Odds and Ends

December 6th, 2016 at 9:58 am

–I continue to earnestly and ploddingly try to find the way back to Factville. Over at WaPo.

–More on the seriously botched decision by a Texas judge to enjoin/block the new overtime rule that should have gone into effect a few days ago (Dec 1). Over at Vox.

–Readers know my take on Trump’s Carrier deal: smart politics, great for the <1K workers whose jobs were saved, but lousy economics in the sense that it’s neither scalable nor a systemic way to push back on trade-induced job losses. As we speak, many factories, including the Carrier plant, are sending jobs abroad.

But I thought Steve Pearlstein’s take was unique, smart, and very much worth reading. Steve argues that if presidents use the bully pulpit to throw serious shade on companies that disinvest in their workers, we might be able to move norms back to an earlier period where such behavior was widely viewed as not good capitalism, but bad management. I do think he needs to deal with the fact that, while Trump may be talking sticks here, he’s giving carrots. That, it seems to me, blocks the norm-bending. But I still think Pearlstein’s onto something.

–Finally, coming soon: re this Trump tax cut everybody’s getting wound up about, allow me to ask: do we really need a tax cut??!!


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5 comments in reply to "Odds and Ends"

  1. Smith says:

    There is more than one kind of town, not everybody lives in Factiville, and that’s ok. That’s a fact. Politics and government is more than presenting a plan that makes sense. It’s about leadership, gaining popular support, for yourself and your programs. It’s part of representative government. That’s how Obama won in 2012 with just 51% of the vote. His final appeal in I think the last debate was “You know me, you can trust me.” (This is from memory.) Appealing strictly to Factville is a losing proposition. Great presidents never rely solely or even primarily on facts. From highly educated Massachusetts, we got Dukakis, 1988 Kerry, 2004, and Romney 2012, and no accident why their success in one northeastern state didn’t translate into national appeal. JFK understood didn’t shy away from using his charisma. Your trouble is that the case against the Democrats is rather damming. Obama and Clinton both campaigned on expanded globalization, both had favored the TPP, both said nothing could be done about factories moving except for increased retraining. Their priorities were new trade agreements and immigration reform. Plans for infrastructure were constrained by adherence to austerity (Obama’s Federal wage freeze, willingness to grand bargain, Clinton’s “everything is paid for” program). Your case of ignoring factory workers is bad. As I learned from Law and Order, when you have a bad case, then you argue the facts.

    • Smith says:

      I think Perlstein’s take is totally wrong. It is not about cultural norms. The air traffic controllers were actually fired. The threat to UTC was real. Before unions were cowed into submission by a long war of attrition, there were constant battles waged at factories and in the courts, over issues less threatening the job elimination. That’s a total fiction that previously management didn’t move factories because they were nice guys. Strikes, illegal strikes, and violence, helped cause the backlash of Taft-Hartley, but the momentum and size of unions by then, kept management in check. I don’t have data to back up an intuition that conditions in Mexico, and trade barriers in the 1960s, infrastructure available, the auto ecosystem in the Midwest, also played a role in curtailing movement. For example: you could not build an auto plant in India without creating your own energy supply system to due infrastructure deficiencies, I think. Maybe someone want’s to check those facts.

  2. Jill SH says:

    1. “A fact-oriented Hillary Clinton” got 2.5 million more votes, so there’s still a majority of us voters living in the fact-based reality. It’s just that enough of us don’t live in the correct states.

    2. Voters don’t trust politicians, but then keep electing for those politicians who lie to them the most. [Mostly thinking of those obstructionists in Congress.]

    3. Soon I will be joining in that chorus of ‘Keep the government’s hands off my Medicare/Social Security!’ By which I will, of course, mean all those lying politicians in Congress. And Mr. Trump.

  3. SPENCER says:

    It is worth pointing out that a Trump tax cut will be implemented when the economy is at or near full employment. At least when Reagan passed a similar tax cut it was near the bottom of a recession and the economy has major excess capacity. This implies that the stimulus from the Trump tax cut is likely to be offset by higher inflation and interest rates.