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The Losers of Globalization



It’s amazing to me that the media and policymakers, not to mention a whole bunch of commenters on this thread, are just waking up to the fact that globalization is not great for everyone, that there are real losers, and that dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements. It’s almost like we shouldn’t believe that corporate-generated policies will benefit everyone! And that’s not just in the United States, it’s not just in Mexico, and it’s not just in Bangladesh. It’s everywhere around the world.

But trade comes with no assurances that the spoils will be shared equitably. Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings have been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs, suffering joblessness and deepening economic anxiety.

These costs have proved overwhelming in communities that depend on industry for sustenance, vastly exceeding what economists anticipated. Policy makers under the thrall of neo-liberal economic philosophy put stock in the notion that markets could be entrusted to bolster social welfare.

In doing so, they failed to plan for the trauma that has accompanied the benefits of trade. When millions of workers lost paychecks to foreign competition, they lacked government supports to cushion the blow. As a result, seething anger is upending politics from Europe to North America.

In the United States, the Republican presidential aspirant Donald J. Trump has tapped into the rage of communities reeling from factory closings, denouncing trade with China and Mexico as a mortal threat to American prosperity. The Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has done an about-face, opposing an enormous free trade deal spanning the Pacific that she supported while secretary of state.

In Britain, the vote in a June referendum to abandon the European Union was in part a rebuke of the establishment, from laborers who blame trade for declining pay. Across the European Union, populist movements have gained adherents as an outraged response to globalization, imperiling the future of major trade deals, including a controversial pact with the United States and another with Canada.

“The trade policy of the European Union is paralyzed,” said the Italian minister of economic development, Carlo Calenda, during a recent interview in Rome. “This is a tragic situation.”

The anti-trade backlash, building for years, has become explosive because the global economy has arrived at a sobering period of reckoning. Years of investment manias and financial machinations that juiced the job market have lost potency, exposing longstanding downsides of trade that had previously been masked by illusive prosperity.

These are huge policy problems and Dylan Matthews and Annie Lowrey impinging the morality of those who point them out isn’t going to make them go away. The entire rhetoric around globalization coming from the elite class remains “this is awesome, we need more, let’s double down.” Yet nowhere through the last half-century of officially sanctioned capital mobility has the American government at the very least taken the disruption to the working classes seriously. I can’t speak to European responses in recent decades, although it’s clear the instability is also affecting those places. In the United States, globalization has happened part and parcel with unionbusting, with rapidly growing inequality, and with the creation of the New Gilded Age. The destruction of good American jobs as a result of globalization has had a very real negative affect on the American working and middle classes. If it has also meant cheap goods at Walmart, OK I guess except for the workers dying to make them, but the economic problems of the United States are very real. Inequality is a lit torch to previously existing racial and social divides. Ultimately, most people in your nation have to believe that life is getting better for them. If they don’t, they will act. That is what we are seeing in 2016. And those actions aren’t likely to be treat others in a very kind way.

This doesn’t mean that we can put globalization back into the box, even if we wanted to. But it does mean that unemployment, job creation for the very people who lose their jobs through globalization and automation, and the creation of a much more robust social safety net has to be a policy priority equal to or greater than passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it’s just not. In the United States, for a family to get even basic help other than standard unemployment insurance, they have to be truly struggling, to the point of not eating. That’s not acceptable. We are just starting to wake up to this as a problem. Meanwhile elites in both parties embracing more and more globalization, seemingly clueless to the terrible damage of communities at home, not to mention the exploitation of global workers. At least domestically, they are now beginning to pay the cost. We will see if they learn. I am skeptical and I fear for the nation’s future.

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  • sibusisodan

    But it does mean that unemployment, job creation for the very people who lose their jobs through globalization and automation, and the creation of a much more robust social safety net has to be a policy priority equal to or greater than passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And it’s just not.

    This is true. Absolutely, definitely true…but I have trouble solely blaming political leadership for this. Where are the votes for it?

    Here in the UK, we reelected the government which has the opposite of all those priorities. I’m very happy to blame the myopic Tory leadership for not thinking about the effects of the policies they espouse, but I’m not surprised by it.

    Currently, our electorate does not sufficiently want policies which deal with these problems. That’s a bigger issue than the failures of political leadership, to me.

    • People don’t really think through policy. They react on emotion. Political leadership and policymaking is necessary to provide general guidance and hope to everyday people so they don’t respond in the way that is happening in Britain and increasingly the US.

      • sibusisodan

        Absolutely, as far as it goes. But I don’t think you can push that far enough. Because you ultimately end up criticising those in positions of political responsibility for things they don’t have (much) control over. Which doesn’t help work out a solution to the current crises.

        I don’t think it’s realistic to expect those seeking political power to both have the correct policy solutions and also be able to convey that to the electorate in a policy-free, emotive, hopey campaign style.

        That’s just begging to be beaten by the people who don’t care about their policies, but are really good at the policy-free, emotive, hopey campaign style (see: Brexit).

        And that’s ultimately what the voters seem to be asking for at the moment (broadly considered): tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.

        I don’t see how ‘fixing’ the political class can even be begun without dealing with that first. Although I know that it’s all intermingled…

        • Nobdy

          Voters will always seek sweet lies. All of us do. But they also don’t do that in a void. Cuts to education and in fact the vilification of the educated are part of the story. Look how hard the right fights against critical thinking and challenges to authority in American schools. They know that an educated and free-thinking polity is a threat, so they work tirelessly to beat back the teachers and empower the religious crazies.

          We can’t acknowledge all the problems in the schools and then blame people for not being educated persons operating on pure reason and logical evaluation of arguments. They need to learn that stuff somewhere.

      • junker

        Isn’t one of the key themes of this blog that politicians and policy are driven by parties/voters rather than being drivers? How does this jibe with the idea that we need stronger politicians to meet our policy goals?

    • Nobdy

      There is an absolutely staggering amount of money put into propaganda against “socialism” Britain and even moreso the U.S.

      You cannot fully blame voters for buying the story they are sold with billions upon billions of dollars of propaganda.

      The real problem is that the oligarchs think they need a soft labor market and a lot of suffering because it gives them more control, so they are completely committed to policies that forward those goals. Against their highly polished, consistent, and pervasive attack we have…what? The granola crunching social justice types? The Loomis style eggheads proving their points over and over with research and reason but without any real purchase in the mainstream culture, which is obsessed with Kardashian style consumption and other pablum?

      You can blame voters for their racism and their inability to see who their real enemy is, but the truth is that they are being lied to, constantly, loudly, and slickly, by the people they trust and who promise to act in their interests.

      That has to be taken into account.

      • sibusisodan

        Well put, Nobdy. Thanks. Here in the UK, Boris Johnson has somehow managed to reap the fruits of what amount to lies about the EU from 20 years back which he wrote about while being a journalist. A generation or more of constant dripfeeding inaccuracies about the EU has certainly set the boundaries for discussion.

        But that then leads to two complications:

        – the elites who have been falling down on the job are not (or not just) the politicians. We’re really talking about the possessors of capital, filtered through the media. And it’s not clear that politicians have all that much purchase on either of those two groups (UK example: you don’t get to be PM without the support of the Sun newspaper. Attempts by a politician to regulate the press – which just happens to be owned by wealthy foreigners and non-doms! – do not go well…)

        – I persist – perhaps irrationally – in believing that people aren’t stupid (people en masse can be, but I’m thinking of individuals). I don’t think anyone really believed the EU was really about to outlaw bendy bananas. But they were happy to tolerate the lie they read in the papers for other reasons. I don’t see how improving our politicians even begins to scratch at that problem.

      • AdamPShort

        What’s strange to me is that people conflate so easily ideas about allocation – where markets have a deservedly good reputation – with distribution, where the idea of a “free market” doesn’t really tell us anything particularly useful.

        Economics generally tells us very little about the proper distribution of wealth in society. To the degree it does offer some guidance, the more comfortable a society’s owners are the more work the government needs to do to compel them to produce towards some public purpose.

        For the most part distribution is a political matter, decided in the political sphere. It’s got little or nothing to do with economics.

        So, trade deals yay! But deals that advantage capital over labor aren’t trade deals at all, they’re just transnational class warfare.

