It was hard to do. But I actually watched a portion of Trump answering questions about Syria and trade, and the part about trade especially made my head hurt.

“They’re stealing our jobs. Mexico is stealing our jobs. China is stealing our jobs…”

I keep hearing about Trump being a genius, but he appears more of an extreme simpleton to me.

In the land of the free, they aren’t “stealing” anything. There’s this concept called creative destruction that is used to describe the natural sort of ebb and flow of things and ideas through markets. Stuff comes and stuff goes, and some go around and around. If one happens to look around and see more of the destruction part than the creation part, there isn’t any need to look elsewhere, the problem is almost entirely where one is looking.

It isn’t exactly a productive thing for one to aspire to be a buggy whip maker. Now that nearly everyone who needs an automobile has one, those buggy whip makers need to find something else to do.

Now I suppose that if there isn’t anything for the buggy whip makers to do except complain that Henry Ford stole their jobs, maybe big daddy Trump might just go step on Henry Ford, admonishing him for destroying. But do we really need buggy whips more than automobiles?

I am sure you see the problem here. If not, just imagine yourself using one of those buggy whips for your daily commute, or on a trip to the grocery store, or to the emergency room if needed.

I understand that I am talking about progress and not manufacturing of things we still use elsewhere. But that part of it isn’t really that important. The important part of the example is the question of what happened to the buggy whip makers and nearly everyone who was involved in the equestrian sector when the automobile splashed into existence. I think it was probably painful… But they found other things to do. It’s a natural part of life to not sit around pining over spilled milk and to move on especially when there are bills to pay and grumbly stomachs to feed.

So now I am getting to a part that has consumed much of my existence since my life was so rudely interrupted by the Great Recession. And man, I’ve felt the pain of job prospects drying up, just when you need one the most while being thrown into the mix with everyone else looking for jobs too. It feels as if everything you’ve worked so hard to become has been ripped away leaving a huge void to stare back in the mirror. And I wondered where everything went, both the old stuff and the new, because there was nothing to go to.

None of that, of course, had anything to do with China or India, or any of those other places. It was a perfect storm of bad economic policy that sacked the existing and prevented the new from showing up. Though not nearly as severe as eight years ago, it’s still alive and well today because policymakers on both sides (supply and demand) are rather insular and don’t ever seem to learn the right lessons because every calamity has a preferred scapegoat.

If we don’t have the new stuff it is because it either too expensive or problematic for the new stuff to happen here on the scale that we need it to happen here. And rather than looking around trying to pin the blame, I wish for once, the policy wonks would just take a real long look in the mirror because we really need to find more positive ways out of this mess than slapping tariffs on things in an attempt to prop up the untenable things and causing more harm than good.

The only real way out is build people up, not tear them down.