Third Party & Independents Archives

Pipelines and Jobs Are So 80's

If you’re Tiernan Sittenfeld - the chief lobbyist at the League of Conservation Voters - then you’re really mad at President Trump this Tuesday for signing two executive orders that put the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects back on track to be approved. For Tiernan, pipelines are dirty and dangerous and the stuff they move should, of course, be left in the ground.

Because don't Trump and Perry and the rest of them know that the fossil fuel economy is sooo 80's? All we need to do is give a few dozen billion dollars to Elon Musk and we'll soon all be transporting ourselves down solar powered wind funnels and charging our homes with zero-point energy that we trap with little magical black boxes that sit in our tiny, perfect ecological kitchens. Never mind that the harder-line ecologists want everyone to die to bring the planet back into harmony, and rather than traveling down energy-neutral, high-speed, train thingies. Trust Elon Musk. Trust Solar. Trust zero-point energy. It's the future, don't you see?

But President Trump just doesn't get it. He keeps focusing on jobs. On how to put steel workers, energy workers, coal miners, and manufacturing employees back to work; by lowering corporate taxes and slashing regulations. That really is so 80's isn't it? Kinda like Reagan. But sorry, one isn't allowed to compare any of Trump's actions to Reagan. That would send people like Bill Kristol into a Twitter rage. Especially seeing his son in law, Matthew Continetti, is willing to acknowledge that Trump's administration may be much better than any skeptical conservative would have ever thought.

The gurus of automation cloak their neo-Malthusian doom-laden view of workers in the 21st century with unbearable asides on how they understand the pain of dislocation. No they don't. Trump - from the audacious and ostentatious splendor of his tower - actually does. It's why he won the election. It's why he's letting pipelines be built again. And why he understands that the invisible hand of automation may not be as universally beneficial to voters and citizens as Adam Smith's invisible hand.

Can Trump stand athwart the train of technological progress and yell: STOP!

Here's the answer: he hasn't even bothered to do that. Not yet at least. As a businessman, he's not interested in yelling stop at the forces of automation and globalization. He's more interested in negotiating - with lots of hard-nosed posturing - a way to preserve jobs. To harness those forces for America's - especially his most important constituency, workers in Middle America's - benefit.

The thing is, he can't do it alone, and he isn't doing it alone. The men and women who run companies and make the tough decisions on how and where and when to invest are not ideologues. They're business people. And so far, they're willing to listen and talk to Trump. Whether they necessarily agree with the president, or not. Trump has to convince them that he and the GOP Congress can give them all good reasons to invest in America. So far, he's on the right path to do just that.

Automation can't be ignored or stopped. But it can be managed with sensible and pragmatic tax policies and regulations that aren't a hideous burden to entrepreneurs.

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