Brooks and Krugman

Bobo is convinced he knows “Where America is Working” and he gurgles that we should build on our success and not, like the Trump campaign, wallow in despair of what we’ve lost.  In the comments “Gene” from Florida had this to say:  “Wrong again. The Republicans have been riding the doom and gloom train since Obama’s first day in office. From day one they’ve been hollering about how they have to stop him from destroying America and pointing out (lying about) how bad it is in America because of him. Trump’s merely cashing in on all the Republican effort. What’s more, this is all secondary to what drives most Trump supporters. The common trait among Trump supporters is bigotry with racism at the top of the list.”  Prof. Krugman takes a look at “The Id That Ate the Planet” and says climate change can be countered and the environment saved, but not if the hair spray-obsessed, science-denying Donald Trump is elected.  Here’s Bobo:

As individuals, we all try to build on our strengths and work on our weaknesses, and it’s probably a good idea to balance these two activities. But as a country we are completely messing this up.

In this election we’ve been ignoring the parts of America that are working well and wallowing in the parts that are fading. This has led to a campaign season driven by fear, resentment and pessimism. And it will lead to worse policy-making down the road, since prosperity means building on things we do well, not obsessing over the things that we’ve lost.

The person chiefly responsible for this all-warts view of America is, of course, Donald Trump.

Trump has focused his campaign on the struggling white neighborhoods in the industrial Midwest. The prototypical Trump voter is an upscale man from a downscale place.

As Nate Silver has demonstrated, Trump voters are not poor. Their median household income is about $72,000, which is far above the national average. But they tend to be from former manufacturing hubs, which have been in decades-long decline. They tend to be from places like Kokomo, Ind., which has had a 13.5 percent decline in weekly wages since 2000, and Saginaw, Mich., which has had a 9.8 percent decline.

These areas enjoyed a brief resurgence four years ago, when manufacturing picked up. But the manufacturing economy has headed south again over the past 19 months, thanks to low foreign demand. People in such places are so desperate for any sort of change that they’re willing to overlook all the baggage that comes with Donald Trump.

Trump’s general election focus on the swing states of the industrial Midwest means that Hillary Clinton will have to focus her efforts there, too. The whole tenor of the fall campaign will be shaped by the pain of towns that are in long-term decline — where people feel economically adrift and culturally left behind.

Energy issues will play an outsized role. As Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic has shown, Republicans tend to do well in industrial places heavily reliant on carbon-intensive fuels. Democrats tend to do well in postindustrial places where carbon output is low. Trump will hit Clinton for supporting environmental regulations that hurt the manufacturing economy. Clinton will rally her people with efforts to address climate change.

This style of campaign could also pave the way for a longer-term realignment. Michael Lind of New America argues in an essay in Politico that Republicans are becoming a Midwestern, white working-class party that embraces economic nationalism — walling out immigrants and global economic competition. The Democrats are becoming a multicultural globalist coalition that will see national boundaries as obsolete.

But there’s another America out there, pointing to a different political debate. For while people are flooding out of the Midwest, they are flooding into the South and the West. The financial crisis knocked many Sun Belt cities to their knees, but they are back up and surging. Jobs and people are now heading to Orlando, Phoenix, Nashville, Charlotte, Denver and beyond.

There are two kinds of places that are getting it right. The first we might call Richard Florida cities, after the writer who champions them. These are dense, highly educated, highly communal places with plenty of hipsters. These cities, like Austin, Seattle and San Francisco, have lots of innovation, lots of cultural amenities, but high housing prices and lots of inequality.

The second kind of cities we might call Joel Kotkin cities, after the writer who champions them. These are opportunity cities like Houston, Dallas and Salt Lake City. These places are less regulated, so it’s easier to start a business. They are sprawling with easy, hodgepodge housing construction, so the cost of living is low. Immigrants flock to them.

As Kotkin and Tory Gattis pointed out in an essay in The City Journal, Houston has been a boomtown for the past two decades. It’s America’s fourth-largest city, with 35 percent metro area population growth between 2000 and 2013. It’s the most ethnically diverse city in America and has had a surge in mid-skill jobs. Houston’s diversified its economy, so even the energy recession has not derailed its progress.

We should be having a debate between the Kotkin model and the Florida model, between two successful ways to create prosperity, each with strengths and weaknesses. That would be a forward-looking debate between groups who are open, confident and innovative. That would be a debate that, while it might divide by cultural values and aesthetics, wouldn’t divide along ugly racial lines.

We should be focusing on the growing, dynamic places and figuring out how to use those models to nurture inclusive opportunity and rejuvenate the places that aren’t. Instead, this campaign will focus on the past: who we need to shut out to get back what we lost.

The future is being built right now. The prevailing sense of public despair is just wrong.

