Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Trump Vows Consequences for GM, Says China Car Tariffs Too High

December 13, 2018

President Donald Trump reaffirmed his promise to punish General Motors Co. for plans to close an auto factory in the electoral battleground of Ohio and said China’s plan to lower tariffs on U.S. cars to 15 percent doesn’t go far enough.

“General Motors is not going to be treated well,” Trump said in a Fox News interview Thursday. He said GM chief executive Mary Barra was “nasty” to announce the factory-closing plan shortly before the holidays.

“I don’t like what she did, I think it was nasty,” Trump said. “It doesn’t really matter because Ohio is under my leadership from a national standpoint. Ohio is going to replace those jobs in like two minutes.”

Image result for GM, Lordstown, factory, pictures

GM announced in November it planned to cut more than 14,000 jobs and close seven factories worldwide, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, that produces the Chevrolet Cruze. The announcement drew immediate criticism from Trump and he later said he would seek to block any federal subsidies the carmaker receives.

Trump also said he would seek further reductions in the tariff China charges on U.S.-made automobiles.

“It’s not acceptable, 15 is still too high,” Trump said.

proposal to reduce tariffs on cars made in the U.S. to 15 percent from the current 40 percent — bringing the U.S. back in line with what other countries pay — has been submitted to China’s Cabinet for review, according to people familiar with the matter.


U.S. Adds Below-Forecast 155,000 Jobs as Wage Gain Misses

December 7, 2018
  • Monthly earnings increase 0.2%, compared with 0.3% forecasts
  • Unemployment rate holds at 3.7%, lowest level since 1969
U.S. Adds 155,000 Jobs in November, Jobless Rate Holds Steady at 3.7%

U.S. jobs and wages rose by less than forecast in November while the unemployment rate held at the lowest in almost five decades, indicating some moderation in a still-healthy labor market.

Image result for U.S. Auto workers, factory, photos

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 after a downwardly revised 237,000 gain in the prior month, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for an increase of 198,000. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent from the prior month, compared with forecasts for 0.3 percent, though wages matched projections on an annual basis, up 3.1 percent for a second month.

Treasury yields initially dipped and the dollar declined as the report added to signs that economic growth is cooling a bit, following weakness in business-equipment orders and an ebbing of consumer optimism. While the data may spur more concern over the outlook after stocks and bond yields tumbled this week, some investors may see the prospect of a slower pace of Federal Reserve interest-rate increases as a positive following an expected hike this month, as equity futures rose following the jobs data.

“It’s not like 155,000 is a terrible number, but it’s below what people were looking for,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. After an unusually strong two quarters for the economy, “we’re looking for growth to step down this quarter and you should probably also expect to see the labor market cool off some. It’s consistent with the economy coming off what people call a sugar rush.”

For the Fed’s interest-rate hikes, “December is pretty close to a done deal,” Feroli said. “For next year, it depends what the data looks like the next couple of months. It doesn’t feel like things are softening in an alarming way. If it’s really soft, they’ll take a break.”

The jobless rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent in November, matching estimates. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said late Thursday that the U.S. labor market is “very strong” by many measures and that the economy is “performing very well overall.”

Even so, one key risk is the trade war between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. While the nations agreed last weekend on a 90-day pause for new tariffs, the accumulated levies and developments have created uncertainty for companies and may weigh on the employment outlook.

Retail Payrolls

Retailers showed solid demand for workers overall, hiring 18,200 people in the month before Christmas; general-merchandise stores added the most employees while clothing and electronics stores cut workers. Transportation and warehousing, a category closely linked to retail, also saw gains of 25,400 in the month.

Construction jobs rose by 5,000, the weakest since a decline in March, as gains cooled among residential specialty trade contractors. Manufacturing remained strong at an increase of 27,000.

The monthly gain in average hourly earnings for all private workers followed a downwardly revised 0.1 percent increase, the report showed. The annual increase topped 3 percent for a second month, reflecting how companies are steadily raising pay to attract and retain workers as the availability of workers tightens.

