2016 March 20 Sunday
Mutually Incompatible Desires Of The Donor Class

Reihan Salam says To save itself, the Republican Party must finally put the working class ahead of the donor class. I assert that the Republican Party is incapable of doing that. James Pethokoukis says Paul Ryan just revealed that the GOP has learned nothing from its Trump debacle. Yes, and it is rallying around the viewpoint that it has to defeat Trump so that it does not have to learn anything. Ross Douthat presents Profiles In Paralysis on how Paul Ryan won't give an inch in the face of rebellion of the Republican base. Ryan's faith is strong.

What do most of the rich want?

  • Low taxes, at least for those who get most of their income from capital gains or dividends. Also. the corps want to continue to use arrangements such as the double Irish with Dutch Sandwich tax avoidance scheme.
  • Low regulations (unless the regs entrench a profitable monopoly).
  • Low trade barriers.
  • Open borders for migrants for cheap labor.
  • Perpetual war in the Middle East.

Some of these desires, translated into policy, set in motion changes to society that make other of these desires increasingly less attainable.

Imagine yourself a donor class billionaire. You going to meet many people who disagree with you? You'll have lackey employees, think tanks begging to take your money to prove you are right, peers who agree, quotes from famous libertarians to tell you that you are right and as smart about your wants as you are about how to accumulate lots of money. Not conducive to second guessing your judgments.

But these desires are not mutually compatible. First off, open borders undermines electoral support for their other wants. Open borders brings in a much more left-leaning population that remains that way for many generations, perhaps centuries. Most of that population is lower earning for many generations and is therefore eligible for and wants more welfare payments for themselves. That puts them in conflict with older natives who want promised old age retirement benefits.

Also, open borders cuts wages for the lower income levels in the Republican base. Similarly, lower trade barriers has sped offshoring of jobs and makes a lot of those who have suffered job losses and status and income losses a lot more willing to vote for someone who says he wants to make America great again.

If the donor class manages to get its way in this electoral cycle it is setting itself up for a much bigger loss in the future. The country will go Left (see youth for Bernie Sanders) and turn against lower taxes and lower regulations. It might well go protectionist as well.

But here's the thing about the donor class: they want it all and they are not willing to accept trade-offs. They want to believe they can convince any future American population of their shopping list of wants. They can't even convince a majority of Republican primary voters today, let alone Democrats. This ought to set off alarm bells in their heads. But they'd rather see the problem as due to a skilled demagogue rather than to them having mutually incompatible desires rather than face that they can't have it all.

The middle and lower classes are going to get even more restive in the future as more kinds of jobs get automated, outsourced, or staffed by imported labor. Even an end to lower skilled immigration (say anyone with less than an engineering degree) isn't going to stop automation and outsourcing. A long list of once reliable jobs for the working class are going away in 10-20 years (e.g. taxi driver, truck driver, and even sooner, fast food cashier).

Perpetual war in the Middle East is also going to get harder to do. The new Americans do not feel special affinity to Israel that evangelical white Christians feel. Also, the old American ethnic groups don't want to see their kids coming back with brain damage from improvised explosive devices. The government can not afford it and also afford the growing welfare state that is driven by both an aging population and less skilled immigrants.

I'd rather that the donor class hit its limits sooner, before more damage gets done to the commonwealth. But they might find a way to put down the political rebellion against them. They have a lot of resources (think private investigators, friendly prosecutors and IRS agents). They might find a way to keep getting what they want come 2017. But they face an increasingly uphill battle as demographic changes that they caused undermine their ability to get what they want.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2016 March 20 04:06 PM 

Don't Check Noting Out said at March 21, 2016 5:42 PM:

I'm sorry Randall, I told you this would happen. And it's happening much faster than I thought it would.


Black Death said at March 22, 2016 6:25 AM:

The billionaire donor classes are not stupid, that's for sure. They operate in a bipartisan fashion and never put all their eggs in one basket. NAFTA (which just screwed the Carrier workers in Indianapolis) was a centerpiece of Bill Clinton's legislative agenda in 1993. It was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress. The Iraq war resolution of 2002 passed the Senate with 29 of 50 Democrats in support (including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry). But the Democratic voters always seem to give their leaders a free ride on this. Most Democrats supported the Iraq war, at least initially, and Hillary and Obama own pretty much own all of the Libya mess, which initiated the refugee situation. Of course, Democrats have mostly supported globalization, free trade and open borders, the witches' brew which hammers Americans on the lower end of the economic scale (whom the Democrats purport to assist). But the liberal MSM, which themselves are mostly controlled by globalist billionaires (Jeff Bezos and Carlos Slim, anyone?) prefer to ignore all this.

WJ said at March 23, 2016 9:11 PM:

The real danger to the elite is if the Sanders voters and the Trump/Cruz voters ever stop yelling at each other long enough to realize that a lot of their concerns are really quite similar. Both are fed up with the neofeudalists running both parties, but they hate each other too much to realize it.

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