Weekend Reading: Neville Morley: Vicarious Virtue

A Question for Paul Krugman: Please, Sir, May I Still Fly My Neoliberal Freak Flag?

Elephant graph Google Search

Let me distinguish between:

  • Supervulgar Trumpism: Donald Trump will return manufacturing employment to 24% of the nonfarm labor force.

  • Vulgar Trumpism: Donald Trump will renegotiate NAFTA and China's accession to the WTO. We will not get all or even most of the manufacturing jobs back, but the industries and the communities will be healthy.

  • Semi-intelligent Trumpism: The U.S. ought to be a high savings capital and manufactures exporting country, like Germany and Japan. Bad macro and trade policies--the Reagan and Bush 43 deficits, keeping the strong dollar policy long past its sell-by date, prioritizing finance over manufacturing--accelerated the decline of manufacturing employment well beyond its proper technology driven pace and eroded our valuable communities of engineering practice.

Supervulgar Trumpism is false. Vulgar Trumpism is false. But semi-intelligent Trumpism--there is a point, an argument there... How strong is it? And if it is strong, does it have much purchase in explaining the woes of the working class in the Global North?...

Let me put my question this way:

Were I to want to fly my neoliberal rootless cosmopolite freak flag, I might want to say:

  • Point A on the Elephant Graph has a cause orthogonal to the troubles of America's working class. It is due to good policy in China and India coupled with the unlocking of the door to export-led growth...

  • Point B on the Elephant Graph is not the result of mishandling trade. Germany has done everything right as far as nurturing its manufacturing production workforce and supporting its communities of engineering practice are concerned--and its manufacturing export surplus is massive. Yet its manufacturing share of employment has fallen by 40% in the West and 75% in the German East since 1971. And Germany's 20%- and 50%-ile has done nearly as badly as America's has.

The rise of the overclass, income stagnation coupled with inadequate social insurance, Polanyian disruption of patterns of life people think they have some kind of right to in a market capitalist world where the only rights that really matter are property rights--all of these woes are not driven by trade. I was sitting next to Pascal Lamy on Tuesday when he said:

Brad quoted an Indian, let me quote a Chinese proverb: "When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger. Globalization is the finger, and market capitalism is the moon..."

Could I if I wished to fly my NFF, in good conscience quote Pascal, and take the U.S.-German comparison as a license to still be both (a) a good social democrat at home and (b) a good rootless cosmopolite globalist internationally?