Interviewed by Spiegel in 2005, Lee Kuan Yew observed, “The social contract that led to workers sitting on the boards of companies and everybody being happy rested on this condition: I work hard, I restore Germany’s prosperity, and you, the state, you have to look after me. I’m entitled to go to Baden Baden for spa recuperation one month every year. This old system was gone in the blink of an eye when two to three billion people joined the race—one billion in China, one billion in India and over half-a-billion in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.”
Though American workers never could demand a one-month vacation a year, they enjoyed increasing pay and benefits from the end of WWII to the 80s. If hard working, even a high school dropout could buy a house, car and send his kids to college. What Yew said applied to all of the West, and its decline can be traced to the entrance of China, in particular, into the commercial fray. Free from the self-imposed shackles of hard-core Communism, China has gutted entire Western industries, since these cannot compete with China’s low wage workforce. Other Asian countries, India, Pakistan and Vietnam, etc., have also forced the shutdown of many American factories.
Call it what you will, Globalism, Neo-Liberalism or just plain Capitalism, the open market rewards only those who can offer any product at the lowest price, thus we have this often cited “race to the bottom” in terms of wages. Donald Trump didn’t just outsource, he in-sourced cheap, immigrant labor. Had he not, his businesses wouldn’t be able to compete.
Having made his billions, Trump is proposing a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, which means a $199 iPod will cost $288.55, and a $90 pair of Nike will be bumped to $130.50. Moving factories back to the US will create jobs yet push prices to the sky. To stay competitive, then, American companies will be forced to pay American workers what their Chinese counterparts make a month, around $450. That’s the reality of a global market that workers everywhere, from Mexico to Bangladesh, must deal with.
Even with its competitive edge, China is unable to sell as much as before, for its exports have dropped 25.4% year-to-year, as of February. China has announced plans to lay off 1.8 million steel and coal workers, and that’s just the beginning of its own decline.
Our ruling elite know the global economy is keeling, and that’s why they’re preparing for war. When there’s less to go around, only the most vicious will eat. Most Americans don’t realize they’ve been living way beyond their means for decades. With record debt, the US is in fact the poorest country on earth, but this is not evident since we have a global goon squad called the United States military. Keeping nearly the entire world in line, we can demand goods with our fiat money. Even Bernie Sanders knows this, and that’s why he’s basically a support-the-troops and anti-Russia kind of guy.
Sanders’ base are mostly comfortable whites who pretend to be anti-racist while staying as far away from all minorities as possible. They also mock and despise poor whites. While heavily invested in Capitalism, many pretend to be Socialists, while their spoiled children pose as Communists. Sander’s supporters are those who voted for Obama twice without feeling any remorse, for all they care about is appearing to do what’s right.
Though the US can’t win wars, it’s adept at wrecking countries. With unprecedented spying, we also know what’s in every politician’s closet, so any career can be torpedoed at will. This also raises the question of why Trump is still left standing if he’s such a threat to the establishment? The casino business isn’t the cleanest, and just about everyone has his Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or Pee-Wee Herman lapses. If there are no scandals to be dug up, they can be fabricated. Our press is not shy about telling lies.
What we have isn’t democracy but relentless mind control, then phony elections. Just about none of our national “representatives” represent us. With our corporate media, two deeply corrupt parties, “super delegates” and unaccountable voting machines, our elections are basically rigged.
Trump, Sanders and Clinton are simply trotted out to absorb people’s anger and passion. The military-banking complex will continue to do what it wants to do. It doesn’t matter if Clinton or Trump is our next president, American living standards will only nosedive further, with only our super corrupt ruling elite thriving. Behind walls monitored by drones and combat vets, they will chuckle as we try to lob Molotov cocktails onto the fringes of their golf courses.
You can’t have a campaign based on measured expectations, so instead of “TOGETHER WE GO DOWN,” “IT WON’T BE SO BAD” and “HOPEFULLY A SOFT LANDING,” we have “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” “A NEW AMERICAN CENTURY,” “REBUILD THE AMERICAN DREAM” and “UNLEASH THE AMERICAN DREAM,” etc.
Even with competent and honest leadership, our future will be most difficult, but since we’re repeatedly railroaded into “electing” one huckster after another, it sure looks like we’ll be up Hillary Creek without a trump card.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.