The gains probably still aren’t fast enough, though, to spur concerns of runaway inflation among Fed officials. While the unemployment rate is well below the level that central bankers consider sustainable in the long run, inflation has remained close to the central bank’s target, leading some to question whether the Fed should keep raising interest rates.

Here are other highlights from the report:


  • Revisions subtracted 12,000 jobs from payrolls in the prior two months, resulting in a three-month average gain of 170,000.
  • Private payrolls rose by 161,000, compared with the median estimate for 198,000; government payrolls decreased by 6,000.
  • Service providers added 132,000 jobs, including 40,100 in health care and social assistance. The 32,000 gain in professional and business services was the smallest since December 2017.


  • Average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory workers increased 3.2 percent from a year earlier, following 3.2 percent in the prior month.
  • The average work week decreased to 34.4 hours from 34.5 hours in the prior month; a shorter workweek has the effect of boosting average hourly pay.


  • The participation rate was unchanged from the prior month at 62.9 percent. The measure tracks share of working-age people either with jobs or actively looking.
  • The employment-population ratio, another broad gauge of labor-market health, was unchanged at 60.6 percent.
  • The U-6, or underemployment rate, rose to 7.6 percent from 7.4 percent. This measure includes part-time workers who want a full-time job and people who are less active in seeking work.


US hiring slowed to 155K jobs, jobless rate stayed 3.7%

December 7, 2018

U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in November, adding just 155,000 jobs. That’s below this year’s average monthly gains but enough to suggest that the economy is expanding at a solid pace despite sharp gyrations in the stock market.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate remained 3.7%, nearly a five-decade low, for the third straight month. Average hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago, matching the previous month’s figure, which was the best since 2009.

Photographer: Alex FLynn/Bloomberg

The economy is expanding at a healthy pace but rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China, ongoing interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, and slowing global growth have roiled financial markets. Analysts expect growth to slow but remain solid in 2019 as the impact of last year’s tax cuts fade.

– Associated Press – Friday, December 7, 2018

Lawmakers More Open Minded on General Motors Than Donald Trump

December 7, 2018

GM’s Barra defends plant closings to Mich. lawmakers

Washington — General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra defended plans to idle five plants, lay off 6,000 salaried employees and imperil the jobs of 3,300 hourly workers as she met Thursday with members of Michigan’s U.S. congressional delegation.

Speaking with reporters after an hour-long closed meeting with Michigan’s U.S. senators and most of the state’s U.S. House delegation, the GM chief said she conveyed to lawmakers that the moves she has made are intended to help the company respond to shifts in market trends and improve its overall capacity.

Image result for GM, General Motors, sign, photos

“We had really productive discussions, and I think they have a better understanding of what we’re doing and why, and how we’re making sure that we’re supporting the displaced workers, especially at the plants that are impacted, ” she said. “And I have an understanding and appreciation of some of the challenges they are working on. As always, when you communicate, you find ways to improve the situation, so I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to meet with as members of Congress as I did.”

Lawmakers are furious at GM for moving to cease production next year at its Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission plants in Michigan; at Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio; at Baltimore Operations in Maryland; and at Oshawa Assembly in Ontario.

Work will stop next year at predetermined dates, but plants will not officially close. The future of those facilities will be determined during 2019 negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

The company is planning to lay off nearly 6,000 salaried workers next year after a buyout program last month only had 2,250 takers, according to a memo sent to employees by CEO Mary Barra and obtained by The Detroit News. The salaried buyouts and the layoffs together will affect 8,000 North American employees and a number of global executives, none of whom are part of the senior leadership team.

Lawmakers lamented the fact that GM has cited excess capacity as part of its rationale for idling U.S. plants, but the company chose earlier this year to build its second-coming of the Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico.

“General Motors is an American company,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “That means they should hire American workers, and whenever there is an opportunity to move production, with SUVs and others that are being made in Mexico, that production needs to come back to the United States.

