It certainly looks like it.
Again, for anybody not having seen one of these, a “Poland problem” involves an apparent disconnect between economics and politics, nations with reasonably well performing economies where the populace becomes unhappy and supports opposition, especially “populist” nationalist authoritarian candidates, with 2015 victory in Poland of the Law and Justice Party the poster boy for this, even though Poland has been one of the best performing economies in Europe for quite some time.
The funny thing is that we may be seeing two separate rounds of this in the US. Thus we had Trump defeating Hillary even though the economy had been steadily growing for many years, unemployment steadily falling, and the stock market rising. Now that Trump is in he has been trying to assert all this that has been going on for some time is due to him, which is silly apart perhaps from some of the upward stock market moves thanks to his pro-corporate profits policies. But his popularity has fallen and is at lows not seen in many decades for a recently installed president. Indeed, increasingly columnists of various stripes have begun to notice this disjuncture, alrhough they have not been providing a name for the syndrome as I have with “Poland problem.”
Of course it can be argued that things have not been and really are still not all that good economically. We all know that that the widely touted unemployment rate overstates the strength of the labor market given so many having dropped out of the labor force, and upward pressure on wages has remained weak, despite some improvement on that front recently. Of course, Trump, having heard the story about labor force participation claimed at one point while running that the UR was really 42% and also accused the BLS of cooking the unemployment numbers for political reasons, only to turn on a dime after getting in office to tout the low and falling standard UR numbers.
As it is, there are major problems in the US economy, deep inequality that has steadily worsened, entrenched poverty, especially in some regions and among certain groups. But these are phenomena long in place. Thus it is well known that supposedly the swing to Trump came from long building unhappiness in the rust belt Midwest, hollowed out by import competition, something that has been going on since at least the late 1970s. It is unclear why that unhappiness has exploded now to support a racist authoritarian nationalist, but it has, and so far it looks like Trump may be hanging on to this group better than some others, such as suburban women, even as he has done little for them.
More broadly internationally one can attribute much of this sourness to the long and slow recovery from the Great Recession. Global growth has simply been slower, so that even in nations that have done well relative to others in the past decade such as the US, Germany, and Poland, people compare what has gone on with their own pasts, not with what is going on in other nations. So a relatively good performance is not perceived as such, and a long building sourness rises to the surface. We have not seen the end of this.
“We all know that that the widely touted unemployment rate overstates the strength of the labor market given so many having dropped out of the labor force, and upward pressure on wages has remained weak, despite some improvement on that front recently.”
Barkley, this understates (too typically I’m afraid) the depth of the “Great Wage Depression.” Everybody (everybody progressive anyway) eternally points to economic growth benefiting only the upper few percent for decades — then — whenever they assess the effect of the economy upon voters (not you here) they skip right over sink hole wage rates and keyhole focus right on the unemployment rate (or if we’re lucky the real employment rate) when what voters want is $20/hr jobs plain and simple: high (or at least really livable) wages.
Simply put, if fast food can pay $15/hr at 33% (!) labor costs, then, other retail should be able pay $20/hr at 10-15% labor costs, and, Walmart (God bless it) may be able to pay $25/hr at 7% labor costs. If this means shifting 10% of overall income to the bottom 40%, that means scratching 14% of their income from the “middle” 59% (who get roughly 70% of overall income) — in higher prices. Which may mean we have been paying the 40% too little for too along. But if the 40% get labor union organized (where this little speech is going) we may find ourselves willing to up if we want them to show up at work.
I have always been willing to tell any gang banger (not that I ever run into any) that side-ways guns and gang signs and all that would look pretty funny in, say, Germany where they pay people to work. And, that if Walmart were paying $25/hr we wouldn’t be hearing about any of this here.
As it is, the “middle” 59% can replenish their pockets at the expense of top 1% income whose share has ballooned from 10% to 22.5% over recent (de-unionizing) decades. Just reintroduce confiscatory taxation of the kind existing in the Eisenhower era. Say, 90% over $2 million income — and this time we really mean it — very top incomes (CEOs, news anchors, er, quarterbacks) now 20X what they were since per capita income only doubled. I predict any social inertia (it’s only human nature) on the part of the 59% to jack upper taxes up will be overcome by the friendly persuasion on the part of the 40% — who want to jack up the price of that burger just a bit more. 🙂
* * * * * *
Super easy way back [ONLY WAY BACK] is restoring healthy labor union density (6% unions outside gov equates to 20/10 bp). When Democrats take over Congress, we must institute mandatory union certification and re-certification elections at every work place (stealing a page from the Republican’s anti-union playbook — see Wisconsin gov workers). I would add the wrinkle of making the cycle one, three or five years — plurality rules — take a lot of potential rancor out of first time votes in some workplaces.
Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
November 1st, 2017 – Andrew Strom
WHICH IS WHERE I CAME INTO THIS MOVIE 🙂
PS. NY Times’ Nate Cohn found that Trump won by trading places with Obama. Obama ran as the black guy (presumably working folks oriented — were we wrong) against Wall Street Romney; Trump ran as blue collar-acting guy against Wall Street Hillary. True progressive Bernie would have stomped Trump. (Bernie hasn’t caught on to re-stocking union density as the only real way to help working people yet — but at least he won’t get in the way while waiting to catch on.)
First, I agree with your assessment that President Trump is claiming credit for things which he has not caused. But this economy is awful for those at the low end of the income scale. Low pay, high rent, and rising food costs. (Sometimes by subterfuge.)
I remember reading an interview of an older person. The interviewer asked what life was like during the Great Depression. And they replied that it wasn’t bad if you had a job.
This is similar to our situation today. It is not bad if you have a good paying full time job. In that case you have almost no understanding of what some others are complaining about. Income inequality is a sterile term for what happens to other people.
Others like those who have not dropped out of the labor force but who are no longer counted as looking for work because they exhausted their unemployment benefits. (No one contacts them to see if they are still looking for work.)
Others like those who have full time employment but their wages are low and static.
Others like those who need a full time job but a part time job is all they can get.
Others like those who work but only get by because they applied for food stamps. (SNAP)
Others like those living on Social Security and seeing pitifully tiny COLAs.
Others like older Americans with savings which pay almost no interest.
And others, like all of the above, who see the prices of the things that they consume going up while the CPI is showing little inflation.
Some of those others live in the rust belt states where they have seen an extended economic decline.
Neither of the two major political parties addresses those ‘others’ issues. And because they are almost completely disconnected from their voters’ issues, they did not perceive the building anger.
Candidate Trump addressed the major concern of those ‘others’, which was their declining spending power. He did that by addressing the economic threats posed by illegal immigration and free trade treaties which allowed companies to move production overseas.
President Trump lost in the polls and won the election. It doesn’t really surprise me that he is continuing to score low in the polls.
Of course, the two major parties can continue on their current paths. And they can blame their losses on flawed voters. And eventually they will do their complaining from their homes.
The businessman Mohamed El-Erian rejects the populist label for the current multi national voter rebellions, he prefers anti-establishment. And so do I.
Oh no, not another extrapolation based on the false economic stats Poland pumped out pre-2015!!
No-one takes the drastic choice of emigration lightly – especially if you know you’re going to be bottom of the heap in the new country. Can’t you find an American to talk about his forbears escaping poverty in Europe only to face hard times in the New World?
Two million Poles fled Poland’s much touted “Economic Miracle”. Funnily, they stopped emigrating when REAL economic growth, wage growth and the setting up of a welfare state started!
Hard Right crony capitalism with illegal fuel import deals with Putin and falsified public accounting didn’t cause happiness. Despite the figures, Poland wasn’t a world leader in the export of cellphones, for example.
Rosser continues to bark up the wrong tree! Worse – he’s making some sort of social philosophy out of it.
Denis and Jim,
You and I have already been around on this, but I shall point out that the credibility of sources in Poland that you like to cite have collapsed since the Law and Justice Party you shill for took over.
The most believable data is that there has been no major economic change in the state of the Polish economy from before and after the political change, although some minor changes (which you have hyped while ignoring others not fitting your party line). The big bottom line is no noticeable change in overall GDP growth in Poland, basically chugging along unspectacularly in the 1-2% annual range with mild quarterly fluctuations.
So, sorry, I am going to stick with calling this the Poland problem.” You folks are the poster boys for this. Tough, and good luck getting any world leader not also an authoritarian liar supporting your embarrassing government.
Nice try Bert