NEW YORK – Donald Trump’s astonishing victory in the United States presidential election has made one thing abundantly clear: too many Americans – particularly white male Americans – feel left behind. It is not just a feeling; many Americans really have been left behind. It can be seen in the data no less clearly than in their anger. And, as I have argued repeatedly, an economic system that doesn’t “deliver” for large parts of the population is a failed economic system. So what should President-elect Trump do about it?
Over the last third of a century, the rules of America’s economic system have been rewritten in ways that serve a few at the top, while harming the economy as a whole, and especially the bottom 80%. The irony of Trump’s victory is that it was the Republican Party he now leads that pushed for extreme globalization and against the policy frameworks that would have mitigated the trauma associated it. But history matters: China and India are now integrated into the global economy. Besides, technology has been advancing so fast that the number of jobs globally in manufacturing is declining.
The implication is that there is no way Trump can bring a significant number of well-paying manufacturing jobs back to the US. He can bring manufacturing back, through advanced manufacturing, but there will be few jobs. And he can bring jobs back, but they will be low-wage jobs, not the high-paying jobs of the 1950’s.
If Trump is serious about tackling inequality, he must rewrite the rules yet again, in a way that serves all of society, not just people like him.