Sunday, October 02, 2016

"As Trump might say, American exceptionalism is exceptionally stupid."

Talk as much as you like about racism, sexism and the idiocracy. I won't argue with you. They're part of this, in spades.

But it's still the economy, stupid.

My Post-Debate Blues, or, How a Rude Egomaniac Has Effectively Channeled Working-Class Anger, by William Greider (The Nation)

In his clumsy way, Trump is defining a new industrial policy and exposing the stupidity of American “exceptionalism.”

... Author and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan explains why Americans are confused by their own government’s propaganda. “The Germans are making money off of China, and China is making big time money off of us.… Many Americans think that we’ve got a trade deficit because we can’t compete with China. We’ve got a trade deficit because we can’t compete with Germany in selling things to China. Until people wake up and look at the kinds of things the Germans are doing to keep their manufacturing base, we’re going to continue to run deficits.”

As Trump might say, American exceptionalism is exceptionally stupid.

It so happens that Geoghegan wrote one of my favorite books in recent years, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life.

... It’s no accident that the social democracies – Sweden, France and Germany, who kept on paying high wages – now have more industry than the United States or the UK. During the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, the Anglo-Americans, the neoliberals, The Economist crowd, and the press generally, would taunt the social democrats in Europe: “You’d better break the unions.” That’s the way to save your industry.

Indeed, that’s what the United States and the UK did: They smashed the unions, in the belief that they had to compete on cost. The result? They quickly ended up wrecking their industrial base. But Germany, Sweden and France ignored the advice of the Anglo-Americans, the Financial Times elite, the banking industry: Contrary to what they were told to do, they did not wreck their unions.

And it was the high labor cost that pushed those countries into making higher “value-added” things. Where is Germany competitive? It’s in high-end, precision machinery, made by people with the highest skills. It’s in engineering services. People look at Germany and say, “What about the German unemployment?” But no one in the United States ever says, “What about the German labor shortages?”

Donald Trump probably isn't the one to fix any of this, but there's a slight problem.

Neither is Hillary Clinton.

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