New maps for the U.S. – and the world
You hear Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump scapegoating globalization — it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. America has been the creator and driver of globalization over the last 25 years. Yes, it is now a more level playing field, and we are not always the winners, but that is the fault of politics and bad policy. In 2004, a pillar of John Edwards’s presidential campaign was worker retraining programs for new industries. Twelve years later, where is that program? Just because we didn’t create it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The Germans did it, the Swiss did it, the Koreans do it. Other countries don’t blame globalization, they manage it, they take advantage of it. I think we failed to do that, and that’s what explains Trump and Sanders.
The year 2050 or 2100 seems like light-years away. But if we agree that climate change is not getting reversed or slowed down by our current efforts, you have to take seriously the idea that the world’s existing political boundaries and restricting the movement of people don’t make a lot of sense. Canada isn’t going to be just for the Canadians, and what we today call Russia isn’t just going to be for the rapidly diminishing Russian population.
We think of security as the most paramount global public good, and America is the leading provider of that good. But what China has shown is that infrastructure is an equally important public good. Hundreds of countries desperately need and want infrastructure, and China is the world’s leading provider of that.
The idea that you can sell “retreat from globalization!” to people and have it end well is also insanity – you’re either committing economic suicide, or you’re lying to your voter base.
Like climate change, you don’t have to embrace it to plan for it and work to make the best of it. We need a new New Deal of sorts to help people move at the new speed of the economy.
+ People need to be retrained, and need the safety net of knowing they *will* be retrained, or else we’ll get a glut of people skilling up for what they think jobs might be like in 20 years, and we’ll be critically short of people capable of doing the work needed in 5 years.
+ The government needs a new, next-millennium “Interstate Highway System” – something to facilitate the movement of labor from supply to demand. Maybe that’s universal internet access, or maybe it’s a regulation against geographic employment discrimination and government subsidized relocation, or maybe it’s government-funded, open-source virtual office software. But something should be done to relieve population pressures on places like Silicon Valley and San Francisco proper, and to relieve unemployment in disadvantaged out-of-the-way places – and it would be best if this was done without gutting the tax base of the places which aren’t booming.
+ Healthcare, insurance, retirement investments, and some minimum amount of time off (e.g. for new children and for caring for the sick and elderly) need to be decoupled from jobs and employers.
+? Maybe we need an Export-Import Bank 2.0 – an organization dedicated to increasing exports by going out of their way to find products and services that could be sold abroad and helping to make that happen, rather than only helping to finance exports.
You can’t say ‘geology [or geography] matters’ and then go on to say that human constructs and infrastructure are the sole drivers of economic, cultural and political pathways. I think the anti-Bernie rhetoric in Mr. Khanna’s analysis is meant to cover up some very serious conceptual flaws.
Probably not entirely correct (e.g. canals across the Rocky Mountains?) but I think it is fundamentally right. I like the idea that long-term trends favor consolidation and connectedness.