December 03, 2016

Trump and Mother Teresa: Separated at Birth?

I saw a sour grapes headline in the WaPo lamenting that Trump got more credit over saving a thousand jobs than Obama did with millions.
There's likely some truth to that given Obama's auto bailout, and I think the lack of credit is due to a combination of things:
  1. If something doesn't get properly publicized, then it didn't happen. And Trump is a thousand times more a salesman than the aloof Obama. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it...
  2. People want stories, not statistics. Without individual faces and a names attached to someone whose job was saved it doesn't break into our consciousness.
  3. Most people would prefer to see actions taken, even if the actions prolong economic pain. I'll never forget when John Updike reviewed a book on how FDR's policies lengthened the Great Depression. Updike basically said that because FDR cared, and was trying, that was worth more than shortening the Depression. You could see that as saying that love matters more than economic pain.* Or that people are more governed by emotions than logic (God made us humans, not robots.) Or that people are just much more influenced by stories than statistics.
Free trade has done more to lift millions of Chinese and Indians from poverty than all the charitable programs put together, and yet you never see any acknowledgement of that from any source: not any Christian church, not America-first Republicans, certainly not pro-labor Democrats.

Charity begins at home, they say, and so touting the benefits to Chinese and Indians of free trade isn't going to be too persuasive understandably.

* - one of the complaints about St. Mother Teresa was that she showed love to the dying but not adequate medical care. 

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