  • Gregor Sansa

    A huge part of the problem here is beltway epistemic closure. And a very real part of that closure is the two-party duopoly. And the only realistic solution for the two-party monopoly is voting reform.

    I know that some people here might dispute the “realistic”. But that just leaves you saying “there’s no realistic solution to the two-party monopoly.” And if you apply that standard across the board, you’re left with no realistic solution to globalization, period.

    Loomis: do you agree with the above? If not, where do you differ?

    • Like others who tie everything into a pet issue, I think you are severely suffering from confirmation bias.

      • Gregor Sansa

        That’s a general response. Can you be more specific?

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Lol, now that’s irony…

    • twbb

      If the problem was the two-party duopoly, then we wouldn’t see the exact same problem in all the countries that don’t have two-party duopolies. I just don’t think that’s a significant part of the problem.

      • Are you telling me Italy isn’t a political paradise with its many parties?

    • IM

      And a very real part of that closure is the two-party duopoly. And the only realistic solution for the two-party monopoly is voting reform.

      nonsense. there is cultural and political hegemony of neoliberalism all over the western world, whatever their party and voting system.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Look at Spain: a multi-party system has enabled Podemos to make a serious challenge to that hegemony.

        I’m not saying that voting system reform magically solves the problem. But it makes possible a slow, grueling path to better addressing the problem. When you’re facing a monster problem like this one (or climate change), side-quests for better weapons are worth it, even if those weapons aren’t vorpal. (And yes, the metaphor holds, in that it’s partly because side-quests help you level up.)

        • Ronan

          How in the name of God is Spain your model of an effective political system ?

          • Gregor Sansa

            I live in the United States.

            Spain is very far from ideal. Even if we arbitrarily restrict to talking about voting systems and their interaction with outcomes including epistemic closure, they are in bad shape, and specifically as a voting theorist I could offer them suggestions that would marginally help.

            The U.S. is in worse shape. Spain looks like up from here.

            • Ronan

              I know where you live. Spain has recently had a significant economic crisis, has something like 15-20% unemployment, at the moment political dysfunction worse than the US, and the rise of regional nationalism with the growing possibility of splitting up.

              • Gregor Sansa

                The economic crisis in Spain is caused by the original sin of the euro, with an assist from the US.

                As to the political dysfunction olympics: yes, it’s true that Spain looks likely to get a medal and the US may not even place. But still, Spain is an example of a strong counter-hegemonic voice.

                Note also that in a presidential system like the US, the parliamentary deadlock we see in Spain would be impossible, no matter what voting system we used here.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  The median government quality in Spain from 2001 until now is better than the median in the US. (Can’t use averages, because there’s no natural units. And I know median is cheating for the obvious reason but point is it’s not uncontroversial that US government works better.)

                  None of the top 4 parties in Spain are as bad as the Republicans, who are guaranteed at least about 4/9 of the presidential vote, control in most states, and probably the House as well.

                  Yes, Spain has serious problems, but on a purely political level, they have all the drama of the US, with slightly less existential dread.

                • Spiny

                  As to the political dysfunction olympics: yes, it’s true that Spain looks likely to get a medal and the US may not even place. But still, Spain is an example of a strong counter-hegemonic voice.

                  It really seems like you’re conflating “system that makes it marginally easier for anti-globalization voices to get amplified” with “system that meaningfully counters globalization”. There are so many reasons why those two things aren’t the same, and it’s why I still can’t go along with those who think adding additional parties to the US system will be a net positive.

                • Spiny

                  Yes, Spain has serious problems, but on a purely political level, they have all the drama of the US, with slightly less existential dread.

                  Well, yes. But that’s more because a Trump in charge of Spain is not an existential problem.

                • ColBatGuano

                  Did a two party duopoly get Spain into their trouble? Or was it the same system that you are admiring now?

          • sonamib

            Spain looks like it wants to break the Belgian world record for government crisis. But even if they manage to stay without a government for more than 541 days, I’m sure we Belgians will be able rise to the challenge and take back that world record.

            It’s a matter of pride, you see.

            • Ronan

              At least we can understand Spain through that famous, fiery Latin temperament. But how to explain the usually cool headed and practical northern europeans resorting to such dysfunctional behaviour ; )

              • sonamib

                We’re Catholic. I’m sure you understand.

                • IM

                  shared Habsburg inheritance

        • IM

          Yes, and how will that end?

        • twbb

          “Look at Spain”

          If that’s the other option, I might go with the neoliberal oligarchs, thank you very much…

    • xq

      In the recent presidential primaries, there were two major candidates who ran hard against globalization, one of whom actually won; the other came much closer than anticipated against a very strong establishment opponent. Seems to me our primary system is good at enabling people to fight against elite consensus.

  • Nobdy

    I don’t think any progressive would disagree with much of what you’ve written here (though I’m sure some would quibble with small parts of it.) I certainly don’t.

    People need support and stability. I think even more than feeling that their lives are getting better people need to feel that they won’t get worse. I think many people would be satisfied if you told them their income wouldn’t go up that much in the next 10 years, but it also wouldn’t go down much. That would allow them the stability and safety to plan and to set their expectations. It’s the instability and the constant sense of loss that really causes pain, and we see this in many Trump voters who are hanging on okay economically but are fearful about the future.

    Of course some people are in actual grinding poverty and the above does not apply to them, but the poverty rate has improved some recently, and they’re also the people who get the most help (though not nearly enough), and they don’t vote for the most part so they’re not the cause of the nationalist backlash.

    The problem from the progressive side is:

    A) This is just one part of the progressive agenda alongside a host of other important goals, such as racial and gender equality, environmental protection, peace, and just general good governance. That means that while it does get attention (and the ACA is an example of this, since it was designed to mean that when people lost their jobs they wouldn’t lose access to healthcare) it doesn’t get all the attention; and

    B) inequality is the major platform of the right wing. It’s the most important thing to them and in some ways the only thing they care about. Trump ran on populism and fighting inequality for some, but the right wing has brought him to heel on this, and all his proposed policies would make the problem worse, with only lip service being paid to displaced workers at this point. This also means that if he wins and does nothing his supporters will blame government in general, rather than him, for the failure and give up voting on the issue, or at the very least will not learn the right lessons. The ring wing is devious, smart and focused.

    This limits the left. They need to trade with the right to get anything done and the left has a large agenda and all the right cares about is increasing profits and inequality. There are obvious policies, outside protectionism and luddism, that would help the people who are hurting. Social safety net/basic income. Increased government spending on infrastructure or other jobs programs. Increased government spending on other social agendas (we could turn jobs like ‘home health aid’ which is a growing profession from bad, low-paying, jobs to decent mid-paying jobs. THere’s no reason you have to be a steelworker to be middle class.)

    Obviously we need to raise taxes and close loopholes and change the whole relationship that this country has with taxes and government benefits.

    And I think progressives generally support this. But right now it seems like an unwinnable battle and there are so many battles to fight. When the oceans come to swallow us the poor will drown first. They are the first to suffer when the air and water quality drop, and of course members of the minority portion of the left coalition have specific concerns related to discrimination that aren’t all economic in nature.

    There is a lot to be done, no partner to do it with, and a very strong opposition.

    So I don’t think that it’s that the left doesn’t agree with you or think this is important. Bernie talked about it extensively and Hillary has talked about it quite a bit too. It’s just tough to make the policy priority when it’s the thing the right opposes most vehemently and when there are so many policy needs.

    • twbb

      I think even more than feeling that their lives are getting better people need to feel that they won’t get worse. I think many people would be satisfied if you told them their income wouldn’t go up that much in the next 10 years, but it also wouldn’t go down much.

      Honestly I wish that were true but I don’t think they would be satisfied. I would guess that most people pretty much assume that their current income will last indefinitely, or at least they act like they do (e.g., in mortage decisions). The problem is a lot of people want more money, more things, and more importantly they don’t want to see people around them getting things they aren’t.

      • Harkov311

        Very much this

    • Rob in CT


    • Tracy Lightcap


      I would also point out that

      “In the United States, globalization has happened part and parcel with unionbusting, with rapidly growing inequality, and with the creation of the New Gilded Age”

      has next to nothing to do with free trade. What we have done in addition to taking down trade barriers is the root of the problem, not getting rid of the barriers. That the rest of the world followed our example is both predictable and too bad. Freeing trade has had enormous benefits world-wide. It has also imposed substantial short-range costs. Addressing those is what we need to turn to now.

