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03 March 2018

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RC


"The fact is barring Hong Kong, the US is one of the most open economies in the world with the least friction to imports. China on the other hand is one of the most protectionist. The EU too is significantly more protectionist relative to the US. It is not just duties but all those other non-tariff barriers including subsidies and regulatory barriers."

Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking at Davos, reinforced blue peacock's statement when he challenged WTO director Roberto Azevedo to name a nation that was less protectionist than the US. He got no answer. He then cited a study of tariffs on 20 items that China had higher tariffs on all but 2 and the EU all but 4. Again no contradiction. So Wilbur Ross then went on to say:

"Before we get into sticks and stones about free trade, we ought to first talk about is there really free trade, or is it a unicorn in the garden."

English Outsider

Dr Puck - "I note you didn't mention the new round of supply-side tax cuts that lower corporate taxes in perpetuity, and income taxes temporarily."

I saw that, obviously not following it near as well as you and the other commenters here. Also the crony stuff you mention. As with American foreign policy I haven't the faintest idea whether the extent to which Trump 2018 deviates from Trump 2016 is because he's boxed in or because Trump 2016 was fake.

My guess for the little it's worth is the former. Seems stupid to me, electing a new President and then half the country and most of Congress, the Beltway and the media piling in, industriously cutting the ground away from under his feet. Doesn't result in your getting the Clinton you might have wanted. Nor in getting the Trump others wanted. Just results in nobody getting much of anything.

Except of course the Swamp. That still seems to be getting plenty of everything and if there's one thing that neither the Trump lot nor the Sanders lot wanted it's that. Score 0 for Constitutional Democracy so far.


I believe such arguments as you engage in are in any case not central. You would argue for a specific way of adjusting the management of the economy. You could be right on that, I don't know; so many variables that the argument's usually conducted by picking out the variables that suit the conclusion one wants.

But though the correct way of adjusting an economy is certainly one that needs examining it's not where one should start from here. What's the point of getting het up about all that when there's damn all viable economy to adjust?

Ulenspiegel

"The "added value" costs you mention can be astronomical."

You got the situation wrong: PV is cheap in Germany despite being a high wage country, i.e. installation is very efficient. The red tape costs are very low, German legislation worked in case of PV in comparison to the US situiation.

The added value is real: Silicium produced in Germany, PV-production lines made in Germany, BOS made in Germany, .....

Ulenspiegel

I am indeed very critical in respect to Amazon et al. However, they flourished because of US legislation and decisions. It was in your hand.

The issue with China is that the Chinese government has a huge domestic market and can nurture with low risk strategically important industries without real chance that competitors become a real problem, not having heritage industry (car makers) helps a lot.

Russia was never in the same situation, when Russia had a lot industry, western countries much had more.

Fred

Babak,

Potholes are fabulous works of art. Robert Ficano finally lost an election so there's hope for SE Michigan.

English Outsider

Ulenspiegel.

My mistake and I'm grateful you pointed it out. I took it you were meaning costs after production. Your English is obviously better than my German.

I regard Germany as the only truly successful large industrial economy in the West. You'll be better informed but I have seen these problems raised and have sometimes seen these problems myself:

1. Some contrarian German economists I ploughed through, must be twenty years ago now, argued that the emphasis should have been more on satisfying internal demand and less on the export drive. Put simply, it makes more sense to put a Mercedes in every drive in Germany that to sell them to countries that can't afford to pay - and then get in a muddle with the bad debts.

2. Could be sob stories, but I met gastarbeiter who said that the conditions for them on the factory floor were brutal. They called the foremen or production managers Kapos. Not a one-off - I've heard the term used by other immigrant workers at the bottom of the pyramid. Not conducive to social cohesion and may partly explain why it's mostly the whites in Germany who are singing Kumbaya.

3. Enterprising and very successful small businessmen were outsourcing labour intensive fringe products in the 70's. By the late 90's printing was getting done abroad as a matter of course. Now of course outsourcing is common.

4. The quality of everyday products is going down. In the 80's German power tools for the building site were the Gold Standard. Now it's Japanese power tools. As for cars, the iconic German product, quality is drifting down and has been for some ten years. They say. True?

5. I don't know what's happening to the famous German tradesman. I notice that plumbing and electrical work that I see done now is done by Eastern Europeans. Of course cleaning and so on is now mainly immigrant labour. That's my limited observation and perhaps you find it different. Mainly cash, and I don't go with the notion that the Grey Economy can be good for starting people off. It's good for putting the conventional tradesman out of business and keeping him out.

