Untermensch

Yesterday I attended my weekly lecture on Global Economics, which is a subject I quite enjoy. Towards the end we were shown a truncated version of this excellent video on the plight of Briggs & Stratton workers whose factory in Missouri had been closed and production moved to China. It was hard not to feel sorry for these Americans, many of whom were over 50, who’d suddenly found their jobs yanked from beneath them with no alternative. The sight of them walking around a jobs fair in a daze was pitiful.

When the video finished I raised my paw in the air (as I am fond of doing) to point out that there was a large elephant wandering around the room that nobody’s noticed. Whereas it is true that low wages are the main driving force for relocating a factory to China, US policies have made manufacturing artificially high, namely the ever-increasing environmental legislation. I said that the only western leader who acknowledges that environmental regulations impose a cost on developed-world industries is Trump. Nobody else even mentions it, and for most politicians they are an unalloyed good with no downsides, and the more of them the better.

This caused some umming and ahing to the effect that we need to “do something” about the environment and that Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement is not the solution. This may be true and it may be not, but it’s beside the point. It is one thing to bicker about solutions, but quite another to deny the problem exists. So I asked why it was only Trump who was prepared to even acknowledge that environmental regulations heap costs on developed-world industries and contribute the very unemployment we’re getting weepy about in the video. I didn’t get an answer, but I knew it already.

Everyone in an MBA class in a business school in Geneva is by definition white collar and rich. Nobody who enters that building except the cleaners has their livelihood threatened by environmental regulations, and almost 100% are willing to vote for them. Everyone wants to live around clean air and water, and most middle and upper middle classes these days are engaged in a weird post-Christianity Earth-worship cult, sort of like pagans only with designer handbags, smartphones, and a penchant for air travel. They say they’re willing to pay more for things, but this is a luxury rich folk can afford especially when the cost comes in the form of slightly higher prices rather than permanent unemployment.

The more the urban-dwelling elites vote for policies which clobber everyone else, the worse the situation is going to get. One would have thought Trump’s election, Brexit, and the gilets jaunes movement would have woken them up, but it appears they live in a wholly separate world. I’ve said for a long time Trump was a warning shot across the bows of western civilisation, and that the world is lucky that it was him who stumbled on the unguarded palace gates and sat on the throne. Alas, those gates remain wide open. It used to be that politicians would bicker over problems and sell different solutions to the population. Nowadays, massive, elephant-in-the-room problems affecting millions of people are being utterly ignored by the ruling elites who busy themselves selling solutions to problems which are either trivial or don’t exist.

The reason populism is on the rise is because it has become a trivially easy route to power; you don’t even have to offer solutions, just pointing a finger at the problem is enough. And if that problem – immigration, unemployment, crime – affects you and your family, you’ll vote for someone who acknowledges the problem exists over someone who doesn’t, regardless of the feasibility of his or her solutions and with scant concern for his character and broader manifesto. People like to issue stern warnings about how Hitler rose to power by inventing a problem and convincing the masses he was the one to fix it. Many of the same people believe to avoid a repeat of history we must ignore real problems, and call anyone who draws attention to them Hitler.

This won’t end well.

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46 thoughts on “Untermensch

  1. I have 4 kids in school now and so barely a school day passes when I don’t have to sit with one of them and undo the AGW drivel they are drip fed. It’s especially difficult when they do a topic for homework that will be marked and I have to explain that if they tell the truth they will be marked down, instructing children about lying isn’t my idea of fun. The cult of global environmentalism is going to take some shifting and I have doubts it is ever going to be possible given the enthusiasm most people I know greet every pronouncement with…..plastic bags are Baaaaaad!

  2. Great post as ever, and this description is spot on:

    most middle and upper middle classes these days are engaged in a weird post-Christianity Earth-worship cult, sort of like pagans only with designer handbags, smartphones, and a penchant for air travel

    .

  3. Perhaps the dirty secret of offshoring manufacturing jobs is that there are two cost arbitrages being incurred; wages and environmental.

    In Australia, the policies are so confused that they almost seem designed to hollow out the domestic economy and employment. For example, a carbon tax (revoked but bound to return) and closure of coal powered fire stations yet nearly 400Mt of coal is exported (mainly to China) annually.