      • Linnaeus

        Can you separate free trade/globalization and the decline of unionization that cleanly (at least in the US context)? It’s true that factors extraneous to the globalized trade regime have played a significant role, but it’s also true that enhanced capital mobility has allowed unionized labor to be exchanged for cheaper foreign labor. Indeed, this is something that even orthodox free trade advocates point out, and often consider to be a benefit.

  • witlesschum

    Making it the federal government’s business that everyone has a good job and can make a decent living is a basic government function, in my opinion. I’m all for a pretty radical fair trade regime for the good of Americans and everyone, but independent of that is this part actually true?

    job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements.

    Is that really the case? Is Trump actually finding support among people who previously wouldn’t have voted Republican previously because of these things? Because there’s a lot of asserting that from the media, but Trump’s people seem to be the same old Teahadis. Do they not know Clinton actually has released plans that given a non-insane congress could provide a lot of good working class jobs in infrastructure or do they just not care because white grievances? It seems to me, we may have the cause and effect backwards, that Trump fans are yelling about trade because they hate the idea of an America without white supremacy, but even they know trade sounds better.

    I think it matters to answer the question, because if there are enough of them whose bottom line is white supremacy, Dems and lefties can’t do anything for them because a multicultural, multiracial culturally-liberal vision of the country is non-negotiable.

    If not, then maybe we can. I’d love to see Clinton blanket the Midwest with ads about her infrastructure plan and asking for a congress that will pass it whether it’ll be effective to sway Trump fans or not.

    • Nobdy

      It doesn’t have to be one or the other. The teahadis feel threatened economically, even if they themselves aren’t all actually suffering, and they lash out. Race relations are better in good times but fall apart when people are scared and resort to tribalism. Solving economic woes would make people more receptive to much of the rest of the progressive agenda. That’s one of the reasons the right is so against it.

      Pretty much nobody has seen advancement in real income except the rich over the last 30 years, so everyone but the very wealthy feels threatened, frustrated, and at this point precarious. Just because you’ve held on to your job doesn’t mean you haven’t seen your brother lose his and what it did to his marriage and his kids.

      Loomis is absolutely right that people are hurting, even if it’s just through fear. Fear is a powerful motivator.

      • Brien Jackson

        I don’t think Teahadis really feel threatened by *trade*, though, so much as they generally feel threatened that the social order that undergirded their privileged socioeconomic status is eroding in modern America. That is, their economic anxiety is all about the racism and cultural anxiety.

      • witlesschum

        No, it doesn’t have to be one or the other and everyone is nicer the more secure and less stressed they feel.

        But ideologies are sticky things. I know I’m not giving up on socialism or multiculturalism or feminism for damn near anything. If President Trump wants to send the feds to deport people from Michigan for being Muslim or Arab I’d support and join an armed secession movement and risk getting shot over it. Because I really believe in this shit. So do the Teahadis, I have to assume, because that’s how human beings act.

        If they’re as tied to white supremacy as they appear to be, no amount of appeals to reason or good jobs are going to make them happy if they’re getting it from a political movement that doesn’t affirm their racial grievances.

        So, the question remains to me how many Trump supporters are there who are persuadable by anything that comes along with the idea that this is not specifically a white person’s country and, yeah really we mean it, nobody is better than anyone else?

        • Linnaeus

          Core Trump supporters probably aren’t persuadable, but the following groups might be:

          1. Trump-curious folks who feel that something is wrong, that the status quo needs to be shaken up, but who aren’t exactly committed to white supremacy (though they likely harbor some degree of racial bias). To be honest, though, I suspect this number is not especially large.

          2. Weakly-affliated Democrats or self-styled “independents” who know that Trump is bad, but who also feel that the Democrats aren’t addressing their concerns as voters.

          3. Disengaged voters who see little reason to participate in the process at all.

          Admittedly, all this is conjecture, but if there’s any accuracy to it at all, then there’s probably enough “persuadables” to make the difference in closely contested areas.

          • twbb

            Also people who hate Hillary and always vote GOP, but may be shamed into thinking of the future if Trump wins, and how they won’t be able to justify their vote to their grandchildren on the grounds that “oh we had no idea what he was like.”

            • GFW

              They’re not going to justify their vote. They’re just going to lie about it.

              • twbb

                Some, sure, but some of them have a narcissistic image of themselves of Honest American Patriots. They can lie about a lot of things, both to themselves and others, but intentionally lie about a binary, absolutely objective action — like voting — and that image will start to crumble

  • Ronan

    “that there are real losers, and that dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements.”

    One aspect of globalisation that people have the most consistent, politically salient and intense opposition to is immigration. In general, public opinion is favourable enough towards the broad policy choice we call “globalisation”, but there’s a larger, coherent section of the pop who consistently oppose immigration.
    There’s also some evidence that immigration has similar distributional consequences to trade, ie it increases overall gdp, but negatively impacts the poorer and unskilled, while redistributing income upwards. It also, importantly, has the most beneficial economic consequences for the migrant.
    So, if (accepting the assumptions in the OP and my comment are correct)both “globalisation”(ie trade, capital mobility etc) lead to the same distributional consequences (making wealthier better off, poorer worse off, but those in poorer countries better off) while leading to the same political backlash (ie nativism) then how does it work that we can object to one and not the other?
    (This is a non rhetorical question. I’m genuinely unsure how of to prioritise the interests of domestic populations in relation to foreign ones)

    • Ronan

      I don’t think we need these overly deterministic theories of what’s going wrong, this was my main problem with beauchamps article, that he had identified something called “white nationalism” or “xenophobia” , gave it huge causal weight, and offered very little idea of how this identity became politically salient.
      I think globalisation and its consequences is part of the story (regional economic and societal decline, though most of that is not driven by trade, immigration etc). But there’s a larger story of shifts in the political systems across the west, decline in trust for political institutions, less support for conventional political parties, and the rise of populist political movements.
      More broadly a growing divide in values between certain parts of the population, and the growing importance of values and culture as a political issue. It’s a big mess, afaict.

      • King Goat

        Yes, and political astuteness suggests we recognize this zeitgeist and choose candidates who can be sold as outside or anti ‘the establishment.’ The share of people who value experience in politics or even adherence to political norms of professionalism is getting smaller than the share that actually seems turned off by them. Does it make sense? No. But politics has long been about something more or other than who is technically correct (remember Adlai Stevenson’s response to a supporter who told him all intelligent Americans in the electorate were behind him: that’s nice, but I need a majority!

        • Ronan

          I don’t agree. I’m more or less a liberal so value pluralism, the political process and acknowledge the fact that there is no general will in society, just competing values and interests that work out in the political wash.
          I’m reading jan Werner mullers New book on populism, and although not finished yet (or even half way through) I think he’s singing my song:

          “For populists, this equation always works out: any remainder can be dismissed as immoral and not properly a part of the people at all. That’s another way of saying that populism is always a form of identity politics (though not all versions of identity politics are populist). What follows from this understanding of populism as an exclusionary form of identity politics is that populism tends to pose a danger to democracy. For democracy requires pluralism and the recognition that we need to find fair terms of living together as free, equal, but also irreducibly diverse citizens. The idea of the single, homogeneous, authentic people is a fantasy; as the philosopher Jürgen Habermas once put it, “the people” can only appear in the plural. And it’s a dangerous fantasy, because populists do not just thrive on conflict and encourage polarization; they also treat their political opponents as “enemies of the people” and seek to exclude them altogether…..
          It also raises the question of how one can successfully respond to both populist politicians and their voters. I reject the paternalistic liberal attitude that effectively prescribes therapy for citizens “whose fears and anger have to be taken seriously” as well as the notion that mainstream actors should simply copy populist proposals. “

          • I think liberalism assumes that the process King Goat says “doesn’t make sense” in fact never happens or can be prevented from happening. People learn to become more comfortable with expertise or the pluralistic society doesn’t work. “Pluralism” doesn’t mean allowing much less encouraging people to actively reject liberalism itself. That doesn’t mean what’s prescribed is “therapy”; maybe I should read the book.

