China

China Bashing Is a Bipartisan Sport and It's Back With a Vengeance

American working class is spurning jobs, but somehow that's the fault of trade liberalization

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Neither Republicans nor Democrats are immune to bouts of protectionism. But what's interesting this election cycle

archer10 (Dennis) (69M Views) via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

is that both sides are experiencing a particularly bad case of it at the same time given the twin rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. However, neither of these populist demagogues has arisen in an intellectual vacuum. Smart-set folks in their camp — some reformocons on the right and Paul Krugman on the left — have for a while now been beating the protectionist drum and blaming China for the travails of the American middleclass.

But, I note in my column at The Week, it's far from clear that the American working class is doing as poorly as these brainiacs suggest; or that trade liberalization for China or any other country has hurt rather than helped these folks; or that protectionism would be an effective cure.

There is evidence suggesting that there are plenty of unfilled jobs, but working class Americans are just not as into them as they used to be. There are many reasons why, but:

Chief among them is Congress' relaxation of the rules for claiming Social Security disability during the Reagan years so that a worker's own subjective self assessment — rubber stamped by his own self-selected physician — would be enough to file a successful claim. What's more, it also made the payment more generous.

The upshot was that when the Great Recession hit in 2008, many able-bodied adults went on Social Security disability after their unemployment benefits ran out and never got off. Scott Lincicome of Cato Institute notes that between 1990 and 2014, the percentage of working-age adults receiving disability more than doubled.

Go here to read the whole thing.

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117 responses to “China Bashing Is a Bipartisan Sport and It's Back With a Vengeance

  1. OT: Air Force fielding all-female ICBM crews and B-52 aircrews

    I wish they’d given me the day off for a PR stunt.

    1. Great, if one of them is on her special time of the month, it’s gonna be WWIII.

      1. Wait until they all sync up.

        The article states that they’re basing this off a study (from 30 years ago) that says the crews should be all-female because mixed-gender crews cause additional stress.

        This after they just opened up all combat jobs to females.

        I don’t know what’s going on anymore.

        1. Females don’t synchronize their menstruation. Debunked a few times. Just a game of 1/4th of a month overlaps with another menses suddenly becomes “synched” if only for a day; unless you mean by your comment “the one or two days where more than one woman happens to be menstruating.”

          Pudding

          Plus, there hasn’t been a single incident of “Dr. Strangelove-esque” rogue units in American ICBM or B-52 missions, that I could find.

          Unfounded fear, my good man.

          1. I was going to respond with “you do know I’m not that stupid right?” and then I remembered that this is the internet and you don’t know me, so it’s not unreasonable to assume I’m that stupid.

            I know it’s a myth.

            I am not that stupid.

            It’s a joke.

            Everything after that line was not.

  2. So, just to be clear, the working class have a viable alternative in SSDI that pays them enough to disincentivize marginal jobs, and that makes them the assholes. Got it. What are the consequences for going off disability? Do you also need to be able to afford a lwayer in case the government decides to make fraud charges against you? Those lazy, racist hicks!

    1. She seems to mostly be calling Paul Krugman an asshole, actually.

      1. Spurning is a loaded word.

      2. Which I am absolutely okay with.

    2. Yeah, that does make them assholes. Not the assholes, but assholes, nonetheless.

  3. There is evidence suggesting that there are plenty of unfilled jobs

    Right. This evidence is all over the place.

    1. Especially in the oil patch. Those lazy fuckers are all on the dole now!

  4. I’m going back to Fallout, where we annexed Canada and nuked China.

  5. God forbid that we bash a bunch of totalitarian Commies.

    [I know, I know, this, sadly, isn’t that, but ye olde protectionism. Funny, though, that nobody calls them the Red or Communist Chinese any more. Because they still are who they were, only they’ve figured out how to enrich the apparat even more by feeding off of a quasi-capitalist system rather than a quasi-feudal one.]

    1. Right. Bashing China is perfectly appropriate, but let’s bash them for the right reasons.

      Jobs leaving the US is entirely the result of our own political class’ policies.

    2. Actually, Rush still uses the term “ChiCom” a lot.

  6. Oh lord, an anti-Trump post by Dalmia. Can we just have a bot do the comments?

      1. Sometimes Anon-Bot hits it out of the park.

        1. Note to self, read harder.

          1. Enough with the euphemisms! My god, people, get a grip on yourselves. Oh, wait . . . .

    1. In fairness, she’s nit totally wrong on this. If we brought all of those manufactured products back, 90% would be made by robots and stuff would be more expensive. The US jobs didn’t really get exported to China. There are more manufacturing jobs in the US today than in 1980, just not many giant assembly lines where anyone with a room temperature IQ who came to work every day could earn a libing. Those jobs didn’t get exported to China, they got exported to robots.

