blueollie

America: you’ve been conned (ok, some of you)

Yes, I am doing a slow burn seeing that the “losing” candidate now has 2.8 million MORE votes than the “winning” candidate…a margin of 2 percent. Yes, I know; both major campaign knew the rules and the Trump campaign outdid the Clinton campaign in the key “swing” states…no argument here. I didn’t like it in 2000, but hey, the margin was 500K; less than 1 percent. This is a much more substantial margin. This “rule by the minority” sucks.

But Trump won nevertheless, and baring some sort of coup by rogue Republican electors, he will be President of the United States.

And so comes the agenda.

And the agenda is: repeal the last vestiges of the “New Deal”. Yes, this includes cuts so Social Security (New Deal era) and Medicare (from the 1960s; not a New Deal program of course, but in its spirit).

THAT is the goal, and the Republicans will do just about anything to achieve it.

Deficits? Ah, they will use the “we are broke” as an excuse to “cut entitlements”, though these said deficits don’t matter when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy. They will use “people like her are living off of your tax dollars” as an excuse to cut safety net programs, even though the irresponsible are not the norm..they are the exception. And thins like SNAP do provide stimulus and can help future generations stay off of public aid.

I can recommend Paul Krugman’s book The Conscience of a Liberal to see the Republican long-term blueprint. This review, while FAR from a cheerleading review, tells you what you can find in this book.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Taking on conventional wisdom

More Trump: who are those Trump voters anyway? You can read what many of them said here. So, what can or should we do? Well one thing is that we need to concern ourselves with other countries (e. g. Russia) interfering with out elections; evidently they are doing that in Germany too. We should do something about people in large states being grossly underrepresented.

But what about now? Well, some say that we ought to stick with identity politics, even if it is politically unpopular. Personally, I can see the reason for such politics being unpopular. For example, this article talks about the pick for Labor Secretary being someone who, gasp, used sex to sell hamburgers. Sorry, but the days of claiming “that’s sexist” and shutting down the discussion are over.

Alas, political correctness isn’t only found on the left wing. You see some on the right wing too: here, some criticism is aimed at Paul Krugman for pointing out that the coal/manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back and that such regions will likely lose population, just like what happened in other countries.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Why might someone have voted for Trump?

Yes, Trump won the Electoral College which is what matters. Still, it bothers me that the “loser” of this election currently has more than 2,676,170 MORE votes than the winner (2 percent and climbing); that the minority can dictate to us really burns me up.

Nevertheless, as of this time, 62.9 million voters thought that Trump was suitable for the job of President. And many of my friends are saying stuff like this:

whovotedfortrump

So, why might have someone voted for Trump? I’ll need to see an analysis of the exit polls. But here are some things that I’ve heard, either in person or online:

1. The Republican will always get a certain percentage of “always Republican” votes.
2. Many just despised Hillary Clinton.
3. This was a push back against “political correctness” (at least the liberal version of it)
4. Some really believe that Trump can bring manufacturing jobs and coal jobs back (one predicted that Trump would flip Ohio and Pennsylvania because of coal).
5. Some really see the “base culture” of the United States slipping away (“press 1 for English”, growing acceptance of Islam, etc.)
6. Some thing that a political outsider might “shake things up” and Hillary Clinton is the ultimate insider.
7. Some wanted contrast from the cool, calculating, cerebral Obama.
8. Some did not want a female president.
9. Some thought Trump might be a “law and order” guy, at least for the common criminals.
10. Some wanted more isolationism?

Ah, it is a lot to think about. I have much more to say but grading of final exams is my current priority.

Workout notes: weights plus a 5K walk in the cold (Bradley Park course). Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10), incline presses: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 10 x 150, military: 2 sets of 10 x 50 standing dumbbell, 20 x 50 dumbbell (seated, supported), rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50, headstand.

I did an exercise class with Ms. Vickie last night; I went with Barbara.

December 8, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

More head scratching….

This is just nuts: Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is now about 2.5 million, and her percentage lead is 1.9 percent? And yes, the Democrat has won the popular vote in 6 of the previous 7 elections, though the Republican won the Electoral College thrice.

Nevertheless, our elections, for now, are decided by the Electoral College. Somehow, it makes sense to spend attention to a few “swing states” as opposed to where more people live? That no longer makes sense to me.

But Trump won. Oh, there will be consequences; for example many will lose their health insurance.