“There was a recent decision to make the new Chevy Blazer in Mexico,” he continued. “They moved production for that Blazer to a factory that had excess capacity, whereas we had excess capacity in the United States. The Chevy Blazer should be made in the United States, with American workers.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, added: “She is certainly keeping an open mind in general, and she was very strong about her commitment to Michigan. We were also very strong (in saying) that that’s our expectation.”

Barra defended the decision to build the new Blazer in Mexico, citing other products the company is planning to produce in the U.S.

“The decision of where the Blazer was built, that was made many years ago,” she said. “At that time Lordstown. for instance, was running full out of three shifts. The market has changed dramatically. But in this country, we have just launched the Cadillac XT4 that is being built in Fairfax, Kansas.There’s another product we think has been announced that’s going to be coming out built in Spring Hill.

“We have products being built in Lansing Grand River,” she continued. “We just invested a tremendous amount of money to expand our capacity to build heavy duty trucks that we just launched this week in Flint, Michigan. We have additional jobs that were available with all the investment we made in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the full-size light duty trucks, and coming at the latter part of this year, we are going to be launching new full-size SUVs, and that’s an expansion in investment.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, was seemingly more understanding of GM’s position than his Democratic colleagues, but he also lamented the surprise nature of GM’s decision.

“She has to run the company,” Walberg said. “We’re not running the company. We’re concerned about our constituents and how they are treated. We’re concerned about the fact that communication wasn’t normal for what we would expect out of an auto company. With us, we want to be part of the whole solution and the process to the best of our ability to support our constituents as well as the company that we want to see succeed.”


Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., in an interview Thursday dismissed the sharp criticism of General Motors from President Trump and others, saying the automaker is responding to competitive pressure and taking steps to ensure its viability long term.

Trump and many in Congress have tried to browbeat GM into reversing a controversial decision to shutter plants in Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio, a move that could eliminate thousands of jobs. The Detroit manufacturer is casting blame on an array of factors, particularly shifting consumer tastes that have significantly reduced demand for the automobiles produced in the affected facilities.

But Perdue, a Georgia Republican who spent a career in business management before being elected to the Senate in 2014, said the attacks on GM are misplaced. Perdue discussed the matter during a wide-ranging interview with “Behind Closed Doors,” a Washington Examiner podcast.

“I get upset with people in Washington who try and make this a binary question, and it’s not, it is extremely complicated. There are industries that close factories and open factories every day,” Perdue said. “Industries do that. In some cases it’s because of bad management, in most cases it’s because they’re trying to adapt to the marketplace and to survive.”

Perdue was careful not to criticize Trump by name. Trump was a real estate developer and reality television star before running for president, running his own tight-knit family business, and he and Perdue are aligned on most issues. But the senator said that many of the politicians bashing GM appear not to understand how businesses operate and the consequences of failing to adjust to the marketplace.

“I don’t know the details of the decision that GM is making. But having been in that seat, I can tell you that they’re fighting for one thing, and that is survival,” Perdue added. “It’s not just the shareholders that they’re trying to protect, it’s not just the bondholders they’re trying to protect, they’re trying to protect their employee base — the majority of employees — and to be able to survive to meet the needs of those customers. So it’s a complex situation.”

Mary Barra, CEO of GM, is on Capitol Hill this week meeting with lawmakers and explaining the automaker’s position. Democrats and Republicans alike are urging Barra to back off plans to close plants and chop its workforce.

Perdue, 68, has operated firms around the globe and specialized in strengthening flagging businesses. That often required making tough choices.

In his last position before going into politics, the senator revived Dollar General, a discount retail chain. When Perdue took over as CEO, the company was struggling. Hundreds of stores were severely underperforming, putting Dollar General in danger of going out of business. So Perdue closed them, displacing scores of workers. But as the retailer recovered, more than 1,000 new stores were opened, with new jobs created as workers were hired to staff them.

Perdue called the business world the “wild kingdom.”

The “Behind Closed Doors” interview with Perdue will be available for download on Monday.

Brainwashing our kids is dangerous (Unless they are literate, young people can become a liability)

November 24, 2018

AT my age, few things shock me anymore. Over the years, I have seen enough horrors to harden me against most of the terrible things we do to each other.

