The presidential race in the United States is the most protracted in the world. With elections scheduled for November 2016, the last six months have been a circus of candidates jockeying for position to represent their respective parties.

To those outside the States, the attention paid to buffoons such as Donald Trump is nothing short of bizarre—I imagine the same is true for many inside the US.

Trump suffers from a syndrome I attributed to Columbus in The India Road. Opinion uncontaminated by fact. In the interviews I’ve seen, he’s incapable of hearing a question to the end, or indeed of taking any criticism at all.

America is much too smart to vote him into office, the GOP establishment would nominate him as a candidate on an extremely cold day in hell, and if he does a Perot, he may well put another Clinton in the White House.

But even a Perot is unlikely, unless Trump really wants to piss off the Republicans.

The rest of the world looks on as the man fires in all directions. Like any demagogue, foreigners are his first port of call. Mexico, an exporter of rapists and murderers. They shall build a wall, and pay for it themselves.

His assertions are rated as half-truths at best, and the Mexican immigration issue seems doubtful to say the least.

Mexican emigration to the United States (in thousands) - data from the Pew Research Center.

Mexican immigration to the United States (in thousands per year) – data from the Pew Research Center.

Not only is the inflow of Mexican immigrants at its lowest, but the inflow and outflow are now balanced, meaning a zero migration rate. Immigration of many nationalities continues into the US, but Mexico is no longer the key concern.

China is another popular Trump target, the argument being that the Chinese flood the US market with cheap products. Undeniable. To use the common aphorism, China is the factory, America is the mall.

But is it predominantly Chinese companies selling in the US? To be sure, you have Lenovo and some others (don’t forget Lenovo was once the IBM PC division). But what you mainly have, be it in Walmart, Home Depot, or Apple Computer, is products manufactured in China to US specs and then imported by US corporations to sell to American consumers.

The dirty little secret is US corporations make a packet out of this arrangement, and knowingly sacrifice jobs at home—consequently job recovery is far removed from GDP recovery, and the types of jobs available are mainly in the lower half of the hourglass.

The central part, what used to be known as good jobs, the ones that made the baby boom and a wealthy middle class, simply are not there. we’re talking about the shop floor, engineering jobs, mid-level administration.

The social contract that both America and Europe need is a recognition by the people of a few simple facts. Not by the banks, not by the corporations—by the regular folks.

First, if it takes credit to make something affordable, it’s probably unaffordable.

Second, the reason for manufacturing abroad and importing is price-competitiveness. If your own society isn’t rebalancing that with equivalent lower cost goods and services for export, the price is unemployment in the middle sector. America isn’t. Europe isn’t.

Third, whenever you buy a Chinese-made tool in Home Depot, or an iPhone, you compound the problem and worsen the national debt.

No one can stop people doing numbers one and three, and you’d get voted out of office if you tried. Even if you passed some law to that effect, it would be unenforceable, and most probably unconstitutional.

Solution? Restrict production abroad for domestic sale by US companies, and tax imports from foreign companies to make the US economy competitive—the only other way to make it competitive is by lowering the wage of the American worker.

Oh, there is a third way: further automation, lowering national production costs. Do please explain to me how that stimulates the creation of good jobs.

The attacks on China have provided Trump with publicity in the Middle Kingdom. Mainly the good folk of zhong guo are perplexed. When one Chinese guy read that Trump promised to change his hair if he became president, he commented “can he also change his head?”

Apart from the general demagoguery, there are the bimbo blasts. In the nation that invented political correctness, a country where you can’t show a tit (of the breast variety, that is) on network television, even if it’s a mother breastfeeding, it’s extraordinary to witness the bimbo circus, complete with jibes at menstruation—how low can you get? I’d say fox terrier.

And yet there are very serious problems to discuss. US paid maternity leave does not exist—one of only three countries in the world, the others being Surinam and Papua New Guinea.

You can argue that the American tradition placed the woman in the role of housewife, or to be non-bimboish and politically correct, homemaker. By definition, maternity leave was unnecessary, but that was many moons ago.

Paid parental leave in most EU countries is channeled through social security, and employers are of course free to secure temporary workers for the period when the new mom is on leave.

The gap between the rich and poor is now incredibly wide. The skyscrapers of New York were once the emblem of corporate success. Now they’re a trophy of individual wealth, as evidenced by a penthouse apartment sold recently to a hedge fund for one hundred million dollars.

As the gap widens, we go back in history, to a time when the consequences of this inequity reverberated across Europe. I have four words for you.

Let them eat cake.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.


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