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The Retired Investor: Economics According to Trump Supporters

By Bill SchmickiBerkshires columnist
Inflation, government spending, immigration, jobs, and fossil fuels are just some of the areas that are motivating partisan politics as we enter 2024. Both sides are adamant that their approach is correct. Is there a common ground? 
In this land of deep divides, neither side seems willing to listen or understand the position of those who disagree. Today, I am giving my two cents on explaining why former President Trump's supporters believe their positions are best for the country and them. The hope is by deepening your understanding of the "whys," the willingness to compromise might also be enhanced.
The former president has the backing of 67 percent of registered Republicans, 71 percent of conservatives, and 55 percent of those who do not have a college degree, according to a recent CNN poll. By overwhelming numbers, they believe Trump will do a much better job running the economy. Given those numbers, I ask myself, how can so many people be wrong? What motivates these pro-Trump voters on the economic front?
For years, I have been writing about the increasing inequality in this country. For decades, as governments and politicians lauded the benefits of global trade, American jobs were exported overseas. The country's middle class was whittled down. The Rust Belt grew wider and the divide between the haves and have-nots became frightening and apparent to everyone. I warned that the consequences of this trend would lead to great change.
Enter Donald Trump and the advent of populism.
Liberals tend to dismiss Trumper's stance on many issues as not worth discussing. Starting with their leader, Trumpers are enmeshed in a tangle of racism, bigotry, outright lies, and conspiracy theories. Their anti-immigration position, for example, is the result of racism, even though many who back that position are black, Asian, and Latino.
Was the anti-immigration movement simply motivated by a desire to preserve American jobs while reducing crime? Over the last several years, as immigration policies have been tightened by both the Trump and the Biden administrations, the unemployment rate has dropped to historical levels. Whether that trend is coincidental or connected is immaterial to more than half of those Trump supporters without college degrees. To them, it is simple — immigration down, employment up.
Corporate America bemoans this trend. Scarce labor has driven up wages, and jobs for even the least educated have been plentiful. And it is not just for white people. More job opportunities for minorities, women overall, and single mothers have been climbing as have jobs for teenagers. All of them have been beneficiaries of the tight job market.
Better still, due to labor shortages, companies are even reconsidering college degree requirements in certain positions. So, while the 10 percent of the highest income earners may complain about the higher costs of nannies and gardeners, meat packers, farm workers, drivers, and other manual laborers can now buy gas and feed their families.
There are other areas where Trump supporters have major beef with the economy. Inflation, the Federal budget, and fossil fuels come to mind. In my next column, I will examine those areas and more. If this column has raised your ire and your fingers are just twitching to send in a rebuttal buttressed by the facts, you are missing the point. 
We need to know what drives the differences between us. Today, your facts mean nothing or everything depending on the source and who is listening. Take the time to understand the other side and find common ground. Otherwise, we are all on a train to nowhere and none of us will like the last stop.

Bill Schmick is the founding partner of Onota Partners, Inc., in the Berkshires. His forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at bill@schmicksretiredinvestor.com.

Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold, or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.



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