Trump’s Carrier deal: Good news for American workers?
“So this is what a dealmaker-in-chief looks like,” said Tim Logan in The Boston Globe. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly denounced the Carrier air-conditioner corporation of Indiana for planning to shift production to Mexico and fire 1,400 workers, and vowed to block the move if he were elected. It seems that he meant it. Last week, the president-elect flew to Indiana and told cheering workers that Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, had been persuaded to keep the plant open, saving about 800 jobs. United Technologies will reportedly receive some $7 million in tax breaks from Indiana—where Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, is still governor—and Trump may also have used United’s federal defense contracts, worth around $5.6 billion, as leverage. This is just the beginning, said Michael Goodwin in NYPost.com. Trump this week threatened to slap a 35 percent tariff on goods imported by American businesses that outsource, and called out another Indiana manufacturing firm, Rexnord, for “viciously firing all of its 300 workers” ahead of its own planned move to Mexico. Trump, in other words, is already making good on his pledge to save U.S. jobs even before he’s taken office. “Imagine what he can do when he is actually president.”
As an actual conservative, I’m horrified, said Jonah Goldberg in NationalReview.com. Republicans supposedly believe in free markets, and abhor “crony capitalism” and the government picking “winners and losers” in the marketplace. Yet here we have a Republican president-elect using threats and bribes (of taxpayers’ money) to make a private company bend to his own need to look “like a savior.” Trump’s “shakedown” of Carrier may have won him a “short-term political victory,” said The Wall Street Journalin an editorial, but this kind of bullying will only force companies to make investments based on politics, not economics. Who should decide where and how companies make their products— the companies, “or a branding executive turned politician who wants to claim political credit?”
Besides, the Carrier deal doesn’t address “the underlying forces that are eroding blue-collar jobs,” said Ben Casselman in FiveThirtyEight.com. The disappearance of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs since 1980 has far more to do with advances in automation than with offshoring. In a modern factory, 200 workers can produce as much as 2,000 could a half-century ago. Trump’s approach could very well backfire, said Jack Shafer in Politico.com. Companies who weren’t previously considering moving production overseas may now threaten to do so, hoping for a Carrier-style bribe to make them stay. Trump’s ominous warnings of “consequences” for outsourcers, meanwhile, may scare away firms thinking of opening new factories in the U.S., “because they don’t want to feel locked down.”
Give Trump some credit, said Peggy Noonan in WSJ.com. He can’t intervene every time a company plans to offshore jobs, but once in a while, it doesn’t hurt for a president to show “a little muscle” and remind the business world of its obligations to the “national good.” Still, let’s put the 800 jobs Trump saved in perspective, said Julia Turner in Slate.com.President Obama’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry saved 1 million jobs; during his presidency, 805,000 manufacturing jobs were created. The real danger is that our new president—the former host of The Apprentice—will focus on crowd-pleasing gimmicks, and eschew the patient, “unglamorous work” of creating jobs for a 21st-century economy. The Carrier deal looks like a “troubling blueprint for government by stunt.”
Only in America
▪ Real estate brokers are marketing the massive Secret Service and police presence at Trump Tower as a hot “new amenity.” Security measures costing $500,000 a day have caused some frustrated Trump Tower residents to put their condos up for sale, but brokers are pitching one vacant unit as “the best value in the most secure building in Manhattan.”
▪ An Illinois high school is removing books from reading lists to shield students from “sexual” content. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was the first book to be banned, and some parents are calling for the removal of any work that contains “literal, metaphorical, figurative, or allegorical” allusions to sex. “We can’t have 18-year-olds reading about masturbation,” one parent said. “I don’t care if it’s from Dickens or who else.”
Good week for:
Fooling around, after Canadian scientists found that sex helps women build stronger memories. The reward signals generated by sex, the researchers said, can improve “neurogenesis”—the growth of neurons—in the hippocampus, where memories are stored.
Declaring really early, after Vice President Joe Biden unofficially announced that he’s running for president, one month after the last election. “I’m going to run in 2020” Biden, 74, told reporters. “What the hell, man.”
Spreading cheer, after the Mall of America in Minneapolis added its first African-American Santa Claus. “This is a long time coming,” said Landon Luther, co-owner of the Santa Experience. “We want Santa to be for everyone, period.”
Bad week for:
Chris Christie, after a Quinnipiac University poll found that just 19 percent of New Jersey voters approved of the governor’s job performance, the lowest score for any governor in the poll’s 20-year history. “How the mighty have fallen,” said poll director Maurice Carroll.
Fake news, after Pope Francis said spreading false, scandalous stories was a sin, and likened it to “the sickness of coprophilia”—a fascination with excrement.
Leading by example, after a national study revealed that parents of kids between ages 8 and 18 spend just as much time—an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes per day—looking at smartphones, TVs, and other digital devices as their children do. “That’s not being a good role model,” said the study’s sponsor.
Boring but important
Pentagon buries report on wasteful spending
The Pentagon suppressed an internal study that uncovered $125 billion worth of bureaucratic waste, out of fears that Congress would use the report to slash the defense budget, The Washington Post reported this week. The study, completed in January 2015, also found that the Pentagon was spending nearly a quarter of its $580 billion annual budget on overhead and operations like accounting and HR. The department has hired more than 1 million contractors, civilians, and uniformed personnel in back-office jobs— almost matching the number of active-duty troops, which at 1.3 million is the lowest since 1940. After the study was completed, the Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on it, and pulled a summary from the department’s website.