Of course I'm seeing this from the gloomy side. We in England have done all that and have been doing some of it since well before I was born. It's a very long time since "British Made" was the acknowledged Gold Standard and some time since we effectively dismantled our superb apprenticeship system in so many trades. So what I see with foreboding may be to you just a few blips in the success story. And I read that it's the Germans who are putting in the escalators in China. There's still a lot of success story around.

But what do you think. Blips or straws in the wind? Looks like haystacks to me.

I take little account, by the way, of the undoubted fact that the Germans have made a real go of alternative energy. That's fashion frills for the Gutmenschen and you'll agree with me that impressive though the effort is, it's no answer.

Babak Makkinejad

Over 40 years?

The corruption has been systemic.

Look at NYC roads - Ficano was not there.

LeaNder

English Outsider,

so glad, you let me know that the surplus-neo-Nazis sucking the very life-blood out of the rest of not only Europe, but the world is about to end. And soon. That relieves me.

They called the foremen or production managers Kapos.

Would you have expected anything else? Seriously? You must have met them too? Thus you should know, this racial superiority runs deep. We can't help. It's a defect in our DNA we Germans are born with.

Only variations on the Nazi patterns possible over the decades. Good you realize the "Gutmenschen"/do-gooders is only a rather superficial "fashion frill". Great coinage. It had to come out. ;)

mikee

Bullshit.

"Xiao Fang thinks she’s one of the luckier workers making Barbie dolls for the Christmas market at the Mattel toy factory in Chang’an.

True, she says, she works 11-hour days, six days a week, and shares a dormitory with nine other women and gets to see her husband only once a week. She had to leave her three-year-old daughter back home in Sichuan. And there is only a communal bathroom, and if they want hot water they must fetch it from another floor. But at least she has a job, she says. And others have it worse."

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/04/the-grim-truth-of-chinese-factories-producing-the-wests-christmas-toys

English Outsider

LeaNder - "Thus you should know, this racial superiority runs deep. We can't help it. It's a defect in our DNA we Germans are born with."

I'm not sure if you're being ironic here but if not, I really don't think that's true. Other points -

1. I have said before that the Continental Europeans generally do face a potential problem. Political dissatisfaction or dissent tends to run in channels already cut. You see this in France, Eastern Europe, the Ukraine of course, and Germany.

You'll be more familiar that I with the dissatisfaction with the status quo gaining impetus in Germany. We both know, however, that it's there. It gets demonised by the status quo forces. The more that dissatisfaction is repressed - the more difficult it is to express that dissatisfaction through "respectable" democratic channels - the more likely it is to run perforce in those old channels.

Some of my more left wing friends in Germany think that's already happening in any case. They see Nazis on every corner. I'm more cautious and think that what they see is more froth than substance most times. But the channel's certainly there.

I also think that the status quo forces and the supporting intelligentsia have hit upon the trick of categorising any deviation from their views as Fascist and thus suppressing such deviation.

You see this being done crudely in that Menasse novel "Die Hauptstadt" that received such acclaim recently. In that book the "populists" are explicitly equated with the retrograde forces of Fascism and Menasse rams home his "Nie wieder" message (Never Again!) by proposing that the "Hauptstadt", that is, the EU capital, should be re-located to Auschwitz. Just in case we forget what it's all about.

We must understand, Menasse is saying, that for all good people the fight against "populism" is in reality the fight against Nazism and its attendant horrors.

No wonder that novel won the prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair, for all that it's decidedly inferior as a novel. Menasse's message is just the message the status quo forces want to put across. All the old Holocaust guilt is exactly the weapon they need to defend their swamp.

As an Englishman untouched by Holocaust guilt all this looks pretty dumb to me. What happened before I and most Germans were born isn't relevant today and certainly shouldn't be elevated to some sort of religion. For many East Germans and I think for a lot of the German young that's how they see it too. They see their country being badly run and many would like to see a bit more common sense applied. But when they say so they come up against this nonsensical "Foundational Myth" that the Menasse novel exemplifies and find they're being regarded, not as people expressing legitimate political dissatisfaction, but as some sort of neo-Nazi freaks.

Again, you'll know better than I whether this trick of characterising common sense dissent as "populism" and thus a throwback to Nazi times is likely to be effective in protecting the status quo. But if it doesn't work there's going to be a heavy price for so demonising dissent and driving it into such a channel.

