MAGA can't be about the US economy vs. the rest of the world AND GDP per Capita.
Some perspective here. We tend to think too much about recessions and discount relatively uninspiring growth rates. But the US economy is so large, that low single digit annual economic growth adds up quicker than you think. US GDP in 2018 will be over $20 trillion. That's double what GDP was in 1994
But perhaps the more relevant measurement is GDP per Capita, which give us an idea of how productive an economy is. Some socialist/capitalist countries and finance-havens may be a little larger, but the US produces a lot of non-financial arbitrage activity per individual. Russia and China? $10,500 and $8,500 respectively. Less than 1/6 as productive as the US.
But discounting MAGA by macro-economics alone is a mistake.
MAGA IMO is being driven by one large factor, with more than one force driving it, and not-so-simple and not-so-populist political prescriptions.
The largest factor that is fueling MAGA and will continue to fuel MAGA is wealth inequality. Wealth equality began around 1980. The Reagan tax cuts are the simple blame. But that isn't where wealth inequality is coming from. And it's not going to be fixed by taxing the rich and giving it to the poor. No Colonel "Bernie" Sanders. He is as unrealistic and dangerous as the recent tax "breaks". Two dangerous poles.
Rather it has come and continues to come from technology replacing any job that can be computerized, unfettered global supply chains allowing the lowest cost component to be shipped JIT and the biggie: a lack of interest in too many families on education priority AND education reform.
Why is immigration and racism part of MAGA? Sorry, I don't buy into America regressing its long-arc of progressive history. What I do understand, is people and families, who feel economically and socially disenfranchised, looking for a reason why????
The not-so-simple and not-so-populist political prescriptions.
First, you can't stop technology. That's akin to JFK blaming one of America's greatest presidents - Dwight D Eisenhower - for the interstate highway system displacing the old US highway system leaving small towns into dustbowls.
Second, and perhaps you can try to make some political points, but 99% of US businesses will continue to demand unfettered global supply chains allowing the lowest cost component to be shipped JIT.
No, the only prescription for MAGA, is getting parents to first focus on education. Not just for their kids but by them doing double-duty going back to school to be retrained. The government - at least at this writing - is willing to loan the money.
But the biggest problem with our education system - if you want to read more about it google "Serial Job Killer" - is that we are teaching kids in K12 and college - a 150 year-old industrial revolution inspired-and-required curriculum. Back then, towns begin to pay for schools, so that farm kids could work in factories with NO AUTOMATION.
Jeez, what would be emphasized? Math. You have to not only perform arithmetic in a NON AUTOMATED INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION FACTORY, but you need to understand some higher concepts like geometry. What would have been the least emphasized? English and creative arts. Read and write, sure. But being able to articulate large thoughts with condensed words that nonetheless convey important things? Malcontent. Being creative and thinking for yourself? Anarchy.
Today - and I know it goes against everything we hold on so dear to - we should start kids out with computers to understand what a number means. Make it fun. Show them four toys with the number 4 above it. Then let them enter large digits. By ten, they will get what numbers do. Them let them add/subtract/divide/multiply with a computer or calculator. It's not the rote learning I object to. Rather its the time and opportunity cost.
You give me a first grader, with a computerized primary number understanding and an automated way to manipulate the numbers, AND I can then start them out with a simple pixel on a computer. Each pixel can have a color and let say it has to have a limited number of states (lines or curve). If the first grader wants to draw a picture, they will soon be able to understand, how to do it with pixels.
Then, as they master perfection, might as well introduce them to calculus.
All of this leads to a new education system that is applicable to the digital economy. Half computerized. But even more importantly, half creative problem solving, debate, speech, and even standup comedy.
Finally education reform must give the time for kids to play with each other - and yes this is controversial too - but be allowed to argue, fight and to make-up.
We didn't have mass shootings when I was growing up. That's because the loner had to go out a play to get out of his mom's hair. That's because all of us learned conflict resolution. But my point isn't mass shootings. Playing, with little to no supervision, and learning how to not only engage in conflict resolution, but to sway others to your point of view, is so critical to the jobs all of us are hiring for.
To conclude, MAGA's prescription inevitably must go through education reform. 21st century employers are looking for "unique value creators". It's hard, but we find them. Usually they are B students with street skills. The straight-A 36 ACT? They either get scooped up and spit out by Wall Street or they are of no use to us, because they only knew what the game was - and like that 19th century student - got through QC (quality control) as an end on to itself.
So this is a generational fix. Call it Project 2030 or something more catchy. The point is it is going to take time. It's going to mean fighting school unions (private schools don't count because they skew toward the enfranchised). Roll back the eliminations on deductions on state and local taxes to fund the schools.
Take MAGA - with its divisive connotations - and turn it into an Apollo project. There is nothing divisive of MAGA being a single national goal. That's how to really make America Great Again. When the tide lifts all boats ... immigration and racism will return toward the unbending arc of progressive history this country has tried to perfect for 250 years!
The party and candidate that can link MAGA and Apollo - not over-embrace MAGA but not dismiss it and call it deplorable - will win.
June 12, 2018