    The high regulatory environment on manufacturing, the government setting of wages and powerful unions finished off the car manufacturing industry too. Which, to be fair, was fecking shite anyway.

  4. Hitler didn’t invent the problem, Germany had a real problem (a fucked economy). Blaming the Jews for that problem was a classic scapegoat/diversionary tactic. As for the rest of his economic policies, fascism (as communism) kinda functions if you are on the bottom rung (Germany wasn’t quite, but close enough), and ceases working better once the economy is too large and complex to run top-down.

    For me the Hitler warning for the modern day is if you repeatedly define everyone to the right of Tony Blair as a Nazi, some of those people won’t mind voting for the next Hitler, because they’re told all the time they are Nazis anyway.

  5. Hitler didn’t invent the problem, Germany had a real problem (a fucked economy).

    Indeed, but with Hitler I think he saw the Jews as a problem in themselves, not merely responsible for the f*cked economy. And it wasn’t the case that nobody bar Hitler was talking about Germany’s economic problems, I imagine lots of people were aware of it and discussing it.

  6. “People like to issue stern warnings about how Hitler rose to power by inventing a problem and convincing the masses he was the one to fix it. Many of the same people believe to avoid a repeat of history we must ignore real problems, and call anyone who draws attention to them Hitler.”

    He didn’t really invent a problem so much as find a scapegoat. Germany was a real mess when Hitler came to power.

    There’s a certain amount of Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs in politics that the upper classes never understand. They look at things like Trump’s whoring and general boorishness and wonder why people vote for him, and the answer is that there’s so much else that he does that his supporters admire, they’ll ignore that stuff. The only reason they care about boorishness is that all their political wants are met by the current institutions.

  7. He didn’t really invent a problem so much as find a scapegoat.

    No, I think he really did have a problem with Jews. The state of the economy was more an excuse by which to persecute Jews rather than the other way around.

    They look at things like Trump’s whoring and general boorishness and wonder why people vote for him

    I noticed it was very, very hard for people to acknowledge Trump has done something right in yesterday’s class. “Orange man bad” is the default setting it seems.

  8. That last paragraph is outstanding. No. Really. Outstanding.

    It deserves to be put up in lights in North London, Oxford, Cambridge and every other tin-eared dormitory of our ‘betters’.

  9. The thing to remember is that populist lefties also offer solutions to this stuff – more state intervention and higher taxes. Bernie would probably have beaten Trump as he was pointing to many of the same problems.

    It’s quite funny how the old Church has fully fallen in with the new environmental and leftist one – all those priests denouncing Salvini etc.

  10. Bernie would probably have beaten Trump as he was pointing to many of the same problems.

    Indeed, and that is something which doesn’t get talked about enough IMO. A lot of the Bernie Bros would have ended up voting for Trump, or at least staying well clear of voting for Hillary, for this reason.

  11. “The high regulatory environment on manufacturing, the government setting of wages and powerful unions finished off the car manufacturing industry too.”

    Its perfectly normal and necessary that as an economy develops manufacturing can become an economic drag and will therefore by necessity move to a less developed economy. Which is why manufacturing is now in decline in China.

    In your example of car manufacturing in Australia namely the Geelong area, a lot of commentators forecast hard days after its left, which is quite the opposite to what occurred with employment shooting up and the areas thriving. Yes in this case its still manufacturing but differing manufacturing of sorts.

    There is nothing wrong with manufacturing leaving town, any nostalgic yearning for it is only that.
    ………………………………………………………………….

    Car-manufacturing jobs in Victoria give way to new high-tech industries

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-22/victorian-manufacturing-jobs-rebound-into-high-tech-industy/10520342

  12. “No, I think he really did have a problem with Jews. The state of the economy was more an excuse by which to persecute Jews rather than the other way around.”

    Actually, yes, you’re right. Hitler really believed this. Many of the party saw it as a way to power (many really didn’t care about the Jews, they just wanted the nice houses and women you get with power).

    It’s also the case that anti-semitism was fairly popular in Europe. People forget just how much religion used to matter to people and how much more parochial people were. Most people were about their village or small town. People relied on each other and life was less transactional than it is today.

