Note: If you got here from the link in my tweet, I used “orange kitten” to thwart Twitter’s shadowban on me.
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.
The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.
The Trump administration remains skeptical of climate change alarmism for now. Aggressive remediation would cost jobs, which would make income inequality worse. So Trump is on the right side of climate change when it comes to income inequality. But what if climate change is the disaster that most scientists believe it will be? What does that do to income inequality?
Well, my best guess is that the disruption from warming would force the top 1% to hire lots of people to fix all the problems caused by the climate. We might need that sort of global challenge to create enough human jobs as the robots start taking all of the manufacturing work and more. None of this is completely predictable, but it is hard for me to see how the need to adjust to climate change creates fewer jobs.
As I said above, the main reason that income inequality is no longer a major headline is that Trump made us believe that other issues are more important. But the other reason that you no longer see liberals make the trend toward greater income inequality their flagship issue is funnier.