      1. So what do we actually make?

        1. Who’s “we”?

          1. Who’s “we”?

            Libertarians.

            what do we actually make?

            Pipe dreams

          2. Perishables like food. Heavy industrial equipment. High-end electrical equipment, medical supplies, etc. not much in the way of consumer goods, though….

        2. Wait, we do assemble some cars on behalf of the Japanese, though my car was made in mexico. Hrmm… what else is there? (Not being sarcastic, trying to remember)

          1. Capital goods. Lots of capital goods. We make the products that go into factories worldwide.

            We have an expensive and highly educated workforce. It doesn’t make sense to have them build low margin consumer products and commodities.

            1. You’re not going to fool me, that website ends in .gov .

          2. We also assemble cars on behalf of ze Germans.

        3. All kinds of stuff. We’re still the second largest exporter of finished good.

          1. I was kind of hoping to collect examples of US manufacturing.

              1. Bourbon. Wine.

                Cigarettes.

            1. Chemical manufacturing is massive in the US.

              1. I covered that already.

                1. Robc, just because your favorite chemical is potable ethanol (as opposed to that destined for the mandate) doesn’t rule out non- potable chemicals.

            2. Righteous indignation and victimhood.

        4. Airplanes, heavy equipment, steel products, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and specialty chemicals all come to mind. We assemble a shitload of automobiles. Computer chips. Specialty electronics, satellites.

          1. All well and good – so why are so many Americans not working? Or has this ratio been fairly constant all along?

            1. Someone notes below that “you get more of what you reward”. That’s a pretty good explanation.

            2. Because the number of jobs isn’t growing with the population. Manufacturing is pretty solidly between 3.0 and 3.4 million since robotics made capital competitive with labor across a broader segment of the US market. Manufacturing is not a panacea. Add to that that people don’t just work from 20 to 55 and retire. Older people have continued to be effective at traditionally physical jobs as technology has taken away much of the heavy lifting. Automation means that we can build twice as much with the same workforce. Making labor arbitrarily more expensive makes the tradeoff between buying robots and renting people tilt towards buying robots. Look at Amazon warehouses. 20 years ago when they started, you needed 1000 people at the distribution center, now we have 1200 robots and 100 people. None of those jobs went to China. They just went to capital investment.

      2. In fairness, she’s nit totally wrong on this.

        I’m not someone who typically thinks she is.

      3. “They got exported to robots.”

        ^^This. But at least they’re red-blooded *American* robots.

        1. Blood is a terrible coolant for a machine. You really should rethink that design.

          1. But how does it work as a lubricant?

            1. Even worse. Blood coagulates and turns into an adhesive.

              1. updates spec for self-lubricating kill-bot

                1. Keep the kill cycle time low enough, and you should be OK.

            2. I was out fleeing some robots and the silvery moonlight glinting off their bloody claws made me think of you.

              1. It’s been a long time, you pus-dripping sack of double-smoked butt jerky.

                1. I know your mom is but what am I?

      4. Exactly this.

        Unfortunately, we have a huge disconnect in that the people who potentially have the knowledge and correct thinking to solve the problem don’t see a problem in the first place (and are in fact rather insistent on not seeing it), and those who do misdiagnose and suggest remedies which will not solve the problem.

      5. Those jobs didn’t get exported to China, they got exported to robots.

        We need a giant wall to keep the robots from taking our jobs.

        1. Well first we need some mexicans to build us a robot to build the wall.

        2. I have robots who can do that for you.

          1. Mexican robots?

    2. Well what do you expect these blue collar junkies to do? Learn a new skill or something?

      1. You’re so right. They should be getting in massive debt by going to government schools for 4 years to get a sheepskin so that they can work a marginal office job with little hope of repaying that debt in a profitable manner. Completely unreasonable for blue collar workers to ask for the same consideration of their lot that is paid to the rest of America, and also unreasonable to see that sweet deal and decide to join the underclass in receiving SSDI for life, instead.

        1. There are actually a number of pretty well-paying jobs you can get with an Associates Degree, which takes two years at a dirt-cheap local JC. You can also learn to code pretty much any language online for free.