So, where do we go from here? I completely agree with this:

As Democrats contemplate their losses in November’s election, most have settled on a solution. They believe that the party needs more economically populist policies. But this misses an essential reality: Most people don’t vote on the basis of policies.

There is excellent research by political scientists and psychologists on why people vote. The conclusion is clear. As Gabriel Lenz writes in his landmark 2012 book, “Follow the Leader?”, “Voters don’t choose between politicians based on policy stances; rather, voters appear to adopt the policies that their favorite politicians prefer.”

And how do voters pick their favorite politicians? It is a gut decision that is more emotional than rational. Mostly it hinges on whether they identify with a politician in the social and psychological senses.

In an important recent book, “Democracy for Realists,” Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels show that “group attachments” and “social identities” are key to understanding voting behavior. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt reinforces this view with mountains of research showing that people choose their political views based on their tribal attachments.

I agree with this. However these sorts of solutions are problematic:

Barack Obama is a singularly charismatic politician. But he might have made Democrats forget that the three Democrats elected to the White House before his election came from the rural South. They knew that world; they were of it.

With these insights in mind, on the campaign trail, perhaps Clinton and the Democrats should have rallied not with Beyonce and Jay Z but rather with George Strait. And if you don’t know who he is, that’s part of the problem.

I agree that Barack Obama is so good of a politician that he may have masked problems that Democrats have. But as far as Beyonce and Jay Z: remember that a Democrat cannot not win without the base. True, they can’t win with ONLY their base, as we found out; we do need at least a few votes beyond our base. But you can’t disrespect your base either.

It is a tricky line to walk.

Workout notes: yesterday, weights only (day after whole blood donation): pull ups (5 sets of 10), rotator cuff, incline bench: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 10 x 150, military: 10 x 50 dumbbell standing, 20 x 50 dumbbell seated, supported, 10 x 200 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 50 single armed rows, headstand, 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

today: run only; 5.1 mile shuffle on my hilly course; hills were a chore.

December 2, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, running, social/political, Uncategorized, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Why “normalizing Trump” might be a good idea (and what that means)

I was struck by memes of the following variety:

hedoesnotknowwhy

I found myself shaking my head. (yes, I am aware of the argument that Trump was merely mocking a generic clueless reporter and not lampooning the disability of a specific reporter)

But, let’s assume that he was mocking a specific reporter who has one arm with a curled up wrist.

Now some might find that funny, and many might find that rude and boorish. But disqualifying? (*)

Think of it this way: suppose that President Elect Trump were to “bring back” good job, establish 5 percent growth in our GDP, bring up median wages to new heights, keep us at peace, repair our infrastructure, see increases in longevity, reduce poverty and get everyone decent health insurance (even institute a good single payer system)?

If that happened, I think that he would be “reelected” (sort of) in a landslide, no matter how boorish his personal mannerisms were. Many people are willing to overlook such things if the rest is good.

Think about it: suppose you had a rare condition that most surgeons could not fix, but there is this one extraordinary one who had a 95 percent cure rate. But he was going to be let go by the hospital because, say, he made a racial slur on Facebook. And so, the only ones left to operate were those who had, say, a 5 percent success rate. How would you feel?

So, for me, as much as I don’t like Mr. Trump, the real issue is that he is bringing incompetent people to his administration and that he is going to double down on trickle down economics.

And THAT is why I claim that we should focus on failed policies (provided, of course, they fail):

One is to what extent we should regard Trump as deliberately using social media controversies to distract attention from other issues. The other is to what extent political actors should be pressured to not “normalize” Trump — remaining focused on what is outlandish, offensive, and bizarre about him rather than doing boring things like writing about his humdrum pick for transportation secretary.

Normalization, in this context, is typically cast as a form of complicity with Trump in which the highest possible premium is placed on maintaining a rigid state of alert and warning people that he is not just another politician whom you may or may not agree with on the issues.

But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.

Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters. Alongside the wacky tweets and personal feuds, Trump is pursuing a policy agenda whose implications are overwhelmingly favorable to rich people and business owners. His opponents need to talk about this policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments that happen on the terrain of Trump’s choosing and serve to endlessly reinscribe the narrative of a champion of the working class surrounded by media vipers.

That is what happened in other countries that have elected these sort of wacky authoritarian populists; they have been stopped by appeals to policy. It really should not be that hard.

goodjoblibtards

And seriously, how did these ads work?

(*) For the record, I find having proper deportment to be a prerequisite to be President of the United States, I don’t want an easily agitated, easily baited, hothead in charge of our military.