2. "Gutmenschen" was used in the sense that Duden gives. I've no time for all the nonsense now surrounding the use of the word and think that German intellectuals and journalists should have better things to do than agonising endlessly about its connotations. "Bien pensant" is perhaps a more neutral term.

As an ultra-fanatical environmentalist I genuinely admire the effort Germany puts into solar and wind; whilst wondering how it is that a country so renowned for its engineers can screw up so mightily when it comes to ensuring its energy requirements are met.

3. I think I may possibly have failed to get across the opinion underlying my comment. It is this. Even in Germany, the country that is perhaps now the only really successful large industrial economy in the West, globalism doesn't work. It doesn't benefit an increasing number of German citizens. It doesn't benefit the poorer EU countries chained in the EU with it to provide it with an export market. Its insatiable demand for cheap labour denudes neighbouring countries of their citizens and impoverishes many of its own. It benefits only the wealthier German citizens and even that, as I see often, less reliably than it used to.

Take all that lot together and you'll maybe agree it might be a good idea to go steady on the globalism that can only benefit your cronies, to give up the ruinous addiction to ever more cheap labour, and to listen to your dissenters - give them their due space in the political arena - instead of screaming "Auschwitz" every time they poke their heads above the parapet.

I doubt it applies at all to you, LeaNder, but I see so many Germans being blackmailed by their distant past into accepting a present that doesn't work. Let's applaud those who can see through the trick, not demonise them.

LeaNder

I am definitively not going back to proofread this. Let's talk about tea bags. ;)

****

EO, I have no deep desire to go into details on populism, and/or Gutmensch. The latter seems to be a neologism over here based on the English do-gooder. We do not have an equivalent to the exquisite EOD. Meaning hear it only recently.

"virtue signalling" is actually a helpful coinage*. It might be even more relevant in the age of the internet. Were superficial verbal self-representation may be a big part of the cake.

*******

Dear, there could be a lot said about your earlier maybe semi-informed, no insult: stereotypes?, comment to which I responded my own way. Fact is, I wouldn't have know where to start.

Let me take one:
I don't know what's happening to the famous German tradesman. I notice that plumbing and electrical work that I see done now is done by Eastern Europeans

Why do you use trade instead of craft? I am admittedly not familiar with the British tradition and or laws in this context. Vaguely aware there is a difference in the US, no standard structures. No solid institutional framework? Wrong?

Fact is in Germany it needs a solid training and education with the accompanying schools (a friend of mine shifted from engineering to such a school) up to the master craftsmen. The only one who can start a business. And then, yes, as--tradesmen--can trade this knowledge.

Meaning this scenario is highly unlikely: I notice that plumbing and electrical work that I see done now is done by Eastern Europeans.

Yes, occasionally, I am sure: Of course cleaning and so on is now mainly immigrant labour.

But it is hardly a standard gray market economy.

******

Moving on in this somewhat curious associative chain: The ex-wife of a cousin, a teacher, at one point due to job-frustration told her husband she would prefer to do something with her hands, everything, even cleaning. I was reminded of it a couple of years later and realized it wasn't that easy. The tradesmen that by now control the cleaning trade (efficiency?**) prefer people with provable experience. They register their employees according to the German standards were tax, health is deducted automatically as a standard. Yes in cities there are 'foreign looking' people among them. Around me that is. If I do not talk to them, I wouldn't know if they are German anyway. City. My cleaning lady was a German single mother till recently, she often brought some of her kids to help.

I vaguely realized that the craftsmen vs the tradesmen must be a pretty different matter in the US. I don't remember that business from my time on the British Isles, admittedly, in that trade sector. How could I have? There sure were specialist agencies. No?

*******
Last but not least, Robert Menasse. ..?.. I haven't read his Hauptstadt. But as far as I know his capital is Bruxelles/Brussels not Berlin.

Irony Alert: Can we two keep to exchanges on tea bags? Not that I wouldn't have a lot to say along the lines of your existing or invented liberal German friends.

** efficiency. A friend, a master roofer once told me he could only take jobs he could guarantee based on his crew. Again? What's your business and/or your German friends.

*****
By the way a friend close to me just screamed out. Since in Kosovo something about electrical currents is not quite quite right. His clock has been seven minutes late recently. Apparently the sudden scream may be related to disinformation on the German MainStreamMedia which he watched at that point.

kemerd

trade deficit is good for the US: in return for some electronic bits in some computer systems of the FED, they get real goods and services. This is essentially free lunch as long as USD stays the premier currency of the world, that is.