  13. Hitler did have a genuine problem with Jews, but anti-semitism was as easy a sell in 1930s Germany as in today’s labour party. It could just as easily have been the communists who took power in 1933, and world history might have looked rather different had that been the case. The point is that neither Hitler nor the commies would have come to power absent a fucked economy and paralysed political system with indistinguishable mainstream parties which were totally incapable of weathering a global economic storm. The parallels today are quite obvious, except that a full-blown Hitler character has not yet emerged anywhere, and we don’t really have an economic storm at the moment.

    But people have got used to such unprecedented levels of wealth that many believe, wrongly, that the economy is in some kind of terminal deep shit right now. The two things that have worsened for westerners are housing costs and job security. For everything (and everyone) else, “you’ve never had it so good”. So when the impending recession does happen, it might not take a full-blown depression or GFC to bring those darker forces to the fore. Especially when three quarters of people are constantly told they are Nazis anyway.

  14. The two things that have worsened for westerners are housing costs and job security.

    These contribute at least in part to what I think is a far greater problem: a lot of people no longer feel they have a stake in society, they feel increasingly isolated from the people who govern them, and they cannot afford to raise a family. One thing I’ve learned to do over the past few years is to stop looking at people as economic units and realising that trashing whole societies for the sake of a few GDP percentage points is not going to end well.

  15. To be fair, increased regulation on the environment, health & safety, minimum wage, working hour restrictions etc isn’t a total negative for people on the lower rungs. They’re also the people most likely to be affected by poor working conditions, air/water pollution, abusive employers etc. They’re not generally begging for these protections to be taken away from them. But it’s a trade-off because, for the reasons you identify, these factors can contribute to their jobs moving away.

    On balance, I think a typical Western society is prepared to keep making this compromise so long as new jobs come along to replace the dirty, nasty, low-pay, dangerous ones. And to be fair, this generally happens – most Western countries have pretty reasonable unemployment rates, even if you take a broader view of the figures by thinking about people who have abandoned the labour market altogether. But workers who lose their jobs in their 50s will always find it hard to find new ones, especially ones reflecting their skills, and even younger workers who lose jobs in an industry shut-down end up on a lower pay trajectory for the rest of their life than their peers. I’m not sure what the solution to this is, other than being genuinely sympathetic to people lower on the ladder in terms of retraining options, welfare, maybe universal minimum income. Fighting tooth and nail to keep all industry here is not a runner, since we want our jobs to be high wage ones so there’s always going to be pay arbitrage with less economically developed countries, and you don’t make your economy efficient and fit for purpose by subsidising losers.

  16. They’re also the people most likely to be affected by poor working conditions, air/water pollution, abusive employers etc.

    Right, but all the enlightened westerners did is shift these problems to the other side of the world where they couldn’t see them.

    But it’s a trade-off because, for the reasons you identify, these factors can contribute to their jobs moving away.

    The problem is, most people don’t even know or acknowledge it’s a trade off. Did Obama?

    Fighting tooth and nail to keep all industry here is not a runner, since we want our jobs to be high wage ones so there’s always going to be pay arbitrage with less economically developed countries, and you don’t make your economy efficient and fit for purpose by subsidising losers.

    I agree, but imposing artificially high costs – such as increasing the price of electricity because of ludicrous renewable energy commitments – resulting in companies decamping to China where they guzzle electricity from coal-fired power stations is not really on. Had Clinton won and the EPA continued in the direction it was under Obama, i.e. being given the freedom to set whatever regulations they liked, industry in America would have been destroyed completely.

  17. You need those GDP percentage points because governments are in thrall to their creditors because they are desperate to be seen splashing money on things that aren’t the business of any sensible government because we keep voting for insensible government that will borrow more money to spend on us. It’s our, democratic, fault.

  18. Economic growth lets you pay-off the losers and keep society stable. People feel losses much more strongly than gains, so you can siphon off some of the increase that X sees in order to reduce the loss that Y is taking. [This is not to suggest the economy is zero sum but with change you will always have some moving up and others down.]