December 1, 2016 Posted by | economics, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , | 3 Comments

The Deplorables are going to be deplorable…

On Facebook, a conservative complained about Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment (which really only referred to the most extreme Trump supporters; she should have said “some” rather than “half”. Evidently this remark sent some “undecided” voters over the edge to Trump.

So, how is this going to work for them? Well, some of those benefiting from the “head of household” income tax deduction could see that go by the wayside and see their own taxes go up. And those who are benefiting from Obamacare could see that go away as well. Hey, no skin off of my nose, right?

Ok, ok, since I think that our economy is actually stimulated from the bottom, I don’t want to see the lower income people, including those who voted for Trump, get screwed over as that will put a drag on our economy.

November 29, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s deplorable strategy: lie and distract

trumptweets27november

Yes, these are genuine tweets. That will be his MO to distract: tweet outright lies. Hell, almost half of the public will believe him, and the media will not call him out on it.

And almost half of the voting public will believe him.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment

I was clueless…so was Paul Krugman who now admits it…

Yes, I know, I read the warnings. I knew that there was a very real possibility that we might see a decent sized popular vote victory/Electoral College loss by Hillary Clinton. But I chose to mostly focus on the betting line leads and the fact that most models had her somewhere between a 70-90 percent favorite.

And to be honest, Trump’s message and strategy didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

There was this: America, on the whole, is not the GOP. I really thought that Trump’s crudeness and vulgar rhetoric would turn many people off.

Yes, some of Trump’s statements, mannerisms and the like were seen as, well, not good, but not disqualifying either. I had forgotten that for the past 25 years, I have worked in a college environment along with snowflake students and even snowflakier faculty. In such an environment, getting offended can be seen as a virtue, and there was a culture to see just how sensitive one could be. The more easily offended one was, the more virtuous one is.

I had forgotten about the more socially conservative environment in which I grew up (Air Force bases, Texas high school, football, the Naval Academy then the Navy) and in such places, people did tell racist and sexist jokes, “in private”. I figured “that was long ago; the country has moved on”…but maybe not?

Now one might say: “hey wait a minute; aren’t conservatives themselves a super sensitive lot?” Of course they are; notice how they lost their minds over the “basket of deplorables” remark. But they are sensitive if they feel that you are looking down ON THEM. Looking down on others? Well, “suck it up, buttercup”. On the other hand, liberals are quick to bleed over slights to people who aren’t like them (e. g. gays, transgendered people, Muslims, etc.). Remember that in 2008, the Clinton campaign attacked us all over the place.

Ironically, the very voters that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary are the ones that deserted her in 2016.

But still, I was fooled by something else. I read the following by Paul Krugman:

But when Mr. Trump portrays America’s cities as hellholes of runaway crime and social collapse, what on earth is he talking about? Urban life is one of the things that has gone right with America. In fact, it has gone so right that those of us who remember the bad old days still find it hard to believe.

Let’s talk specifically about violent crime. Consider, in particular, the murder rate, arguably the most solid indicator for long-run comparisons because there’s no ambiguity about definitions. Homicides did shoot up between the early 1960s and the 1980s, and images of a future dystopia — think “Escape From New York” (1981) or Blade Runner (1982) — became a staple of popular culture. Conservative writers assured us that soaring crime was the inevitable result of a collapse in traditional values and that things would get even worse unless those values were restored.

But then a funny thing happened: The murder rate began falling, and falling, and falling. By 2014 it was all the way back down to where it was half a century earlier. There was some rise in 2015, but so far, at least, it’s barely a blip in the long-run picture.

Basically, American cities are as safe as they’ve ever been. Nobody is completely sure why crime has plunged, but the point is that the nightmare landscape of the Republican candidate’s rhetoric — call it Trump’s hellhole? — bears no resemblance to reality.

And we’re not just talking about statistics here; we’re also talking about lived experience. Fear of crime hasn’t disappeared from American life — today’s New York is incredibly safe by historical standards, yet I still wouldn’t walk around some areas at 3 a.m. But fear clearly plays a much diminished role now in daily life.

So what is all of this about? The same thing everything in the Trump campaign is about: race.

And he went on:

If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!

The point is that lived experience confirms what the statistics say: crime hasn’t been lower, society hasn’t been safer, in generations. Which, of course, leads us to the Trump gambit from last night. Can he raise 1968-type fears in a country that looks, feels, and is nothing like it was back then?