Do someone in the US think the position of USD is threatened and furthermore cannot be defended?

English Outsider


LeaNder - thank you for your reply.

1. What matters is whether an economy is a cheap labour economy or not. In cheap labour economies large numbers of people get the short end of the stick. The economy and indeed the society no longer delivers the goods as far as they are concerned. I assert this is happening in England. I believe it is happening in America - at least there are great numbers of people in America who assert it is happening. Is it happening in Germany?

Without putting words into your mouth, I'd say that you don't believe it is happening. You see a stable and prosperous economy and society. There are problems, of course, what I called "blips" above, but those are inevitable under any conditions. They have little significance.

I might see much the same problems as you but I don't see them just as "blips". They look to me like indications that Germany is going down the same road that we in England have travelled. Those indications I have called "straws in the wind" above. For me they show the way things are going.

As I said above, I could be taking too gloomy a view because I'm relating it all to my English experience. I could therefore be wrong.

But that is probably the difference between our points of view. The problems you see as not significant, I see as indicative of economic and social decline. So far a less serious decline than we see in England or the States but going the same way.

You live there and I don't, or at least haven't for a while, so you are very much more entitled to consider your view right than I am mine. When I visit I might also be fitting what I see and hear into an already fixed mental framework - the famous "confirmation bias" - so it's possible that my personal observations and experience count for very little. But although that's entirely possible, do keep in mind the possibility that you also might be subject to "confirmation bias". I could well be making far too much of problems that aren't in fact that significant; but you might just possibly be missing problems that are.

2. We need not be so tentative when we consider the political situation in Germany. An increasing number of Germans are not happy with the way things are going. Those Germans are being excluded from the political process.

Part of the exclusion process involves social or ideological pressure. I sketch out above how that works by taking as an example that Menasse novel. Political dissent is identified as "populist" or nationalist. That in turn is characterised as "Fascist". That in turn leads to Auschwitz.

Menasse insists that the foundation of the modern European order is based on a determination to prevent Auschwitz happening again. The site of the camp is woven into the plot and at one point we find the suggestion that Brussels/Strasbourg should be relocated to Auschwitz incorporated into the story line. Menasse is aware of the problems of "Globalism" - he's something of a dissenter himself - but whether he intends to or not he provides those who wish to suppress political dissent with a formidable weapon. When it is possible to suggest that deviation from status quo politics can be associated with the horrors of Nazism that exerts powerful social pressure on many not to deviate.

In addition to social/ideological pressures there is, as you will know better than I, the usual political manoeuvring and combination to ensure that the dissenters don't get close to power.

Your take on all this will be conditioned by your own ideological convictions. If you regard the "populists" as deviants then you'll think all is fair that keeps them away from power. If you regard them as a legitimate political force then you won't.

All I am saying above is that repressing dissent by such means might well work in Germany - I simply don't know. But if it doesn't the backlash will be the stronger for the repression.

3. Now we can get back to the subject Walrus' article is on. As Trump has repeatedly pointed out there is no such thing as "Free Trade". Never has been. All governments everywhere and in all times regulate or interfere with international trade. All Trump is attempting to do is to adjust the current terms of international trade so that the Americans don't carry on losing the shirts off their backs when they trade abroad.

He's in for a hell of a rough ride on that, because of course it's not all Americans who are losing the shirts off their backs. Those who belong to what is loosely called the crony class, and the top few per cent of the population underneath them, do very well out of so called Free Trade and so called Globalism. They're fighting him and they're going to keep fighting him. We're still waiting to see the outcome of that contest but let's not fool ourselves. It's going to be a brutal one.

