The day after Trump became the accidental president

November 11, 2016

Q: From the top of your head. Are you shocked?

A: No. I am not shocked Trump has been elected. But I am certainly very shocked that so many well educated, travelled and read thinkers are shocked.

Q: You mean to say, Trump’s win is just a confirmation to you?

A: That’s not for me to comment on. I think my regular readers are all aware of my long standing reservations concerning the corrosive effects of unmitigated globalization and leaving everything to the auto pilot wisdom of the free market.

Time and again. I have highlighted the dangers of globalization and the urgency to mitigate it’s social and economic fall out on people and plant – simply because it is so fixated on the profit motive and very little else that this blinkered approach can only produce massive social inequalities, gut out whole communities and continue to deny the masses opportunities for upward mobility as it really only benefits big corporations and enriches so very few.

Q: Don’t you think most people have a right to be shocked, disgusted and apprehensive about Trump winning?

A: It depends whose under your appellation of most people – I notice you like to phrase your questions in a very loaded manner where if I am not in agreement with you – then I can only represent the lunatic fringe.

I must say you do this very skillfully – now coming back to your question – if you’re using the prefix most people to describe the regular readers of my blog. Then you would probably be very disappointed – as I don’t believe for one moment any of the regular readers here would really express the quotient of shock and dismay that you’re expecting – simply because the hack that keeps writing and throwing out stuff here keeps harping on and on that globalization if it’s not tempered with social shock absorbers to ameliorate the social and economic fall out will certainly result in a stark day of reckoning.

However if you belong to that quadrant of readers who are hermetically insulated from the corrosive effects of so called free trade or remain so ambivalent about how just as meritocracy can produce good – it can also produce undesirable fall outs – then this will probably come as a cataclysmic shock.

Whether you are shocked or just saying to yourself this day was very much in the cards really belongs to which social economic quadrant you belong too.

Q: Which quadrant do you belong too?

A: Make absolutely no mistake. I am a free marketeer. I believe in globalization. I put my mouth where my buck is by running a successful enterprise. I am not just someone with a tube of Mentos in my pocket sitting in a room where clothes and overnight pizza go and die – I genuinely want the free market to remain sustainable and reliable and be widely perceived as positive by as many people as possible, that is why I am also sensitive to the sentiments of the working man. In the plantation business even if you happen to belong to the aristocracy of the landowning gentry. But if you don’t have one feet firmly planted in the working man’s boots – I think you are looking for big trouble to come your way.

Having said that I do admit – my vocation is quite classless. The rapport between the boss and the working man is often so close that it’s virtually indistinguishable. As plantations is old economy and the planter is traditionally a paternal figurehead – he is not siting in some air con cave in some skyscraper far removed from the everyday realities, not at the micro scale I run my enterprise at least. One day maybe. But even if I grow to that size one day – I will still be very close to the ground getting my hands dirty, that sort of thing. Simply because if my business has to go thru a Brexit moment – then I’ll be wiped out. I will be looking a foreclosure cum nationalization of all my landholdings, so it’s game over for me. I will have to go back to Singapore and sell tissue paper in Bedok bus interchange.

So stop trying to label me as a closet communist or someone whose against capitalism or meritocracy – too many dumbo netizens are already doing that – they only see what they want to see, read what they want to read and think the things everyone else thinks about.

All I am saying is one has to be mindful that leaving everything to the free market will invariably produce both good and bad. And one has to constantly weed out the bad with affirmative action and not be lazy or so blasé to ensure there’s always a surplus of good so that there is enough of it to go around to benefit ordinary folk to keep them believing in the system.

But if the free market theory produces so much bad that it some how manages to squeeze out the good or renders it so rarified and distant for ordinary folk to reach out and improve their lot – then don’t be shocked about Brexit or the upset of Trump getting elected.

You don’t have a right to be shocked! Not in my book.

