This really is a slow train wreck

I see that everyone is now arguing that globalisation has distributional consequences, and that losers may eventually decide they have had enough. Which is something that I and others have been writing about since at least the 1990s.

I don’t expect anyone to take much notice of a bunch of academics, but how can we be surprised at the Brexit vote when we have had practical, political experience of the class divides surrounding European integration (viewed and experienced as a regional manifestation of globalisation) since at least 2005, when the French rejected the so-called Constitutional Treaty? And here is my very first ever Vox.Eu column, on the Irish Lisbon 1 vote.

And so my question is: when this has been so obvious for so long, how come nobody has done anything about it? Where are the enhanced safety nets, or the more elastic provision of public housing and other services that would surely have made a difference in the English debate? It really is quite extraordinary.

6 replies on “This really is a slow train wreck”

Is there a potential class issue here? Such as the winners of globalisation have been more effective at getting their political agenda met, leaving the losers more disillusioned than ever.

“And so my question is: when this has been so obvious for so long, how come nobody has done anything about it?”

Who sets the agenda? and for whose benefit is the agenda set? Who constructs and distributes the propaganda?

And when the facts belie the promised El Dorado for all, who promotes the idea that economic losers have lost because of ‘lifestyle choice’.

It is only when the losing numbers start to swell into the ranks of a heretofore middle class, that the system is threatened; And yet, not threatened enough to act!

Low Corporate taxes, multi-national tax dodges, tax inversions etc are still in vogue, even as the societies they operate in struggle and start to crumble.

They’ve actually tightened up on tax inversions in the US. Now there is basically no tax advantage to doing them.

Steve Walt had a piece about Israel and US power. Speeches don’t change anything. Systems continue in place until they are met by equivalent political power. It’s human psychology. Bonds will continue to rise in price until someone like Aneurin Bevan comes along and puts smacht on them.
Google Commentary best of the 1940s. There is a fantastic piece by George Orwell about the UK in the late 40s which is very relevant to now.

“And so my question is: when this has been so obvious for so long, how come nobody has done anything about it?”

The published literature is clear and unequivocal: economists (and some other professions) are taught to learn their subject (and become quite expert in it). Sadly, most never learn how to teach themselves to be life-long, independent learners. As Truman Swartz pithily observed about PhD post-graduate chemists: they learn more and more about less and less and end up as ignorant experts.

If your life experience is solely of a two-dimensional world: a three-dimensional world is unimaginable. [Edwin Abbot, (1884): ‘Flatland; A Romance of Many Directions’]

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