Another Angry White Male — Tom Friedman

It was not a good year from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. One of the major themes in the election was tightening up trade policy, with the candidates of both major parties promising action in that regard. This has to rankle on a prominent trade evangelist like Friedman. But even worse, the much more strident of the two candidates on trade issues is the one that prevailed. Ouch! He is now lashing out, warning Trump voters that The Donald will abandon them.

I can’t remember an election in which the losers — by which I mean the pundits such as Friedman, not Hillary, who has been gracious in defeat — were so bitter. Friedman’s tone in the above piece is simulataneously angry and plaintive. I’m told that ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who had unprofessionally badgered Trump in the second debate, was actually holding back tears in her election night broadcast.

At least Friedman now realizes that the polls during the campaign (with the notable exception of the LA Times/USC poll) missed the boat. I’ve been mentioning the Bradley Effect the last couple of months, and I am becoming more and more convinced that that is what was at work in this year’s polls. There was such a shunning of Trump supporters in the media, workplace and so on that many of those contacted by pollsters hid the truth, say by claiming to be undecided, or simply refusing to be polled. An excellent Wall Street Journal article indicated that some the pollsters themselves agree on this:

Mr. Wagner says people who respond to polls may be fundamentally different from those who don’t. In this case, Mr. Wagner’s early analysis indicates that low-educated white people who are willing to answer polls don’t seem to reflect the opinions of the group as a whole.

At least Friedman is now beginning to understand that a significant part of the population (and no, not just white men without a college degree) feel that The System has betrayed them. But there are still many who simply do not get this.

I have a Chinese-immigrant friend in that situation. She is thoroughly assimilated into American life, and has even held local political office. But Wednesday morning, she said that she was “grieving” over Trump’s election, and asked how people could possibly vote for such an evil man. I replied:

You should to try to understand why many of those who voted for Trump have been grieving for a long time. You have a job that you love and are very dedicated to. On top of that, you are a single mother, and need a job. Suppose one day your school informs you that you are being terminated, replaced by a cheaper foreign national on an H-1B work visa. (In fact, there are many H-1B teachers.) Moreover, you discover after losing your job that, in spite of the fact that you have much valuable experience, good recommendations from employers and so on, no one wants to hire you. In fact, very few employers even grant you interviews.

I know many people who have had exactly that experience. They are mad and frustrated, and feel that neither major political party cares about them one whit. Then someone like Trump comes along who has a written platform that promises to tighten up H-1B policy, and who even invites a displaced programmer to speak at one of his rallies, while Hillary has basically said she would make H-1B policy even more liberal, rather than tightening it. The vast majority of people I know like this voted for Trump. And by the way, they are a diverse, educated group, not the white males without college degrees that the media has portrayed them to be.

Not that I am so sanguine about the coming Trump administration. The theme of my posting last night was in essence, Will Trump “dance with the one who brung him”? Will he remember the Little People or side with the Big Banks? Obama failed the Little People who voted for him; instead of Change he brought us Larry Summers. I’m sure many people who voted for him are merely cautiously optimistic. But I’m also sure Trump’s statement to inner city blacks, “What the hell do you have to lose [by voting for me]?” resonated with many voters, from all walks of life.

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27 thoughts on “Another Angry White Male — Tom Friedman

  1. Thanks, Norm for giving a voice to Americans like myself who worked very hard to earn a Ph.D. in a natural science – and are shunned by prospective employers. I changed my party registration before the California primaries. I voted for Trump in the June and November elections.

    I lived in Washington, DC at the time of the first Obama inauguration on 20 January 2009. I recall that political conservatives were wailing about their world being upended by Obama. The remarkable inertia of the U.S. government, including the Legislative and Judicial Branches, and the large body of career Federal employees was demonstrated instead.

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  2. Yes, Norm, in another candidate without the vulgarity, with a more coherently stated message, with some foreign policy experience, respect for civil rights, accepted norms, etc. would be acceptable because he speaks to a lot of frustration and despair that many of us feel, as you note. But Trump has the potential to wreck the country and/or turn us back 60 years on civil rights and social issues. We need to fix the problems that this election has revealed, but the Republicans won’t do that, it’s not in their elitist DNA. And Trump as President poses huge risks. With Trump we really do have a LOT to lose. Too bad the Dems abandoned the working class and moved upscale to the arugula eaters. It shows the desperation, resentment and anger of the “deplorables” that they would ignore Trump’s risks and flaws. His anti-establishment, bad-boy behavior is actually a plus with them because it speaks to how they feel. This really is a pivot point for the nation. I can only hope we come out of it for the better.

