THE WISDOM OF DILBERT – If you haven’t been reading Scott Adams’ blog, do yourself favour and become a regular. For quite some time now, the creator of Dilbert has been making more sense and having more insight about contemporary politics than most pundits, and all from a somewhat apartisan and detached but psychologically enlightening way. Check, for example, one of his latest observations:
Back in 2014 B.T. (Before Trump), the headlines were all about income inequality. I don’t recall hearing much of anything about immigration in the news. Then candidate Trump – the Master Persuader – told us that immigration was a big problem. Almost instantly the media started treating it like the biggest issue in the world. The public followed. And when Trump won, do you know how the experts who had been wrong about 100% of everything for a year explained it? They said President Trump won because he picked policies that people liked.
Well, not exactly.
What happened is that candidate Trump persuaded us that immigration was a big problem. And in so doing, he pushed the issue of income inequality off the page. Do you remember the last time you saw CNN obsessing about income inequality? I thought it was the public’s biggest issue two years ago. Did it just sort of stop being one?
No, President Trump is in our heads. He told us what our priorities were and we accepted it, even if we hated his plans. Some people think is it a priority to get tougher on immigration, some think the opposite. But we all agree the issue is important.
If you had asked me in 2014 to list my country’s top 10 problems, immigration would not have been on the list. Now it’s usually at the top of the news. Trump did that. And by doing it he showed us a level of leadership that I have never seen in my lifetime. Even if you don’t like where he is leading us.
But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.
I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.
Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.
“Economies run on psychology” – love it. Never having been a fan of Trump, I thought that the only genuinely positive and interesting aspect of his presidency might be this: he is so different to the political status quo we have all become accustomed to (as some observers have said, he is the first Independent president we’ve elected in a while) that he might actually be a genuine circuit-breaker, and (to continue and to mix electric metaphors) will deliver such a jolt as to actually change and realign the system in some quite radical ways – for better, or for worse, but certainly for different than business as usual.