But a short video clip that did the rounds on social media recently almost made my stomach turn. The brief film showed a few boys around seven or eight years old hanging a doll, shouting: “Aasia Bibi has been hanged!” The video concluded with the giggling kids chanting “Labbaik!”

Bt Irfan Husain

I have no idea if the boys had been coached by their elders to play this gruesome charade for the camera, or whether they had thought of it on their own. In either case, the video is a telling reminder — if one was needed — of how far we have sunk as a society. Among the many awful things we have done to Pakistani children is the systematic brainwashing we have subjected them to.

Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, as the militant Catholic group was called, is supposed to have claimed: “Give me the child for the first seven years, and I will give you the man.”

Unless they are literate, young people can become a liability.

Operating on this principle, Gen Zia overloaded school curricula with Arabic and religious content during his baneful military rule. His acolytes in many religious parties have continued dragging children in state schools along this ruinous path ever since.

Image result for children in pakistan, photos

But not only are curricula full of xenophobic content, our schools themselves are hardly conducive to learning. On any given day, one out of five teachers are not in their classrooms; 65 per cent of government schools have no boundary walls; 55pc are located in dilapidated, often unsafe, structures; 55pc have no toilets, a great deterrent for girls wishing to study; and 64pc have no running water.

And this is the state of affairs when some 23 million kids — or 44pc of the school-going population — are out of school. So when Pakistani leaders boast — as Imran Khan did in Shanghai recently — of our “vibrant, youthful” population, they forget to mention the vast numbers with no education.

Apart from the children working and begging across the country, some 3.5m are estimated to be enrolled in our mushrooming madressahs. Here, they learn the scriptures parrot-fashion, with little or no emphasis on the tolerance and compassion that is at the heart of all great religions. Who would employ them on graduation, and what are they qualified for that would give them meaningful careers?

Add to these dismal facts the polluted water and inadequate diet available to the vast majority of Pakistani children, and you begin to get a picture of the criminal neglect we are guilty of. Our leaders keep saying they want to learn from China. Well, lesson number one is that despite its backwardness until the 1990s, the country’s Communist Party focused on education and health. As a result, it has a literate and healthy workforce. We, on the other hand, have consistently failed our children.

Politicians like to claim that young people are an asset. Actually, unless they can read and write, they can become a liability. In this age of high-tech equipment and integrated supply chains, the inability to read instructions is a great drawback.

But socially and politically, the worst thing we have done to our children is to allow the most retrograde elements in society to take control of their education. Those rampaging in cities across the country recently against the Aasia Bibi judgement were clearly underemployed: who can take time out from regular work to spend day after day on violent street protests?

Some years ago, Herald published the results of a poll about changing social and religious attitudes among young men and women. The overwhelming majority supported the most backward interpretation of religious attitudes and punishments. Now many of Zia’s spiritual children are parents, and their kids are imbibing their values.

Clearly, then, Ignatius Loyola’s dictum has been learned and internalised by our clerics. Realising the importance of education as a tool to brainwash the young, they have firmly resisted any changes to school curricula that would bring them in line with modern requirements. Politicians and generals have caved in to these pressures time after time.

So when Imran Khan and his economic team talk about increasing exports and give Malaysia’s and China’s success as examples, they forget that both countries have literacy rates way beyond ours. If Bangladesh can raise its literacy rate to 72pc, we need to ask ourselves why we fail to educate our children.

Even the kids who do make it to school receive a substandard education. Indeed, the irony is that in a country with so much unemployment, it is difficult to find qualified candidates for high-tech jobs like the IT sector. And yet whistling up mobs to take the streets is no problem at all.

So Zia has the last laugh after all.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2018


Germany Will Start Changes To Its Immigration Law

November 20, 2018

Germany’s ruling parties have hammered out a new draft law for easing access to employment by non-EU citizens. However, citizens of several nations are expected to be banned from enjoying the new regulations.