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      • Y’all have to remember that Trump MUST get Congressional cooperation for the vast majority of his programs–whatever they may be. In that light, especially looking at Ryan and McConnell, you’ll see a lot of ‘moderate’ stuff, tinged (R) but with a lot of (D) blue content.

        He’s already bowed to that with his walk-back of “eliminating Obamacare.” Now he sees virtue in a couple of provisions of the law, and *surprise* those happen to be provisions that Ryan favors, too.

        As to your main point about the Trump voters: I suspect that there were a lot of #NeverTrump conservatives who wound up voting Trump simply to defeat Hillary, who frankly had zero redeeming values. And there was a very significant group of (D) voters who stayed home. Obama was not on the ticket, which cost Hillary 75,000 votes in Wisconsin alone.

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        • Starting with Bush the Younger and then continued with Obama, presidents have found it easier to bypass Congress than to wrangle with them. In my post last night, I suggested things that Trump could do by executive action.

          To characterize Trump’s recent statements as a walk-back is extremely unfair. Many of the Republicans who have been calling to dump Obamacare have stated they would retain the two aspects Trump cited. To me, this is typical of the unfair treatment Trump has gotten in the press.

          I said all along that those “Never Trump” Republicans would vote for him in the end, not only because they can’t stand Hillary but even more because they want their people on the Supreme Court.

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          • I have no great sympathy for Friedman. Like many “elitist” liberal types he treated globalization as a given, and suggested we would have to “adapt”, with minimal consideration of how impacted Americans would be helped to do this. This is how we got Trump. My great concerns with Trump are that he’ll put us back 60 years with his Supreme Court appointees, he’ll help the GOP Congress screw up The ACA, Social Security and Medicare, and he’ll destabilize the world. (His election has already started the destabilization process). Granted his hands will be tied on a lot of issues, he has the potential to do great harm. I doubt he’ll be able or willing to help the disaffected people who voted for him. He’s more likely to make everything worse, just due to incompetence, ignorance and bad advisors.

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          • Pres. Obama’s push to greatly enlarge Presidential powers (via court approval, even) was another one of those “be careful what you ask for” moments. Having assumed that no Republican would ever sit in the White House again, Pres. Obama has opened the door for Pres. Trump to do a whole lot more in the form of executive actions than any prior Republican.

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    • Good post. At this point I can’t buy arugula–I am afraid the next time I see some on sale, I may go into a Bernie Sanders rant against it. . But you are right, the democratic party has abandoned working class people. And working class is not just non-college graduates but even college graduates as in high tech. Working people is now the middle classes who have become debt slaves. Yah, maybe a reborn democratic party and left may happen.

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  3. Friedman and his ilk are essentially bullies and their responses fit in the pattern called narcissistic rage. They attempt to control discourse by threatening unspecified consequences to anyone who refuses to accept their agenda.

    Those people are furious because the electorate showed it is not scared of them. The electorate called their bluff.

    Now we get the name calling and the attempt to cast voters as stupid. Friedman needs to learn some economics and technology. Technology doesn’t threaten jobs, because people adapt.

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  4. Friedman knows that globalists like him have savaged the American professional job market, so he cashes in on that with his new book: “Thank You for Being Late: Finding a Job, Running a Country, and Keeping Your Head in an Age of Accelerations”. Earlier he gave $600 seminars to desperate parents who, after spending $100K+ getting Jr. a degree, find him still living at home.

    He wrote 2 NYT columns on “Getting a job at Google”; I’d love to know how many readers actually did.

    Much of the American elite advances their careers by destroying those of their fellow Americans, but he’s one of the best. He wins my globalization monetization award.

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  5. >I can’t remember an election in which the losers —
    >by which I mean the pundits such as Friedman, not Hillary,
    >who has been gracious in defeat — were so bitter.

    That’s because there has been no previous election in which the losers – by which I mean the presstitutes like Friedman and the elitist politicians like Hillary both – went in so delusional on the facts and so dismissive of the American electorate.