That deserves one more reply, this time from “soxared040713” from Crete, IL:  “Mr. Brooks, the demonization of President Obama, now in its eighth year, was created by your party. You have done no small part to fan the flames of despair these past seven-plus years ginning up a mob-like resentment against not only him, but Democrats in general. … House Speaker Paul Ryan’s cowardly capitulation to Trump yesterday is merely the latest in a continuing cascade of reasons our “prevailing sense of public despair” is so great.  Are you happy now?”  And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

On Tuesday the political arm of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of America’s most influential environmentalist groups, made its first presidential endorsement ever, giving the nod to Hillary Clinton. This meant jumping the gun by a week on her inevitable designation as the presumptive Democratic nominee, but the NRDC Action Fund is obviously eager to get on with the general election.

And it’s not hard to see why: At this point Donald Trump’s personality endangers the whole planet.

We’re at a peculiar moment when it comes to the environment — a moment of both fear and hope. The outlook for climate change if current policies continue has never looked worse, but the prospects for turning away from the path of destruction have never looked better. Everything depends on who ends up sitting in the White House for the next few years.

On climate: Remember claims by climate denialists that global warming had paused, that temperatures hadn’t risen since 1998? That was always a garbage argument, but in any case it has now been blown away by a series of new temperature records and a proliferation of other indicators that, taken together, tell a terrifying story of looming disaster.

At the same time, however, rapid technological progress in renewable energy is making nonsense — or maybe I should say, further nonsense — of another bad argument against climate action, the claim that nothing can be done about greenhouse gas emissions without crippling the economy. Solar and wind power are getting cheaper each year, and growing quickly even without much in the way of incentives to switch away from fossil fuels. Provide those incentives, and an energy revolution would be just around the corner.

So we’re in a state where terrible things are in prospect, but can be avoided with fairly modest, politically feasible steps. You may want a revolution, but we don’t need one to save the planet. Right now all it would take is for America to implement the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and other actions — which don’t even require new legislation, just a Supreme Court that won’t stand in their way — to let the U.S. continue the role it took in last year’s Paris agreement, guiding the world as a whole toward sharp reductions in emissions.

But what happens if the next president is a man who doesn’t believe in climate science, or indeed in inconvenient facts of any kind?

Republican hostility to climate science and climate action is usually attributed to ideology and the power of special interests, and both of these surely play important roles. Free-market fundamentalists prefer rejecting science to admitting that there are ever cases when government regulation is necessary. Meanwhile, buying politicians is a pretty good business investment for fossil-fuel magnates like the Koch brothers.

But I’ve always had the sense that there was a third factor, which is basically psychological. There are some men — it’s almost always men — who become enraged at any suggestion that they must give up something they want for the common good. Often, the rage is disproportionate to the sacrifice: for example, prominent conservatives suggesting violence against government officials because they don’t like the performance of phosphate-free detergent. But polluter’s rage isn’t about rational thought.

Which brings us to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who embodies the modern conservative id in its most naked form, stripped of the disguises politicians usually use to cloak their prejudices and make them seem respectable.

No doubt Donald Trump hates environmental protection in part for the usual reasons. But there’s an extra layer of venom to his pro-pollution stances that is both personal and mind-bogglingly petty.

For example, he has repeatedly denounced restrictions intended to protect the ozone layer — one of the great success stories of global environmental policy — because, he claims, they’re the reason his hair spray doesn’t work as well as it used to. I am not making this up.

He’s also a bitter foe of wind power. He likes to talk about how wind turbines kill birds, which they sometimes do, but no more so than tall buildings; but his real motivation seems to be ire over unsuccessful attempts to block an offshore wind farm near one of his British golf courses.

And if evidence gets in the way of his self-centeredness, never mind. Recently he assured audiences that there isn’t a drought in California, that officials have just refused to turn on the water.

I know how ridiculous it sounds. Can the planet really be in danger because a rich guy worries about his hairdo? But Republicans are rallying around this guy just as if he were a normal candidate. And if Democrats don’t rally the same way, he just might make it to the White House.

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One Response to “Brooks and Krugman”

  1. Russian Sage Says:

    Trump’s emphasis on exaggeration – a meatless bread sandwich – is refuted by the market itself. Promising more drilling following a glut and a return to the mines both above and below ground whose pricing structure is unsupported by facts. Coal wasn’t put out of business by the EPA. Clean ups generally follow the Chapter 11 filing. Chesapeake’s CEO who took his own life rather than face public failure fought the EPA for decades despite the toxic water in populated areas where he expanded his corporation. Those jobs will return when USS and Pittsburgh are the hubs of the country again. Natural gas as is well known has pushed down the pricing cycle and with it has gone the Koch Brothers. Exelon recently announced the closing of two nuclear plants due to competition from renewables and natural gas. The exporting of crude alone is proof that the US does not have to do more drilling. Shell has written off a multi billion dollar failure to extract oil in the Artic. The world has moved on. But Hillary will have a hard time selling that to closed ears and narrow minds. They’re not going to buy retraining. Their fate was sown twenty years ago and no one will bring them back. But their votes will weigh on Clinton. She needs Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio and I find that extremely unlikely to sweep. Let the market speak.

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