The United States Election. November 2016 – 1

American Election. News Travels Fast.  (MATT)
THE AMERICAN ELECTION.   NEWS TRAVELS FAST.   (MATT)

The Situation.  The result of this election will reverberate with Western developed economies for some time to come. In one way the election result can be partly attributable to the Judaeo-Christian practice of capitalism.

Senator Clinton secured the East and West coast urbanised better educated and more fully employed states (41.7% popular vote) while Mr Trump prevailed in the less educated Central and Southern states with higher unemployment (41.5% popular vote). The Electoral votes were Trump 279 and Clinton 228. (nor.com, 9 Nov.)

This election result has resonance  for the UK Brexit where 51% of the Leave vote was centred round the disadvantaged industrial Midlands while the southern British literati were left spluttering into warm beer with 49% of the Remain vote.

The recent election in Australia produced a comparable knife edge result, whereby better educated and more fully employed urbanites, by the narrowest margin, prevailed over urban and regional centres suffering under employment and unemployment

Painful History.  Once again, history warns but never repeats itself identically. The Great Unrest (1910-14) in the United Kingdom is instructive. From the mid 1800s, the Industrial Revolution powered along.  A depression in the mid-1890s dented progress but then manufacturing growth continued into the first decade of the 20th century. To increase profits, the industrial elite reduced operating costs by cutting wages and replacing workers with more efficient machines. The working class revolted. there was mayhem on the streets until the First World War was declared when thousands of workers were sent to the trenches to be slaughtered. In passing, it is curious to note that the painful 1929 Crash and the turbulent later years were ended in 1939 by the Second World War when thousands of men were called up.

Fast Forward. One hundred years later there is a cracked mirror reflection of a comparable situation. The  boom years of the later 20th century were interrupted by the GFC hiccup and a hesitant recovery which evaporated around the turn of this century. For the past decade, blue collar workers and the middle class has been squeezed by stagnant wages, employer exploitation, declining living standards, unemployment and under-employment. Machines – robots – are fast replacing workers as in 1910. One situation has made this situation worse,  Western industrialists have established manufacturing companies in the Developing World which has meant unemployment for millions of Americans and others. Meanwhile, the wealth gap widens for Americans and Australians who are developing increasing contempt and distrust for the established political elite. This problem is facing the Western democracies; it is unsurprising Mr Trump has prevailed.

 

UnEmployed
Under Employed or Unemployed
(huffingtonpost.com)

A New Order?  Perhaps the Western brand of capitalism was only able to flourish utilising a low-cost working class in a world dominated by empire and colonies; a prerequisite was an inexhaustible supply of cheap raw material and a ready market with little manufacturing capacity.  This situation no longer exists, perhaps this is the Achilles Heel of Western commerce.

The more philosophical might ponder on today’s economic conditions where chronic under-employment and flash points around the globe resemble  the situations in 1914 and 1939.

 

 

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