Well, you have to give the man credit: he’s doing what he said he would. One of the things that most frightened me when Donald Trump began campaigning for the presidency of the United States was his promise to use the power of government to prevent individual companies from moving jobs overseas. Now that he has been elected, he’s following through on that promise, even before he assumes the Oval Office.
In a high-profile deal with Carrier, Trump worked with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to secure $7 million in tax incentives for the company from the state of Indiana. While $7 million may not seem like a ton of money for a huge corporation, Trump has also implied that Carrier’s much more lucrative federal contracts would be in danger under his administration if the company followed through with its plans.
Carrier is not an isolated incident. Trump has most recently signaled that he intends to crack down on another Indiana company, Rexnord, which plans to move 300 jobs to Mexico. “No more!” Trump tweeted, echoing his similarly imperious comment about Carrier “This is the way it’s going to be.”
One hates to use words like fascism for fear of being accused of hyperbole, this kind of behavior is the literal definition of the word. I quote from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:
Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it.
There’s no disputing that “domination of nominally private owners” is what Trump is after here. Awarding or canceling government contracts based on whether company owners bow to your will is a hopelessly corrupt method of governance, as is awarding special perks to companies who are willing to play ball.
This last is not even an effective or intelligent way of getting what Trump wants. Senator Bernie Sanders, of all people, correctly pointed out that when you offer tax breaks to companies threatening to move jobs overseas, you’re creating a huge incentive for every business owner in the country to threaten the same thing, hoping to receive a deal of his own. Of course, these threats have to be credible, so some companies undoubtedly will move jobs to Mexico just to show they’re serious. This is the exact opposite of what Trump says he wants, and yet his tactics have ensured that it will happen.
Donald Trump’s problem is he sees everything as a zero sum game, where one person’s gain can only come at another person’s loss. He reasons that when a company moves jobs to Mexico, enabling higher profits, it means that everyone else must be worse off. In fact, that’s not how business works. While it’s true that the American workers who lose their jobs will be worse off, the same cannot be said for all Americans.
A company that streamlines its production processes can make more product and sell it at a lower price, benefitting consumers. The higher profits allow the company to grow and expand over time, hiring more people, maybe more than it originally employed. The increased competition for similar firms requires them to innovate and find new ways to satisfy customers. When companies are allowed to make the choices that are best for their business, there are a lot of behind the scenes benefits to the rest of us, and while they are not as visible as the sad stories of people who lose their jobs, they are no less real. Preventing this decision making, on the other hand, leads to stagnation, not to mention the terrible waste of tax money used to force companies to fall in line.
It’s clear that Donald Trump thinks like an autocrat: “This is the way it’s going to be.” He must not be allowed to govern as one in the name of populism or the false pretense of being a friend to the working man.
This article originally appeared on Conservative Review.