August 11, 2016

"Clinton spoke of change the way other politicians would talk about God or Providence..."

"... we could succeed economically, he once announced, 'if we make change our friend.' Change was fickle and inscrutable, an unmoved mover doing this or that as only it saw fit. Our task — or, more accurately, your task, middle-class citizen — was to conform to its wishes, to 'adjust to change,' as the president put it when talking about NAFTA. Worship of 'change' was standard stuff in the business literature of that period, but Clinton brought it into the public sphere. For him, this was how politics worked: Every deal was always a done deal. Every legislative program was a way of reckoning with some irresistible onrushing historical force that he and his advisers had divined. The role of Congress was to figure out how to bow to the new reality as Clinton’s cohort perceived it.... [I]t wasn’t reason that sold NAFTA; it was a simulacrum of reason, by which I mean the great god inevitability, invoked in the language of professional-class self-assurance. 'We cannot stop global change,' Clinton said in his signing speech. The phrase that best expressed the feeling was this: 'It’s a no-brainer.' Lee Iacocca uttered it in a pro-NAFTA TV commercial, and before long everyone was saying it. The phrase struck exactly the right notes of simplicity combined with utter obviousness. Globalization was irresistible, the argument went, and free trade was always and in all situations a good thing. So good, it didn’t even really need to be explained. Everyone knew this. Everyone agreed."

From "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" by Thomas Frank. (Boldface added.)

25 comments:

PB said...

The Church of Liberalism's high priestess.

Rick said...

Globalization was irresistible, the argument went, and free trade was always and in all situations a good thing.

Globalization is irresistible except via isolationism which levies greater penalties than does free trade. Therefore free trade in total is better than the available alternatives. The mistake is the comparison. Free trade for the next decade might not be better than the last decade. But the last decade isn't available in the next decade.

Hagar said...

An indication of whether "free trade" is free or not may be to see if the government is hiring more employees to oversee this "free trade."

Sebastian said...

"Clinton spoke of change the way other politicians would talk about God or Providence..." Listen, liberals: y'all are still doing this. Stop worshiping false gods, with your simulacra of reason. That includes you, Franky boy.

"'We cannot stop global change,' Clinton said in his signing speech." Which is true, no? I mean, what would it even mean to "stop" "global change"?

"free trade was always and in all situations a good thing. So good, it didn’t even really need to be explained. Everyone knew this. Everyone agreed." Polemical BS. No one said it was always and in all situations a good thing. Many people tried to explain it (even Krugman, as I recall). Lots of people disagreed.

coupe said...

Here's Clintons voice: Voice From Hell

BDNYC said...

I believe in free trade and oppose government business subsidies, direct or indirect. So Trump is not my candidate. I do believe that globalization is inevitable, i.e., the genie is out of the bottle, and the more we try to shape it or resist it, the more we do damage to our interests. The Art of the Deal will not save us from the enormous economic and social pressures at play in our extremely interconnected world. It's just up to us to raise our game and compete.

Right now I'm in a weird place politically. I guess I agree more with Hillary on trade and immigration, which are Trump's signature issues, but I can't stand her and I definitely don't trust her, especially when it comes to foreign affairs and national security. The Clinton Family brings disgrace on our nation. They are much worse than Trump, the reality TV clown.

David Begley said...

" 'We cannot stop global change,' Clinton said in his signing speech."

He was already counting the cash he was going to get from multinationals and foreign governments. It is easy to understand the Clintons. Every deal is angle for them to get some CASH. $100m as far as we know. Then $15m for their daughter. And that's after tax so they collected $250m. They need more for those two grandkids. One can never be too rich or too thin.

Larry J said...

Change happens but it isn't always an improvement. For many people, change often makes things worse as in changing from healthy to sick or employed to unemployed.

Nonapod said...

There seems to be a theme with many progressive presidents of a lack of agency once a decision has been made in their heads. They seem to believe that once they've come to a decision that anyone who resists said decision is wrong headed, or more specifically, ignorant; too stupid to see the inevitability of the President's decision. They seem to view themselves as the supreme prime movers of history, like monarchs of old, utterly convinced of their rightness and righteousness.

Unknown said...

