How Donald Trump is riding middle-class anger right into the White House

Millions of voters are siding with Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, and it’s not just because he’s a racist. He’s one of the few politicians (Bernie Sanders is another) who is telling the truth about why the American middle class is collapsing: Foreign trade has decimated factory jobs, the bedrock of our economy.

Trump, Sanders and millions of voters across the political spectrum know what official Washington still denies: that so-called “free” trade isn’t an unalloyed good. They know that millions of American jobs have been lost to lower-cost producers in China and other poor countries in East Asia, South Asia and Latin America.

Those jobs anchored the middle class, and they anchored communities all through the nation. Between 1998 and 2013, 5.3 million factory jobs were lost. What’s worse, an even greater number — an estimated 7.4 million people — who don’t even work at the factory also lost their jobs because their livelihood in one way or another depended on that plant.

  • simus1

    Just symptoms of the real problem.
    One of the strangest and most unmentioned things about the American economy is there is still an old style “factory door” federal sales tax which only applies to American made products. Most other advanced countries have gone to some sort of combined Federal and state retail sales tax which covers both imported and domestic sourced goods.
    Why this change hasn’t been implemented would no doubt make for a very interesting story.

    • canminuteman

      In Canada we got rid of the manufacturers sales tax when we brought in the GST. That’s got to be 20 to 30 years ago now.

      • Denis

        but the real net effect on consumers was an increase in taxes

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I don’t mind the GST in a way.
        There should have been a corresponding decrease in the income tax.

    • Interesting.

    • moraywatson

      The biggest problem with the American economy is Obamacare. The second biggest is government infatuation with “climate change”.

  • Blacksmith

    Lack of domestic manufacturing has killed our economy of this there is NO doubt, there are many causes of this but unions are a BIG part of it. Wages got so high there was no way to support it and it all came tumbling down. Like the housing bubble. You can’t build an empire from a house of cards.

    • There is plenty of blame to go round no question but the bottom line is free trade never existed, we were lied to, the “deals” were simply a license for the political class to sell us out.

      • BillyHW

        Immigration was also a sellout, with the added benefit of being made a foreigner in your own country.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        How can you have free trade with a country whose competitive advantage is slave labour?

      • Blacksmith

        If there were penalties for shipping jobs overseas it might help. I really don’t know what the answer is though.

    • Millie_Woods

      I agree. American manufacturing was in decline before any of the free trade deals were made, anyone who drove a Ford in 1974 can attest to that. Ditto televisions, stereos, clothing etc. Much of the problem was powerful unions but complacency and lack of innovation also played a role. Also I don’t think Apple builds their products in China or American Eagle makes their clothes in Vietnam Nam because of free trade, rather they do so because it’s cheaper, period. I’d love to see that change but I’ve got my doubts Trump can do that. However what he can do is challenge foreign dumping, the trade imbalance and foreign tariffs on American made products. Those things are hitting American manufacturing hard and fixing them does not disrupt economic freedom. Countries that aren’t ‘playing fair’ can be subjected to all kinds of trade barriers. It starts with government that cares more about its people than its relationship with foreign interests and international organizations.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        I remember when I was a kid I was really into stereos.
        The Japanese stuff was the best mid-range quality.
        If you wanted to spend a few grand then you bought German.
        However, knowing that there were trade tariffs it was appalling to see what a Canadian manufacturer like Candle Electronics put out in the front row of K-Mart.
        They didn’t survive free trade because they put out crap.
        Just like the car companies put out crap for so long and got taken to the cleaners by their competition.

        • Clink9

          American cars were just awful in the last half of the seventies.

          I had a 1976 Camaro that just fell apart before my eyes in 5 years.

          Replaced with a 1982 Honda Accord that just kept going until it was sold out of boredom after 8 years.

        • Millie_Woods

          Candle. Heh! I forgot all about those guys. I was a Lloyds man when they were around. I spent scads of money on stereo equipment over the years. Now all of my music is in the cloud and organized on an iPad connected to Bose speakers via Bluetooth. Even Gene Roddenberry couldn’t envision that.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            I remember Lloyds.
            And it’s fantastic that all of my records, tapes and cds can now fit in the palm of my hand.
            I mean fantastic in the sense that I could never have dreamed of that happening when I was a kid.

          • Millie_Woods

            I remember when backing up my music meant copying it to tape on a cheap cassette player Without.Any.Audio.Jacks! That’s right, straight from the stereo speaker to the cassette mic. I used to do it when my parents and siblings were out so that the tape didn’t pick up background noise. My kids laugh when I tell them that.

      • lzzrd

        AS an aside, the last time I was in Spain, I found out that my favorite Spainish wine was cheaper in the US, then it was in Spain….LOL…..

        • Millie_Woods

          You think that’s bad? If Sanders gets elected, Americans will only have one choice of deodorant. They’ll need cheap wine.

  • Dana Garcia

    If you’re not angry, you are not paying attention. That goes for everywhere in the western world.

  • moraywatson

    Stopped reading after Trump was called a racist, in the first sentence. Common sense is the new racism. Call Trump, and those of us who think like Trump racists all you like. We just don’t give a fuck what you think any longer.

    • Minicapt

      He’s not a racist; he’s a short-fingered vulgarian.


      • Clink9

        I remember that band.