March 3, 2017
Paul Craig Roberts
The question in the title is V.I. Lenin’s question. His answer was to create a revolutionary “vanguard” to spread revolutionary ideas among the workers, the economic class that Karl Marx had declared to be the class rising to the ascendency of political power. Finally, democracy, frustrated by upper class interests in its earlier manifestations, would become reality. The workers would rule.
Given the presence of evil and human failing, it did not work out in that way. But Lenin’s question remains a valid one. Americans whose economic life and prospects for their children have been destroyed by the offshoring of American manufacturing and tradable professional skills jobs, such as software engineering, answered the question by electing Donald Trump.
The Americans, dispossessed by the offshoring corporations, elected Trump, because Trump was the only American running for a political office who called attention to the problem and declared his intention to fix it.
By standing up for Americans, Trump alienated the global corporations, their executives and shareholders, all of whom benefit from stealing the economic life of Americans and producing abroad where labor and regulatory costs are lower. Neoliberal junk economists describe this labor arbitrage, which reduces the real incomes of the American labor force, as the beneficial working of free trade.
These offshoring firms not only have destroyed the economic prospects of millions of Americans, but also have destroyed the payroll tax base of Social Security and Medicare, and the tax base of local and state governments, with the consequence that numerous pension systems are on the verge of failure. The New York Teamsters Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund has just failed. This failure, experts predict, is the beginning of a tsunami that will spread into municipal and state pension systems.