This was the economists’ gospel in a nutshell: Free trade is good; unemployment and inflation are low. That was the mantra from their eighties onward through today. And, even though some of the confusion is based on misunderstanding, this “reality” described by economists was 180 degrees opposite from what most Americans have experienced in their own lives from the 1980’s onward.
So, given all of the above, is it any wonder Americans stopped trusting the experts?
Think about that. Let me just say that again: the experts told them that what they saw happening all around them was not actually happening. So that’s what I mean when I say that economists are a major reason why people have lost trust in both credentialed experts and the mainstream corporate media.
For the record, while I don’t think this analysis is wrong exactly, I do think it simplifies and glosses over some factors, particularly when it moves more into the “so why Trump?” angle. And it’s a single-axis systemic analysis so it’ll glaringly piss off anyone more used to thinking along either a different axis (the factors described also affect black and brown communities in the US, who notably haven’t resorted to xenophobic fascism in response), or along neoliberal identity politics-style lines (“why don’t you just choose not to be racist?”).
But for a critique of economics in general and “mainstream” economists in particular? Yeah. Pretty much.
Also, somewhat relatedly, as the child of refugees—who literally came with nothing to a completely foreign country they didn’t even really intentionally choose—I will never not boggle at rural white-Anglo entitlement over some supposed “right” to keep dying lifestyles. Given that a lot of first- and second-gen immigrant kids do, in fact, tend to be “coastal elites”—and are often in the professional managerial classes to boot, since our parents tend to be aggressive believers in social mobility through higher education—I do think this aspect of the “suck it up, buttercup” vibe is under-explored in all these hand-wringing “oh but won’t someone think of the rural whites” thinkpieces. Like, my grandparents were literal survivors of not one but two of the most infamous mass genocides in modern history and my dad was born in a refugee camp and didn’t even have fixed home until he was school aged and lived in a country he didn’t yet speak the language for… but I’m sure your pain of having to, like. Move one state over in your birth country to find a job sucks as well.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t problems that need to be addressed here; there are, and that’s (ideally) what government social welfare programs are for. But rightly or wrongly the globalization ship has already sailed, and whatever the future solution to rural poverty looks like, I can guarantee it’s not going to be “turning the clock back to 1963”. So, like… yeah. You’ll have to excuse my lack of sympathy for anyone who’re trying to force it, regardless of how explicable their motives for doing so may be.