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Global Politics and the Rise of Populism

May 31, 2016
Plain English Version
Cumberland Packing Corp. employees and union representatives protest Cumberland's closure in New York. Photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Cumberland Packing Corp. employees and union representatives protest Cumberland’s closure in New York. Photo credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Companies are investing huge sums of money overseas. They are creating millions of new jobs overseas. What happens when the Asian poor earn more money, the Western middle-class earns less money and the rich get richer?

Most nations in the West are not thriving.  Middle Eastern turmoil is creating a surge in global migration. There is discontent. It is no wonder that the people are restless. The result of all these changes is the rise of populist political parties. Such a rise is taking place all over Europe.

The rise of populism also is happening in the United States. Causes include uncertainty about jobs and income. The fear of migrants depressing wages is another. And there are real facts that add to the fears.

Workers in Asia and Africa are making much more money. Millions are no longer poor. That is one clear benefit of outsourcing.

When one group gains, another loses.

“Global Inequality” is a new book. It states that the middle-class is getting smaller in modern nations. This is true even in countries like Finland and Australia.

The middle-class holds countries together. It is moderate in politics. Members of the middle-class are worrying about the future. They are starting to look for simple answers.

That is when nativist candidates and parties are born. They are surging in Europe. Donald Trump reflects that impulse here.

In the twentieth century, dictators came to power on hate. They blamed others for their ills. They pointed to immigrants, Jews, and foreigners in general.

Populism used to mean that the government should serve the people. Now it means rallying people against the government. Already some governments are leaning to the right. They want to reduce trade. They want to protect workers. American Republicans are for free markets. That is, until now. Experts say this approach does not work in the long run.

Are Americans going to try populism and scapegoating?

Whether the government should be big or small is the wrong question. The questions should be how do you make the economy grow? How do you help people go back to work?

Source: The New York Times May 24, 2016

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