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Smart Approaches, Not Strong-Arm Tactics, to Jobs

LONDON — I’ve actually been watching the early Trump presidency from London. (I would have gone to the moon, but I couldn’t get a ride.) Even from here I have vertigo.


My head is swirling from “alternative facts,” trade deals canceled, pipelines initiated, Obamacare in the Twilight Zone and utterly bizarre rants about attendance on Inauguration Day and fake voters on Election Day. Whatever this cost Vladimir Putin, he’s already gotten his money’s worth — a chaos president. Pass the vodka.

“另一种事实”、贸易协议取消、输油管项目启动、奥巴马医改生死未卜,关于就职日当天出席人数和选举日伪造投票者的怪异咆哮,这一切都是我感到晕眩的原因。无论弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)付出了什么样的代价,他的投入真是物有所值——一个乱七八糟的总统。快给我来点伏特加吧。

But moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats who opposed Donald Trump need to beware. He can make you so nuts — he can so vacuum your brains out — that you can’t think clearly about the most important questions today: What things are true even if Trump believes them, and therefore merit support? And where can Democrats offer smarter approaches on issues, like jobs, for instance — approaches that can connect to the guts of working-class voters as Trump did, but provide a smarter path forward.


Where I think Democrats should focus their critique, and fresh thinking, is how we actually bring back more middle-class jobs. A day barely goes by without Trump threatening some company that plans to move jobs abroad or build a factory in Mexico, not America.


If Trump’s bullying can actually save good jobs, God bless him. But what Trump doesn’t see is that while this may get him some short-term jobs headlines, in the long-run C.E.O.s may prefer not to build their next factory in America, precisely because it will be hostage to Trump’s Twitter lashings. They also may quietly replace more workers with robots faster, because Trump can’t see or complain about that.


“Trump wants to protect jobs,” explained Gidi Grinstein, who heads the Israeli policy institute Reut. “What we really need is to protect workers.”

“特朗普想保护工作岗位,”以色列政策研究所乌特(Reut)的负责人吉迪·格林斯坦(Gidi Grinstein)解释道。“我们真正需要的是保护工人。”

You need to protect workers, not jobs, because every worker today will most likely have to transition multiple times to multiple jobs as the pace of change accelerates. So the best way you help workers is by ensuring that they are flexible — that they have the skills, safety nets, health care and lifelong learning opportunities to make those leaps and that they live in cities open to innovation, entrepreneurship and high-I.Q. risk-takers.


The societal units protecting workers best are our healthy communities — where local businesses, philanthropies, the public school system and universities, and local government come together to support a permanent education-to-work-to-life-long-skill-building pipeline.


Businesses signal to schools and colleges, in real time, the skills they need to thrive in the global economy, and philanthropies fund innovative programs for supplemental education and training. Schools also serve as adult learning and social service centers — and local and state governments support them all, including reaching out globally for investors and new markets.


Eric Beinhocker, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford, calls this the “new progressive localism.” For too long, he argues, “progressives have been so focused on Washington, they’ve missed the fact that most of the progress on the issues they care about — environment, education, economic opportunity and work-force skills — has happened at the local level. Because that is where trust lives.” Trust is what enables you to adapt quickly and experiment often, i.e., to be flexible. And there is so much more trust on the local level than the national level in America today.

牛津大学新经济思想研究院(Institute for New Economic Thinking)的执行董事埃里克·贝因霍克(Eric Beinhocker)把这称为“新的进步型地方主义”。他认为,“进步派把重点放在华盛顿已经太久了,他们没有认清这样一个事实:在他们关心的问题上,不管是环境、教育、经济机会还是工作技能,大部分进展都是在地方一级发生的。因为那个层级存在着信任感。”有了信任,你可以快速适应情况,经常进行实验,也就是具有灵活性。和当今美国的国家层级相比,地方层级的信任感强烈得多。

When Trump strong-arms a company to retain jobs, but kills Obamacare without a credible alternative, he is saving jobs but hurting workers, because he is making workers less secure and less flexible.


Another of Trump’s jobs fallacies is that regulation always holds companies back. In some cases it does, and thoughtful deregulation can help. But Trump’s argument that we must ignore climate science because steadily upgrading clean energy standards for our power, auto and construction companies kills jobs is pure nonsense.


Fact: California has some of the highest clean energy standards for cars, buildings and electric utilities in America. And those standards have kept California one of the world’s leaders in clean-tech companies and start-ups, and its jobs and overall economy have grown steadily since 2010.


“The Golden State has more than half a million advanced energy jobs,” says Energy Innovation C.E.O. Hal Harvey. “That’s 10 times more — in this state alone — than total U.S. coal jobs.” Trump’s strategy is to “make America last” on clean energy and to double down on coal. Insane.

“黄金州(加州的别称——译注)提供了50多万个高级能源工作岗位,”能源创新(Energy Innovation)的首席执行官哈尔·哈维(Hal Harvey)说道。“仅在这个州,就是美国总的煤炭行业工作岗位的十倍。”特朗普的战略是在清洁能源领域“让美国落到最后”,而把赌注押在煤炭行业。这简直是疯了。

In sum, Democrats should and can take the language of “strength” away from Trump and own it themselves. They should be for strong workers, not strong walls; for building strong communities, not relying on a strongman to strong-arm employers; and for strong standards to create strong companies. Those would be my fightin’ words.




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