            • “Liberalism” in the broad sense, of secular constitutional representative government and so on.

          • King Goat

            I’m not sure I’m misreading you, but I might be. I think the way to deal with this rising tide of ‘populism’ and ‘anti-elitism’ is not to exactly copy the other side, but to kind of co-opt it. Bill Clinton in 92 strikes me as exactly what’s needed. On the one hand, the guy was a successful Governor and Lt. Governor, a Yale graduate and a Rhodes Scholar. Impeccable ‘elitist’ credentials. On the other hand he could rightly portray himself as an ‘outsider’ to Washington DC, had a Southern accent, humble beginnings, publicly enjoyed Big Macs and went by ‘Bubba.’ He was the best of both worlds, politically appealing but also having the professional and policy chops.

            • Ronan

              I was kind of using your comment to jump off on a tangent about populism and recommend the book ; )

              I see what you’re saying on the broader point. I’m not sure to what extent, either generally or in the specific case of the US, this would counter the populist spring.
              But looking at the case I’d know best (Ireland) I think there is something to be said for it. This article is a good overview of why Ireland didnt have the sort of nativist populist politics that you see in parts of Europe and the US


              (bear in mind it was written before the recent election which split the countrys political system further, and had a small enough explicitly leftist populist victory)

              My main take away from this (and my running theory) is that it didnt because Sinn Fein captured the pissed off vote (mainly through long term constituency building and adopting an explictely ‘anti elite’ rhetoric after the economic collapse)
              If you look at polling on the political values of Sinn Fein supporters, theyre much more likely to be opposed to things like homosexuality and immigration, but Sinn Fein as an organisation (1) pushes consistently progressive social policies (ie it was one of the major parties to consistently support the gay marriage referendum), and (2) rarely if ever takes an anti immigrant stance.
              There are a lot of reasons I personally dont love them, but it seems clear enough at this stage that one of the main reasons Ireland has been spared the nativist lunacy erupting across major western countries is because there was a semi populist political movement there to capture that anger and resentment, and channel it in less socially harmful directions (this is said to agree, to some extent, with what i think you’re saying)

              • King Goat

                So the revolutionary appeal of Sinn Fein, especially against the backdrop of nationalist feelings which of course manifested largely through groups like SF that were ‘taking the fight’ to traditional nationalist enemy (the English and their Protestant Irish compatriots) helped mute other possible expressions of populism (and largely because the most accepted, legitimate outlet for populist nationalism, SF, wasn’t ideologically interested in those other potential populist issues. Do I have it right? I hope so, because it makes sense to me :)

                • Ronan

                  You have it right, I think, more or less. Sinn Fein prior to the financial crisis was a bit of a niche affair in the South, contained to specific regions and sub pops, but they had also spent the past decade before the crash doing substantial constituency work (this was obvious in the early 00s when I was living in my hometown,which now seems to have a safe Sinn Fein seat.) After the crash, and the implosion of the dominant political party*, their appeal increased (as a result of circumstance and hard work.) whereas their rise has now been stymied a bit by the fact that the economy has improved.

                  What you have to account for is why they didnt adopt that anti immigrant stance. I think you have a few possibilities: (1) it wouldnt resonate with the Irish public (2) demographics, Ireland is still a pretty white country (3) there was a more obvious scapegoat (bankers and the political class) to blame.
                  I doubt (1), (2) is true enough, though Ireland has a significant, and historically unprecedented, foreign born pop. (3) Is plausible.
                  Mostly though I agree with the reasons given in the linked article, that it’s actually considerably in opposition to the Sinn Fein DNA to adopt such a stance.
                  As the joke goes, Sinn Fein are admirably supportive of migrants rights, at least those who didnt come here 400 years ago.
                  Their historcial, nationalist narrative (rightly or wrongly) is that they are on the side of the oppressed against the imperial (British) or sectarian (unionist) oppressor. They also, institutionally and culturally, find it almost offensive to be categorised with the vulgarity of British (English) nationalism (which by stereotype is associated with nativism and colonial arrogance). So instead of adopting a posture in opposition to outgroups like immigrants, theyve adopted one against the domestic and EU overclass, thus channeling anger in this direction.

                  * The linked paper also makes the argument that ireland didnt have as strong a populist reaction because Irish politics is (at least rhetorically) pretty populist as is, which is true enough (though perhaps overstated)

              • How much of those policies were enabled because it was possible for Sinn Fein to align themselves, in effect (for all I know in reality, beyond certain parts of the US where it at least superficially appeared to be the case) with the global Left? They were opposed to the UK’s imperialist and economic policies equally, both represented in the person of Thatcher, and that put them essentially on the left to begin with. But their snti-imperialism certainly has a racial tinge, and it’s not possible to argue they’re not white. It would be a white state administered with kindness to outsiders.

                • King Goat

                  As to why SF wasn’t interested in the other potential forms of populism Ronan describes, your ideas here strike me as compelling.

                • Ronan

                  I think that’s a large part of it (see the comment above, which crossposted with you)

                • Okay but at the same time it occurred to me that a lot of the issues anti-imperialists talk about–“does the subaltern speak” kind of things– don’t really apply in the case of Ireland, at least in the Republic (for complicated reasons), it seems? That puts the Irish in a kind of unique position.

                  (And FWIW just to throw this out there, in the US, in urban centers with lots of immigrant Catholics, the Irish were the only originally English-speaking ones, and this may have put them in a differently unique position here than in either North or South, so quick equivalencies should probably be avoided.)

                • Ronan

                  I’m not saying anything about the rights or wrongs of how you classify irish history etc. Just what the perception is within Sinn Fein, or more broadly what historical traditions and narratives they draw from. I’ve my problems with these traditions and narratives, and don’t really buy the stronger version of the nationalist screed, but the way Sinn Fein conceptualize* this history seems to me to go a long way to explaining their behaviour.

                  *there’s a bigger story about how a relatively progressive political movement was built on both sides of the border, and why it took the form it did. I don’t think that history has been written though, and I don’t know it

    • xq

      Yeah. If you replace every instance of “globalization” or “trade” in Loomis’ post with “immigration” it remains true.

      You can make a case that the direct economic effects of globalization are more negative. But if you want to explain the backlash, immigration is much more important.

      • Gregor Sansa

        It’s just not true that immigration increases inequality. Obviously, it drastically reduces inequality on a global scale, by helping the immigrants themselves and often their families back in the country of origin too. But even if we’re just talking about the status of native-born workers, immigration is a net positive at least as often as it is a net negative. The problem is that it’s easier to see the negatives, especially (but not exclusively) if you’re wearing racist glasses.

        • xq

          It’s just not true that immigration increases inequality.

          It reduces global inequality while increasing within-nation inequality, just like globalization more generally.

          But even if we’re just talking about the status of native-born workers, immigration is a net positive at least as often as it is a net negative.

          Same is true of globalization generally. It probably helps most native-born workers, but it hurts those most directly in competition with the new source of labor.

          The problem is that it’s easier to see the negatives, especially (but not exclusively) if you’re wearing racist glasses.


          • twbb

            “Same is true of globalization generally. It probably helps most native-born workers, but it hurts those most directly in competition with the new source of labor.”

            Exactly. And some of the same anti-globalism arguments you see on LGM frequently about how we shouldn’t throw poor Americans under the bus simply because poor Bangladeshis have it worse also apply in some cases to current immigration.

            To look at it historically, in the 19th century free black workers in the northeastern states were devastated by the massive influx of Europeans who were preferentially hired. There is a fair amount of resentment in the black community by people who literally see their jobs being given to recent immigrants, both here legally and illegally. Telling an unemployed roofer who is literally seeing the contractors who used to hire him hire recent immigrants at lower wages that in the long run people like him will come out ahead is callous.

  • King Goat

    Since Bill Clinton pushed NAFTA this issue has been a potentially devastating wedge issue the GOP could’ve picked up, a potential proverbial nail in the coffin for what remains of the white male, often union based support for Democrats. Market fundamentalism and fear of the donor class kept most Republicans from picking it up. They needed someone either bold (Buchanan I think, who already felt drummed out of the Party orthodoxy) or crazy (Trump) enough to wield it. Trump got over the hurdle of opposition from the GOP donor/intellectual hack class for his trade heresy by tapping into the base’s xenophobia and frustration with the party establishments perceived failures on immigration. I agree with Loomis, he’s got quite possibly a very potent weapon in his tiny hands.