    Flat economy – or worse decline – and it becomes a bun fight to see who is going to take the hit. Regulatory cruft hits your growth rate. Unfunded promises (government pensions) eventually need funding and drags spending away from someone.

    This model is 180 degrees away from the modern governing model of: not worrying about the future finances; not caring about the regulatory costs (and who they hit) of policies (see green energy, fuel costs, and %impact on the poor); but “leading by example” [is anyone following]

  19. One differentiator between Hitler coming to power and say any of the current day populist leaders or would be leaders that remains, is that it was the big end of town that placed Hitler into power, this type of support extended internationally as well. The bankers, the industrialists and the elite wanted a strong and stable long-term leader to break the instability and uncertainty of non-majority leadership for a pro-business popular leader. Germans had long been used to being ruled by Kaisers (Emperors) rather than the 13 year old Weimar democratic experiment.

    I don’t think we have quite seen this type of relationship develop between a political leader and corporate interest, other than China but that is a different story, in the current era and if and when we do then that would be the closest we have been to fascism since those times.

    According to the German international banker Kurt von Schröder’s he was the king maker when it came to Hitlers appointment as chancellor and he had the wide support of Thyssen and other similar names of the day, evidenced by their earlier letter to Hindenburg requesting that he appoint Hitler and later in his sworn statement at the Nuremberg trials.

    …………………………………………………………………………………

    “This meeting between Hitler and Papen on 4 January 1933 in my house in Cologne was arranged by me after Papen had asked me for it on about 10 December 1932. Before I took this step I talked to a number of businessmen and informed myself generally on how the business world viewed a collaboration between the two men. The general desire of businessmen was to see a strong man come to power in Germany who would form a government that would stay in power for a long time.”

    http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=3941

  20. Trump could rationalize his tariffs on Chinese imports, in part, as penalty for polluting the Earth’s atmosphere. Free-riding on the West’s investment in protecting the environment falls squarely under the “unfair trade” rubric. Trump doesn’t use the term “externality” but his approach to trade is to make other countries pay for the public goods the US provides, such as security and stabliity. It would be logical, then, to make China pay for its polluting emissions – a public “bad” – forcing it to invest in cleaner technology, to everybody’s ultimate benefit.

  21. Right, but all the enlightened westerners did is shift these problems to the other side of the world where they couldn’t see them.

    True – though in many of those countries, working in crappy conditions in a textile factory may still be an improvement on even worse conditions in agricultural labour, so “bad” labour conditions for us may represent “relatively good” ones where they’ve shifted to. Actually this is a moral argument against imposing tariffs or jacking up subsidies to cling on to every last scrap of industry – aside from the economic stupidity it deprives people in worse conditions of genuine opportunities.

    The problem is, most people don’t even know or acknowledge it’s a trade off. Did Obama?

    To be fair there is a difference between what politicians are aware of in private and what it makes political sense to pontificate on in public. Complexities and trade-offs do not sell and you’re better to be seen sticking up for someone.

    There was a scene about this in a movie whose name is currently eluding me, where the candidate actually starts talking about this kind of trade-off during one of his big set-piece speeches – the difficulties of protecting conditions here while we are in such a connected world, and billions of dollars can be transferred to Shanghai at the flip of a switch, and the blue-collar audience either don’t get it, don’t buy it, or don’t think this guy is going to stick up for them. The advisors warn the pol that he’s losing them. Obviously this is fictional rather than evidence, as such, but I don’t think the idea is unrealistic. You generally don’t want to be caught admitting the potential downsides of your policies.

    In Britain at least, something that might bite governments on the backside sooner is the way they’ve overseen it becoming harder and harder to build housing, and therefore ultimately to afford housing. Even the middle-class folk who have done well out of the price rises ultimately don’t like seeing their children struggle to get on the property ladder and this is more of an inter-generational issue than an inter-class one, which in some sense makes it more universal.

  22. ” though in many of those countries, working in crappy conditions in a textile factory may still be an improvement on even worse conditions in agricultural labour, so “bad” labour conditions for us may represent “relatively good” ones where they’ve shifted to”

    Exactly, this is an example of the benefits of manufacturing moving to a less developed economy, manufacturing effort declining as an input to GDP is actually a positive for a developed economy. This is comparable to the decline of agriculture as a component of GDP many years ago.

