April 26, 2016

Trump discouraging transplant-ism: Don't go anywhere, the jobs are coming back

When Trump was touring Upstate New York, he began to recite some of the awful statistics about how all the good-paying jobs have left the metro area that he was addressing -- median incomes down thousands of dollars since 2001, double-digit decline of manufacturing jobs, and so on and so forth.

But he was always quick to reassure the audience not to worry, once he gets elected and starts bringing back those good jobs from their off-shored locations, the people of Rochester or Syracuse or wherever will be able to live a good life in their home town once again.

He knows that many people leave their home town if there aren't any good jobs. Of course, many leave even if there are good jobs, because they want the best jobs, even if it means uprooting themselves -- part of the status-striving trend of the past 40 years. By now, though, most people who are tempted to leave Upstate New York are not careerists causing a brain drain, but those in search of a decent middle class job.

He also made it clear that he understood why, despite all the awful statistics he just got done reciting, the audience had stayed around -- they love their community and their family. For social people, that's a powerful force keeping them in a dwindling regional economy. Only asocial nerds or amoral sociopaths wouldn't feel at least a little guilty leaving their home town relationships just so they can make more money.

It's refreshing to hear such a public figure, and possibly our next leader, restoring the job / life balance in front of a national audience. In contrast to the reigning view that you should change your life however necessary in order to serve the larger goal of continued career success, Trump was saying that the job was just a means to an end -- the goal being staying rooted in your physical community and your family and neighborly relationships.

When decent-paying jobs return to the hollowed-out regions of America, there will be no more trade-offs between seeking a middle-class income and staying where your roots are, just like during the Great Compression of roughly 1920 to 1980.

But in the meantime when there is such a trade-off, notice who Trump is siding with -- those who are remaining loyal to their home town and to their kinfolk, at the cost of lower incomes and less stable job prospects. They could've cut their family and community loose in order to make more money at a New Economy bubble magnet like North Carolina, Utah, Texas, or wherever else.

Trump is saying they're doing the right thing and yet are being financially punished for it -- therefore, we have to bring good jobs back, so they can be rewarded for doing the right thing vis-a-vis the people they're attached to, and who are attached to them.

Make no mistake: he's not just saying that you should work to live instead of live to work. Most people who promote that idea these days are lifestyle strivers who are saying something different -- that you should definitely transplant yourself away from your boring home town, but choose your destination based on how fun the lifestyle will be, and get whatever job you can find locally that will allow you to lead that lifestyle. Are you outdoorsy? Find whatever crappy job you can in Colorado, and go from there. Are you more cosmopolitan? Find whatever crappy job you can in New York, and go from there.

Although this view does put lifestyle above career, it doesn't include community or family in lifestyle. When some transplant moves to Manhattan, they don't belong to a community there, and likely never will. They're just treating the place like their own great big playground, although they come to realize that they have to share it somewhat with others. But a bunch of kids descending on a water park does not make the place into a community. And of course they won't have any family there either, so there goes the other source of organic social roots.

Trump's view of a job not as a means of personal advancement, but as a way of not having to leave your roots, ought to help turn the tide on the transplant phenomenon. While we're killing off the Bush and Clinton dynasties, we're also voting against the broader yuppie movement they stand for. From now on, the populist and nationalist program will seek social stability rather than social mobility. "Bringing back jobs" is a means toward that community-oriented goal, and not so much a form of wealth gospel.


  1. Kind of sucks these days that the only people who get to live like Trump describes are like doctors and people who run successful web businesses. This is what needs to change

  2. ConantheContrarian4/26/16, 10:28 AM

    Over two decades ago, I moved from a "lifestyle" city to a second tier Midwestern city, because the former lacked a real community. I now have lived in a neighborhood for many years, am part of a church community, am involved in local politics, etc. I have roots. I wish that I could influence my children along those lines, but the siren song of opportunity in other cities is strong, especially for one of my children.

  3. Two years ago, I found my first real community - in a 55 and older place! Now I know what I've been missing all these years. The commute is an hour longer, but the sense of unity makes it worthwhile. All The Way With Donald J!

  4. keep up the excellent analysis. You are better at describing the success of Trump than any of the TV pundits or journalists.

  5. Bernie is the candidate of white college kids. Hillary is the candidate of aggrieved minorities. Trump is the candidate of industrialization, infrastructure renewal, and the white working class.

  6. Great post, as usual! I agree with jova: I learn a lot more from your posts than I ever could from the NYT.

  7. So, any American who left Europe is a traitor according to Trumpism. Stay in your villages! Do not trade with those outside your village! Sounds like North Korea.

  8. I think there is one issue I'm struck by that you take for granted - that Trump can bring back "good" jobs to heartland-type communities. The key problem that I see is that technology - mainly robotics and AI - are simply eliminating those jobs altogether.

  9. "The key problem that I see is that technology - mainly robotics and AI - are simply eliminating those jobs altogether."

    No it's people doing them in Mexico, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, etc. -- not Mexican robots, Nigerian robots, etc.

    They don't pay very well in those countries b/c the people will accept peanuts, whereas Americans will not. So when they come back here, they'll come with decent pay.

  10. "Stay in your villages!"

    u scared, jew?

  11. Maybe he could win some Sanderista/hipster votes by emphasizing how antiseptic and inauthentic transplant-heavy cities are (think Atlanta or Houston): they end up resembling giant airports rather than vibrant multicultural utopias.

  12. I sort of have a split view on the idea of discouraging migrations to the large cities. On the one hand, I do get the message about cultural continuity, and parts of cities becoming theme parks for hipsters. Loud and clear.

    On the other hand, more strongly, when I see self appointed advocates for "historically Black" areas of New York and London, like Harlem in New York and Brixton (or "historically Asian" Tower Hamlets) in London, whining about gentrification and ethnic change (Harlem getting Hispanic for one, more Poles and yuppies in Brixton), I do have to think

    "You motherfucking hypocrites. Your communities clambered in and displaced the Whites from those areas, when that was the order of the day. Now you want to pull up the drawbridge, when the competition's got a bit too much for you, just so you can sit with your nose in the trough in your little community near the heart of the richest metropolis..."

    And I see exactly the same thing with their White counterparts (whose parents were mostly transplants to the city themselves) moaning about how the parts of London and New York that had historically bohemian White communities are getting broken apart.

    By all means, if the jobs can get spread out around the country so people from little communities don't have to move, then great. But I reckon also what should happen is a little healthy awareness that maybe the rootless metropolis where everyone knows you go to make the big bucks is not the place to build your community, and an end to all this whinging about gentrification.

    Oh, you wanna community? Then how about you build it someplace that's not slap bang on the most desirable real estate on earth, where you oh so conveniently have a massive premium on your wealth just for living there?

    During the last wave of egalitarianism in the Mid-Century we had a wave of suburb building, I think. People recognising that the big cities weren't such a great place to build a community. That's got a bad rap since, partly because of all the trends in cultural isolation that happened then, but maybe there's some demonisation by Baby Boom and Silent Generation strivers, and there's a better idea there, taking away the trend of social isolation.


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