Thursday, May 19

Popularisation in politics lacks policy

The rise of popularisation in politics underpinned the reason for the initial success of Trump in the USA is well described by the interesting writings of the so-called red neck socialist Joe Bageant who authored Deer Hunting With Jesus,    

He provides a good background to explain the unexpected rise in popularity of Trump in some states - that is the continuing creeping class divide in the USA, to ultimately rob blue collar workers of pay and job security. Trump was the first to speak to them as one who understood their position, as the new working poor. He promised to bring back the manufacturing jobs to the country which had been lost to subcontracting overseas - principally to China. 

Underpinning this phenomenon in the USA of the working poor has been the lack of a realistic basic wage, exasperated by immigrants crossing the border (maybe 20 million so called illegal immigrants currently reside in the USA who have no official status) who mostly accept substandard rates of pay. There has been a propensity to turn a blind eye to this factor which equates to immigration without any policy. I’m not against immigration but you need to have some coherent policy to ensure adequate assimilation and support to benefit society as a whole. 

Trump’s unfulfilled promise to build a wall to be funded by Mexico by way of a levy from the remittances sent home by those now working in the states did strike a chord. 

In my view the phenomenon in the USA provides plenty of food for thought in relation to political philosophy. Principally what seems to ne missing is the ethical side to economics and governance as in the concept of fairness. That entails setting minimum wages and governance based on the concept of fairness rather than leaving it up to the market and thereby avoiding difficult decisions.   

The laziness of governance in this respect combined with libertarian’s confusion to link morality only to the question of freedom further contributed to the shrinking middle class and emergent working poor. The interesting point to note is the prior ground swell of support for candidates supporting smaller government and liberty in lieu of regulation were actually underpinning a policy stance against their best interests. 

After all the fathers of western economics namely Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) and John Maynard Keynes were moral philosophers. It’s only of recent times Keynesian economics has been utilized to counter the otherwise catastrophic effect of Coved. 

There are lots of interesting questions for political discussions assuming the aim is for fairer societal outcomes. But the salient point is you can’t legislate morality but you can aim for equal opportunities. That involves a fundamental freedom of choice but it doesn’t mean we will have equal outcomes because each of us are different. But to reiterate the question of freedom is often confused with morality, but they are not the same thing. Some curtailment of individual freedom will always be necessary if you adopt policies that benefit the whole of the community. A curtailment of an individual’s freedom is explicitly implied in the multitude of regulatory measures affecting business, our working conditions, safety and the values we expect from institutions assumed  in a society where policies are designed to give maximum benefit to the most needy or vulnerable. This is in keeping with the aims of egalitarianism.

The libertarian view of a smaller government and the idea of liberty to promote freedom and avoid freeloaders is the opposite political view.

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