Friday, March 18, 2016

They Still Don't Get It

The Narrative at NRO, other legacy conservative media, and among nearly everyone who interprets from an economic view, it this:
The view from the rustbelt
The lesson from Findlay is that there are no short-cut solutions to the anger of blue-collar workers. Findlay’s tyre-builders have had the direct attention of a president and international tariffs signed on their behalf. Still they feel—passionately—that the economy is stacked against them, and want larger changes to capitalism than mainstream politicians can deliver. What then?

Blue collar workers have been making the exact same economic argument for 100 years, probably longer. They don't like foreign competition and they want laws written in their favor. Nothing at all has changed to this underlying economic argument, it is the baseline for blue collar workers.

Yet something did change, and we've already seen this before. In 1980 with Ronald Reagan, there was massive crossover support from a traditional Democrat voter base. Today with Trump, the last vestiges of this base is leaving. There will be very few non-progressives remaining in the Democrat party if Trump manages to nudge the GOP on a few key issues.

What are the issues?

They don't trust their leaders. The anger would fall greatly with regime change. It wouldn't end until problems get solved, but the public doesn't want to swap a Democrat for a Republican, they want actual regime change, which would require firing people down to mid-level bureaucrats and major media outlets. Imagine a major news organization having to fire most of their reporters because they don't know anyone who is in power in DC, and the people in power don't like them and refuse to talk to them. Then you have an idea of the level of regime change required. This isn't a solution, but a lot of the anger would go away.

The establishment ignore all evidence of things not working. One of the latest dust ups with NRO was over Williamson saying poor white trash culture needs to die, and those people are supposedly Trump voters. Ignoring the fact that most are probably Sanders voters, it also conveniently sidesteps dealing with economists who have studied free trade theory and found it wanting.

Dani Rodrik on premature deindustrialization
This means countries are running out of industrialization opportunities sooner and at much lower levels of income compared to the experience of early industrializers. Asian countries and manufactures exporters have been largely insulated from those trends, while Latin American countries have been especially hard hit. Advanced economies have lost considerable employment (especially of the low-skill type), but they have done surprisingly well in terms of manufacturing output shares at constant prices. While these trends are not very recent, the evidence suggests both globalization and labor-saving technological progress in manufacturing have been behind these developments. Premature deindustrialization has potentially significant economic and political ramifications, including lower economic growth and democratic failure.
Putting aside the stronger arguments against free trade, which show basic concepts such as comparative advantage are flawed, the social, political and cultural impact of deindustrialization can't be ignored. Even Little Marco understood this better than most, because he did talk about the need to deal with changes in the economy. A lot of these jobs are never coming back. When the manufacturing jobs left America they went to a guy in China or Mexico, but when it comes back to America, it will go to a robot. Computer programmers, engineers and mechanics will run the factories. The economy will grow faster and create more jobs, but the problems facing blue collar workers won't go away.

All of which is to say, the anger runs from the high school dropout, blue collar worker, up to economics Phds who are tired of a nation run by broken economic models. Many Ron Paul supporters, who dislike the Federal Reserve for good reason, are supporting Trump. A full fledged movement is happening. There are elites at the top with new policy ideas and millions of voters out there ready to support them.

Beyond economics, there are the cultural issues. Mass immigration changes the country and changes how things like political correctness are perceived. There was a study done a couple years ago where voters were told whites will become a minority in the future, and after learning this, their views shifted to the right on political issues (such as favoring immigration restriction). The smarter set can do math and run a correlation in their head between the percentage of whites in the country and the prevalence of ideas such as "white privilege." The less intelligent still understand that something is wrong. Anyone who isn't rich doesn't have privilege, yet they see their child passed over for promotions or college slots because they're white. Then they see Black Lives Matter protestors, the shootings of police, the calls for more punishments for whites.

This ties back into not trusting the leaders. OK, goes the thinking, you're against me economically. I get that we'll lose some jobs to free trade, but you told me wages would go up, there would be higher paying jobs in the future. So why are you importing foreign labor to lower labor costs? It undercuts your own argument. If you say you have to go overseas for cheap labor and promise me higher wages in a new job, but then bring in cheap labor, do you think I won't notice? Meanwhile, I see that Paco is working hard at his construction job, but he has three kids at the local school who don't speak English. In addition to costing $30,000 to educate, the school hired an interpreter for another $40,000 in wages and benefits. Then I noticed Paco's wife using an EBT card at the market. These aren't even Americans, how did they get an EBT card? Meanwhile, I'm busting my ass at a low wage job hoping against hope that new factory will finally become a reality, hanging around until the kids finish high school, and this new healthcare law caused my premiums to shoot up, so now I don't even know how to make ends meet. In TV and films, and even from political leaders, I hear non-stop about how white people are evil, I'm a bigot because I believe in the Bible. Everyone always says we need to reach out to minorities, to help women, on and on. What about me? I try to keep the kids away from media too, even Disney is sending out really bad messages, it's like I'm fighting a war for survival and I'm being attacked on all sides. There's no place I can go anymore, even the family is under attack.

The above is a fictional paragraph, but I have heard blue collar folks and others express these sentiments in private conversations, and I've seen it enough online to know it is widespread. It's why blue collar Democrats who have never voted Republican in their life, told me they voted in the Republican primary for Donald Trump.

The other side of what is happening is the Internet. The alt-right has grown so large that it can no longer be contained. Millions of people who debated offline for years, frustrated by the establishment, went online and have been engaged in substantive debates about politics, economics, philosophy, etc. Questions such as "why does the culture and politics always drift left?" have been debated vociferously for years, from every angle. NRO and the conservative media are no longer needed, and to the extent they have become the mouthpiece for a broken establishment, broken models and outdated theories, backed by an ideology no longer suited to the realities of the 21st Century, they are completely useless. Nobody reads NRO for ideas anymore. They go on there to debate with people and challenge them with new ideas. Some people still view NRO as gatekeepers and get angry at them, but bemusement and indifference are increasingly good adjective to describe the sentiment of the grassroots right.

Update: This video shows how out of touch the establishment is with the people. According to The Narrative, Haitian immigrants are Nazis.

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