          Also my aunt’s pimp’s roommate’s dog makes $973454 an hour working at home for Google on her laptop.

        2. Or they could maybe get into a skilled trade that can’t be done by a robot? Or is that advice only for fags with a degree in liberal arts?

          1. Look, Doyers, it’s very simple. We bash the women and fags for not doing STEM, but when it’s Real American White Dudes? Oh hell no.

            1. They had a deal nicole. They got married young and pumped out a few kids and sunk their money into a mortgage and they go to church every week and watch football and buy lite beer, and in return they’re supposed to get a guaranteed job for life that is shielded from competition or any responsibility for their own well-being. That’s the America they want back!

              1. As there is or will not be any policy solution to this (or cannot be in the United States), will the effective “solution” for the proletarianization of the former working class is for them to become addicted to painkillers and then blow their heads off a shotgun?

            2. All I’ve ever wanted for Christmas is my Real American White Dude certificate. It has yet to arrive 🙁

              1. I got a notice stating I was too Irish.

        3. That you (err, all of America) seems to think that MOAR SKOOL is the only avenue for self improvement is itself a problem.

          1. I don’t think that — in fact, I think the opposite. I do observe that almost every avenue to self-improvement sans schooling has been severely curtailed by government, large businesses, or both working in tandem.

            Were it up to me, our educational system would look more like Germany’s and the whole of the regulatory state would be used for kindling.

            1. Yeah, I misread your post.

              I suspect that the twin bitches driving Trumpism would sort themselves out if we curbed our overinvestment in secondary and higher education. That will never happen though, because the government, mistaking correlation for causation, has determined that any member of the underclass will be transformed into something better by virtue of receiving a piece of paper.

            2. our educational system would look more like Germany’s

              Unfortunately, Germany is busy making its educational system look like America’s. Because tracking by merit is totally not cool.

          2. We run a welding school at my job. Sure it’s 80% practical, but you have to learn some metallurgy to weld. Operators in plants have to learn something about how gauges and instrumentation work. It seems easier to run 15 of them through all the stuff they need to know, practical and knowledge acquisition at once rather than training them on-site without a curriculum.

      2. The managers at my employer’s distribution centers would be thrilled if their workforce consistently came to work and tried.

        That’s it: show up and try. They can work with that.

    3. LOL ,you said it Dude!

      http://www.facebook.gov

  7. Your gona be sory when The Chineze make everything an we don’t mak nuttin. Its warfer and thu Chines er makin us look like loosers!!

  8. NEEDZ MOAR BUGGY WHIP SUBSIDEEZ!

  9. OT (& far more important): New Zealand qualify for the World T20 semi-finals (just doing my bit to raise the cultural awareness of HnR commenters.

    1. Why was T20 chosen as the abbreviation? I think 20/20 would be better.

      1. Because everything about Cricket needs to be completely incomprehensible to people not familiar with the rules of the game.

        1. Like an idiot professor babbling nonsense cricket fans pretend the game makes sense to them and you are just too dense to get it. I am on to them. I know it really is incomprehensible and they just make it up as they go along.

        2. The rules of cricket simplified.

      2. Good question. Terminology also includes Twenty20 and 20-20.

    2. T-ball? Grow up, New Zealand.

  10. The upshot was that when the Great Recession hit in 2008, many able-bodied adults went on Social Security disability after their unemployment benefits ran out and never got off. Scott Lincicome of Cato Institute notes that between 1990 and 2014, the percentage of working-age adults receiving disability more than doubled.

    It’s not just the recession. This has been going on a long time. We have a European welfare state right here in our own backyard and we wonder why workforce participation is at an all-time low.

    When a government starts paying its people not to work, your economy goes into a slow rot.

    1. You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

      1. Someone should make some sort of metallic law about that. Tin or aluminum or something.

        1. Mercury?

  11. OT, and apologies if it has been mentioned. But apparently Rob Ford, famously and awesomely crack smoking former Toronto mayor has died. Seems worth mentioning.

    1. Completely anticlimactic event

      1. Yeah, I had kind of hoped to see something else more dramatic come from that guy.

    2. Rob Ford condensed into a minute and a half:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzM8b2vJsMY

      RIP Rob.

