Populism - Good or Bad?

Events occurring and how they relate/affect Anabaptist faith and culture.
Bootstrap
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:48 am

I like history shows. Back before the election, Back Story Radio did a segment called People's Choice: A History of Populism.

Populist movements call for all kinds of things - a bigger government that takes care of the people, a smaller government that doesn't get in the people's way, a stronger military to restore the glory of the nation - populism is not a set of policies, but a kind of messaging.

The message of populism is "make America great again" - or "make Germany great again", "make Venezuela great again", "make Russia great again". We once had it. We lost it. The people were in power, now the system is rigged against us. We need to take our country back.

The American Revolution promised to put the people in power. So did Obama. So did Hitler, Lenin, Castro, and Chavez. When leaders make this kind of promise, we should be a little skeptical, and we should keep our eyes open to make sure they aren't taking power away from us and giving it to themselves and their friends. Don't judge a leader by his marketing message, judge him by what he actually does.

Let's keep our eyes open - is Trump concentrating power in the office of the president, or is he working to make sure that the various branches of the government work well together? Is he making it easier for lobbyists to have their way, or limiting the power of money in government? Is he making government more transparent or less transparent? Is he turning American into more of a police and surveillance state, or a country where we do not need to fear that the government is spying on us? Is he balancing the budget and making sure that the money we spend actually improves the lives of everyday Americans, or spending lots of money to make a big splash in the short run?

If he promises to bring back factory jobs, lets grade him on that promise over the next 4 years. If he promises more power to everyday Americans, lets ask him to make that promise concrete - how exactly is he going to do that, and how can we measure it over the next 4 years? Can we make a list of the concrete things we the people should measure 4 years from now?
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MaxPC
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby MaxPC » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:06 am

appleman2006 wrote:People in charge that have actually done something and lived in the real world/ What a novel idea!

:up: :clap:

They've been busy actually living in reality and gaining real experience in their fields. I don't see any back seat drivers in the lot.
:rofl:
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Bootstrap
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:23 am

appleman2006 wrote:People in charge that have actually done something and lived in the real world/ What a novel idea!


That's the marketing message. I don't think that Trump's cabinet has more real world experience than Obama's. Here's a useful comparison of his nominees to Bush and Obama's:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-na-pol-trump-obama-bush-cabinet/

I don't know how many of them inherited their wealth versus built it. Some of Trump's nominees really do have serious and relevant experience, but some of them have never done anything related to the mission of the department he is putting them in charge of.

Trump himself inherited his wealth, lived a showy playboy lifestyle all his life, lost his money and businesses largely by making risky gambles, and came back as a reality TV star. He then become wealthy largely by playing a successful businessman on reality TV, then selling people the right to put his name on their buildings. All the time, he sued the little guy, bullying him in the courts. But he tells the story of his life as a populist story of making it by hard work as a real world construction type.

These simple slogans are identity slogans. We are the real world people. We and Trump. And his cabinet appointees. And most of this discussion is about slogans and identity, not about facts. I do hope that Trump and his cabinet will provide good leadership. But let's not measure people by slogans.

And let's be a little skeptical of the stories and slogans politicians hand us. Trump is not "the people". And he is not "the real world". I hope he does well in ruling That Other Kingdom. I have concerns. We'll know in 4 years.
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lesterb
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby lesterb » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:45 pm

Bootstrap wrote:I'm thinking of the "waiting in line" analogy.

To me, one of the problems with this is that many groups could use the same analogy. Blacks see themselves at the back of the line too, and when they look at the people in the front, they see mostly whites. At the same time, many whites look at the same line and it feels like the blacks are getting ahead of them. In both cases, they can start to feel bad about the other group.

In the 1950s, Americans really could do well simply by taking jobs at factories and restaurants and working full time. That was partly due to the fact that the rest of the world's economy was in a shambles because of World War II and was still rebuilding. Today, do you really get to the head of the line just by taking whatever job you can get and working hard? The people I see making it often start their own business, get an education, or do something else that gets them out of line.

