The “Protected” ones

Wall Street Journal

Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected

Why political professionals are struggling to make sense of the world they created.

By

Peggy Noonan

Feb. 25, 2016 8:02 p.m. ET

We’re in a funny moment. Those who do politics for a living, some of them quite brilliant, are struggling to comprehend the central fact of the Republican primary race, while regular people have already absorbed what has happened and is happening. Journalists and politicos have been sharing schemes for how Marco parlays a victory out of winning nowhere, or Ted roars back, or Kasich has to finish second in Ohio. But in my experience any nonpolitical person on the street, when asked who will win, not only knows but gets a look as if you’re teasing him. Trump, they say.

I had such a conversation again Tuesday with a friend who repairs shoes in a shop on Lexington Avenue. Jimmy asked me, conversationally, what was going to happen. I deflected and asked who he thinks is going to win. “Troomp!” He’s a very nice man, an elderly, old-school Italian-American, but I saw impatience flick across his face: Aren’t you supposed to know these things? 

In America now only normal people are capable of seeing the obvious.

But actually that’s been true for a while, and is how we got in the position we’re in.

Last October I wrote of the five stages of Trump, based on the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most of the professionals I know are stuck somewhere between four and five.

But I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection. It is a theme that has been something of a preoccupation in this space over the years, but I think I am seeing it now grow into an overall political dynamic throughout the West.

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.

One issue obviously roiling the U.S. and western Europe is immigration. It is THE issue of the moment, a real and concrete one but also a symbolic one: It stands for all the distance between governments and their citizens.

It is of course the issue that made Donald Trump.

Britain will probably leave the European Union over it. In truth immigration is one front in that battle, but it is the most salient because of the European refugee crisis and the failure of the protected class to address it realistically and in a way that offers safety to the unprotected.

If you are an unprotected American—one with limited resources and negligible access to power—you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans were afraid of being called illiberal, racist, of losing a demographic for a generation. The Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive to use it as a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.

The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.

Mr. Trump came from that.

Similarly in Europe, citizens on the ground in member nations came to see the EU apparatus as a racket—an elite that operated in splendid isolation, looking after its own while looking down on the people.

In Germany the incident that tipped public opinion against the Chancellor  Angela Merkel’s liberal refugee policy happened on New Year’s Eve in the public square of Cologne. Packs of men said to be recent migrants groped and molested groups of young women. It was called a clash of cultures, and it was that, but it was also wholly predictable if any policy maker had cared to think about it. And it was not the protected who were the victims—not a daughter of EU officials or members of the Bundestag. It was middle- and working-class girls—the unprotected, who didn’t even immediately protest what had happened to them. They must have understood that in the general scheme of things they’re nobodies.

What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better.

You see the dynamic in many spheres. In Hollywood, as we still call it, where they make our rough culture, they are careful to protect their own children from its ill effects. In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement—charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.

This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

And a country really can’t continue this way.

In wise governments the top is attentive to the realities of the lives of normal people, and careful about their anxieties. That’s more or less how America used to be. There didn’t seem to be so much distance between the top and the bottom.

Now is seems the attitude of the top half is: You’re on your own. Get with the program, little racist.

Social philosophers are always saying the underclass must re-moralize. Maybe it is the overclass that must re-moralize.

I don’t know if the protected see how serious this moment is, or their role in it.