  • I tend to think it would be better to try to dissociate “because they’re racists” from “because they deserve better, economically” whatever direction the causality is supposed to go (their economic demands should be ignored because they’re racist, their economic demands should be listened to because their racist and might lash out, their cultural demands should be listened to because they’re suffering economically, whatever) though I haven’t had enough coffee even to spell “dissociate” much less to spell it out.

    • PJ

      As several people have pointed out, it’s not as if the policies favored by those on the left side of the divide are anti-white. Government subsidized health care helps everyone, less police brutality helps everyone, regulation and unionization helps everyone.

      The assumption here is that somehow it’s the left’s fault for not masking these demands in a way that appeals to whites. The question among people of color is whether there is historical proof of any period in the US in which better economic conditions somehow led to better welfare policy that was also inclusive of PoC.

      • I don’t know what you mean by “here.” I don’t think that’s the assumption. You’re writing as if you’re responding to something I said, and I’m just confused and trying hard to figure out what you might possibly be talking about, but I don’t see it.

  • efc

    The problem seems to be there is support from both sides for the deals, but support (however minimal) on only one side for the mitigation efforts.

    That leads to situations where bipartisanship leads to the deals being passed and then the efforts to ameliorate the negative impacts of the deal to flounder.

    Because the deals are very, very important to politically powerful actors (see: TPP. There was an Op Ed in the WaPo from the head of Xerox or something which was like, “it sucks (crocodile tears), but it’s necessary so vote for it.) there should be a lot of leverage to get the important programs and tax changes passed in exchange for passing these trade deals. But no one is using that leverage.

    Even when politicians talk about how necessary training programs (such bs, but it’s something), impact funds, and stuff like that it is never in the context of a package to be included with the trade deal. It’s always some separate afterthought.

    Maybe the right strategy for deal opponents is to, instead of opposing the trade agreements, say they will support the deals IF they are passed in tandem as a package with the other things they believe are necessary to help people impacted by trade. Not one then the other in separate votes. It seems like that is so reasonable how can one argue against it? I’m being naive, I know.

    • Quaino

      Opponents do say that, they just have almost zero bargaining power because one side is wholly against benefits and the other side is so wholly enthralled by trade agreements that as soon as the negotiation becomes, “Well, we’re not willing to pass this if we have to do X, Y or Z for workers” they immediately scream, “DONE! This is too important not to pass!”

      And then people on the left side line up to argue that, yeah, it’s a shitty deal for workers, but we’ll pass some legislation to make it better (never happens) and look at all this economic efficiency we generated (never mentioning it goes wholly to the top of the house). Also, please think of the poor children who would lose their nickel a day pay for 16 hours of work without this deal.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    Dylan Matthews and Annie Lowrey impinging the morality of those who point them out

    Impugning rather than impinging, I would venture to suggest.

    I don’t see how globalization is tamed in the short-term, because the rich and political elites have a great deal still to gain from it – and consumers aren’t going to be happy if you shut off the flow of cheap(er) goods either.

    Rethinking labor law and actually applying it with some vigor might get you partway to a solution… but…

    • Quaino

      How much do these cheaper goods actually flow in to pricing for Americans? So many of these goods have astronomical margins attached to them that I’m a bit hesitant to believe there’s any noticeable positive impact for most people, instead of it just being captured in profits.

      • twbb

        Anything electronic, which makes up a good percentage of these goods.

        • Quaino

          In places, sure, but any branded electronic almost certainly took the vast majority of that cost savings straight to the bottom line. Most electronics have cost constraints in the form of the input materials, and then you get a bit of savings on labor offset partially by shipping or, to put another way, low-end TVs got a little cheaper, but not much cheaper than if an American was putting them together.

          You also end up with the Walmart effect — great price savings, until you realize your blender for $8 needs to be replaced twice a year.

      • bender

        Clothing, furniture, light bulbs, almost anything mass produced is cheaper in constant dollars than it was thirty years ago. The rise in the price of housing started at about the same time as the fall in the price of everyday stuff. For awhile, the cheap stuff ameliorated the rise in rent, but eventually you need a roof over your head a lot more than you need new shoes or a BBQ grill.

    • Johnny Sack

      People sure love their cheap goods. So do I.

      But perhaps there is no realistic way to sell cheap goods to wealthy (globally speaking) people without poor people working in near slavery. At that point, we’d have to ask: which is more important?

      At that point.

  • Harkov311

    dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing that maybe we should deal with before it fuels racial nationalism and extremist political movements

    This is true enough from a global perspective (see: Putin). But again, I have to point out, most Trump support comes from middle-class white people whose defining characteristics seem to be “no college” and “racist.” they don’t rate trade high on their issues, and the few who do seem to support Trump on this issue for racist reasons rather than because they lost their job.

    I guess I’m just asking for clarification: do you believe that economic displacement caused by globalization is fueling Trump, or not? Some posts, like this one, seem to imply that it is, but elsewhere you often express the belief that voting is more cultural and emotional than that (which I’m more inclined to believe), and thus that it’s probably not a deciding factor.

    • The issues of economics and race are interconnected and you can’t really say it is one or the other. With some voters it is more one than the other. But it’s not useful to try to say that Trumpism is about the economy or about race. It’s about both.

  • DrDick

    You are exactly right about globalization and rising inequality being a global problem. Proponents of the status quo often cite the decline in between country GINI (driven almost entirely by the growth of the middle class and increases in elite incomes in a handful of really large emerging economies, particularly China, India, and Brazil). If you look at within country GINI, what you see is rising inequality across the board (especially in the countries driving the decline in the between country GINI).

  • Joe_JP

    Off topic but touching upon a past post:


    [including prisoners talking about it themselves]

  • NYD3030

    We already have one historical example of a rapid and complete pullback from globalization. In hindsight we call this period ‘The Depression’ and ‘The Second World War.’

    While I’m trying not to be alarmist, I’m also feeling personally alarmed. The globalization mania of the last 40 years is not the first time this has happened, and the last time it didn’t end well. Hopefully we find a way to out that doesn’t involve annihilation.

  • Bruce Vail

    Everything about Trump is terrible but I wonder if his success within the Republican Party is now making it possible for mainstream Republicans to oppose “free trade” agreements and other instruments of globalization?

    And how does the Chamber of Commerce react to that?

    • The next 4 years will be interesting for internal Republican policy, that’s for sure.

  • Linnaeus

    In hopes that this thread is not dead yet, let me share an article in Vox by Zach Beauchamp that folks here may find relevant to the discussion:

    In the past several decades, manufacturing jobs have fled the developed world for the developing world. Obviously, that’s profoundly reshaped the economies of developing countries like China and Bangladesh. But what does that mean for the ordinary people that are doing the work — often for incredibly low wages?

    Enter economists Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago and Stefan Dercon of Oxford University. They came up with an interesting way of answering this question: Run a random, controlled experiment.

    Normally, economists can’t do stuff like this: You can’t exactly run a lab test on an economy. But Blattman and Dercon convinced five companies in Ethiopia to hire people at random from a group of consenting participants, and then tracked the effects on their incomes and health. That way, you could pretty clearly figure out the effects of taking a low-wage manufacturing job on actual people.

    The results were interesting. Those in factory jobs didn’t necessarily do better (those who went the entrepreneur route did the best on the whole) and in terms of health, the factory workers did worse than the control group in some significant ways. At the same time, factory work represented a kind of safety net for people who may not have had the skills to succeed as business owners; in other words, they were attempting to make the best of available bad choices. Furthermore, the authors argued that industrialization leads to a general rise in wages.

    Beauchamp concludes:

    So perhaps the most fundamental takeaway is that we need to have a more nuanced picture of globalization’s effect on the global poor. Instead of thinking in binary terms, we need to separate out the ways globalization has benefited the poor versus the way it hurts them.