  23. True – though in many of those countries, working in crappy conditions in a textile factory may still be an improvement on even worse conditions in agricultural labour, so “bad” labour conditions for us may represent “relatively good” ones where they’ve shifted to.

    Oh, absolutely. But it’s a little rich for New Yorkers to impose restrictions on CO2 emissions of American industries to stave off global warming, only for the production to shift around the world producing cheaper products the same New Yorkers like to buy.

  24. Excellent post Tim. These days, there is a growing list of problems where the root cause is completely ignored.

  25. “One thing I’ve learned to do over the past few years is to stop looking at people as economic units and realising that trashing whole societies for the sake of a few GDP percentage points is not going to end well.”

    Channeling your inner Tucker Carlson there, Tim.

    It’s astonishing how this simple, and true, point has been lost over the last quarter of a century, completely abandoned by both sides of mainstream politics and derided as hopelessly reactionary. Still, destroying the family, the main bulwark of opposition to the “you are just econonomic units of production” worldview, has been achieved with such ease, it’s not surprising they keep pushing it.

  26. “They say they’re willing to pay more for things, but this is a luxury rich folk can afford especially when the cost comes in the form of slightly higher prices rather than permanent unemployment”

    But they don’t pay more for things at all, in fact they pay less. Thats the utter hypocrisy of it all. The middle classes will vote for legislation that puts costs on Western production, but won’t have to pay those costs because production will shift elsewhere, under even worse environmental conditions than have existed in the West for half a century or more. They’ll get to buy cheap electrical goods, and clothes and all the tat that streams in from the East, all the while virtue signalling about how much they care about the environment, and voting Green.

    I would call the middle classes bluff – make it that no imported goods can come in unless they come from countries with similar environmental standards. Then see the squeals of pain as prices shoot through the roof, and they’ll have to forgo the luxuries like iPhones and foreign holidays etc just to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The only trouble would be that the poor would suffer even more, so its a non starter, but I would love to see it.

  27. @Jim

    That was the original objective of the ISO14001 Environmental Standards and a term called Fortress Europe.

    I also think that the production would have had to move to the East regardless of regulatory fiddling, this in itself is helping to improve the living standards in the less developed parts of the world that now produce what the West doesn’t. Manufacturing jobs in the West nowadays are relatively very low paid jobs which causes economic drag, whereas in the east they are relatively well paid jobs creating economic growth.

    So its inevitable, manufacturing no matter how you cut it or prop it is in secular decline in the West, which is a good thing. China is now investing in manufacturing outside of China and their economy has developed at such a pace that manufacturing is now past its peak and in decline.

    Trump would know that sanctions and tariffs don’t and won’t work and I doubt he would create an economic downturn due to them at this stage of his election cycle. I am hopeful of a resolution as planned and a big economic uptick and market rally on the back of it.

  28. thud on January 17, 2019 at 10:39 am said:
    I have 4 kids in school now and so barely a school day passes when I don’t have to sit with one of them and undo the AGW drivel they are drip fed.

    Don’t worry unduly about this: it’s just a phase. When mine were at school they were very involved in raising money to buy bits of rain forest – to save the planet.

    Now whenever they come back here to visit from their homes elsewhere, I go into rooms they’ve vacated and turn off the countless lights they leave on – to save the electricity bill.

  29. When manufacturing jobs go, the challenge becomes how to occupy those previously employed low skill workers. I find it hard to imagine car manufacturing bolt tighteners seamlessly transitioning to high tech jobs.

  30. @Tim
    “No, I think he really did have a problem with Jews. The state of the economy was more an excuse by which to persecute Jews rather than the other way around.”
    Very true Mein Kempf was very anti semitic. It was very unfair to blame the Jews for Germany losing WWI without Haber invention of the Haber process, they would have lost a lot earlier!

    (Some people say the Koran is more anti semitic than Mein Kempf – no idea if this is true or not.)

  31. PS I am concerned about the environment but your post is true whether people think there is no problem with pollution or it is very very important.

