Tuesday, April 25, 2017


After Trump's victory and Le Pen's impressive score in France, references to the "Rust Belt vote" have become an almost legitimated macro-economic term in the electoral lexicons. The anti-globalist camp asserts that globalization created "plaques" in the economic systems which clogged a normal progression of incomes and social mobility. 

It is undeniable that in the Western economies re-conversion and reform have hit major
obstacles and "breaks" which slow down overall mobility. It is too easy to blame the addiction to welfare or a form of social complacency for this structural "impasse". Existing atavistic frustrations are an easy prey for political manipulation and demagogy, as is being proven in Trump's America now. The anger of the individuals who feel left out is real. Their recourse is faulted.

The trade unions put a lid on a more outward looking alternative.  Instead of encouraging persons to move, to look into alternatives, they too often lock up the unemployed in de facto stagnation, wherein the nostalgia for old, nefarious lost jobs obscures the lure of innovation, being it elsewhere. Change comes at a price, but the opposite comes with a death sentence. Governments together with private investment need to impose a real face-lift on the old industrial monstrosities which keep workers and their families hostage to yesterday's hell. Automation and new technologies are creating a model where more will be achieved by fewer. The old jobs will not come back and to pretend otherwise is dishonest. One does not have to return to the Keynesian formula which would backfire in the current new wave economy, neither should one follow Piketty--who is nevertheless right in his r>g equation (return of capital outpaces the growth rate of the economy)--to the end, since one throws out the baby with the bathwater.

There is a need for a new Contrat Social.  Trade unions have to review their priorities and become more preoccupied with innovation than with closures. The unemployed have to be encouraged to correct their addiction to being rewarded for doing too little and switch to mobile alternatives. The service sector has de-localized both the "where" and the "who" to foreign countries and foreign labor because the jobs (for instance: hospital care, distribution, R and D) have been given to third parties, who excel at what they are doing. This is how one can hear that coal miners still prefer to work in coal, rather than consider modern, healthy alternatives, which they came to consider as out of reach anyway. This perverted mindset is encouraged by politicians and trade unions alike who, by the way, seldom come personally close to anything that might look like coal. 

It is easier said than done but the nature of the discourse needs to change. Change is not necessarily unachievable. Mobility is an accelerator for both what lies ahead (innovation) and user/worker friendly jobs (rather than band-aid placebos). The Rust Belt is a social human negative but the exploitation of understandable discontent is morally unsound. Suffice to see who are the ones who encourage raw ideas, raw materials , raw standards to understand the enormity of the big lie which won in the US and which might lose in France.

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