Divide and conquer: a proven, effective strategy. Pit everyone against each other, and they won’t come after you. It’s the strategy Trump has used to win his campaign, and the very same strategy that has kept us from making any real progress on economic equality.
How is it that a tiny percentage of the population holds most of the wealth and power, and seemingly few are criticising them? Are we so afraid of being called socialists that we refuse to accept the reality? Why do we instead continue to attack other poor or middle class people over jobs? It’s because those who hold that wealth and power have pitted us against each other - race v race, gender v gender, religion v religion - in order to distract us from getting together and fighting them. We’ve been played, big time.
Both sides of politics are at fault in this. While individual party members may genuinely believe in positive change, the US election campaign has demonstrated that in the end both sides are funded by the elites who care not what we fight about, only that we fight each other. For the longer and more fervently we fight each other, the less we focus on the real reasons for economic inequality.
Jobs are being taken away, and at a faster rate than ever, but not by migrants. Efficiency improvements are taking our jobs. Computers, machines, robots, operational efficiencies - these are killing off jobs everywhere, and not just blue collar work. This is not a future prediction, it’s a reality that has been playing out in front of our eyes since the industrial revolution. Neither is this a North American phenomenon, it’s happening worldwide. We’re now seeing a dramatic acceleration with dramatic consequences.
I’m all for giving up jobs to computers; it’s inevitable. But humanity as a whole needs to benefit from that time saved. The jackpot of these efficiency improvements must be distributed for society to continue functioning. This is not welfare. This is distributing the ongoing fruits of our collective labour. Right now, the benefits go directly to the owners of those mechanical and corporate machines, leaving the rest of us to fight among a diminishing job pool. Worse, some of those remaining jobs involve automating away more jobs. The elites would prefer we don’t consider the true cause of this reducing job pool, or we’d go after them. From that comes the weak narrative of “foreigners taking our jobs”.
Trump knows that the Mexican wall is ridiculous. It’s a way of saying “we are the haves, they are the have-nots” when in reality the situation is far more complex than that. He knows the wall will have zero effect on jobs. It’s a grand symbolic gesture to divide, while demonstrating how serious he is about tackling the issue of economic inequality.
Is Trump really serious about solving economic equality? He is part of the elite, after all.
Photo credit Ming Jun Tan