Monday, April 17, 2017

He Doesn't Believe Government Should Do That

Donald Trump has promised to bring back coal mining and manufacturing jobs. But a lot more jobs have been lost in the service sector. Consider what has happened in retailing. Paul Krugman writes:

Even as Mr. Trump was boasting about saving a few hundred jobs in manufacturing here and there, Macy’s announced plans to close 68 stores and lay off 10,000 workers. Sears, another iconic institution, has expressed “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business.

Overall, department stores employ a third fewer people now than they did in 2001. That’s half a million traditional jobs gone — about eighteen times as many jobs as were lost in coal mining over the same period.

As customers have switched to on line retailers, like Amazon, shopping malls have gone empty. The same phenomenon has happened in the newspaper business:

And retailing isn’t the only service industry that has been hit hard by changing technology. Another prime example is newspaper publishing, where employment has declined by 270,000, almost two-thirds of the work force, since 2000.

Why the focus on mining and manufacturing? It's easy to blame liberals and foreigners for the job losses:

Demagogues can tell coal miners that liberals took away their jobs with environmental regulations. They can tell industrial workers that their jobs were taken away by nasty foreigners. And they can promise to bring the jobs back by making America polluted again, by getting tough on trade, and so on. These are false promises, but they play well with some audiences.

But, in the United States, lots of jobs disappear every day: "In an ever-changing economy, jobs are always being lost: 75,000 Americans are fired or laid off every working day. And sometimes whole sectors go away as tastes or technology change."

So what's to be done?  Workers need to be supported as they prepare for the new jobs that are coming on stream:

We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income for all. We can provide aid to the newly unemployed. And we can act to keep the overall economy strong — which means doing things like investing in infrastructure and education, not cutting taxes on rich people and hoping the benefits trickle down.

But Mr. Trump doesn't believe that government should do that. 

Image: Work It Daily


Steve said...

The Luddites and Malthusians were correct, who knew?

Hugh said...

A big issue is that most of the stuff we purchase is made elsewhere, not in North America.

Why should North American businesses have to compete with businesses in Asia, where people are paid $5 a day?

If manufacturing were brought back to North America, of course merchandise would be more expensive, but overall society would benefit, IMO.

Owen Gray said...

It's never been easy for we human beings to adapt to change, Steve.

Owen Gray said...

I don't know, Hugh. The bargain hunters -- like those who go south for cheaper prices -- would always be looking over the fence.

the salamander said...

.. ah, the evolution of 'jobs or careers' ..
Are we not able to recognize vast, even sudden shifts
in the tectonic plates of culture, environment
geography, technology, population ?

In terms of attention to reality & electorate & citizenry
most 'public servants' are functioning in a seperate fantasy reality
that does not include cognition, responsibility or ethics
so why trust them with that thing called 'Policy'
.. you know, where they are alert and proactive, responsible eh
to the needs dreams and wishes of the people who elected them
(what an odd concept, I know .. )

We now have the spectre of politicians elected for no rational reason
.. albeit the most popular in a race among toxic toad parasites
We all know where policy comes from ..
either the most powerful politican or a consortium of partisans
.. or both ..

I note provinces pimping jobs jobs jobs .. for the blessed Oil Economy
that are sellout pimpage.. on behalf of 'donation Stockholme syndrome'
that being where 'governance' is a lip service stroke job
from the corporate sponsors of this current captured Party..

Yes, in Canada there are exceptions to the rule
but any Canadian can see the vast majority in politics
are pinned down.. unable to fullfill their job description

Owen Gray said...

Money greases the machinery, salamander. And money gets its way.

Toby said...

Anonymous Hugh asked, "Why should North American businesses have to compete with businesses in Asia, where people are paid $5 a day?"

Why should North Americans allow imports from businesses that only pay $5 a day? The big problem with our various trade deals is that they push standards down; we need better standards, not worse.

Diamonds are common. DeBeers demonstrated that limiting availability causes prices to rise. Canada's milk and egg marketing boards do the same thing.

Our governments need to be smarter.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Toby. Racing to the bottom isn't smart.

The Mound of Sound said...

There was a report last week, I think in The Guardian, that predicted within 20-years fully 30 per cent of jobs in the developed world will be lost to automation. 30 per cent, less than a full third I suppose, yet in the context of our consumer economy, our societies, that's a thermonuclear scale disaster.

Government has surrendered its power to regulate and control capital, a change that left labour vulnerable to capital's predations. Wealth was quickly siphoned out of the middle class to the richest of the rich, wages stagnated, jobs disappeared, inequality - of wages, of wealth and, most importantly, of opportunity - soared.

I know of not one political leader willing to change any of this, not one.

Owen Gray said...

It's been clear for decades that our political leaders have been supporting self destructive policies, Mound -- even as they told us that those policies were in our own best interests.