I wish I were sure that he can’t. A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”

My guess is that it won’t work,

And though I am anything but affluent, this is what I saw. I frequently run in a very pleasant partk, regularly attend minor league baseball games in a sparkling stadium, walk along the river and sometimes use a nice public health club (which has subsidies for the poor). Often I find myself thinking “hey, this is pretty nice”. I’ve seen similar things in other locations. So I found myself agreeing with Paul Krugman, though others accused him (and me?) of “living in a bubble“.

And yet Trump won the Electoral College, though he will lose the popular vote by around 2 million votes (two frigging MILLION votes) and by about 1.5 percent (CNN has it at 1.8 million and 1.4 percent…and the gap is growing)

And so I wonder about the models and about the why..as does Krugman:

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. Eastern Kentucky used to be coal country, and Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, promised to bring the coal jobs back. (So much for the idea that Democrats need a candidate who will stand up to the fossil fuels industry.) But it’s a nonsensical promise.

Where did Appalachia’s coal mining jobs go? They weren’t lost to unfair competition from China or Mexico. What happened instead was, first, a decades-long erosion as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining to strip mining and mountaintop removal, which require many fewer workers: Coal employment peaked in 1979, fell rapidly during the Reagan years, and was down more than half by 2007. A further plunge came in recent years thanks to fracking. None of this is reversible.

Is the case of former coal country exceptional? Not really. Unlike the decline in coal, some of the long-term decline in manufacturing employment can be attributed to rising trade deficits, but even there it’s a fairly small fraction of the story. Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise — and Mrs. Clinton did — are things like guaranteed health care and higher minimum wages. But working-class whites overwhelmingly voted for politicians who promise to destroy those gains.

So what happened here? Part of the answer may be that Mr. Trump had no problems with telling lies about what he could accomplish. If so, there may be a backlash when the coal and manufacturing jobs don’t come back, while health insurance disappears.

But maybe not. Maybe a Trump administration can keep its supporters on board, not by improving their lives, but by feeding their sense of resentment.

For let’s be serious here: You can’t explain the votes of places like Clay County as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.

To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.

(emphasis: mine).

My guess is that people really need someone to feel superior to. I remember in the military, many enlisted saw officers, especially the younger ones, as privileged sissy college boys who wouldn’t last in their world. So, you might, deep down, realize that your life will never change for the better, no matter who you vote for (and this sentiment is not unique to one class of people). But hey, you can always give “the middle finger” to those limp wristed morons who lack common sense…who tell you that you are a bigot because you don’t want women to share a locker room with people with male genitalia among other irrelevant stuff.

Add to that: many working class voters are NOT poor; things like minimum wage and other issues championed by the populist wing of the Democratic party really aren’t relevant to you.

Now Trump doesn’t have solutions to these issues; in fact, it is entirely possible that no solution exists.

But that doesn’t matter; that is what Trump ran on in enough key areas to tip a few formerly Democratic states his way. Hence we lost Wisconsin for the first time since 1984 and Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988, albeit by agonizingly small margins.

I really don’t know jack, do I?

November 25, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

One thing different about this election…

So often, Presidential elections break down by income. Not so much this time (via CNN)

trumpclintonbyincome

Now about education: you can see what the map looks like by “college” vs. “non-college”

Those with college degrees (via Survey Monkey; you can check out the map with various demographic groups here)

ifonlycollegegraduatesvoted

Versus “no college”:

ifnocollegevoted

This also explains my “bubble” as the vast majority of people I routinely interact with are either college students or people with advanced degrees.

The details are further laid out here.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

So Trump won. Why and what now?

goodjoblibtards

Yes, billionare (so he says) ran as a billionare and as a champion of working people …someone who lives in guilded areas and has a record of stiffing those who work for him…ran…and won. Yes, the holdiays are coming up…

To that I say: What. The. Fuck.

Now, yes, there are possible “silver linings” (e. g. the Republicans now have to govern, and they are much better at opposing than they are at governing.)

And yes, we have friends and family that voted for Trump:

But what happened and what can we do better?

For one thing, we can get a better handle on what pitches sell better than others. For one, much of the working class, at least the part of the working class that votes, simply doesn’t care about some of the issues that Democrats champion:

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3% of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own.

And the emphasis on the social issues…just stop it already:

The local chairman feels very strongly now that Clinton could have won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan if she had just kept her eye on economic issues and not gotten distracted by the culture wars.

