Monday, November 14, 2016
Now I know. The anger kept building until a political huckster called Trump found the way to exploit it for personal advancement.
The bitter joke is that the populist promises he made to keep out Muslims, Mexicans and Chinese imports would do little to make the mug punters better off, whereas many of his more conventional economic policies will do much to further fatten the pockets of the 1 per cent the punters so resent.
While we wait to see which promises he acts on, the best guess is he'll implement those of his policies that fit with Republican orthodoxy.
After all, he'll be relying on the usual Republican suspects to make up his cabinet and relying on Republican majorities in Congress to put his policies into law.
This suggests he'll be quick to start phasing corporation tax down from 35 per cent to 15 per cent, and lowering all rates of personal income tax (though not necessarily in a way that favours low and middle earners).
He's likely to increase defence spending and maybe even keep his promise to fund a much-needed urban infrastructure renewal program.
But surely this would cause a huge expansion of the still-excessive federal budget deficit, wouldn't it?
Yes, but that's unlikely to stop it happening. It is, after all, similar to what Ronald Reagan did on coming to office in 1981.
We're about to see confirmation of an eternal truth of American politics: the Republicans care hugely about the evils of debt and deficit – it keeps them awake worrying about what we're leaving for our children and grandchildren – but only when there's a Democrat in the White House.
For the most part it will be a giant exercise in trickle-down economics – even though many of the people who fell for Trump's crude charms now rightly see it for the voodoo economics it mainly is.
Protectionism may be the new saviour – in Nick Xenophon's Oz as well as Trump's Rust Belt states – but it's still the delusion it always was. It seems "only common sense", but that doesn't mean it works.
In any case, were Trump to impose a huge tariff on Chinese imports, do you imagine that would re-open the ghostly steel mills in Gary, Indiana, or the rusting automobile plants down the road from Michael Moore's place in Flint, Michigan?
Turning back globalisation is no easier than turning back time. The main thing you'd do is rob working people (and the rest of us) of access to the one aspect of globalisation they've clearly benefited from: imported goods much cheaper than the locally made goods they replaced.
Don't kid yourself: some lost their jobs in factories, but all workers – most of whom never worked in manufacturing – benefited from lower prices.
That's why there's no free lunch in protection: it's a scheme where the fortunate few are subsidised by the less-favoured multitude. It's not foreigners who lose out, it's other locals.
And don't kid yourself on this: far from all the jobs lost from manufacturing were lost through import competition.
Far more than many oldies realise were lost through computerisation. That's a big part of the reason reimposing high tariffs would do surprisingly little to restore manufacturing employment.
It's a convenient delusion that globalisation is solely the product of "neo-liberal" deregulation. Its other, bigger driver is technological advance and the digital revolution. Think any pollie can stop that?
This isn't to say scuttling the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement would be any loss. It offered trivial benefits to us, in return for giving foreign multinationals power to push our government around.
Just because preferential trade deals are called "free-trade agreements" doesn't make them a good thing. The US's primary goal in its many agreements is to advance the interests of its exporters of intellectual property, while continuing to protect its farmers.
Its trans-Pacific deal was intended as cover for the bilateral deal with Japan hidden within it, as well as strengthening America's trading links with all the main Asian economies that weren't China.
The Yanks may be paranoid about the rise of China, but the joke is there never were two big economies – the two biggest – more interdependent. The US is China's largest trading partner, while China is the US's second-biggest – and its biggest creditor.
The Yanks are really stoopid enough to take a crack at Chinese imports? Trump is a cunning con man, not an idiot.