Frank Gue’s comments on Ms. Noonan’s blast:
I hear Ms. Noonan, loud and clear.
I recognize myself.  I am a “protected”  one.
But I have an alternative explanation of how it is with me.
For two years I worked at a radio station, joined up for three years in WWII, then worked for 36 years for a multinational,
Westinghouse Canada.  My overriding personal objective was to contribute to the productivity of Canadian industry, creators
of value  in the country I love, my beloved Canada.  I succeeded with Westinghouse in a way I could not have done alone:
we made heavy electrical equipment which you use when you turn on a light or a washing machine.  I wrote a hard cover
book that was called “a breakthrough” and uncounted articles on factory management, politics, and education.
I gravitated toward what Ms. Noonan dismissively calls “the protected”, not because I recognized any such category or worked to
join it, but because I worked hard, honestly, ethically, and with a conscious desire to be productive.  I say that because I am too
old to indulge in false modesty.  I am “protected” because I wanted, worked for, and got “protection” for myself and my family from
some of the worse vagaries of modern life.  I have always been a non-political small-c conservative.  There are millions of us.
The “unprotected”, if you wish to use Ms. Noonan’s totally unwarranted over-simplification, have had the benefit through the years
of my carefully targeted charitable work and money.  I have an open offer: I’ll publish my charitable receipts if he will publish his.
So my wish for all is that they join “the protected” for all the right reasons.  The upper and lower layers of “the protected” we will
always have.  Ms. Noonan is correct, however, when she says that the Trump phenomenon is the revolt of an oppressed segment
of the population, a segment that always exists in every age.   Every now and again that oppressed segment refuses just to put up
with it.  We can only hope that their well-warranted revolution remains a peaceful one; and that, if that results in a President Trump,
we can learn to put up with it; and that he can learn to identify the right things things he must do and discard the wrong things
he must not.
Have a good day.
Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng., (Professional Engineer)
2252 Joyce St.,
Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
905 634 9538

 

Payday loans – “Unable to pay the bills”

 

Filename             SpecRePaydayLoans

Date:                   20 Feb 16

By:                       Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,

2252 Joyce St., Burlington, ON  L7R 2B5    905 634 9538

For:                      <helliott@thespec.com>

Re:                       Predatory Lending, Feb. 17 Spec  722 words

Suggested headline:

What to do when “unable to pay the payday bill”, Feb. 17 Spec

Payday loan firms emerged 25 years ago, unregulated.  Hamilton’s current good initiative on payday loans is better late than never; and the city can now get ahead instead of 25 years behind.  Let the City warn borrowers in the tax letters and in media ads to point out some facts and give helpful advice.

 

The facts:

 

*  At a compound interest rate of 22%, in only three years a debt nearly doubles;  and that takes only days if the interest rate is in the hundreds of percent charged on some payday loans.  Clearly, some financially unwary families are paying these  rates, as cited in your Feb. 17 article (“Unable to pay bills”).

 

*  Statistics Canada says 53% of Canadian adults are unable to do arithmetic – unable to subtract or add two numbers.  Such adults would not understand this quick doubling of debt.  And even some of the remaining 47% of the citizenry who are mathematically capable may not notice this pitiless predation, either.

 

The advice:

 

*  If you can’t do this arithmetic, get help.  There are several excellent credit counsellors in the area, or perhaps Grandma can help, because she got old-fashioned schooling and can do arithmetic.

 

*  For a month, record the total of everything you spend, by cash or credit card.  Sort these records into food, entertainment, gas, etc.  Compare their total with your take-home income.  You will find that your expenditures exceed your income, because that’s how you got into this debt hole.  As the saying goes, if you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is: stop digging.  And so –

 

*  Get your expenditures below your income.  Starting with the biggest, identify expenditures that you can reduce or eliminate.  Here are a few:

*   Auto expenses are a horror – tires, hundreds of dollars a pair.  Can you walk?  Use public transport?  Share a ride?  Could you sell the car, since insurance, depreciation, repairs and taxes cost thousands per year?

*   Eating out is always a biggie: can you resume home cooking?

*   Do you need to eliminate occasional impulse-buying?   Make a shopping list and stick to it, buying nothing just because it’s there and you like it and you can put it on the card.

*   Do you really NEED that newest smart phone or those game apps?

*   Can your family visit a science centre instead of a hockey game?

*   Continue this process with clothing, spring plantings, etc. until you’ve accounted for every category.

*   Don’t live like a hermit – just don’t blow so much money on so much stuff!

 

*  Calculate the money per month you need to get ahead instead of falling behind.  It’s a tricky calculation.  A credit counsellor will help you.  Your banker may, too.  Or else check how much your debt increased in the last three months, average that and add perhaps 25%.  Add the result to the reduced “expenditures” above.  If the result is more than your income, take a deep breath and go back through “Get your expenditures below your income” again.  You have no alternative.

 

*  Don’t try to save until your debt is retired: you can make no better investment than retiring debt.