Trump says he will bring back factory jobs. I doubt it. Factory output has gone up in America, factory jobs have gone down - we can do more with fewer people, and factory owners would rather avoid paying wages when they can. Now I see computers eliminating jobs in checkout lines, and they are experimenting with tablets on tables at restaurants so you don't have to hire as many waiters and waitresses. Those jobs aren't going to Mexico, they are just disappearing. There's no law that says you have to spend your profits on labor. Trump says he will bring back factory jobs from China or Mexico. Let's watch what happens in the next 4 years. I doubt that companies will pay Americans a living wage to do the kinds of things they do in Mexican or Chinese factories. I doubt that factory jobs are going to be the backbone of a new American economy where people are rewarded for standing in line, working hard, and obeying the rules. I doubt that trade wars will help American prosperity.

I think this is a real problem, and the government can play a role in solving it. I also think the church can play a role in solving it, finding ways to create new kinds of jobs that pay well enough, or inviting people to join us in communities where we live well together on less money, or helping people get access to training that can help. I'd love to see us do more of this as the church.

If the factories return to the US most of the "jobs" will go to robots. No unions, no coffee breaks, no sick leave, no benefits, no holiday pay, no relationship problems. Just a one time payment, and a maintenance program. Quality control will be much easier, and you can shut an assembly line down without paying severance pay. American workers have priced themselves out of the market. I doubt that these factories will add appreciably to the jobs count.
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MaxPC
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby MaxPC » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:13 pm

lesterb wrote:If the factories return to the US most of the "jobs" will go to robots. No unions, no coffee breaks, no sick leave, no benefits, no holiday pay, no relationship problems. Just a one time payment, and a maintenance program. Quality control will be much easier, and you can shut an assembly line down without paying severance pay. American workers have priced themselves out of the market. I doubt that these factories will add appreciably to the jobs count.

Those jobs that have been automated have been automated for years. It still takes humans to monitor and run those machines. Those jobs are saved and no longer exported.

I agree that there's a reset in union influence - people lost jobs when the unions became too demanding. As a result the companies upped sticks and moved out of the country to cheaper labor.
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:35 pm

MaxPC wrote:Those jobs that have been automated have been automated for years. It still takes humans to monitor and run those machines. Those jobs are saved and no longer exported.


Where I live, more and more stores are having automated checkout counters, and some restaurants and coffee shops are now putting tablets on the tables so you can order without talking to a waiter. That's new, at least here. Amazon and other on-line retailers are selling directly to the customer, bypassing stores, and a lot of stores are now closing as a result.

Andy Puzder, Trump's nominee for Secretary of Labor, put it this way:

Andy Puzder wrote:I want to try it. We could have a restaurant that's focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.


Here's what he says about robots and computers:

Andy Puzder wrote:They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.


And he says getting rid of the people is an advantage:

Andy Puzder wrote:Millennials like not seeing people," he says. "I've been inside restaurants where we've installed ordering kiosks ... and I've actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there's a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.


Puzder sees Eatsa as the future.

Kind of an odd choice for Labor Secretary if this is really a populist movement aimed at creating jobs for people.

MaxPC wrote:I agree that there's a reset in union influence - people lost jobs when the unions became too demanding. As a result the companies upped sticks and moved out of the country to cheaper labor.


That was true in the 1970s and 1980s, when unions still had a lot of power. Most jobs that have been eliminated or exported were not union jobs. Few Americans are members of unions these days. Except for teacher's unions and professional unions like the American Medical Association.

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lesterb
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby lesterb » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:06 pm

MaxPC wrote:
lesterb wrote:If the factories return to the US most of the "jobs" will go to robots. No unions, no coffee breaks, no sick leave, no benefits, no holiday pay, no relationship problems. Just a one time payment, and a maintenance program. Quality control will be much easier, and you can shut an assembly line down without paying severance pay. American workers have priced themselves out of the market. I doubt that these factories will add appreciably to the jobs count.

