I took a short drive recently to a small neighboring village. It was celebrating its bicentennial and one of my former students was part of the entertainment. For two-hundred years this town had been home to many families but in today’s world, it really has no reason to exist.
It began as a supply spot for area farmers. A place to bring crops to market, get basic agricultural services, and buy food and other staples for the home. Those reasons evaporated decades ago and such places dot the landscape in my home county. And on each visit the scene worsens.
What I also noticed in each was a large number of Trump yard signs. These people are a part of Trump’s core, the people passed over by history and purpose. Those left to die on the vine. Those still living in such places are probably not skilled workers, probably not college graduates, they’re probably living at or below the poverty line, and there’s little chance for change. Out of their despair and desperation they turn to charlatans such as Trump. This is a story as old as humanity. Hard times toss out the welcome mat for demagogues and depots.
It got me thinking about reality and the reality is that conditions for these Americans isn’t going to change. The farmers don’t need them and the decent manufacturing jobs are either overseas or require skills they don’t have. And even then the skilled jobs are not where these people live. Regardless of what Trump promises those lost jobs aren’t coming back until American workers are willing to work for less money than their Vietnamese brethren. It’s simple capitalistic reality.
Donald Trump is promising to bring millions of jobs back and they will be quality jobs. That’s an empty promise on several fronts. One I’ve already mentioned. Another is automation. I just watched a TV show about the making of a new model Jaguar sedan in England. The car is made in a huge new factory and the total number of humans working there is fifty-four. Everything is done by robots and the humans are there to do what the robots can’t yet do or to make sure the robots don’t break down.
Where’d all the semi-skilled jobs go?
Robotics in the workplace is just beginning. The number of self check out stations at Walmart are growing and McDonald’s can’t wait to have robots taking your order and flipping your burgers. Twenty years ago I saw a video about a factory in Japan that was totally robotic and employing robots to make, other robots.
Trump has no solution to this. In fact, I’d guess that if he could use robots to work at the front desks of his luxury hotels he’d jump at the chance.
I’d suggest that if Trump were serious about doing something for those withering on the vine he’d propose federal programs that would help educate Americans in needed skilled trades and offer federal assistance for relocation to areas where jobs exists.
Maybe it’s time to take the Sam Kinison approach to economic improvement. Just tell the people of rural Ohio, “Hey, it’s a fucking dessert, move!”