Workers fix train tracks in Cologne

Germany’s coalition parties have agreed on a new draft law to ease immigration for workers from non-EU countries, local media reported on Tuesday. The ministries of the interior, labor, and economic affairs have all agreed to the new regulations, a compromise that came in October, ending long-standing disagreements within the governing coalition.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, one of the most significant overhauls will scrap a law that required employers to prove that neither a German nor an EU citizen could be found to fill a position before they offered it to another immigrant.

The new law will also relax restrictions that gave preference to so-called “bottleneck occupations” that had more vacancies than applicants, such as nursing and elderly care positions.

Standards will also be introduced to allow those who complete vocational training in Germany time to find a job.

Some nations to be exempted

However, according to the Handelsblatt newspaper, certain countries are expected to be exempted from this easier access to gainful employment. While the government has not provided a list, these nations are likely to include the countries of origin of many asylum seekers, the newspaper wrote.

The compromise on the relaxed rules resolved one of the biggest sticking points between the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU). The final version of the law to be presented for approval by the Bundestag is set to be hammered out at a cabinet meeting on December 19.

es/jm (AFP, dpa)

Pakistan: Credibility-destroying surrender to the mob by Mr U-turn Imran Khan — When do we see detail and the building blocks of policy and governance

November 19, 2018

We live in polarising, vanquish-your-enemy, with-us-or-against-us, anything to win political times

THE other number is also arbitrary, and borrowed anyway: 100 days. The 100-day mark makes more sense in a presidential system where the swearing-in activates most executive powers.

In a parliamentary system, it’s more staggered.

By Cyril Almeida

The five-year countdown begins the day parliament is sworn in. But the executive only takes form once the prime minister is elected and the executive only really gets going once the majority of the cabinet is in place.

So ‘100 days’ here is just a contrivance, imported from other jurisdictions and with little local relevance. In which case, may as well attempt a 90-day review. At least that number has a bit of local history attached to it.

What have we got at the end of 90 days?

PRIME Minister Imran Khan talks to journalists after laying foundation stone of the shelter home.—APP
PRIME Minister Imran Khan talks to journalists after laying foundation stone of the shelter home.—APP

The latest: the promise of a plan at the end of 100 days, a loopy reference to the ultimate fascist and doubling down on the sobriquet of Mr U-turn. And before that: really just the Saudi mini bailout. And between those things: the credibility-destroying surrender to the mob.

Having turned the volume knob of politics all the way up to 10 and maximum for several years, Imran and the PTI are struggling to turn it down to a reasonable level.

It’s not looking good.

But if it’s not looking good, how bad is it really? In these polarising, vanquish-your-enemy, with-us-or-against-us political times, not-good is both disaster and success — disaster for the bitterly partisan opponent and success for the bitterly partisan supporter.

That is partly — maybe mostly — the PTI’s fault. Having turned the volume knob of politics all the way up to 10 and maximum for several years, Imran and the PTI are struggling to turn it down to a reasonable level. The practitioners of guerrilla-style politics have ambushed themselves.

But if you can get away from that a moment and ask a slightly different question, the PTI is more or less performing as could have been reasonably expected of it 90 days ago. The slightly different question: what could the non-partisan have reasonably expected of this PTI government in its first 90 days?

It is now obvious that the PTI was thoroughly unprepared, maybe even clueless, when it took over 90 days ago. But that’s not really a surprise. And for the sceptically inclined, it had an air of inevitability.

Follow the arc of Imran’s political career. He has been strikingly consistent in how little interest he’s shown in details — any details. If Nawaz has his roads and motorways and Asif his sugar mills and endless land acquisition, Imran has what?

Good or bad, illegal or above board, pet projects or grand policy, there’s nothing you can really find in Imran’s interests that could bring with it an understanding of detail and the building blocks of policy and governance (misgovernance, even).

The closest thing is this business of tree planting, but there, too, where’s the eye for detail — any detail? He hasn’t really talked plant types or the science of forestation or anything approaching an understanding of trees, foliage, soil, and terrain.

