The always interesting demographer Joel Kotkin has a new piece out headlined "How the Middle Class Lost the Election."
I am not going to focus on what Kotkin says about the election and the two candidates specifically–that is not really a proper topic here.
But it is proper to talk about the crony capitalism (which of course is different from real capitalism that benefits more people) that has been a hallmark of the Obama years and will likely continue if Mrs. Clinton wins. The middle class they are not:
The forces coalescing around Hillary Clinton — mainstream Wall Street, particularly hedge funds, beltway lobbyists, the big media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and green capitalists — do not share the priorities of Middle America. Bernie Sanders made an issue of Clinton’s Wall Street support, but the Vermont socialist was always too marginal, cranky and, ultimately, too doctrinaire to win even in today’s Democratic Party.
With Sanders conveniently dispatched, the crony-capitalist class is assured its worldview prevails. They can check all the boxes that Rob Atkinson has labeled as “the Davos application” of open immigration, greater globalization, free trade, and higher carbon prices.
The Davos crowd will support a continuation of the policies of the last eight years, despite the economic stagnation these policies created for the middle class:
These [Davos] constituencies all have benefited from the Obama economy, with its slow growth and rapid asset inflation driven by cheap money. They can expect a continued positive relationship with Washington. The Clintonite core includes some of the world’s most adept tax-dodgers –Amazon, Apple and Google — who certainly do not want their special breaks reduced even if middle-income earners get hammered.
Clinton seems certain to continue Obama’s policy of not subjecting the tech oligarchs to the anti-trust investigations that bedevil other industries. No surprise that many suspect that the new media moguls of Silicon Valley, along with the residue of the old mainstream media, are waging a multi-front campaign to tear down Trump to the benefit of their more reliable ally.
. . . Under Hillary, industries such as fossil fuel energy, manufacturing, warehousing and agriculture, all of which employ many middle- and working-class people in large swaths of the American heartland, will see more regulation, and layoffs — not only among coal miners but in a broad array of primarily blue-collar industries. In contrast “green” corporatists like Elon Musk and Tom Steyer know that by helping to fund the Clinton machine, they can look forward to continued government subsidies.
Also primed for a reaming will be middle-class suburban voters, the geographic core of the GOP. Many suburbanites are understandably turned off by Trump’s nativist and sexist braggadocio and may be now tilting towards Clinton.
Yet they too will get their comeuppance when the Clintons return to the White House. Like President Obama, her urban policy will be city-centric, and negative towards the needs of the suburbs, where the vast majority of the population resides. Following the Obama lead, HUD will likely impose new regulations forcing middle-income communities to accept large numbers of poor people, effectively undermining local public schools and property values.
It’s not inconceivable that the EPA, following the environmental agenda perfected in California, will impose policies designed to reengineer suburbs into dense cities that correlate to a lower standard of living. These rules, of course, will not impact their progressive betters — from movie stars to corporate executives — will not impact their progressive betters — from movie stars to corporate executives — who will continue to live large while hectoring the hoi polloi to reduce their “footprint.”
If you care, as we do, about a thriving economy that provides opportunities for all people, and not just those who wear designer clothes and matching ideologies, this would be a terrible future.
It of course would mean that there would be plenty of work for us free-market, pro-middle class advocates to do over the next four to eight years, but it is still a chilling scenario.