    While I don’t disagree, I have to say that this is something a lot of people have been advocating for quite some time, and the response has been less than receptive – the idea that globalization can have ill effects on not only developed, but also developing countries produces the charge that one doesn’t really care about people in developing countries and wants them to continue to be poor. It is, to use a hackneyed phrase, more complicated than that.

    • xq

      This is a pretty interesting paper. The headline to the Vox article is really bad and misleading and I hope this interpretation of the result does not spread (“Is globalization bad for the global poor? This study ran an experiment to find out.” No it didn’t; that’s not what the experiment was about at all). Beauchamp’s actual article is decent.

      The point the paper makes about how high turnover is in manufacturing, and that factory owners might irrationally undervalue efficiency wages, is particularly interesting. Maybe there is opening for policies where literally everyone wins–increase wages + working conditions, reduce turnover, increase worker skills and productivity, make low-income countries grow faster.

      • Linnaeus

        Maybe there is an opening for such polices. This would require, among other things, a willingness to reconsider some free trade orthodoxies, e.g., the idea that poor working conditions are necessary for industrial development. To be fair, some people like Paul Krugman have begun to do that in recent years.

  • SqueakyRat

    Yeah. The notion that economists and policy makers simply “overlooked” the fact that globalization was going to cost millions of people their jobs, homes, lives, etc., is just amazing. It has to be one of the grandest example of “motivated reasoning” in human history.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    that globalization is not great for everyone, that there are real losers,

    i teach this stuff and it’s two of the enormous frustrations (1) just how hard it is for students to absorb this point, and even worse (2) just how often journamalists, commentators and government policymakers ignore the point (which may partially explain #1).

    Gains from trade are real–even in the real world most of the time there are aggregate benefits. But the division of the gains from trade is also a real thing, whereas the notion that “the gainers can compensate the losers via side payments” is mostly a fantasy of theory. The side payments, on the rare occasions that they pretend to happen, most often take the form of government programs where the only beneficiaries are the people who work in the programs and the politicians who cite their support for said programs.

    Trade Adjustment Assistance has been around forever but the reality is that a 50 year old auto worker who loses his or her job is basically fucked. The plant closes, the surrounding area declines or dies, social ties fray and maybe the worker’s children who move away will benefit but it’s over for most of the rest of the community for the next 5-10-20-30 years.

    I try with my students to make this point using data, examples, what the theory actually implies [e.g., If 1 million people each lose $1000 dollars via this trade policy, and 10 unnamed plutocrats each gain $150 million, then the policy is “efficient” in the sense of being aggregate positive], and its underlying assumptions [that the displaced factors of production will find alternative uses–that is, that there will be a job for that unemployed auto worker] plus examples from my own personal experience.

    Even if Little Tommie Friedman, the man who thinks he discovered globalization, understand the points above, they never get more than “to be sure” in his endless columns about our glorious globalized future. 80 years ago, in a different place, his ilk would have been offering paeans to the wonders of Stalin’s forced industrialization policies and the glorious future they portended.

    • DrDick

      This has long been one of my central critiques of economists, especially when they are talking about globalization. They only look at the aggregate benefits and costs and totally ignore the distributional effects. As I pointed out in my comment above, even in the developing world the vast majority of benefits are going to the rich and not to the workers.

      • If I understood Piketty correctly, he spent a good part of the first section of his book (which is all I read before it had to go back to the library) explaining that GDP hides a lot of information. I guess the fact that it took him so long to explain something so obvious should tell me that it isn’t surprising if his book has no effect whatever on whether people continue to do so.

        • DrDick

          That is also true of a lot of aggregate data, even the GINI coefficient (which overweights the middle class compared to the lower classes). Stiglitz and Branko Milanovic have written a lot about this.

      • CD

        While I agree with much of the political force of this, “totally ignore the distributional effects” is idiotic. The Heckscher-Ohlin model, a famous and widely-taught trade model, highlights distributional effects. See also the Stolper-Samuelson theorem. There’s a massive academic lit on this.

        The idea “that there are real losers, and that dealing with job loss and long-term unemployment is a real thing” is commonplace in the econ lit. Erik and others are bashing away at a straw man.

        You *can* argue that there are a number of common handwaving ways that free-trade advocates try to deal with this issue — Stiglitz himself at one point arguing in his textbook that good macro policy was enough to give you full employment…

        • Linnaeus

          Which poses an interesting question (for me, at least). If there is a robust literature on the issue of distributional effects (and I don’t doubt that there is), why the handwaving?

          • CD

            It’s a pretty deep question!

            The most charitable answer you can give, and the one Stiglitz might have given 20 years ago, goes like this: over the last couple hundred years average output/income has grown at rates unprecedented in human history, and the effects of that growth have swamped distributional shifts. People can and do move, and change what they do. There are obvious problems with this argument but it’s not completely idiotic.

            The least charitable answer is many economists understand the distributional effects perfectly well but don’t care.

            But it’s a huge question — Piketty for example is interesting because he opened up a study of the flow of income to the elite that really did not exist before, even among lefty economists. It’s not so much do you get the distributional effects as where do you go next.

            The other issue is that a lot of the issues discussed under free trade at the moment are not really classical “free trade” issues e.g. the TPP, which is really about certain kinds of property rights. But the ranters won’t brook distinctions.

            • Linnaeus

              The other issue is that a lot of the issues discussed under free trade at the moment are not really classical “free trade” issues e.g. the TPP, which is really about certain kinds of property rights. But the ranters won’t brook distinctions.

              True, although I think the supporters of the TPP share some responsibility for this confusion, since they sell the TPP as a “free trade” agreement.

              • CD


                But this is also my frustration with the way this gets hashed out on LGM. There are always *some* supporters who make bad arguments along these lines, combining smugness and superficiality — the Clive Crooks and Megan McArdles of the world. They deserve mockery. But there are plenty of folks who recognize more nuance — Krugman is an obvious example. But for Erik and his supporters, this is simply a moral question – there’s no inquiry or open-endedness to it, just endless ritual denunciation.

                • Linnaeus

                  You’re welcome to disagree with me on this, but I think it’s more than just some free trade supporters. Crook and McArdle might be particularly obvious examples, but the dominant public discourse on free trade has been, IMHO, pretty uncritical of it. Even the more nuanced views of folks like Krugman are a fairly recent development.

                • CD

                  1. “Dominant public discourse” is too vague to do much with. This blog is at its best when it takes on specific examples.

                  2. Erik, I honor your published work and I’ll happily take back the gibe re inquiry, but your typical LGM postings on this are long on scourging the wicked and short on sorting stuff out.

                  3. FWIW this http://chrisblattman.com/2016/09/29/14655/ is the kind of strong specific anti-glob result that might be usefully blogged (though Christ, I wonder how they got that project past ethics review).

                • I struggle to see how saying that for the last 50 years policy makers have ignored unemployment, community decline, and the like is scourging the wicked. It’s simply a true statement.

                  And frankly, I don’t really care too much what is in the economics journal literature because no one important reads it and it basically doesn’t matter. That is also true of journals only read by historians, FWIW. Piketty matters because some people at least claimed to have read it. If you all want to set policy goals that solve these problems and advocate for them outside professional journals and conferences, then go for it. That’s what I am trying to do.

                • Linnaeus

                  1. “Dominant public discourse” is too vague to do much with. This blog is at its best when it takes on specific examples.

                  Yeah, I was kinda doing a couple of things at once while typing that, so I was a little vague there. More specifically, I had in mind pieces like Krugman’s “In Praise of Bad Jobs” (or something like that) from Slate back in the late 1990s. I’m too lazy right now to go link it, but it’s out there. It’s not as nuanced on the topic as the stuff Krugman writes now.

            • No Longer Middle Aged Man

              To add to your charitable answer, it’s also very clear that societies over the past 150+ years that have opened themselves up to trade have in aggregate benefited enormously in comparison with societies that have remained more closed to trade. And sometimes those benefits have been widely distributed within those societies.

              Citing some of the obvious examples of this, such as Japan and Korea, says nothing about free trade because neither of those practiced anything even vaguely approximating “free trade.”

              Loomis may be right when he says that the stuff in economic journals doesn’t matter — though elder Keynes said something to the effect of “practical men of today who take no truck with theory are usually captives of the theories of some long dead theorist.” But it’s flagrantly untrue that economists have ignored the distributional effects of trade, both between/among countries and within countries.

