20th Century Solutions To 21st Century Problems
The 21st century, not surprisingly, is unlike the 20th century regarding the scope and magnitude of the nation’s problems. The candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders provide 20th century solutions to these 21st century problems.
21st Century Problems
Globalization has driven a wedge between the corporate class and the working class of Republicans. In the 20th century, pro-business policies would supposedly translate into more and higher-paying jobs for the American working class. We know that this is not so today. While cutting corporate taxes makes corporations happy, they use that money to finance more automation and outsourcing at the expense of the working class.
For example, Bank of America received a 45 billion TARP bailout. Did they use the money to retain and increase American jobs? Nope. They used the money to finance a move of their call centers to the Philippines, at a loss of 30,000 American jobs. American companies are spending most of their R&D today on cost-cutting; specifically, reducing labor costs, and not on developing new markets which might mean higher-paying jobs.
Similarly, from the perspective of the proletariat, increasing the minimum wage and companies will find great reasons to boost automation. The emphasis on race and gender in politics means the white working class vote has been both alienated by, and is up for grabs to, both parties. Few in either party are willing to revamp their platform for this new century.
20th Century Solutions
The 20th century solution proffered is the government regulating the Internet, grounding the global airline fleet, and docking every container ship. Then, American companies will finally be forced to hire American workers. This was tried to some degree at the beginning of the 20th century.
The left and right had two separate arguments over this phenomenon. Is the argument about what the scope of the government ought to be, the correct interpretation of the constitution, and separation of powers and the proper roles of the three branches, or is it a given that government power is always going to continue grow and to be increasingly concentrated in the hands of one person, and the argument is merely over who that person is going to be?
It appears that people have little interest in constitutionalism, limited government or separation of powers, if indeed they ever believed in those things (I don’t think they did). As a result, people believe that one transformational figure can make all of their wishes come true. On the left, they look back to FDR and LBJ (ironic as the people supporting Sanders now are the same people that ousted LBJ and New Deal Democrats in 1968 as not being liberal enough). On the right it’s Teddy Roosevelt, a rich guy from a rich family who preached unrestrained nationalism. The problem? We’re in the 21st century. The leadership and style of governance of 50 or 100 years ago are not applicable today for obvious reasons.
The 21st century solution is a coherent policy that works with corporations as engines for growth and jobs, rather than policy that pushes them towards automation, tax inversion and outsourcing. 20th century solutions to 21st century problems require demonizing the shovel. it feels good, but probably means we won’t be getting out of the hole anytime soon.