  32. Spot on Tim. Agreed with nearly every word.

    This is the frustrating thing about arguing from a liberty-minded, small-government perspective in CURRENT YEAR. The webs have already been woven, therefore people treat them as if they’ve always been there.

    Imagine someone is complaining that they are overweight, so you tell them that boring old diet and exercise are the solutions. Then they cut off their left leg and ramp up to 12 donuts a day. You say, “what the hell are you doing?! I said diet and exercise!” Then they cut off their right leg and cut back to 10 donuts per day, then declare that your advice is crap and not working. Then somebody new walks in to you screaming “DIET AND EXERCISE GODDAMNIT!” to a double-amputee and thinks you’re a callous, elitist monster who looks down on disabled people.

  33. I suspect the regulatory burden is a great deal higher across the piece. I don’t know if the employment laws in the US (hiring and firing, quotas, healthcare etc) would also be as big an impediment as they are in UK & EU? And the unions?

    There could also be a cultural thing in the US management style where they just don’t have the chops to fire the deadwood, so they accrue an unduly expensive workforce overall.

    Just some thoughts.

  34. @Tim

    Yes for CO2, plastic going into the ocean etc, then simply transferring to another country doesn’t achieve anything. Should have made it clear I agreed on that one totally.

  35. “In your example of car manufacturing in Australia namely the Geelong area, a lot of commentators forecast hard days after its left, which is quite the opposite to what occurred with employment shooting up and the areas thriving. Yes in this case its still manufacturing but differing manufacturing of sorts.”

    Those commentators were showing the bigotry of low expectations. If the industry is non-competitive, the kinder thing to do is let it die and the resources (capital and human) find something better to do.

    That Holden and Ford kept making subsidised cars nobody wanted to buy for 25 years longer than necessary has resulting in a bunch of 50 year olds with no skills to get a job and not enough savings to retire. Not helpful to anyone, especially my my Dave with his rattling shitbox Commodore when he could have a Mitsubishi.

  36. “There could also be a cultural thing in the US management style where they just don’t have the chops to fire the deadwood,”

    Seriously? I doubt this.

    “so they accrue an unduly expensive workforce overall.”

    Well, what could be going on here is a form of “what determines the wages of orchestral bassoonists?” – the answer being the general wage level, or the lowest wage required to stop a bassoonist chucking it in and becoming a hairdresser. If the regulatory burden requires an increasing number of compliance officers, (and PAs to compliance officers), then that lowest wage will tend to rise towards the wages paid to compliance officers (and their PAs). Iterate that process through a few times, and hey presto, your workforce just got relatively more expensive.

  37. “Not helpful to anyone, especially my my Dave with his rattling shitbox Commodore when he could have a Mitsubishi.”

    I am going to do my bit in an effort to stop Germany going into recession.

  38. As others have said, excellent post which should be required reading amongst the elites.

    When manufacturing jobs go, the challenge becomes how to occupy those previously employed low skill workers. I find it hard to imagine car manufacturing bolt tighteners seamlessly transitioning to high tech jobs.

    A lot of economists are realising they didn’t give this issue enough weight during the rush to globalisation and trade deals. Whilst they did talk about the need for transition relief and build it in to international treaties, politicians and policy makers only listened to the benefits and overall gains side of the argument and thought about and did little about losers. This is what happened during the referendum, Remain only focused on overall concentrated benefits and dismissed complaints about the dispersed losses as due to ignorance. (IIRC this was a theme in the early episodes of House of Cards, but I stopped watching not long after so didn’t see the issue taken to its conclusion.)

    A lot of this problem goes down to something we’ve talked about briefly – meritocracy. What we are seeing is what the person who coined the phrase was warning about.

    The elites believe that they are there on their own merits and so must deserve what they are getting. By extension, if you haven’t reached those levels then it must be because you don’t merit them. They then start putting in place policies that protect themselves and their offspring whilst making it difficult for others to climb the greasy pole. I know I’ve linked to it before but this BBC analysis program about how its done is worth a listen.