              I’m not even an economist but arguing by analogy, blaming current policy on economists is liking pinning the blame for dropping the atomic bomb on Enrico Fermi.

        • DrDick

          While there may well be a huge literature on the topic, that “handwaving” you talk about is exactly what I am talking about, totally ignoring the literature on distributional effects. Also, if the issues being discussed regarding free trade are not really classical “free trade” issues, then economists have not been studying actual “free trade” as it exists in the real world, since those issues have always been central to most trade agreements.

  • ProgressiveLiberal

    I keep asking, but how does a country like Denmark with its $20 min wage, survive globalization? Why do 71% of its citizens want TTIP? Almost every country is a “low wage, low worker protection” country compared to Denmark. Why haven’t they outsourced ALL the jobs? Literally, throw a dart at the map, you have found a new place to set up shop that costs less than Denmark.

    Yet they persevere. And you know what, I was in copenhagen once, and they have the same Bangladeshi clothes that we do. Huh.

    Here’s a question: say we implement Loomis’ Plan to End Bad Trade 2016 and the fed still hikes rates every time we’re about to get to 2% pay raise…er, “inflation” and/or 5% unemployment. Do you think employment will go up? What about wages?

    How’s about China buys another trillion dollars worth of…dollars. And our currency depreciates, meaning that our goods are more expensive around the world, imports get discounted further, and we ship more of our money to workers in china instead of spending it here in the US (i.e., the trade deficit get worse.) Do you have a plan to stop this?

    It seems to me that every country should have a suffering middle class and job losses – and higher wage countries like Denmark should be suffering the worst. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case. Have you ever considered that YOUR pet issue ain’t the right one, and that maybe you are suffering from confirmation bias?

    • Linnaeus

      I keep asking, but how does a country like Denmark with its $20 min wage, survive globalization? Why do 71% of its citizens want TTIP? Almost every country is a “low wage, low worker protection” country compared to Denmark. Why haven’t they outsourced ALL the jobs? Literally, throw a dart at the map, you have found a new place to set up shop that costs less than Denmark.

      Good question. I don’t know a whole lot about Denmark’s economy. How representative is Denmark? To what degree are the views of the Danish population on the TTIP shared by the EU as a whole?

  • Gareth

    I believe a number of black Americans have lost jobs due to foreign competition. But they don’t vote for Trump. OK, he’s openly racist, no surprise there. But they don’t vote for Jill Stein either, or even Bernie Sanders. They vote for Hillary, champion of free trade. It’s only white people who respond to globalisation by voting for Luddites and fascists, and their share of the electorate is shrinking.

    • PJ

      Well, sooner or later leftists (OK white leftists) also need to come to grips that being a PoC doesn’t automatically translate to socialist leanings and that this is not some kind of dumbass brown people flaw. We have the same variety of political opinion as whites — some people are conservative, some are not — but they need politicking on progressive positions as much as whites, but are probably more likely to respond positively.

    • Linnaeus

      They vote for Hillary, champion of free trade

      Which doesn’t mean that a voter necessarily approves of her stance on this.

      • Gareth

        No, but she still gets the votes, so what’s the problem?

        • Linnaeus

          I’m not saying that there is a problem. I’m responding to your implication that because black voters prefer Clinton (for any number of reasons, some of which are quite obvious) that somehow they don’t “really” care about the challenges of globalization. Some may, some may not.

          • PJ

            I think the key here is voting behavior. Specifically white vs. non-white voting behavior.

            • Linnaeus

              Sure – I also detected a subtext to the comment and was addressing that. I may have misread it, though.

          • DrDick

            I think that there any number of reasons why people of color would support Clinton, even if they disagree with here on trade issues. It is not as if trade is the only issue impacting them, or even necessarily the most important one. Getting shot by the police currently seems a much more immediate one to me. I disagree with her on trade and a number of other issues, but will gladly vote for her in November. I admit that I supported Sanders in the primary, but I am white and I can understand why people of color might be less ready to support someone who has not had high visibility on their issues and did not, initially at least, directly address those.

    • Drexciya

      I believe a number of black Americans have lost jobs due to foreign competition. But they don’t vote for Trump. OK, he’s openly racist, no surprise there. But they don’t vote for Jill Stein either, or even Bernie Sanders. They vote for Hillary, champion of free trade. It’s only white people who respond to globalisation by voting for Luddites and fascists, and their share of the electorate is shrinking.

      It serves to remember that when a left candidate ran on a left platform that expressed the diversity of black people’s particularized concerns, had a longstanding relationship with them to draw on, and spoke to them in their language, in ways that were responsive to their associations, he won many states that Sanders did not.

      As for your broader point, the simple fact is that because it’s inconvenient for a significantly deracialized analysis of white Trump voters’ political motives, it’s going to keep getting ignored and analytically disregarded in favor tendentious variants of political fanficing. And while I’m making my peace with that fact, I’m probably not going to stop being appalled that this is the discussion white writers insist that we keep having during this election. This election remains a white political reaction to non-white political empowerment, and is being framed, expressed and understood as an effort to reverse and challenge—in the most direct racial terms—the assumption that the standing ethnic hierarchy and its political/economic benefits will and should be upended.

      Saying otherwise, even to the point of entertaining tangents about economic motives (which are leading white people to make choices no other group is), is a deflection intended to disguise the gross toxicity of the increasingly white dictate that white support for white nationalism should be met with empathy and remuneration before direct rejection and opposition. And that’s fine. Once again, I’m making a measure of peace with it. But the pursuit of empathy on these terms serves as a roundabout legitimization of a noxious, sick and threatening political reaction that’s no less noxious by one’s ability to disconnect the racism of racists from whatever sympathy you have for their plight. There are many, many other poor victims of deindustrialization and globalization in this election. Whatever force of will that’s making them not vote for the eliminationist is similarly accessible to white victims of the same economic conditions. It’s not economics that’s compelling them to make a different choice and it never was.

      Unrelatedly, this is the part where I express my appreciation for PJ’s insistence on a specific kind of participation in some of these threads, because I would just simmer silently otherwise.

      Edit: I have to wonder, out loud, again. When was the period where white economic stability undermined racism, and where’s the evidence that Trump’s supporters are generally poor, or that they even care about globalization/deindustrialization?

      • PJ

        Well, I am also seething. I remember a few months ago when I expressed doubt about your premise about a certain kind of passive aggressive support of white supremacy among these white leftists in their topics of concern.

        These “woe is the white working class and the neoliberal snobs who don’t understand them” articles and posts have only piled up since then. From the PoV of this brown person, the fact that these white people’s shit-ass racism, bigotry, and misogyny can’t even get a mention as one of the primary culprits of their own shit-ass opinions about unions, welfare, civil rights, and social security (which leads to shit-ass policy preferences on unions, welfare, civil rights, and social security) is, as they say, the tell.

        The white working class will never, never be wrong. It is always our job to convince them to share.

        EDIT: And while one can certainly blame elite journalists/scholars for adding a veneer of respectability to this bullshit, but they parrot this shit because it’s part of America’s myths about individualism and bootstraps and what have you that have always served the racial caste system.

  • PJ

    This election remains a white political reaction to non-white political empowerment, and is being framed, expressed and understood as an effort to reverse and challenge—in the most direct racial terms—the assumption that the standing ethnic hierarchy and its political/economic benefits will and should be upended.

    Edit: I have to wonder, out loud, again. When was the period where white economic stability undermined racism …

    Anyone want to give even a cursory answer on this?

    • Linnaeus

      I’ll give it a try.

      With regard to the first portion you quoted, I don’t dispute that Trump’s support is primarily motivated by racial animus and that this is the most glaring problem that must be confronted. I also think that Trump voters aren’t a monolithic bloc, either, and a person’s receptivity to his message may be influenced by a number of things. Straight-up unvarnished racism probably swamps those factors, and in that light, there’s little one can do to change that.

      I also suspect that there are groups of voters – across classes and racial groups – who could be motivated by an economic message, and that message doesn’t have to “white-specific’, nor should it be. Nor does it require a racialized understanding of the Trump phenomemon be set aside. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, and if we’ve been doing too much of one and not the other, then let’s correct that imbalance.