    The Trump victory is little less than a miracle, given factors too numerous to mention here. Overall it’s a far, far, FAR better result than the other would have been, but that does not make any forward progress certain, many forces still mitigate against it, and Trump does not inspire any great confidence. Neither is he anything like the ogre that the opposition has both slandered him as and hallucinated about. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has been writing about the election for a while, try some of his explanations:
    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/153080448451/the-cognitive-dissonance-cluster-bomb

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  6. The SJWs (social justice warriors) who now run the democratic party work hand in hand with the globalist elites like Friedman. For Friedman and the Davos Mafia, who don’t really live in any one country but flit butterfly-like from one to another, the only sensible approach is open-borders. For normal people, little people, open borders are a huge threat. If you build a life with a job that supports that life, it is horribly unfair when illegal aliens or job visas holders are brought in to undercut your salary. As Norm has pointed out in many postings, this is especially true as you get older – just when you are succeeding and getting a little higher in an organization, illegals or job visa holders will be brought in. It’s terribly wrong. This kind of thing led to the Trump win. Yet Democrats and Friedman globalists can go no further than “racist” or “sexist”. And as to the “jobs at Google”, google wants the “best and the brightest”, who turn out to be H-1Bs or OPT workers. Who also can be hired with tax breaks. From the Federal Government.

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  7. > Suppose one day your school informs you that you are being terminated, replaced by a cheaper foreign national on an H-1B work visa. (In fact, there are many H-1B teachers.) Moreover, you discover after losing your job that, in spite of the fact that you have much valuable experience, good recommendations from employers and so on, no one wants to hire you. In fact, very few employers even grant you interviews.

    Yes, that pretty much describes my experience except that I’m a software engineer and my job was outsourced to India. Fortunately, I’m close enough to retirement to get by but I can well relate to workers who are in their fifties or younger and have this experience. Having a job is critical for survival and yet the government and mainstream media never seem to admit that there might be a problem. On the contrary, they often help spread easily disprovable lies such as “there are five job openings in software development in the United States for every software developer” (see http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1610/30/fzgps.01.html ). Hence, the worker is not only thrown out of work, they’re effectively told that they must be incompetent since they can’t snag one of those many jobs!

    I have no idea what will happen but I do consider Trump to be a risk on nuclear and climate policies (about which I have little knowledge) and on tax policy (about which do have some knowledge and have posted info at http://econdataus.com/taxcuts.html ). It’s unfortunate that we gave the electorate such a limited (and arguably poor) choice. One possible help would be Instant Runoff Voting as described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting . This would likely enable third parties since they would no longer serve as spoilers. At the very least, we would have a better idea of what was driving voters to vote as they do. In any event, I think we need some change in order to give voters a better choice in the future.

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    • In addition, when the older person (age 35+) is thrown out of work, he/she has a narrow window of time to get another job. If the worker stays unemployed for more than a few months, employers interpret that as a sign of incompetence, and thus are even less likely to interview him/her. In other words, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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      • Yes, I’ve heard that. However, I’ve gotten very little response to my resume from the beginning. How can an employer figure out that you’re incompetent without so much as a phone call? I suspect that many of the job listings are fake or are for “unicorns” or that they are looking for younger workers. I’ve cut my experience down to the last 20 years and removed any tell-tale dates but that would still put me at something like an “ancient” 42!

        In response, I’ve cut back on studying anything technical except things I am interested in or that will help me in an interview. Instead, I’m focusing more on investing. In taking some online classes, I’ve found that a large number of professional investors use technical analysis to follow the trends and time the market, short-term and/or long-term. It doesn’t seem especially productive and seems like it could add volatility to the market and I still focus first on asset allocation. But those seem like the type of skills that our society values these days so I’m looking into improving those skills. My resume is still posted out there and with several recruiters but, if none of those employers who are “desperately looking for workers” can find it, I’ll just have to move on to greener pastures.

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          • Yes, anyone who has searched for a job in the industry knows that. It would be simple enough for the media to investigate. Use a fake resume or, if that’s considered unethical, just follow the progress of an older software developer looking for a job. I am yet to hear of anyone in the media doing so though.