Trump on TV, talking about his economic plans. He seems incredibly bored, slow measured speech, voice muted, maybe he thinks this governing stuff isn't as fun as he thought.

Kevin said...

"Every deal was always a done deal."

A chicken in every pot!

hamiyam said...

A friend told me that I must see the movie "Thirteen Hours" because it is a compelling docudrama.
Is there any way we can get one of the major TV networks to air the film? That's the only way I can follow the advice of my friend.

John Tuffnell said...

We would benefit from the "adjust to change" approach when addressing the alarmist climate change predictions.

If it ever happens, make it our friend.

It's a no-brainer.

MikeR said...

Heh - by the same author as "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Well, this book answers that question: Kansas understood long before Thomas Frank did.

tim in vermont said...

Free Trade is a great way of clearing out domestic deadwood from the economy. Then you put them on the dole. The losers might vote for a populist, but you have the press noise machine to drown them out. This is the way to ensure that the 1% make the most money and get the most stuff for their money.

tim in vermont said...

ring labor to our economy so jobs can get done. The dairy farmers in western Wisconsin are having a hard time finding anyone to help them produce their products, which are mostly cheese. If they can’t find workers, then they can’t produce … The flip side of the argument is: Just raise wages enough to attract people. But you raise wages too much in certain industries, then you’ll get rid of those industries, and we’ll just have to import.

Yes, Paul Ryan and the Clintons are just happy members of the oligarchy.

But of course "Politifact" jumps to Ryan's defense. That should have been a tell for you Wisconsin Republicans right there, BTW.

Immigration Group Twists Ryan’s Words

A group that opposes the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill claims that Rep. Paul Ryan said “we have a labor shortage in Wisconsin.” Ryan, who supports an immigration overhaul, didn’t say there was a shortage now — except in a few low-wage industries.


Sounds like he said we have a labor shortage to me, but Ryan is one of them. Hey! He gave the Democrats everything they wanted on Obamacare in a budget deal, without debate, that was over before anybody knew it was happening, and got nothing in return! What a stand up guy! No wonder the press loves him!

LOL.

tim in vermont said...

Plus I like the way he assumes free trade as so inevitable that alternatives need not be considered in any way.

tim in vermont said...

I can't wait for the "Politifact" entitled "Clinton Campaign Twists Trumps Words!"

tim in vermont said...

Paul Ryan is a scumbag who throws powerless people out of work so that his powerful friends can make more money.

gadfly said...

It seems to me that the "Clinton Years" were greatly influenced by the Gingrich-led Republican House which pushed through such un-liberal legislation as welfare reform, a balanced budget, and NAFTA. So the most successful Democrat president since Harry Truman had nothing to show but his never-ending scandals and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Trailer Park.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I just can't resist. The most amusing use of "no brainer" that I can recall was in a Pepsi commercial. Cute young Hallie Eisenberg as the little girl.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2vm4wAF93Q
There is a longer one-minute version, but I think the 30 sec. version packs a punch.

Paul Snively said...

Libertarian economists never made any bones about the fact that free trade is better for everyone in the sense that it tends toward price equilibrium across the board, but in doing so it reveals and destroys economic inefficiencies, and that at least in the short, and even sometimes the medium, term, some real people's livelihoods depend on those inefficiencies. In particular, global labor price equilibrium essentially guarantees that entire labor sectors in particular nations are likely to be wiped out.

Bye-bye, Detroit.

I'm a registered big-L Libertarian, but I harbor no illusions that all commodities, especially the labor commodity, are fungible. The challenge inherent in global economic liberalism colliding with ever-increasing labor specialization reducing labor's fungibility is not at all lost on me. There don't appear to be any easy answers to this, and no, going back to FDR-style protectionism wouldn't be an improvement.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I'm pretty sure the identified ethos is what Robert Wright's cumulative lifetime idea output adds up to (particularly/specifically his book Nonzero).

James Pawlak said...

The only change I wish for is to have her tell the truth.

mikee said...

As an employee of a huge corporation, I learned that "change" could be distilled down to my workload increasing each year as a decreasing number of employees was required to perform more and more work.

I believe the same truth applies to Obama's use of "change" to mean each individual has fewer and fewer rights, less income, and more government control with each passing year.