 

*  Make a household budget for food, gas, etc. that uses up your income.  Stash the cash in named envelopes if that helps.  When the envelopes are empty, stop shopping; use-up what’s on hand, it’s probably in the freezer!

 

*  Discard your credit cards.  If you absolutely must keep one for travel etc., ensure that it is used solely for purchases you would have been making anyway, not just because you have the card.  Always pay down the card on or before the card’s month-end.  Time big credit card purchases for early in their month – you get to use their money for a month, which is a nice change!

 

*  Tot up your outstanding current debts and figure the biggest amount that you can spare to pay them down, biggest first, and much more than the $10 “minimum payment” shown on the bank’s credit card statements.  Their arithmetic is wrong.  Yes, the bank’s arithmetic is wrong; your interest payments are nearly always higher than their $10 “minimum payment”, and so your credit card debt would grow indefinitely even if you charged nothing more and paid only their $10.00 per month.

 

Stick with it and remember: $1000 removed from your expenditures is a full, tax-free, $1000 pay raise for which you didn’t have to ask the boss!

 

– 30 –

How Universities are helping students with “invisible”disabilities

From: Gue Frank [mailto:frank.gue@cogeco.ca]

Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 2:07 PM
To: Maclean’s Letters
Subject: How Universities are helping students with “invisible”disabilities

 

Filename:       Macleans re disabilities Feb 10

Date:              10 Feb 16

For:                 Letters, Macleans

By:                  Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng., Professional Engineer

2252 Joyce St., Burlington ON L7R 2B5 905 634 9538

Re:                  How universities are helping students with

“invisible”disabilities

 

Dear editors:

 

A question not asked in this article is:  Which of these “disabilities”, especially depression and anxiety which seem to be the big ones, are due to the fact that the public education system didn’t educate those members of the public?

 

Many of our young people are well spoken, numerate, and ordinarily knowledgeable in science.  This is thanks to the dedication of educators who ignore the diktats of the Education Ministries in most provinces, and who instead stand before their classes and teach their subjects.

 

But many, sadly, are “disabled” because they have been subject to “whole language”, “spiral (math) curriculum”, “learning by discovery”, and other educational monstrosities. They cannot write or speak an accurate sentence (“Me and him was … “), read anything (three words per minute for one Grade 11 “graduate”), count 75 cents lying on the counter, or understand the first word that they are told about climate science.

 

Yes indeed, it must be “depressing”, giving rise to great “anxiety” and low “self esteem”, to find that one cannot cope with the ordinaries of everyday life, much less the demands of post-secondary education.  The public education system has a lot to answer for.

 

Yours truly,

 

Frank Gue.

2 Deg. C. – that magic number

 

Date:      3 Feb 16

By:          Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,

Burlington, ON

Did you ever wonder where the magic number “2 Deg. C.” came from?  See below.
Pasted in from the Huffington Post on Feb. 3 2016:
The 2-degree threshold emerged in the 1970s [1975, actually – FG] , when Yale University economist William Nordhaus published research suggesting damage to economic growth and environmental quality can intensify once the global average temperature rises by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
 
“He wrote that … ‘this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years,'” Kelly Levin, senior associate in the climate program at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., told The Huffington Post. “So it wasn’t about a proposed target or that there was a ‘safe’ level below this — just that it did not have a recent precedent.”
 
Subsequent papers and studies have supported the 2-degree idea, but many scientists argue that it is essentially an arbitrary threshold. Now, world leaders are prepared to deliberate over the threshold at the climate conference in Paris.
 
 Four notes about this:
 
1.  Other authorities have said that prehistoric global temperatures have been as much as 9 Deg. C. higher than now.  Take your pick.
 
2.  Somewhere months ago in a reference I have lost I read that Nordhaus picked 2 Deg. C. by intuition!?!?
 
3.  2 Deg. C. is a very specific number which, in all reason, should be the result of some kind of defensible, logically developed formula and cause-effect, reproducible computation.  In fact, however, in light of the above, 2 Deg. C. is clearly a number out of the air having the most tenuous of relationships to any science or experience.
 
4.  We must therefor rush off and spend trillions of dollars without having the least idea how to do what or how to measure any result.
 
Clever, wot?