Monday, August 01, 2016

The resonance of Trump: "People are comparing themselves to their neighbors and feeling like they’re not getting their fair share."

As Bluegill noted on Fb ...

Real life, compounded by what David Graeber and others have referred to as bullshit jobs; bean counters and paper pushers are prioritized and rewarded over those who actually grow the beans and make the paper. In terms of human development and sustenance, that's backwards. Makes it all the more difficult to listen to people who've fully given themselves over to the "new [bullshit] economy" proclaim their superiority.

Now read this:

Confused Why Donald Trump’s Message Is Resonating? Relative Comparison Theory And Income Inequality Explain A Lot, by Benjy Boxer (Medium)

(In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama) rightly points out that many people have struggled, and there’s a reason why Donald Trump is successfully playing on fear and nationalism.

The majority of people reading this article on Medium probably haven’t felt the pains that Obama described, so they’re confused, like me, about the popularity of Trump. I again decided to collect data to breakdown the issues that I think are frustrating many Americans. It takes more than graphs and psychological theory to explain this, but I’m going to try. In turn, Democrats and Republicans need to recognize that and deliver real solutions to these issues, not platitudes, fear, and nationalism.

This first graph is by far the most important chart in explaining both the benefits and impact of globalization, free trade, and a changing economy to different constituencies. The greatest benefactors of the extension of the Bretton Woods System (free trade and globalization) following the end of the Cold War have been those who own capital and the poorest people in the world. Unfortunately, as money has moved from the Developed Economies to the Developing World in search of return and comparative advantage, the middle class in the United States and Europe have failed to benefit.

Many behavioral psychology studies have shown that even when your life is improving in absolute terms, you see very little psychological benefit when your life isn’t improving as quickly as your neighbor. Your absolute size of the pie is less important than your relative slice of the pie (Christian Elger and Armin Falk — University of Bonn). This is why inequality is so damaging to the national psyche.

And, a few other recent essays of relevance:

David Graeber, One: "On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs." (NAC)

David Graeber, Two: "Despair Fatigue: How hopelessness grew boring." (NAC)

What do Donald Trump voters really crave? Respect, by Chris Arnade (The Guardian)

Why Trump voters are not “complete idiots”, by Chris Arnade (Medium)

How the ‘Stupid Party’ Created Donald Trump, by Max Boot (New York Times)

There's nothing in Trumpism for me, but while the candidate himself is shallow, the vein he's tapping into is deep and needs to be understood. Democrats? Lots of neoliberal complicity there, eh?

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