Buyers’ Remorse Coming -Part I

I grew up in Western New York and didn’t leave it until 1999. I have a pretty good feel for the people. I remember its glory days where you could come out of high school, get a job at an auto factory or steel mill and have a middle class life that culminated in a pretty decent retirement. Those days and the jobs they brought have been gone for some time now. My father actually thought I was crazy to go to college; he felt I should have gone to work at one of the two Chevy plants.

The other day I was talking to a friend of about my age that grew up in a section of Ohio where in his words, “Half the county mined coal and the other half burned it at the steel mill.” He recently went back home for a high school reunion. The guys who laughed at him for going to college and grad school started their careers in mining or steel but those jobs were gone before they could retire from them.

Today America is experiencing something similar to what it did during the Industrial Revolution. The economy is changing and it is leaving many behind. Those are good guys and gals who did the right thing and just want to support their families in the style they became accustomed to. Those who are a bit older want to see their kids and grandkids do better than they did. The young people just want a chance to earn a decent living and in too many cases pay off huge student loans. Is it any wonder many in the Rust Belt feel they have been left behind and forgotten? I don’t think so!

Along comes Donald Trump who promises to make America great again. He promises to bring jobs back to those areas and stop any other companies from moving out. If you promise starving men bread you get their attention really fast. That is exactly what Trump did.

I gave up hope of a Hillary Clinton win but later into the evening than many others did. As the results came in Clinton had not lost a state she needed to win. In fact she had picked up two (Colorado and New Mexico) that I had as tossups. As the evening wore on it became increasingly apparent that she was going to lose the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin which I had erroneously figured she would take. The game was over. It was the unanticipated Rust Belt losses that killed her.

The appeal of Trump in those states (and several others) was that Trump promised to bring the jobs back. Here is a reality check for the people of that region: those auto, steel and coal mining jobs are not coming back. If by some chance the plants reopen they will largely be staffed by robots and the need for massive workforces of unskilled or semi-skilled laborers will not exist again in the lifetime of any American living today. The demand for coal has diminished and will continue to. It is being and will be mined by methods which employ a much smaller workforce.

That is not to say we should just throw up our hands and surrender. Some of Trump’s ideas actually have some merit and can be incorporated into a strategy that can make life better for average Americans.

For all the people my friend and I left behind in the Rust Belt a case of buyers’ remorse with Trump will quickly set in. The problem is they won’t have any more money or better jobs in the process. In fact the social safety net will have more holes in it and the environment will be further poisoned in the process.

During the 1928 campaign the Republicans promised that if their candidate Herbert Hoover were elected there would be, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” It didn’t work out that way and in October of 1929 the Great Depression began with the stock market crash.

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