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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Except for MAGA hats, US manufacturing has not revived

Trump’s ‘MAGA fantasy’ crashes and burns

Related imageIn a scathing column for the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman lectured rustbelt workers who voted for Donald Trump based on a vague promise to “Make America great again” — and who are now finding out the erratic president has no idea what he is doing.

In a column titled, “When MAGA Fantasy Meets Rust Belt Reality,” Krugman was brutally blunt about some Trump voters right from the beginning.

“For many supporters of Donald Trump, MAGA was basically a promise to return to the good old days of raw racism and sexism. And Trump is delivering on that promise,” he wrote before turning to embattled American workers who bought into Trump’s promise of more and better manufacturing jobs.

“It was a promise to restore the kind of economy we had 40 or 50 years ago — an economy that still offered lots of manly jobs in manufacturing and mining,” Krugman recalled. 

“Unfortunately for those who trusted Mr. Art of the Deal, Trump never had any idea how to deliver on that promise. And even if he had a clue about policymaking, he couldn’t have changed the long-term trajectory of our economy, which is moving steadily away from making physical stuff and toward providing services.”

“Why was the vision of revived manufacturing nonsense? Talking about what Donald Trump doesn’t know is, of course, a vast task, since his ignorance is both broad and deep,” he wrote before weaving together how trade deficits and ill-considered tariffs can have a devastating impact on manufacturing job creation.

“Trump’s angry reaction to auto plant closings is a reminder of his third big policy misunderstanding: He believes that you can run the economy by yelling at people,” he wrote. “Why is he wrong? It’s not just that businesses have learned to discount his threats. More important, our economy is too big to make policy by singling out individual companies and ranting.”

Krugman conceded that Trump might actually have believed that he could rebuild U.S. manufacturing in a global economy, but added that that belief can likely be attributed to the Dunning-Kruger effect: which posits “inept people are often confident in their abilities, because they’re too inept to know how badly they’re doing.”

He then offered a warning for Republicans looking to hold onto Midwestern manufacturing states in 2020 if Trump runs for re-election.

“But the real question isn’t whether Trump will ever realize that he doesn’t know how to MAGA. It’s whether and when his supporters will figure it out,” he concluded.

You can read the whole piece here.