fanto

EO at 136 and LeaNder at 137
IMHO EO is correct about the “german status quo swamp” (this is not exact quote, only the paraphrase) in the s.c. intelligentsia and nomenklatura within german mass media. The quality of german intellectual and of the industrial product have declined. The intellectual level suffers from inflation of grades in schools – recently I read that teachers (in believe in Bavaria) asked to increase the difficulty in teaching material and correspondingly make it more difficult to complete the curriculum. Btw. this is not unique to Germany, the same goes –probably worse – for the USA schooling. The quality of political discourse suffered a lot as well, the new social democratic “leading light” – Mrs. Nahles – was talking of ‘hitting in the muzzle’ of the political opponents (‘..in die Fresse..). Chancellor Merkel is also not exactly an intellectual big wig either – IMO she is just very cunning, she does not enter a serious debate, does not bring rational arguments if she meets a serious challenge to the liberal/leftist mantra. An example is her critique of the bestseller “Deutschland schafft sich ab” by Sarrazin, written in 2010 if I remember correctly. She did not read it, but she just said – “unhelpful”. End of debate. And the german intelligentsia just ducked and swallowed and went on to throw Sarrazin under the bus…as racist, right winger etc. usw.. Lately, after the massive problems with the illegal immigration, she changes her tune, and even brought in the new cabinet a person who knows the problems of ethnic ‘others’ – (…”Eine zentrale Rolle kommt dabei Franziska Giffey zu, der bisherigen Bezirksbürgermeisterin von Berlin-Neukölln. Mit ihr rehabilitiert die SPD-Spitze nicht nur ihren Vorgänger Heinz Buschkowsky, dessen politischen Geist Giffey in Neukölln fortsetzte und der wegen seiner oft schonungslosen Worte über Kriminalität, Islamismus und verfehlte Integrationspolitik vielen Linken in der Partei ein Dorn im Auge war...“
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/spd-minister-fuer-die-groko-personeller-aufbruch-der-partei-15485419.html )
Btw. Bushkovsky and Sarrazin have actually met and have found a lot of common ground. Neither of them can be accused of being ‘right winger’.
The quality of industrial products – also is in bad shape, as I see it; the emission scandal with falsifying engine emissions shows how low the intellectual level of the leadership of car manufacturers has fallen. Notable exceptions where german product still shines is the robotic industry (“Kuka” was bought by Chinese because it was one of the two best ones in the world, next to Japanese industry – and Japanese would not dream to sell or share it with anyone…). I am sure there are other ‘niche’ areas where the old german solidity and quality can still be found. (Let’s start a list of those ‘good old german quality products’).
The health ‘industry’ is an area I can speak about with some authority, I worked in Germany as Oberarzt, and from the experience how my brother Urologist who worked as Oberarzt as well; when he got older and after heart attack he moved to a desk job reviewing cases (for government) – his opinion was that in the whole of Hessia he saw only one or two urology department where a solid work was done and where he would go for treatment. My sister was treated in a very renowned cancer center in Frankfurt and I saw how mediocre the treatment has been, and how lavish the treatment was one floor higher where the VIP’s were attended to. Let me not go into the details of medical malpractice and cover-ups, which I was able to observe myself as well. That does not mean that there are no excellent places with top notch people who work as clockwork with their teams. But that is it – too much variation between places, one has to know where one can expect excellent care and where there is a lot of hype and falsehood. On the whole, the German attitude to health care is more down to earth, without the hysterics of US system, with politicians screams of ‘killing my grandmother panels”.
Let me now turn to the response of LeaNder. (#134 and 137) I am a uneasy – how much of it is irony, jeering, pretense not to know what is discussed, evasions, changing the topic, making allegations that EO said something , which he did not say, and avoiding the main issue which was in EO’s comment #136 clearly how german mass media, print and Radio and TV, to dominate the intellectual life, and shape it in spirit of total guilt. I would like to add, that on the other side there is subservience to the globalists and ‘atlanticists’ (those are the people belonging to the German Marshall Fund, Atlantic Council usw.), ‘without daylight’ between the russophobia in US and Germany. The “Putin Verstehers” are vilified.
LeaNder accuses EO of ‘semi-informed stereotypes’ and herself talks about the ‘deep racial superiority in the DNA of us Germans’… this irony, I hope . If not, LeaNder ought to read the column of David Brooks in NYT about Israeli geniuses.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/opinion/12brooks.html
LeaNder would rather talk about tea bags. Hmmm.. not particularly pleasant, if tea is bitter, but what do I know, I am a nitwit about tea bags. . Deflexions are typical for LeaNder comments. A difficult topic gets ignored and instead an artificial or side issue (the ‘tradesmen’ etymology) gets massaged. The bulk of EO’s comment was about the socio-political climate in Germany – and LeaNder devotes exactly two lines to it, just to deflect and insinuates that EO said “Berlin” instead of “Hauptstadt”. Likwise the insinuation that EO had ‘invented his friends’. The topic of Menasse’s book is too tea-bag worthy. I did not read it, but I had the opportunity to listen to several half hour readings from that book on the Hessen Radio “Kultur”, every morning while driving. It was in mid October last year, and I was truly shocked by the amount of venomous anti-german sentiment. For young people it was either a put-off (pushing them into the radical nationalist camp) or a serious dose of guilt for crimes of their ancestors (pushing them into the arms of the ‘nomenklatura’). Time will tell.
Lastly, EO says “…but I see so many Germans being blackmailed by their distant past…” - here I can say that this method of blackmail of ethnic Germans also has been used against myself here it he USofA. I was compared to Hitler, and was greeted by (physician colleagues) with the raising hand Heil Hitler Gruss.
Let’s talk about weather, not about tea-bags. Who am I, a nitwit! (as a surgeon I can confirm that Ernst Bloch, a philosopher, was right when he said – “eine Chirurgie die sonst nichts ist, eine vom Gewissen, Samaritertum emanzipierbare Chirurgie imstande war, die Verwundeten fuenfmal wieder schussreif zu machen...“ ‚ –surgery which otherwise is nothing, was able to make the wounded capable to be shot again five times over - ) (Ernst Bloch – Durch die Wueste, he talks there about 1st World War).