Q: You are prepared to condone Trump’s under handed methods at winning along with his bigoted values just because his message resonated with the disenfranchised, marginalized and disgruntled. Tell me isn’t that a disservice to mankind in general?

A: What is politics about? It’s really only about one thing – improving people’s lives by opening the field of possibilities. That is the raison d’être of politics – that is the primary criterion. Everything else is optional.

Did Trump throw low blows in the elections? Was his message xenophobic, bigoted and perhaps even bordered on the racist? Maybe. Perhaps. Could be. But you seem to be forgetting one important detail in your summary – his clarion call to make America great again certainly resonated with the masses and they voted him in democratically – you make it sound as if he staged a coup d’état.

To paraphrase the only reason why Trump was voted in was because many Americans believe real or imagined the status quo did not improve their lot as they promised.

It’s very simple. There is no conspiracy theory. This is simply a vote of no confidence directed at the status quo.

Q: How doable is Trump’s clarion call, Make America great again!

A: It will be very difficult to impossible to reconstruct the sentimental romanticism of America’s past glory days. Facts are brutal. Ghost towns which once nourished whole communities by providing jobs in factories are not going to be magically filled up again. Just as one cannot step back into a time machine and punch in a return to the little house in the prairie days to recreate little quaint cottage industries – those days are truly gone it’s finished!

Because globalization as an economic theory is inextricably an elemental feature of American corporate culture – it’s all pervasive and is now widely regarded as the gold standard of how firms can reliably carve up competitive advantage in this century and possibly beyond. When one version of the truth or seeing the world is so embedded in corporate thoughtware – it’s no longer just an economic theory, it’s transformed into a fait accompli like religion. That’s not very appealing to it’s adherents, but also intellectually so robust that it can easily resist any form of change. I am afraid there is a finality to the logic that drives globalization.

Trump can certainly try to shave off some of the bad that globalization so often produces – this not theoretical. It can be done. This is doable. Agriculture and livestock in virtually every country for example continues to enjoy many indirect forms of subsidies in an attempt to take the edge off globalization – only bear in mind, it comes at a cost increment to consumers. For example, Japanese pay five times what Singaporeans typically pay for a kilogram of glutinous rice. They are prepared to do so without gripping as that is the cost of keeping an agricultural sector in their country. Consumers are willing to accept the cost increments. Paradoxically, the US does exactly the same thing – every sub-Saharan African knows by heart what’s printed on a fifty kilogram of pack of wheat that is parachuted under the name of humanitarian USAID – from the American people – but it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with altruism and more do with economics – as it’s America’s back door method to subsidize farmers in Nebraska to keep the price of wheat from bottoming out. Result, Americans pay a lot more than what they should actually pay for a bagel if it was left to market forces. Though in this case I don’t think many Americans know about this capper. As generally they don’t read broadly and perceptively about what their own governments awe doing behind their back. My point is Trump can certainly come up with protectionist terms like all automobiles sold in the US must have at least 50% US steel – but ultimately like Japanese rice, bagels. Are US consumers willing to pay those sort of premiums?

I don’t really think so.

So these examples really illustrate the difficulties he will face when trying to change the logic of globalization. He might as well go and plough the sea – in my opinion it cannot be done. Since the victim will the be US consumer. Trump is doomed to fail to make America great again. Many who placed their hopes on him will be disappointed and let down.

After the end of his first one hundred days this reality will sink into his head.

As in my assessment – globalization cannot be stopped. It’s an inexorable force that’s even bigger than the US. Even the communist Chinese are globalizing in earnest and that’s diametrically against their ideology. The logic is really that powerful.

Having said all that the way I see it – it might well be Trump’s greatest achievement is not what changes he will bring forth in his term as president. Rather it lies in underscoring the level of dissatisfaction in the masses that now cannot be ignored by successive governments. Not only in the US. But in every country in this world.

This is certainly a very sobering wake up call for many politicians through the world. I wonder how many are pricking up their ears?

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