    3. He’s been resurrected as The Donald.

      1. Trump on crack – shudder

  12. So what do we actually make?

    Airplanes, earth movers, automobiles, machine tools, medical equipment…

  13. Communist-occupied China is a bolsehivik state, it oppresses its inhabitants, it killed tens of millions in pursuit of establishing socialism, it owes Americans and other nations’ citizens over a billion dollars to repay loans made over the past 100+ years, it expropriated the property of Americans and others. For those reasons alone the US should have no relations with it and we should actively work for the overthrow of their criminal regime. Are you for freedom and property or not?

    1. Are you for freedom and property or not?

      Yeah, I am, which is why I believe people should be free to trade their property to people living in China.

    2. Are you for freedom and property or not?

      I’m for freeing you from your property.

      /prog OFF

    3. Communist-occupied China is a bolsehivik state, it oppresses its inhabitants, it killed tens of millions in pursuit of establishing socialism,

      The China of today is markedly different than the China of Mao. If one were a real committed bolshevik, the first reaction you’d have if you traveled to China is that they’re doing it wrong.

      For instance, Bernie Sanders would be horrified by China because healthcare isn’t free, and in fact little else is, and most people are free to pursue the business of earning a living with relatively little interference from the state. China is still, alas, a communist nation and can assert its authority in sudden and random ways– not unlike our own state.

      There is no freedom of speech in China, but it’s always good to remember there’s no freedom of speech in Canada or England either. Modern Chinese communism has evolved (or devolved if you’re Bernie Sanders) into a kind of managerial state, with party officials running most provinces and districts pragmatically.

      I’m not saying “rah rah China government!” but I am saying that like America has evolved since Slavery, China has evolved since the cultural revolution.

      1. “For instance, Bernie Sanders would be horrified by China because healthcare isn’t free, and in fact little else is, and most people are free to pursue the business of earning a living with relatively little interference from the state. ”

        Except for the fact that an enormous number of businesses are in fact owned by the state and it’s very hard to start a company without the Chinese government giving you the go-ahead.

        1. I don’t know what that go-ahead looks like. For instance, you can’t start a business here unless the government gives you the go-ahead. Is their go-ahead different than ours? Is it largely a rubber stamp? How does our system of federal, state and local regulations and licensing requirements (to renovate your living room) look in comparison?

          Yes, state-owned enterprises are the really big ones, like China Telecom, steel companies and what not. I suspect this will be changing over the next couple of decades.

    4. The Bolsheviks were a specific faction of Russian/Soviet communists. Chinese communists were/are not Bolsheviks. China today is still authoritarian and far from a totally free market, but it has moved away from attempting to implement full communism.

  14. Thomas Friedman doesn’t China-bash. He wants everything they have to be implemented here: trains that run on time, empty cities and the death penalty for drug dealers.

  15. If only we could force those companies to bring those jobs back to America. And makes those corporate fatcats pay a living wage.

    Jobs for the Homeland. Jobs for The Real America.

    Trump/Sanders 2016

    1. As a third party?

      They might actually beat Hillary and Rubio (making the assumption that a brokered convention would be to install Rubio, not Cruz).

      1. Economic illiteracy bridges all partisan gaps.

      2. No, the Brokered convention nominated Ryan, not Rubio.

        1. His plan to combat obesity is an hour of P90X for every $50 of food stamps you get from the government.

  16. The upshot was that when the Great Recession hit in 2008, many able-bodied adults went on Social Security disability after their unemployment benefits ran out and never got off.

    You know who else never got off?

    1. Lord Varys?

    2. Sir Galahad?

    3. I’ve been told that frigidity is patriarchal myth.

    4. Anyone who’s read SugarFree’s fiction, ever again?

    5. Evie Braun- Hitler was a very selfish lover.

  17. Chief among them is Congress’ relaxation of the rules for claiming Social Security disability during the Reagan years so that a worker’s own subjective self assessment ? rubber stamped by his own self-selected physician ? would be enough to file a successful claim. What’s more, it also made the payment more generous.

    One can see a few of them as plaintiffs or defendants in the court of Judge Judy. Able-bodied men and women claiming to be on ‘disability’ whenever the good judge asks them what is it they do for a living.

    […] it’s far from clear that the American working class is doing as poorly as these brainiacs suggest; or that trade liberalization for China or any other country has hurt rather than helped these folks; or that protectionism would be an effective cure.

    The brainiacs are lying through their teeth.
    Trade liberalization does not and cannot explain why some workers can’t find jobs.
    Only economic ignoramuses claim that protectionism schemes work.

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