The Geography of Trumpism

What sometimes surprises me sometimes about my very liberal friends is how much they seem to care about this marginalized population, to the extent that they want a whole set of trade and competition-regulating policies to protect and support them, not realizing that the burden of those policies might well be on other marginalized populations living in the two coasts (urban lower classes) who are far more sizable than the midwestern marginalized populations.  So we are back to the world of hugely expensive and inequitable agricultural support payments but now for manufacturing and small town-ness… I suppose on one hand the argument that “the rich people are using regulations to their benefit even more so we are just getting our share” is hard to beat rhetorically, but I wonder if it has that much basis in fact… I guess intellectual property is one area, where Disney shareholders keep making it more expensive to enjoy Disney products… I feel like that has a easy “social revolution” rather than regulatory answer… the whole buy local and small movement  is responding to that problem…

“It’s a nonurban, blue-collar and now apparently quite angry population,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “They’re not people who have moved around a lot, and things have been changing away from them, but they live in areas that feel stagnant in a lot of ways.”

Source: The Geography of Trumpism – The New York Times

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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4 Responses to The Geography of Trumpism

  1. Bill says:

    What is your point here? That lefties like me are too sympathetic to the “trailer trash” supporters of Trump? I suspect that the same policies that hurt those folks also hurt our coastal “urban lower classes”: immigrants compete most closely with other immigrants (see G Peri), and Chinese workers compete with all the low-skilled American workers (see Heckscher-Ohlin).

    As for me: peace, love, and Basic Income Guarantee. Sounds a little like the Bern, I know, but Hillary too, who is a lot closer than the Donald…

  2. mkevane says:

    The point is to get more traffic to the blog…? I think one basic thrust has to be cleared up first: would you rather have an economy (local, national and global) based on competition and entry, or an economy based on reasonable common sense (say) planning via a bureaucracy. If the strong preference is for the latter, then the discussion about import competition and its effects is just a side show, right?

    But let’s assume the general preference is for market economy with competition. More competition from firms and workers in other countries (that increasingly have the infrastructure that enables them to produce for global markets) will dislocate. These imports compete with low-skilled US workers, indeed. Mobility dampens the magnitude of the effects of that dislocation. Immobility magnifies it. A one-factory Whirlpool town in the midwest is just not going to do well, all else equal. So I agree with you entirely. Basic income guarantee, good secondary and tertiary education, decent public infrastructure (water, electricity, Internet, roads) … that is the right public policy for people in these towns. Not, and that was the point of my post, trade or regulatory policy that is somehow going to keep factories located in their town (all else equal).

    I think solar panels might (I say might because I have not thought it through) be a great example. China flooded the market with much cheaper solar panels. The answer to that isn’t to say we should restrict imports in order to have American manufacturing in Peoria, but rather this is great now we can really innovate on our entire energy spectrum and generate millions of service sector jobs all over the country installing solar panels and integrating them into our grids.

  3. Bill says:

    Let’s move from second best to third best… A dysfunctional polity that cannot or will not enact the social insurance and infrastructure policies that we would prefer… Now what?

  4. mkevane says:

    Ha ha! How about, then, faster bus transit on El Camino Real? Is that doable? And maybe keep libraries open on Sunday afternoons?

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