Those jobs that have been automated have been automated for years. It still takes humans to monitor and run those machines. Those jobs are saved and no longer exported.

I agree that there's a reset in union influence - people lost jobs when the unions became too demanding. As a result the companies upped sticks and moved out of the country to cheaper labor.

That was true before AI. But not anymore. Read this, for instance.
http://www.canadianbusiness.com/economy/re-shoring-and-robots/ There are various reliable sources starting to talk about this. Even the Chinese are replacing people with robots in new factories. This is going to make major changes in North America in the next decade.
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appleman2006
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby appleman2006 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:07 pm

Bootstrap you are correct that the majority of union workers today are actually public sector workers. And I would argue that it is this imbalance that is causing a large part of the harm in our society. The present ratio of public sector workers to private sector is not sustainable and will have to be one of the primary things that Trump will have to address if he is to succeed.
As to your factory worker comment and the days of the US factory being past I think you are missing a key factor and Lester alluded to it. The factories of yesteryear are gone. You are correct there. But the modern robot operated factory of today operated without a union so that changes can be made without hesitation in a fast change paced world is the way of the future and with those types of factories come many very good paying management and maintenance type jobs. Companies that have the confidence that they will be protected from unfair no level playing field practices of other parts of the world will invest in these industries
I do not know if it will work for Trump but that is his plan. And I think the Mexican wall thing is actually way more about trade issues than it is about illegal immigration. Your country has a 800 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. Putting a 20 % tariff on Mexican goods would potentially rile Americans big time as they would see increases on everyday purchases they would make but him saying that that money will at least initially go toward building the wall will make it ok for many especially if they see it as the reason that they were again able to get a job.
I still have big questions about the man but I am less and less sure he is as dumb as people make him out to be. I actually am beginning to think he has a plan. A very detailed plan. The question remains as to whether it will work.
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appleman2006
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby appleman2006 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:13 pm

Bootstrap wrote: If he promises more power to everyday Americans, lets ask him to make that promise concrete -


:D :D pun intended? Sorry that tickled my funny bone. Sounds like that is exactly what he is doing literally with the Mexican wall. I just did not expect you to be asking for it.

sorry Bootstrap but I could not help myself. I knew if I did not say it OJ would. :hug:
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MaxPC
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Re: Populism - Good or Bad?

Postby MaxPC » Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:17 pm

lesterb wrote:
MaxPC wrote:
lesterb wrote:If the factories return to the US most of the "jobs" will go to robots. No unions, no coffee breaks, no sick leave, no benefits, no holiday pay, no relationship problems. Just a one time payment, and a maintenance program. Quality control will be much easier, and you can shut an assembly line down without paying severance pay. American workers have priced themselves out of the market. I doubt that these factories will add appreciably to the jobs count.


Those jobs that have been automated have been automated for years. It still takes humans to monitor and run those machines. Those jobs are saved and no longer exported.

I agree that there's a reset in union influence - people lost jobs when the unions became too demanding. As a result the companies upped sticks and moved out of the country to cheaper labor.

That was true before AI. But not anymore. Read this, for instance.
http://www.canadianbusiness.com/economy/re-shoring-and-robots/ There are various reliable sources starting to talk about this. Even the Chinese are replacing people with robots in new factories. This is going to make major changes in North America in the next decade.

It seems to me that there will still be a need for humans to build the machines that are used by AI; and to program the AI. Then there are the raw materials that are fabricated into parts by workers (steel workers come to mind).

Job descriptions change, even skill sets but having the factories in your country will always benefit your country with jobs and tax revenues. Employees in jobs pay taxes instead of drawing on the dole.

Example: According to retired Ford workers I've met, when tech took over assembly lines, the companies retrained their loyal, hardworking workers with a different skill set. That was the norm for many factories. Should unions use their time and resources to resist new tech or should they find ways to help retrain the workers?
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