15 Nov 2016

Trump, the commons and migration

As I've said many times, economics is to markets as politics is to communities. Thus, you can find countries where private goods are well provided relative to public/common pool goods because markets are working while political institutions are failing.

I moved to the Netherlands because I preferred to live in a country where the people worked together to protect those without the "market power" necessary to buy private solutions to their vulnerabilities, i.e., to the poor, the sick, the old and young.

Now the US has a president-elect who not only disparages vulnerable groups but promises to mess up markets to "help" other downtrodden groups. This is not the right way to go, but -- much worse -- Trump is not even interested in helping the middle class compared to helping lobbyists and crony capitalists.

Trump doesn't care about the commons. He made his money as a real estate developer whose private profits depended on subsidies and tax breaks that often undermined communities

What we are seeing, in other words, is the results of a Baptists and Bootleggers campaign in which Saint Donald the Baptist promises to use his presidential power to help the underemployed and discouraged white middle class while actually delivering all the power and policy decisions to corporate lobbyists (the Bootleggers) who will make bigger profits off the backs of those exact people.

We have seen this before with Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan in Turkey, and so on, but most Americans would not know this because most Americans have neither visited foreign countries (compare passport holding with state voting here) nor follow news from those countries.*

Indeed, Trump's rapid betrayal of his supporters nearly duplicates the reversals of Brexit leaders -- but many Americans won't even know about those broken promises as they've been told that Brexit is a great idea (Fox: "How Euro elites are trying to kill off UK independence").

This September article calling for "Trexit" is even clearer in its parallels:
Every corrupt, greedy, entitled, fat-cat creep is lined up to hand a bag of cash to Hillary. Because they know if she wins, “THE FIX IS IN.”

They know under President Hillary the country is up for sale. They know they’ll own the president of the United States. They know she’ll hand them the keys to the taxpayers’ vault.

On the other hand, Trump couldn’t care less about their resume, pedigree, title or wealth. He’ll throw them out the door on their butts. They’ll get rich under Hillary. They’ll starve under President Trump.

They fear Trump because they all feed at the public trough. Because they are all part of the slimy, corrupt system rigged against middle class Americans.

Trump threatens to upset their apple cart. He will turn their worlds upside down. He will end their gravy train. The jig is up -- all of their fun at the people's expense ends on November 8th if Trump is elected.
Well, this article -- like similar articles from Murdoch-owned papers in the UK -- is wrong on its most important point: Rather than "starving the greedy fat cats" President-elect Trump is using his "independence" to pander to the fat cats of industry.

It looks like Mr. Art-of-the-Deal can't wait to give away American's money to the One Percent (e.g., 99.6% of income tax cuts will benefit them). What will he say as he does it? Perhaps the same thing he said in the debates: "I'm smart for paying no taxes" [because I keep my money and the country can go to hell]. Trump's experience in turning investors' $billions into $millions for himself (via serial bankruptcies) suggests a terrifying precedent:  As "Commander-in-Chief," he is likely to waste America's income and assets on silly ideas that make him look good but leave everyone else (except his business political partners) worse off.

Looking outside the US, don't forget that Putin is just charmed to his socks to have Trump as President, as now he can dominate the "near abroad" without the pesky Americans blabbing about NATO or human rights. He will probably be even happier when Trump leaves Syria to him and removes sanctions related to Ukraine, so he can get rich while killing even more civilians.

So, yeah. Trump is just about the worst person to put in charge of the commons in the United States (adios environment!) or the world (adios American protection of Europe, S Korea, Taiwan, let alone free trade).

A friend replied to my plan to exchange my American passport for a Dutch passport, saying "America needs people like you... and you will have more stature as an American than as a Dutch." On the former claim, I'm not sure that enough Americans really want my help; they seem to prefer a lying, sexist, racist and incompetent "leader". On the latter claim, I'd prefer to carry the Dutch brand to the American one.

I came over here for a job six years ago and decided to settle here (buying a house) just over two years ago. I made that decision because I think the Dutch do a better job at protecting, building and sharing their commons. Like many migrants, I decided to stay here because "this land is made for me." I was born and raised in America, but I no longer recognize myself in it.

Bottom Line: Nobody wants to leave their home country, their memories and their people behind, but some choose to migrate because another land offers them a better life.

* Addendum: Check out this (negative) correlation between passport holding and Trump voting

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