    What the elites forget is how much luck has played a part in their elevation. For example they don’t consider how much being healthy has played in allowing them to gain and hold their positions. If you ask them they will say its because they led healthy lifestyles etc, but in reality they’ve just been lucky in avoiding crippling or even mortal diseases. Three years out of your career recovering from cancer will effectively end a career, no matter how well you recover. Not being subject to the tender mercies of the worst aspects of the State education system being another major factor in their success. (I acknowledge some did succeed despite it, not because of it.)

    So when the masses complain about the impacts of mass immigration or outsourcing which is effectively the other side of the coin: job losses, pressures on health, social and education services and general decay it must be because they haven’t worked hard enough or because they are thick ignorant bigots. This drives a greater wedge between the have’s and have-nots and builds greater resentment which opens the door for populists, be they left or right. All people want is to be heard, respected and to believe they have opportunity.

    This QT clip (HT Guido Fawkes) is quite instructive. No matter how much they try to get a balanced audience for QT they end up with one that is opposed to what Parliament and the London bubble is thinking. This has been going on for years but they didn’t get the message.

  39. Timbotoo,

    “When manufacturing jobs go, the challenge becomes how to occupy those previously employed low skill workers. I find it hard to imagine car manufacturing bolt tighteners seamlessly transitioning to high tech jobs.”

    There’s very few of those jobs left. Go into a car factory and there’s still some manual jobs (interiors like seats seem to be tricky) but a lot of it’s robots now. Welding, painting, making the engine, fitting the windscreens.

    The term “manufacturing jobs” is one of the most misleading around. If you develop and maintain the website for a company that allows customers to order flyers for printing, that’s a manufacturing job. If you design the wings for an F1 car using a PC and a mouse, that’s a manufacturing job. A few manufacturing jobs look like what people imagine – that printing company also has blokes who change the paper and ink on the printers. But actually, there’s very few of those jobs. Because once they hit scale, it’s either worth sending them somewhere cheaper or replacing people with a machine.

  40. “When manufacturing jobs go, the challenge becomes how to occupy those previously employed low skill workers. I find it hard to imagine car manufacturing bolt tighteners seamlessly transitioning to high tech jobs.”

    Not to pick on anyone in particular but this and similar references indicates to me simply a lighter version of the general elitism being derided here. People who lack the wherewithal or desire to sit in a classroom listening to someone drone on and on about how things should/would/could be done when they really would much rather be out there doing those things themselves, not to mention earning money are neither as untrainable nor as thick as The Narrative wants us to believe. Most of the people from my high school that I’m still in contact with on FB who either never attended college or only did the minimum until they ran out of money for it or dropped out are very successful. They own vacation homes, boats, travel, whatever and all seem to have an understanding of personal finance that many college and advanced degree people whom I know lack.

  41. “this and similar references indicates to me simply a lighter version of the general elitism being derided here.”

    Lots of people with degrees have to tell themselves that people without degrees are stupid morons who can’t do anything other than dig ditches, and will never make a decent career and life for themselves, because the alternative would be to admit that 50% of degrees are worthless and a really intelligent person wouldn’t have bothered to go into debt to get such a worthless bit of paper.

  42. Thanks J & B, but what really disturbs me runs deeper still. Granted my self selection of people whom I remember and whom I stay in touch with is biased and empirical and whatever, but there are so many others with whom I grew up who were not significantly different from the successful who failed. As I see it, a big part of that failure was the extremely poor job our society has done to pass on the understanding that life, and especially economics, is not a zero sum game. My successful friends simply didn’t care whether such was the case or not (of course somewhat generalizing here) but a fairly common perception amongst those who failed was that simply because they were (or perceived they were) “behind”, there was little they could do about it. “It’s the System, man”. The culture reinforced it, many teachers reinforced it, the perception that if you don’t go to college (and rightly or wrongly many were sure they couldn’t afford to anyway), well you’ll do to fix my car and tweek my plumbing if you’re lucky. Because of course whatever skill level you happen to be at when you leave school is the highest skill level you are likely to achieve. Start out cleaning pools and you’ll never become a computer programmer. Why it just doesn’t work that way. Yes I exaggerate, but only slightly. And for those who were unlucky (or just that one layer of skin too thick headed) in having anyone ever give them a clue otherwise, it didn’t matter.

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