Thursday, March 17, 2016

Trump: The Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Now that Donald Trump has pretty well clinched the GOP presidential nomination, the recriminations are are in full cry. At least by Thanksgiving, the GOP hopefuls should have seen what was coming and taken Donald Trump out, writes David French at NRO.

But really, what is so special and so wrong about Trump's supposed populist agenda on immigration and trade? If everyone else already has the government putting a finger on the scales for them, from blacks to women to gays to greens, why not the white working class? Why not shut down the border? Why not bring those jobs home? Why not use the clunking fist of government to make things right? Everybody else does.

You can, of course, explain the whole thing with the benefit of Hegel's master/slave concept, according to Ralph Peters.
We, the fortunate, created Trump when we failed to shake the hand of the repairman.
It's important, you see to treat everyone as if they matter. Or, if you prefer, there is Sartre and Camus. Good faith, to the Existentialists, is the imperative to consciously choose. But if the political system radically restricts and constrains the choices, what is a poor schmuck to do?
But when the constraints become intolerable — when the walls close in — the individual of character rebels, despite the consequences. 
 Of course, that's what Black Lives Matter is saying. And the Bernie guys. And every "peaceful protester." They are all saying: "I'm getting screwed, and I'm not going to take it any more." Therefore force. So why not the Donald leading the white working class to the Promised Land on a hope and a prayer?

Call it the Gospel of Force, the good news that you can solve your life problem with a nice little application of muscle, à la Melissa Click.

As I keep saying, the sorrow of the white working class is nothing new. The economic history of the last 500 years has been one economic revolution after another. And though humans as a whole benefited enormously from each revolution, there were always those that got hammered. The agricultural revolution "hurled" the rural proletariat on the labor market. The textile revolution hammered the putting-out hand textile industry. The railroads hammered the coaching industry. The illuminating oil industry hammered the whalers.

The problem is that each industry in its heyday starts to think that the sun rises and sets on it. The classic line is from David Copperfield's boss Mr. Spenlow, member of the monopolistic Doctors Commons that had the inside track on wills and divorces in early 19th century England. Touch Doctors Commons, said Spenlow, and you bring down the country.

That's what they are saying about "manufacturing" in the US these days. And it's true. Manufacturing jobs, and many others are fleeing the United States for the factories of China and office jobs are fleeing for the call centers of India. The sugar jobs in Marco Rubio's Florida would be fleeing to subsidy-crazed Brazil and Thailand if it weren't for tariffs and quotas keeping the Everglades sugared.

Yes, but. John Hinderaker at Powerline reminds us of the real choices.
Which is a better job, designing the new sensors that will keep cars from crashing into each other, or snapping the same two pieces together on an assembly line two hundred times a day every day of the year? Creating a new computer chip to maximize gas mileage, or screwing on door handles all day long? I say, good luck to the Mexicans and Chinese with those rote assembly jobs. Within our lifetimes, they will mostly be done by robots.
For a while after World War II, with the help of big labor unions and big government and big business in collusion, the US was able to pay big bucks to unskilled workers snapping two pieces together on the assembly line. But then the dam broke, especially when China gave up Marxist economics and went full Adam Smith. The unionized, cartelized big auto and big steel corporations were dead meat. Their rigid work rules and hidebound management could not respond to the challenge of Japan and China. So they cratered.

Because the auto and steel companies were unionized and cartelized and favorite sons of the government they got to tell their story to a sympathetic audience. Right now, of course, coal miners are losing their jobs as a direct consequence of Obama administration policy and nobody cares. We do not hear their wailing like we heard about manufacturing jobs. And I well remember in the aftermath of the energy crisis of the 1970s how the gas stations on every corner started going out of business, replaced by self-service company-owned high-volume stations. Nobody cared.

Capitalism is creative destruction, a constant turmoil of business creation and business destruction. There's a lot government can do to help business creation and to assist the victims of business destruction. But probably the worst thing government can do is shower any business sector with subsidies and privileges. Because that only gives the incumbents a sense of privilege and makes the eventual decline the harder to bear.

And then, when the former "little darlings" face their inevitable decline, they look for a Bernie Sanders or a Donald Trump to lash out at the system on their behalf.

And the rest of us stand around in judgment, asking how the government, or the GOP was stupid enough to let it all happen. After all, they shoulda known.

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