English Outsider


Fanto - After seeing your reply I spent an evening or two checking that German bestseller again.

I think you are right. Menasse's book is, maybe not so much anti-German, as anti-European. Anti-European in that it ignores where it does not belittle whatever does not accord with Menasse's narrow vision. His Europe is a cramped and inward-looking Europe, obsessed with a time that is past and proposing only a further retreat into that obsession. As Menasse was writing the book world-changing events were occurring in all of which the EU was involved. Barely mentioned. The book is so parochial it hurts. NOT my Europe and clearly not yours.

Here's a small sample of the reviews I came across. The cognoscenti know a literary dud when they see one, seems to me, even if they swallow the message. The "populists", those hardy souls who don't buy the status quo, recognise the message well enough.

https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/robert-menasse-die-hauptstadt-noch-ist-europa-nicht-verloren-ld.1314944

http://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/robert-menasse-die-hauptstadt-ein-kleines-schwein-in.950.de.html?dram:article_id=395415

https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/die-zukunft-von-europa-wie-robert-menasse-europa-kaputtschreibt/20843276.html

Looks like being a succes d'estime. Bed time reading for the bien pensants and not just in Germany. It's getting translated into several other languages, we are told.

I think on balance it'll be good if Menasse's novel does take off outside Germany. The more people get to see such nonsense the better. Not all will fall for it, surely?

As to how it will go down in Germany. particularly with the young, as you say, "Time will tell."

English Outsider


Walrus - might I as a footnote to your discussion on Free Trade add a contrarian view on US unemployment figures? (Lifted from ZH)

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/03/08/make-believe-america/

Perhaps as serious is the shift to low paid jobs. At one end the Ford settlement, in which the union seems to have acceded to a pact with the devil - existing workers kept current pay and conditions, new workers didn't. There wasn't, one imagines, much choice but to accept that deal, for fear that Ford would have outsourced the lot, but that deal was a side effect, if concealed for the present, of the cheap labour economic framework that the orthodox economists insist on.

At the other end workers moving from steady jobs to zero hours jobs and the like. One sees in this country families keeping their heads above water by both husband and wife doing two jobs each. Long hours, low pay, and the jobs themselves insecure.

One also sees the problem moving further up the pay scale, notoriously with IT workers in the States and possibly further than that if the talk here about routine legal work getting outsourced is anything to go by.

With respect, I don't believe either that the argument that we can all shift to high-tech jobs works. That argument is clearly out of date. It worked, sort of, in the nineteenth century when non-western countries were not industrialised and there seemed to be no prospect of their becoming so. Steam engines for raw materials or bananas, or the later equivalent trade until fairly recently. But these days, when the Chinese can outsource even to Ethiopia, the amount of work that only we can do has greatly reduced. "Comparative advantage" is now more and more a shopworn mantra and not a reality.

What is the reality now is that businessmen are forced into outsourcing or cheap labour - they simply go bust if they don't - and the welfare and other social costs are born by the community and not included in the reckoning. Then the businessmen become hooked on cheap labour and raise merry hell if they have to employ local - as we are starting to see. It's a vicious spiral down and the bottom isn't going to be a place we'll want to be.

And automation proceeding apace ... I'm hoping that Trump will get a move on and get jobs in quantity back to America, that the other Western countries will see the light too, and that the Western economies will be back to some degree of viability before that problem has to be confronted. Hopeless optimism? Well, they voted Trump 2016 didn't they? That's a start.

fanto

EO at 141
English Outsider, thank you for your reply and links. I will spare myself reading Menasse. The link to Der Tagesspiegel is really spilling the beans, and the polish catholic killer explains it all, "sapienti sat".

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