Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"The "Stop Globalization" Or Populist Movement Part-Two

Trade Is Often Blamed For Loss Of Jobs
Immigration is an issue that can be looped back around and linked to globalization. As mentioned in part one of this series the topic of anti-globalism or populism all folds back into a larger discussion. Framing growing anti-globalism in the most bias way, people have rushed in with claims that much of this has to do with factors such as racism, religious intolerance, and more "phobias" than you can count. It also seems that people on both sides of the issue are busy playing the fear card, often unfairly.

It is not uncommon to portray those in the anti-globalization camp as being afraid of change and even backward. Sadly, over the years the world has witnessed numerous acts of brutality where tribes, religious groups or simply people with different political views have turned on one another committing rape, beatings and other atrocities. While it is good to appeal to mankind's better Angels and praise tolerance diversity should not be the litmus test by which our worth as humans is ultimately judged. When it comes to globalization seldom do we see a great deal of respect or recognition for the idea people are at times driven by the desire to preserve their values and possibly their culture along with their current way of life in the community in which they live.

Where do one person's rights end and another person's rights begin? In recent years concerns over immigration, autonomy and global competition have played a role in major political campaigns across the globe. As central banks attempt to end QE across the world the economic system will be put to a stress test the likes of which we have never seen. We have not seen the end of Keynesianism, wealth redistribution, or new monetary and fiscal policies but in the current political environment, it is not surprising that the war on inequality is expanding into more areas. Tariffs and protectionism is part of the new battlefield that may turn into open warfare.

The reality or truth of the matter is that many types of change are occurring. Changes resulting from just technological advancements are hammering away at our culture in ways few people would have imagined. While nobody should think globalization will stop in its tracks it might be in our best interest to slow it down so we have time to address some of the stress it is putting on our institutions. In one camp are those who see a positive future where the sky is blue and all is well, those pushing back against globalization are less comfortable with this trend. Change in itself can be disruptive and polarizing. A strong case can be made that not all change is good and racing blindly forward without considerations to the ramifications is a dangerous strategy.

This feeling that all is not right extends into the world economy where those of us who are less than enthusiastic about a rash of new policies and tools now being used to shape the economy are very concerned and quick to point out that denial isn't just a river in Egypt. We, non-believers, have continually been assaulted by those who think the unproven economic model known as Modern Monetary Theory or MMT is the answer and cure-all to the world's economic woes. It is not uncommon for these forward thinkers to act as though nonbelievers are stupid and unenlightened. I might argue that it would be wise to not rapidly accept what we are told by those with an agenda of self-interest and pay more attention to long-term sustainability. The public is often fed a load of rubbish, you can rest assured the money interest and power brokers generally have a much louder voice at the table than the average voter.

Youth Unemployment Is A Huge Issue
Turning to Europe we find the continent where growing high double-digit youth unemployment remains high anti-establishment sentiment, has soared. This is directly tied to the economy and shrinking lack of opportunities going forward. In 2000, an average 8.5% of the Euro-zone vote went to populist parties but in 2017 that number has soared to 24.1% It will be a long time before the issue of globalization and its impact are realized or can be fully adjudicated. Most trend watchers will, however, concede it does by its very nature carry with it many problems that have yet to be addressed. While praised for bringing billions of people out of poverty and improving a countless number of lives in the eyes of many people it has not impacted all people in a fair or equable way. Creating jobs and ways for people to live fulfilling lives in a safe and predictable manner has moved upward in importance to people across the world but is proving to be a greater challenge for governments than expected. It has brought front and center the difference between creating a valuable and worthwhile product that benefits society and breaking a window then praising the jobs replacing it yields.

Clearly, the gap between globalism and the anti-globalism or populist movement is huge and is very difficult to bridge. I'm forced to wonder and ponder just how much, where we live, our age and even our occupations has to do with how a person views these issues. Here in America those within the beltway, in the small upper reaches of the income charts, living in booming or thriving coastal areas most likely have a far different take on the economy and just how well things are going than those areas where the economy continues to struggle. My career in construction and real estate in the Midwest has left me feeling I'm in the front-lines of a war that we are not winning. I do not like being pessimistic but what I see and hear is far from the picture and story being painted by the mainstream media. My background in construction has proven to me that we can quickly learn that decisions made today may take years or even decades to reveal their flaws. In the end, how well something is constructed does matter.

Footnote; On his website, Robert Ringer recently wrote an interesting piece on populism the link is below. It also reinforces the idea the stop globalization movement and populism are in some ways linked at the hip.
If you missed the first part of this two-part posting and the link in the first paragraph here it is again.

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