The point isn’t really about trees — it’s that even in the thing that he is ostensibly passionate about, Imran hasn’t evinced an interest in the details.

The bigger giveaway is the PTI itself. It has become an electoral juggernaut and that’s an incredible achievement, but the party’s legitimate support is quite obviously built on the personal appeal of Imran, and not a grass-roots political machine.

Each time Imran has had the chance to build a party political machine, he’s shown an impatience and irritation with complex, durable structures and what it takes to assemble them.

So, completely unprepared.

The other part has been adjusting to power — the actual 90 days in office. Completely unprepared both limits what you can do in your first 90 days and reflects your ambition to actually achieve something in the first 90 days.

The gap between what is pledged and what is delivered is always large, that’s just the way of politics. But the gap between what is intended and what is delivered is often smaller. The first 90 days look shabby and poor, but only if true reforms are considered to be part of the agenda.

Take away meaningful reforms, look at the PTI as a status-quo enabler and perpetuator, and the PTI has delivered pretty much the uneven performance of a new government, further handicapped by its status as a first-time governing party at the centre.

Remember, what could the non-partisan have reasonably expected of this PTI government in its first 90 days?

The economic crisis was baked in, the PTI having a choice between looking competent while partially steering us out of the crisis or bumbling its way towards a ratcheting down of the crisis. It’s only a difference of form and perception, really.

And the bludgeoning it took in the streets — terrible, yes, but made to look worse because of Imran’s show of bravado. Others wouldn’t have bothered with the bravado and probably ended up with the same result.

The bludgeoning in the streets was events imposing themselves and fire-fighting mode kicking in early — but not so early as to shock.

So, yes, it’s not looking good for Imran and the PTI. But if it’s not looking good, how bad is it really? To the non-hyper partisan, the PTI is more or less performing as could have been reasonably expected of it 90 days ago.

And now that the silly, arbitrary 90-day mark is out of the way, the PTI can get serious about delivery in a longer stretch up to the two-year mark, which is what matters for re-election — the only real political incentive.

The writer is a member of staff.

Twitter: @cyalm

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018

To turn around, Trump needs a true populist agenda

November 16, 2018

Fighting the deeply felt personal revulsion toward the president.

The midterms suggest that President Trump needs to double down on populism, just not the sort that’s been his signature to this point.

Trump is both too populist and not populist enough. His populism is largely, although not entirely, a matter of style — combative, lacerating, emotive, unpredictable and grandiose.

This sensibility is a central part of Trump’s appeal. It also puts the accent on his personality, which is a double-edged sword, at best.

By Rich Lowry
New York Post

For every Trump voter that it lights up, it reminds a suburban woman why she hates his guts. The Democratic wave in the suburbs was mostly a function of a deeply felt personal revulsion toward the president.

If Trump’s populism is always based foremost on Rally Trump and Twitter Trump, i.e., on the behavior pushing the suburbs away from him, there is no way for him to try to tamp down the yawning geographic and demographic vulnerability underlined by the midterms.

Trump is different from other Republicans on trade and immigration, the issues at the core of his populism, but other than that, he has governed as a fairly typical Republican. His biggest legislative accomplishment during the first two years of his presidency was a tax cut out of Republican Central Casting. But the tax cut proved an electoral nullity, in large part because it was an answer to a question that voters weren’t asking.

Trump knew that it didn’t resonate. He showed an instinctual sense that he needed a genuine middle-class agenda. He talked of a fantastical middle-class tax cut about to be considered. And he insisted that Republicans would do a better job dealing with the problem of pre-existing conditions than Democrats, without offering any supporting policy.

In the absence of any populist substance, Trump was thrown back on the caravan, and more caravan, and his usual mediagenic provocations. This created his characteristic stew of acrimony and hysterical overreaction by his opponents, which pushed both his supporters and opponents to the polls, and — with the exception of some key red-state Senate races — more of the latter than the former.

Trump’s personality is never going to change, nor is he going to become the candidate of the suburbs, but small changes can make a difference. Going into 2020, he needs a populism that is a little less stylistic and more substantive, and one that has crossover appeal to Trump’s working-class voters and suburbanites.