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      • I tried working for an Indian IT ‘powerhouse’, I figured if you can’t fight them, join them. It was a whole different world and it felt like working in another country. First, I dealt with a company with 100,000 employees that have the organization of a company of 1000 people. The situation was chaotic and it seemed that some Indians strive on chaos and organization scares the hell out of them. I had plenty of corporate and organizational experience and I tried to help them. If you propose anything then you own it and expected to deliver it without any resources. The top managers somehow they are masters in passing their work to someone else and they will dump all their problems on you. In the meantime, they will politely explain to you that in the Indian business culture they will let a non Indian sit at the table, if you are good, but never expect to get the title. This was my contract experience which after I have trained the offshore person they were supposed to give me a higher position as a full time employee. They have offered me a compensation below market rates since the director was on H1B visa and told me he cannot offer me more money than he makes and start whining that he works himself to death but gets paid like an American techie. So here I am sitting at home looking for work while two Sr. managers of the Indian outsourcing shop are working themselves to death running around the country and plowing outsourcing contracts. In the past they used to offer cheap labor, now they take over IT departments end-to-end on a fixed price basis, they take over management too at a fraction of the current costs and I am pretty sure that some of these deals are even below their own costs… All they care is to get a deal and their mentality is “we’ll figure it out later how to make money…” Given that the costs in India keep going up on a high rate these guys should hit the wall in the future. Hopefully Trump will put an end to this tragic situation for the American workers.

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    • 59 here in a month – forced out at about 45 and no steady work since
      People say you should have prepared better.
      Myself, I had no idea that my country would force me out of the workforce and then deny me any kind of support when it became apparent that the low paying jobs would not hire me because I was deemed overqualified

      I feel for those going through what I have been through and what I continue to deal with

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      • > 59 here in a month – forced out at about 45 and no steady work since People say you should have prepared better.

        I don’t think anyone was prepared to be kicked out of their profession at 45. Twenty years ago, the most anyone likely worried about having to work in a lower-level technical job at maybe half the pay. Now, you’re pretty much totally kicked out of your profession.

        If younger programmers become aware of what is going on, they likely will start preparing better. The smart ones will stop nearly all discretionary spending and save every penny in case they’re kicked out of the industry at 45. If we cut our safety-nets like some are now discussing, they’ll have to sock away money for that too. That loss of nearly all discretionary spending will likely crater the economy. I don’t get the impression that the corporate elites have given that much thought. Or else they just don’t care.

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    • Ask yourself, “Who whips out the contract?”. If it is not you then you picked the wrong career in todays job market. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, opticians, etc “whip out the contract”. You do not find too many doctors and dentists being interview on campus by prospective employers, right?

      I know of a dentist who was “unemployed” for two years! He wanted to open his own practice but had to wait for two years due to a non-compete clause (less than 50 miles) with a large dental chain. He opened a high-end dental practice with another dentist in a nice area of town. His commute includes just one stop light. The two year unemployment gap made NO difference. He does not have to explain to his patients every detail of this work history.

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  8. The continual wailing of the Hillary supporters and the Progressives on the terrible racism of the Trump campaign is tiring. After years of seeing and experiencing minority racists, we tire of the hypocrisy.

    The Left has to get their priorities in order – racism is not the worst thing in the world – violence is!

    Trump said some awful things – Hillary advocated dangerous actions – Trump was elected because he is less dangerous.

    Opening our borders to terrorists and criminals is not only stupid – it’s flat out dangerous.

    I’d invite any Hillary supporter who can’t fathom living under the oppressive Trump Administration to move overseas.

    Try Sweden where you can enjoy cradle-to-grave socialism – just don’t move to one of the 50 no-go zones and end up in an early grave.

    Or the Rainbow wonderland South Africa which is just peachy keen – unless you become another notch in their murder statistics – one of the highest in the world.

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  9. Great post. Let me add something what you told your friend. I would tell her to consider some facts about the election results. Trump won by an incredible 28 point spread of white working class women. That is women workers with no college education. So I would imagine when you go to the doctor, the medical tech who intakes you voted for Trump. When you go your child’s school, the receptionist voted for Trump. You get the point–I don’t need to go on.

    Incredible isn’t it? A rather large group of voters who would naturally gravitate to the a woman candidate went for someone like Trump. Ask yourself why. These aren’t stupid brainwashed people. Maybe just maybe, they saw no hope with your candidate Hillary Clinton–in fact, she called them deplorables. I wonder if the analog in India is Untouchable. What is the analog in China?. Did any American every imply you were deplorable as Hillary did to literally millions of people?

    Just something for the friend to consider. Your children and grandchildren are next. Your children and grandchildren will be considered overly expensive Americans and they too will suffer what Americans now are suffering. In time, you know, your children and grandchildren would in fact vote for a much more slick version of Trump as they too will be treated as throw away garbage for some CEOs profit.

    Now don’t get me wrong. Trump will do nothing for marginalized people whatever color or gender. Instead of surprise, advocate for those the democratic party and the elites have abandoned. Because you know, you will be advocating for your own future lineage.

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