We have all heard about the incredible job Donald Trump did in keeping all those jobs at a Carrier plant in Indiana. How could you not hear it? With the loudest media voices screaming about it, it was hard to miss. It was as if the new – nope, not gonna call him that – had accomplished something even before taking office.
It’s almost as if the press was engaged in a gullibility test of some kind. I only say that because what Trump did wasn’t really a good thing. God forbid that I agree with Caribou Barbie (Sarah Palin) on anything, but “crony capitalism” sounds about right.
Start with the fact that, in order to get Carrier to keep some jobs here and not send them to Mexico, the state of Indiana had to promise at least $7 million in state tax abatements. (Gee… who’s governor there? Lemme think… oh, yeah! Mike Pence! What a coincidence! Wonder how Trump got that deal?) That means Indiana taxpayers will be paying at least as much in taxes to keep these jobs here as they will collect from the non-laid-off who will survive this little ordeal. And no, Trump and Pence didn’t “save” 1,000 jobs. They saved fewer than half that many, in reality. And it’s likely not permanent anyway. In all, Carrier is slashing 1,300 personnel. See, there’s another plant outside of Indianapolis that’s also closing. Wait; Trump and the lapdog press didn’t tell you that, did they?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against offering some tax abatements to keep jobs in a state. States do it all of the time, and it sure beats the hell out of, say, committing a billion or so dollars to building a sports stadium that only a team will profit from. But Trump and his lapdogs are making it sound as if he, as president, has the ability to order private corporations to keep their plants open, which is ridiculous. If presidents had that power, the auto industry would not have moved South, to Red states who don’t care about workers.
That said, if you are going to give Trump credit for “saving” about 450 jobs (that will cost you more than $15,500 per job, Indiana taxpayers), then stop portraying this nation’s economy as a veritable hellscape. In fact, under Obama, not only did he save at least 1 million jobs when he prevented the loss of GM and Chrysler, but manufacturing jobs overall have increased significantly on his watchGOP-caused Bush Great Recession. Nationwide, the number of manufacturing jobs has increased nearly 9% since then, which is actually pretty significant. It’s even more significant when you consider that technology has a hell of a lot more to do with job losses than cheaper labor overseas. Many of the jobs we’re losing are not being lost to Mexico and Asia, but to robotics and efficiency.
Perhaps the press lapdogs haven’t heard, but robotics has displaced tens of thousands of workers. There also is a significant basic flaw in calculations when it comes to claiming there are massive amounts of manufacturing jobs leaving the country, in that they tend to not factor in population and demographics changes. (Source) You know this is true; look how much Republicans talk about “workforce participation rates,” when that number is supremely unimportant. In fact, the numbers we see now and are supposed to be afraid of were predicted a decade ago and they will continue to decline. (Source) In fact, the lowest workforce participation rates in history occurred in the 1950s, before Obama was even born. Yet, Republicans try to beat us over the head with this nonsense daily, as if it matters.
While Trump has tried to beat the dead horse of “trade” for two years as a reason for the “shitty” economy that isn’t really all that bad (yet), most lost manufacturing jobs due to trade happened well before NAFTA. We lost millions of jobs to Japan decades ago, and Japan has lost millions of jobs to South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China. Now, China is faced with losing jobs to Africa and South America. This is how the world works. Jobs go to whichever country has less expensive and reasonably productive workers. That is never going to change. In fact, the Trump approach to trade is destined to make us worse off because it is sure to set off a number of trade wars. And trade wars, not trade, cost us a lot of jobs.
The one thing Trumpies and other wingnuts don’t seem to get is that, as big and badass as the United States is, we are still only five percent of the world population, which means that 95% of the available “market” is outside this country. If we really want to improve our economy, we have to stop blaming other countries for our problems and we have to stop knee-jerkingly gravitate to the cheapest products available. We need to acknowledge that the natural progression of capitalism means that there has to be a pool of workers who are unemployed, and we have to make sure we care for them. It has been shown time and time again that workers’ feelings of security have more to do with economic success than anything else.
No, Donald Trump did not “save 1,000 Carrier jobs.” Carrier moved 1,300 jobs to Mexico because they have to compete in countries, including this one, where people are always looking for the cheapest products possible, rather than the best value, which is almost never the cheapest. Until we create a reasonable safety net for the poor and those who can’t work, things will not improve. Until we stop thinking we got a “bargain” by getting a $1 spatula that will break in six months, when a $20 spatula will not only create American jobs, but last 40 years, things will not improve.
If this is a preview of what we can expect from a Trump Administration, it’s going to be a long four years.