      Which leads me to your comment here:

      The white working class will never, never be wrong.

      I, for one, don’t believe that and I doubt that anyone here at LGM does, either. I grew up in a white working class milieu and I have some familiarity with what white working class racism looks and sounds like, even if I don’t bear the brunt of its effects.

      What’s disappointed me is that many discussions that purport to tackle the racial dimensions of this election do so in a fairly shallow manner (note: I’m not talking about anyone here) and come off as more self-congratulatory than anything else. Dara Lind in Vox talks about this:

      Here’s the thing, though: that’s a step backward from the new, more nuanced, bolder conversation about racism that America’s beginning to have.

      There’s a satisfying moral clarity in being able to out-and-out call people deplorable for their racist views, but there simply isn’t a bright line between “racist” and “not racist.” There are quiet biases, and degrees of awareness, that even people who don’t support Donald Trump — even “hard-working Americans” — need to be aware of. And there is more to racism than what lies within people’s hearts.

      All of that gets blissfully elided when you sort people into baskets, calling some of them “irredeemable” and others morally sound. It allows everyone to feel superior. And it’s especially painful to see the racial progressives who’ve done so much to bring nuance into the conversation — to keep white America, regardless of its ideology, in a state of productive discomfort — now leading the cheerleading charge.

      This was in the context of the reaction to Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment (for the record, I wasn’t bothered by it), but there’s something there, I think, that has wider relevance. There seems to be an odd reversion to what Lind calls a “white hood theory” of racism that locates racism only its most obvious and extreme manifestations and is, ironically, a view that the left side of the political spectrum has been working hard to counter (rightly so) for decades now. So let’s have the racialized analysis we need, in the broadest scope possible.

      With regard to the second point re: economic stability and connection to declining racism, I confess that I don’t have a particularly good answer to that one. Maybe there is no connection. That said, it was during the general postwar expansion (particularly from the 1960s onward) in which black Americans made their greatest economic gains up to that point, which I think does play a role in undermining racism by aiding people’s ability to resist it to some degree. These gains happened in the context of a generally strong economy and opposition to them intensified in a period of a weaker economy. This may be a mere correlation and if not, there’s certainly other factors at work here, e.g., black political mobilization and activism, etc. I don’t think it is, however, a coincidence.

      • nosmo king

        But that time period was also, not coincidentally, the point where some of the explicitly racist laws that prevented PoC’s from sharing in the greater prosperity were changed or repealed. Many New Deal programs had racism baked into them, to get the support of the segregationist South (and the segregationist North, to be fair). Passing the Fair Housing Act in 1968 signalled the decline of this stuff, but just look at how Fred and Donald Trump handled that… Some programs, for example agricultural loans, took even longer to reform. (By reform, I mean remove explicit racism from agency-wide culture. Racists can and do still have their thumbs on the scale, individually and collectively.).

  • Origami Isopod

    Found in the NYT comments:

    I can remember my father, a New England factory manager, telling me many decades ago –- as he foresaw the coming challenge of cheap labor foreign competition – that either we must pull them up to our wage and living standard, or they would drag us down to theirs.

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  • Ronan

    Erik, some articles that might be of interest


    “To many, the transformation of West European party systems since the 1970s and 1980s was seen as evidence that the era of cleavage based politics was over. The rise of identity politics was interpreted not only as a result of the waning of the traditional class and religious cleavages, but as evidence for a new era in which political preferences de-coupled from social structure began to shape voting behavior. It was assumed that voters were “beginning to choose” parties for their policy propositions, the quality of their personnel, or based on their value preferences. The more recent successes of the extreme populist right once again were taken to indicate that anti-establishment populist mobilization was cutting across class alignments. From this point of view, the by now well-established finding that the working class is over-represented in the extreme populist right’s electorate came unexpected. While a host of hypotheses have been advanced to explain the propensity of parts of the working class to support the extreme right, the phenomenon still awaits a theoretical explanation and a systematic empirical test of the rivaling theses. In this chapter, we review the explanations that have been put forward and test whether economic grievances or cultural world-views are better in explaining the phenomenon. Both are related to the processes of modernization and globalization, which have a cultural, as well as an economic component. We argue that the changing nature of conflicts in West European party systems is crucial in explaining the shift of the manual working class to the extreme right.”

    • Ronan

      “Does globalization affect the demand-side of politics, and if so, how? This paper builds on new developments in trade theory to argue that globalization matters, but that its effects on individuals’ perceptions of labor market risk and policy preferences are more heterogenous than previous research has acknowledged. Globalization exposure increases risk perceptions and demands for social protection among low-skilled individuals, but decreases them among high-skilled individuals. This conditional effect is observationally distinct from classic trade models as well as arguments that deindustrialization or ideology predominantly drive such perceptions and preferences. Analyzing cross-national survey data from 16 European countries and focusing both on trade and offshoring, the empirical analyses support the prediction that exposure to globalization affects high- and low-skilled individuals differently, leading to variation in labor market risk perceptions and policy preferences.”


      “Voters with lower socio-economic status are now consistently overrepresented among the radical right electorate. According to the ‘new winning formula’, many radical right parties increasingly move to the left on socio-economic issues to cater to these voters. This study tests a crucial assumption underlying this formula: whether radical right parties with socio-economically left-leaning positions actually attract more working class voters. By mapping class characteristics of the electorate of 10 radical right parties at three time points (based on surveys) against these parties’ positions on the economic dimension (according to experts), this study shows that the ‘class gap’ – the extent to which class indicators predict voters’ propensity to vote for the radical right – is significantly larger for socio-economically leftwing parties.”


      • Ronan

        The electoral consequences of the Great Recession are analysed in this article by combining insights from economic voting theories and the literature on party system change. Taking cues from these two theoretical perspectives, the impact of the Great Recession on the stability and change of Western, Central and Eastern European party systems is assessed. The article starts from the premise that, in order to fully assess the impact of the contemporary crisis, classic economic voting hypotheses focused on incumbent parties need to be combined with accounts of long-term party system change provided by realignment and dealignment theories. The empirical analysis draws on an original dataset of election results and economic and political indicators in 30 European democracies. The results indicate that during the Great Recession economic strain was associated with sizable losses for incumbent parties and an increasing destabilisation of Western European party systems, while its impact was significantly weaker in Central and Eastern European countries, where political rather than economic failures appeared to be more relevant. In line with the realignment perspective, the results also reveal that in Western Europe populist radical right, radical left and non-mainstream parties benefited the most from the economic hardship, while support for mainstream parties decreased further.


        “This chapter focuses on the impact of globalization on voter preferences. To do so, we consider the labor market consequences of trade, foreign direct investment, and immigration, which have had immediate effects on voters in advanced capitalist democracies. The globalization of production and the international flow of labor generate gains and losses in ways that cut both along and across traditional class cleavages, especially when such globalization has uneven sectoral effects. To identify who benefits and who loses from globalization, scholars have investigated effects on the basis of skills, industries, and occupation. More recent research has developed increasingly complex models that take into account differences in the productivity of firms, in the skill and cultural profiles of domestic and migrant labor, and in economic conditions across and within countries. The first part of this chapter provides an overview of this literature. In the second part we re-examine the role of class. Though the scholarship we review paints an increasingly complex picture of globalization’s distributional consequences and its ensuing effects on preferences, we contend that class still remains significant in ordering preferences: Low-skill workers have often been identified as the group most likely to voice its discontent about economic liberalization and cultural opening. This finding is in line with skill-based economic models that predict that low-skill workers in high-skill economies should suffer most from globalization. As we will illustrate, however, it can also be consistent with accounts that focus on the sectoral and occupational threats posed by the global flow of goods and labor. By examining exposure to trade, FDI, and immigration together, we show that low-skill workers in advanced industrialized democracies cannot easily escape the labor market pressures that globalization generates. Those low-skill workers who are relatively sheltered from the threats associated with outsourcing and trade are most vulnerable to competition arising from immigration, and vice versa. Further, the labor market pressures experienced by low-skilled workers occur alongside and are inseparable from exposure to cultural diversity. More than their high-skill counterparts, low-skilled workers experience economic and cultural threats jointly.”


    • Ronan

      But Zack Beauchamp says it’s status decline, so it must be that.

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