meaning.”
          Also the question of who we show solidarity with, our own “kin” or outsiders who might be worse off is (imo) a difficult one. I don’t mind people who say their main responsibility is at home, but equally those of us who might think slightly differently aren’t necessarily callous, or naive, or snobs.

          *I mean these questions of solidarity play out in complicated ways at home as well, based on region, class , gender, race, natives vs incomers etc. They’re morally difficult distributional questions imo

  17. Emmryss says:

    What to do about it? Well, if there really is a revolution building under Bernie the most useful form it could take would be to shift the locus of power from corporations to communities, along with government funds, so that you start manufacturing what’s actually needed — and especially needed to transition off a petrochemical-based economy — rather than what will make the most profit for a concentrated few. A socialist revolution, you say? Yes, by all (peaceful) means.

  18. Dagmar says:

    The invisible hand of capitalism will guide us to the right result, but only if we drown the federal government in a bathtub. That’s what Jeezus wanted when he chose America to be his nation.

  19. Lee Rudolph says:

    specially needed to transition off a petrochemical-based economy

    My bleary eyes read “petrochemical” as “polemical”; and for a brief instant I saw how LGM could be the vanguard!!!

  20. […] on Sunday. Sounds like a great future for those Indiana workers whose jobs have fled to Mexico and who are now going to vote Trump because of it! Why not vote Trump if this is your […]

  21. Reading through this thread, I’m amazed by the flip-flopping about the ‘race not class’ people.

    Suddenly, in contrast with everything they’ve ever written about racism, they’ve decided to argue that the presence of racism to any degree in and individual drives out all other motives and concerns. If you’re a racist at all, you are only a racist, and nothing else can explain any position you take.

    What makes it even more special is that they then read that racism into people who explicitly cite Trump’s racism as something they don’t like about him. They have their explanations of why they get to read “A-B” as “A+B,” and then move on to insisting that “A+B” is really just “B” by itself.

  22. […] trade agreements have affected them directly. Erik Loomis highlighted one in a recent article, Capital Mobility and Trumpism. A Carrier factory is being moved to Mexico. And an executive kindly told the laid-off men and […]

  23. postpartisandepression says:

    If your premise is true then why do we have an electorate that overwhelmingly elects republicans to the house and Senate? NO ONE touts free trade more than the republicans. And yet in manufacturing states they elect people who are saying this is necessary.
    Do they believe them or are they just stupid?

    At least there are plenty of voices on the democratic side that are against off shoring jobs and yet they are ignored and dems lose to repugs in the house all the time.

    So does Trump just have a louder megaphone? Does the press give him a pass and ridicule the dems who try to prevent off shoring jobs?

  24. […] View Original: Capital Mobility and Trumpism […]

  25. […] Capital Mobility and Trumpism – Lawyers, Guns & Money “The doctrine of unrestricted free trade has been basically bipartisan for many decades now. But no one ever thought hard enough about what this would look like when all the manufacturing jobs were gone.” […]

  26. […] Want to Governor Blocks $2.85 Minimum Wage Increase After Giving Staffers $73,405 Raises Capital Mobility and Trumpism The mistake of assuming the poor have what the rich do This is what happens when a black man goes […]

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