This is the second post in a series devoted to understanding how and why people are continuing to support Trump, despite all the obvious words and actions (the best words and the best actions, though) that prove we’ve all been duped into thinking we are still living in real life and NOT in a reality TV show. Part 1 here.
Trump Supporter #2 – The Jobs Guy/Gal (AKA my father)
These are the people who swear up and down that Obama (and others) have enacted policies that deliberately hurt small business development and have decreased the number of jobs available to people. These people are afraid that illegal immigrants are taking their jobs or that their jobs are being outsourced to Mexico or China. They highly value hard work, putting in the hours and doing the manual labor to work up the “corporate ladder.” People who are successful without going through this process or people who are perceived as not working hard to get where they are, well, they are considered entitled. Those who are on welfare or other types of government assistance must certainly be in their situation due to laziness. Donald Trump, the businessman, will know how to solve these issues and bring us back to the comfort we felt when we all had good jobs and could afford to buy houses and support our families by the age of 25.
There is some truth to all of these claims, but also evidence that these claims are highly exaggerated. Many illegal immigrants do work in the US, as farmers, construction laborers, housekeepers, and other jobs. Many legal immigrants also work in the US as doctors, lawyers, computer scientists, and engineers. Immigrants are critical for this country’s economic growth and prosperity. This report from 14 economists and other scholars found “little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term.” So quit it with the “but, they’re taking our jobs” rhetoric. No one is taking all the jobs. The current national unemployment rate is pretty much at the bottom of its normal cycle and can’t get much lower.
Many jobs, particularly those in manufacturing have moved outside our borders to take advantage of cheaper labor costs. Guess what though? This is likely due to American demand for cheap stuff. You certainly do love your $5 t-shirts you can now buy from Walmart and your $0.10 nuts and bolts to fix your front door. If you think you can have your cheap stuff AND still pay American manufacturing workers a living wage, you’re kidding yourself.
Not to mention, outsourcing only accounts for 12% of job losses. The rest is due to productivity gains and automation. Fewer people are needed to achieve greater output than ever. THIS IS A GOOD THING! Because of productivity gains in the 1920s-40s, children no longer have to work in factories and can go to school instead. Older Americans can retire because our society is wealthy enough (with the right distribution) to take care of them so they don’t have to work. The same thing is happening again and it will make way for new technology, new types of jobs around that technology, and many more groups of people who don’t have to work at all and could do something else productive instead, like start their own business or dabble in the arts. This doesn’t make anyone lazy, it is just changing how we think about work and being a productive member of society.
Speaking of changing how we think about things, we need to stop thinking like we’re living in the same context as our parents and grandparents. I don’t think we’ll ever be back to a time where all 25 year olds can buy houses and start climbing the ladder at their dream job, at least not until we all agree to cancel student loan debt and cut housing prices at least in half. When my parents were 25, they certainly were not living in a world where 43 million Americans carry student loan debt that totals $1.2 trillion. And they certainly weren’t delaying marriage, delaying having children, delaying house or car purchases, or delaying starting a business because of it. I know this because my parents did all of the above by age 25, one even with a part time job. I also know they bought the house I grew up in for $46,000 (3 bedrooms, 1700 sqft, on a double lot). It’s currently on Zillow estimated at more than triple that. Good luck finding something livable these days anywhere in the country for $46,000. The fixer upper that we bought in the same neighborhood was more expensive by $20,000 and half the size…
Tune in next week for Part 3: Guns, Germs, and Steel