It’s especially important to have a counter to the Democratic House, which will presumably be passing an exemplary progressive agenda on health care, college and wages in the runup to the 2020 election.

One focus should be work. Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute has written a new book, “The Once and Future Worker,” that is a guide to new conservative thinking on how to support a healthy labor market. The Trump team should crib from it freely. A central idea in the book is a wage subsidy for low-wage work.

Another broad category should be the cost of living, especially health care and college. Although you wouldn’t know it from the midterm campaign, conservatives do have proposals to deal with pre-existing conditions. The thrust of the GOP health care agenda is to reduce costs to consumers, a theme Trump should emphasize.

It should be natural to take on the costs of higher education, driven in part by the unintended consequences of federal programs, and promote alternative means of training and accreditation besides four-year college. The higher-education establishment is obviously politically uncongenial to Republicans, and Trump, of all politicians, should want to promote the interests of young people entering the workforce without a four-year degree.

As for Trump’s signature issue of immigration, it would go down easier in the suburbs if he began talking about E-Verify, which puts the focus on the employers rather than the immigrants themselves.

The problem is these are relatively small-bore ideas that don’t lend themselves to Trump’s rhetoric of large claims and easy-to-understand villains. Taken together, it can be an agenda larger than its parts, but it will need to be thought through and can’t just be grabbed off the shelf.

Even if last week’s results weren’t as encouraging to Trump as they appeared at first blush, he is still very much in the game. But unless some exogenous event boosts Trump’s standing, he’s dependent on Democrats once again nominating a candidate unacceptable to the white working class (and not particularly popular in the suburbs, either).

Even then, it could be a near-run thing. Best to deepen and widen his populism in advance of what could be another effort to thread the electoral needle.

See also:

What if Democrats don’t nominate a crazy person in 2020?

Japan Believes Robots Will Take Work Away from Humans

November 13, 2018

People in Japan believe robots are coming for their jobs and will yield a more unequal society where it’s harder to find work, according to a Pew survey.

By the numbers: 89% believe robots will do “much of the work” humans do today within 50 years. 83% think that will widen the gap between rich and poor, 74% think unemployment will grow and just 35% believe robots will create “new, better-paying jobs.”

Image result for robots, photos

The big picture: The vast majority in Japan are pessimistic about where the economy is headed. While 44% now say the economy is “good,” up from 7% in 2012, just 26% say things are better than they were 20 years ago, and a mere 15% say today’s children will be better off than their parents.

The bottom line: It’s not just about robots. Japan is facing severe demographic challenges tied to its aging and shrinking population. And while immigration is rising, it remains low. Just 23% would like to see it increase, while 58% say it should remain the same and 13% say it’s already too high. Still, 59% say the immigrants currently in Japan “make our country stronger.”


What jobs will disappear because of AI?

MR. Sinovation Ventures CEO Kai-Fu Lee (China): Customer service, but not every kind. Customer service with very high-end human touch will stay. Telemarketing and telesales will disappear. Dish washing, fruit picking, assembly-line inspection will all disappear. Paralegals and accountants—but not 100%. Some lawyers who do form filling, those would be replaced.

Creativity-oriented jobs are safe. Working in a construction environment is safe. Cleaning is hard to do for a robot and every house is different, so that’s safe.

See More:

Northern Iraq May Be Free, but the South Is Seething

November 10, 2018

In Iraq: Winning the war, Losing the peace

The world has focused on rebuilding the country’s north after defeating the Islamic State while ignoring festering resentment and poverty in Basra.

