On Friday morning, June 23, 2016, the “Masters of the World,” the magicians of Wall Street and the City of London, awoke to a frightening future – the world they knew and could profit easily by manipulating pieces of paper to gain outsized fortunes and influence, no longer existed. Finance and the wizards of finance were under attack from the little folks. The little people, those left behind by the fast moving post-war world, had spoken, making a choice that could unravel the carefully balanced world order where efficiency is more important than personal worth, where entire communities are sacrificed for the ‘Almighty Dollar.’ The forgotten people, left behind by capitalism’s rapid changes under globalization, had been given a rare opportunity to drive home the point that not everyone had profited from this global integration. Not everyone is a brain surgeon or rocket scientist or Master of the World with six figure salaries and bonuses. The men and women who live in Council flats with children who are school leavers without Oxbridge educations too long had been ignored by the London elites, too often paid off with another benefit rather than offered stable, well paid, jobs in industry. There is more to life than watching tele all day and going to the Pub at night to remember when they had jobs that meant something to someone, that made products for which they could point to. Too long companies were given the ability to move work out and finished products back in without considering the damage to communities. In short, globalization was at the root of Brexit with immigrants simply another aspect of this global integration. And it didn’t matter that leaving the EU will not make their lives better or put more money into the NHS, what mattered was for the first time in a long time they could rain on the parades of, how Harry Potters Uncle put it, “your lot.”
When the American version of Brexit, Trexit arrived in Scotland, like a laird inspecting his fief, golf carts and all, he had only a few days before learned what Brexit was all about. In his utter ignorance, he equated Brexit with his own success to push his own agenda of xenophobia. He, too, appeals to the people left behind by globalization; those that left rural communities that once had good, stable well-paying jobs. And on his return to the United States, he doubled down on his message promising to start a trade war with China and tear up NAFTA. His slogan is all about “nationalism,” “Make America Great Again” and “America First.” Putting the country first is nothing new, but you can’t be “the exceptional nation” and also the nation that puts America first without considering the consequences for all others.
In my opinion, Trump is the thin skinned result of playing the race card for too long in Republican politics by elites that long ignored their voters left behind by this new century where machines can replace human capital and trade, well-paying jobs in industry for the millions without more than a High School education. “America First” is a slogan that a British Firster might relish, but it presupposes that America is no longer great because we have so many outsiders, non-white, harder working, or brown people in our midst apparently stealing jobs. But Trump makes good points about the indifference of the elites to the problems caused by globalization and the loss of jobs in the rural areas. Too many people have been ignored and left behind, and globalization and open markets have often bad consequences, and no amount of saying, as economists have often tried to do, that winners should compensate losers, does not substitute for a meaningful days work.
I have been making these points for more than twenty years in various publications; raising alarms about the loss of manufacturing jobs and a growing dependence on imports. My mantra has been, despite my professional career as one of the preeminent economists specializing in measuring and forecasting the global economy, fair and balanced trade. The growing imbalances, too long ignored by the economic profession fearful of raising the specter of “protectionism,” are at the root of the problems with globalization – from Greek debt to Donald Trump. These concerns of corporate indifference to workers and communities are at the heart of the novel, The Phoenix Year, published in March 2014 by Wattle Publishing www.davidlblond.com. It was revised to reflect the current economic environment. The first volume deals with globalization and income inequality in today’s economy, it is one attempt to see if there might well be an alternative to the winner take-all capitalism that is at the root of the problems we face today.
Dr. David L. Blond works as a private economic consultant specializing in quantitative analysis of economic data. He began his career working for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. During the period of 1978 – 1985, he was a Senior Economist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, and after leaving that position worked for various major global economic forecasting and consulting firms in senior positions developing some of the largest and most complex global economic models ever developed for use by private sector clients. He lives between Washington and Santa Fe, New Mexico. www.davidlblond.com @davidblond2000
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