“Look, I’m as progressive as anybody, okay? But people in the heartland thought the Democratic Party cared more about where someone else went to the restroom than whether they had a good-paying job,” he complained. “‘Stronger together’ doesn’t get anyone a job.”

At least there are come calls to move away from such identity politics. I thnk it isn’t a moment too soon. Things in these states have changed. Remember that Hillary Clinton is the first Democrat to lose Wisconsin since Walter Mondale!

And the issue about “getting a woman elected” really isn’t that big of a deal to many women:

 Class differences among women are an all but taboo subject. But scholars such as Leslie McCall have found that economic inequality among women is just as large, and has been growing just as fast, as economic inequality among men.This economic divide among women has created one of the most significant fault lines in contemporary feminism. That’s because professional-class women, who have reaped a disproportionate share of feminism’s gains, have dominated the feminist movement, and the social distance between them and their less privileged sisters is wide and growing wider. In the decades since the dawn of the second wave, educated women gained access to high-status jobs, but working-class women experienced declining wages and (because of the rise of divorce and single parenthood among the working class) shouldered an increasingly heavy burden of care. Yet mainstream feminist groups and pundits have consistently stressed the social and cultural issues that are most important to affluent women, while marginalizing the economic concerns of the female masses.

The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time. Mainstream feminists sold women a bill of goods, arguing that the election of a woman president would improve the lot of women as a class. Echoing Sheryl Sandberg’s dubious thesis, they claimed that leadership by women will as a matter of course produce gains for all women—though actually, the social science evidence for this claim is mixed at best. There was also a lot of talk about how having a woman president would “normalize” female power.

The class divisions between women came to a head in the 2016 election, when Big Feminism failed women, big-time.
But if you’re a woman living paycheck to paycheck and worried sick over the ever-diminishing economic prospects for you and your children, you’re unlikely to be heavily invested in whether some lady centimillionaire will shatter the ultimate glass ceiling.

Of course, not all of the issues are economic; we won’t win them all over. But we need to lose this group by a closer margin.

Now wait…yes, I claimed that actual policy did not matter that much in this election. I believe that. I see it this way: Trump says “I am going to bring back your jobs”. That really isn’t a policy statement; that is an issue he is championing. The “how will do do that” is the policy part..and well, that is important, when it comes to governing. Making the voters believe that is your issue is campaigning, and we did not do that.

Oh sure, I agree that Trump promises are somewhere between “highly improbable” to “impossible” to achieve; the clock is not going to be turned back:

he entire Trump movement is about anger, and in truth it is easy to understand why these people are angry. I live in the Rust Belt. I have spent all but a sliver of my life here. Outside of a small number of major cities that have weathered the storm (but have their own serious problems) economically, people live in small towns or minor cities that have declined steadily since 1960. People who have spent long lives in these places remember when things used to be better – when the city wasn’t half-empty, when there were enough jobs, when the jobs that were available didn’t pay squat with terrible benefits, and when the side effects of poverty and neglect hadn’t turned the physical city into a decent setting for a modern post-apocalypse film. They are mad and they have a reason to be mad.

The reality is, the version of their communities that they remember is NEVER coming back. It’s not. It’s gone. It’s never coming back because we cannot recreate the context that allowed it to happen – a post-World War II environment in which the U.S. was the sole industrial power on the planet that wasn’t teetering on collapse and / or reduced to rubble. Eventually the rest of the world caught up, and we felt the beginning of the decline in the 1970s. The embrace of neoliberal trade policy in the Reagan and post-Reagan years only accelerated trends that were already established. All the while the GOP didn’t lift a finger to ameliorate any of this. They offered tax cuts (which would magically create jobs, but didn’t) and helpful reminders that if you’re poor it’s because you don’t work hard enough.

These places are dead and dying because economically there is no longer any reason for them to exist. They were established at a time when their location near resources or now-outdated transportation links made them important. Now, and no politician will ever admit it in public, there simply isn’t any reason for Altoona or Youngstown or Terre Haute to exist anymore. The jobs are never coming back. Nothing is coming back. The Democrats have not given the white Rust Belt working class an answer to their problems because there is no answer. Nothing will resurrect these places, all of which have long since crossed the point of no return in their economic and population decline. Automation, union-busting, outsourcing (much of it within the U.S., to impoverished Southern states) and race-to-the-bottom subsidy wars among state and local governments are ensuring that the situation isn’t about to improve.

And here’s the kicker: Trump didn’t offer any solutions either

So there we are.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | economics, economy, political/social, politics, politics/social | , , | Leave a comment