Iraqi protesters watch an official building in flames as they demonstrate against the government and the lack of basic services in Basra on Sept. 6. (Haidar Hohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqi protesters watch an official building in flames as they demonstrate against the government and the lack of basic services in Basra on Sept. 6. (Haidar Hohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

BASRA, Iraq—Recent violent protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have brought to light years of suffering by Iraqis in what is known as the economic capital of Iraq due to its vast oil reserves and deep-sea port access connecting the country to the international market. Basra, a predominantly Shiite city, also has a significant minority population, including black Iraqis and Christians. It is Iraq’s second-largest city and has developed a reputation for fostering some of Iraq’s greatest artists. During the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military used Basra as a route for the Kuwait invasion; ironically, a decade later, U.S.-led forces used it as a path toward Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

The current crisis in Basra is not a recent development. It stems from years of inattention from both the international community and the Iraqi government.

The current crisis in Basra is not a recent development. It stems from years of inattention from both the international community and the Iraqi government.

Increased civil unrest in the region has been exacerbated by the government’s focus on defeating the Islamic State in northern Iraq and unequal distribution of resources, making the current situation both expected and preventable. Basra’s once glorious canals, winding through a city previously known as the Venice of the Middle East, are now open-air sewers.

Following successful military operations against the Islamic State, most of the international focus has been on celebrating the liberation of northern Iraq and reconstruction of these areas. With most national and international attention focused on reconciling Iraq’s diverse communities in these liberated areas, Iraq’s predominantly Shiite southern cities have been neglected and their relative stability taken for granted.

Demonstrations and ensuing clashes with government security forces throughout this summer led to 27 deaths by the end of September, as well as the unsolved assassination of the women’s rights and anti-corruption activist Soad al-Ali. These protests, reflecting Iraqi anger about government corruption, also highlighted the lack of job opportunities and poor public services in the southern city. The protests not only targeted Iraqi officials but also foreign powers for their perceived role in supporting ineffective kleptocratic elites, with attacks on both the U.S. and Iranian consulates in Basra.

More than 80 percent of Iraq’s total GDP comes from the oil-rich area around Basra, which, being Iraq’s only province with coastal access, is also the country’s only port for exporting oil by sea. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Iraq’s oil resources are located in Basra province, the budget allocated for the region by the central government doesn’t reflect that wealth.

Indeed, the Iraqi government and the international community have neglected the region while disproportionately focusing development assistance in northern Iraq. The south’s security situation is deteriorating, and poverty levels are rising as a result. This is particularly worrying because many young southerners who fought to defeat the Islamic State are now destitute.

The Old City suburb of Basra (Al-Basra al-Qadima), Iraq, seen on March 1, is a residential area home to many cultural institutions such as Basra’s writing and arts clubs. The neighborhood was one of the wealthier parts of Basra but has fallen into disrepair following lack of investment after the 2003 war. (Ahmed Twaij for Foreign Policy)

The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq temporarily served as a uniting force, with many Iraqis in the south concerned by the threat posed by the terrorist group. This concern famously triggered the call for volunteer fighters by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric—a call answered principally by the predominantly Shiite youths of Iraq’s southern cities, who made up the majority of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Image result for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq, photos

These heavily armed, trained, and experienced fighters are now returning to their home cities in southern Iraq, including Basra, to face deprivation. Confounded by international and local calls for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, these former fighters, having risked their lives to fight the Islamic State, are now being left jobless and sometimes homeless

Confounded by international and local calls for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, these former fighters, having risked their lives to fight the Islamic State, are now being left jobless and sometimes homeless

as Iraq’s debilitated economy is unable to continue providing salaries for an expanding security sector. Their situation threatens ongoing stability in Iraq. And their grievances are aggravated by the fact that reconstruction and redevelopment funds are being directed only toward the land that they risked their lives to liberate.

In this Tuesday, September 4, 2018 file photo, protesters try to storm the governor's building during protests demanding better public services and jobs, in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

In this Tuesday, September 4, 2018 file photo, protesters try to storm the governor’s building during protests demanding better public services and jobs, in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

The United Nations Development Program, in the first quarter of 2018, dedicated upwards of $153 million toward northern Iraq, with similar programs focused on these liberated areas by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Britain’s Department for International Development, and other international actors. Similarly, a lack of development opportunities and governmental corruption prior to 2014 in Mosul and the surrounding areas resulted in the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq.