The real replacement practices

This concept of replacement theory where white workers are subject to a planned replacement by black and brown workers has been around for decades. In fact, the fascists in England were using this replacement theory in the early 1960s, of course, blaming Jews for its orchestration. In essence, the theory says white workers’ jobs are being systematically replaced by immigrants and those other people who don’t belong here. Sound familiar? Yet, this replacement theory well preceded the 1960s.

It is all subterfuge to create fear and blame others for your problems. Fear has been used to sell ideas and manipulate people for a long time. Overstating an inflammable cause is one way to do that. The fear of the other overlooks the deeper problems for loss of jobs and disenfranchisement. The key reasons for disenfranchisement are the actual replacement practices that we need to address. These are not some theory, but deployed routinely and recurringly in practice.

There are two key reasons, which impact all workers of all colors:

– technology improvements which reduce the number of workers needed, and

– CEOs chasing cheaper labor to lower the cost of production

The latter cause manifests itself in offshoring, outsourcing, or migration of factories. For example, the textile industry has left a trail of closed plants as the industry moved from England to the United States first in New England and then to southern states. Then in the 1980s, the heavy migration occurred to China and Mexico and eventually to Vietnam and Bangladesh searching for cheaper labor. One company that comes to mind went from 86,000 US employees in 1980 to about 4,000 today, with the rest abroad. That is not an isolated example and it is not just manufacturing work. It is call center, IT, analysis, etc. The US based insurance industry has been shipping claim forms for review to Ireland as the Irish were, on average, more literate than Americans, even before technology made it easier to get the Irish to review them.

The former cause has been occurring routinely as well, but has accelerated once again with the advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Yet, a robot need not look like a humanoid to be effective. Computer driven machines and robotic appendages have evolved over time. I watched a “60 Minutes” episode about ten years ago, which demonstrated a programmable robotic machine that went for the price of a car to be used by small businesses. The tasks need not be complex to improve efficiency, so these cheaper machines could replace a half-dozen workers.

So, when you hear immigration is a problem, that does not address the main issues. Of course, the immigration system could be improved and opportunities to do so were not voted on after some agreement even by some of the most vocal critics. But, there are some industries and municipalities that need more workers. Those workers need to be trained or trainable, so some may come from abroad and some from here.

Where we need to focus our attention is working with new and old industries in transition and community colleges to train new workers. The coal industry has been on the demise for a dozen years, but some politicians have been clinging on to its protection. I have said several times, whether or not you like Senator Bernie Sanders, he was the only presidential candidate in 2016 to stand up in front of coal miners and tell them the truth – your jobs are going away, but here is what I plan to do about it.

In this vein, some towns are dilapidated by closed factories that moved. The forward thinking towns invested in bringing new workers from whereever they could. They developed initiatives to reinvest in the area using the brainpower of the new and old blood mixed together. They developed incentives to draw younger adults to their towns. And, it worked.

The issue of workers needing more opportunity and investment is where we need to focus our attention. This is a good example of a group of PR people coming up with an issue, blowing it way out of proportion as the problem, and putting it on a bumper sticker. “Build a wall” some might say as the panacea. Ironically, when the major proponent of that comment accepted a deal to get $25 billion for this wall in exchange for making DACA law, he was talked out of it. This was his number one issue, but he said no after saying yes. Why? He knew it would not solve the problems and his bluff had been called.

Our problems are complex and have multiple factors. One of the tenets of the book “Built to Last” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum is most of America’s major problems over time were solved in concert between some combination of government (federal, state and/ or local), venture capital, and private industry or philanthropy investment. We won’t solve our problems unless we identify them and their many causes. We won’t solve them by listening to opinion hosts and candidates who are trying to scare, who really don’t want to solve anything other than getting someone elected.

We will solve them by looking at the facts, coming up with a plan, getting buy-in and funding and making it happen. That is hard to put on a bumper sticker or define in a two-minute sound byte by an opinion host.

17 thoughts on “The real replacement practices

  1. Note to Readers: Speaking of replacement workers, one story the former president does not want to get out is his use of offshore workers to make his branded clothing. Another is when he was ordered by a judge to preserve this artistic facade on a building he bought in NYC and move it to a museum. After the judge’s order, the former president had illegal aliens tear the facade down in a masked act of vandalism. The latter story came from one of his biographers, while the former was a query by David Letterman when he came on the show.

  2. Keith, this is a good overview of a very complex problem. One book I recommend is The Sum of Us by the brilliant Heather McGhee. She documents so well the way that the powers that be use the zero sum game to persuade people that they lose when others gain. Rather, “we all do better when we all do better.”

    It’s important to note how many specific programs the Biden administration has put in place to provide better jobs and higher wages for Americans and to reinvigorate manufacturing here. Job losses have plummeted; job gains have increased significantly. This story is clear but gets lost in the coverage of inflation, where corporate greed has been a growing contributor.

    • Annie, that sounds like a good read. Do you remember the movie by Ron Howard with Russell Crowe called “A Beautiful Mind?” It was about the schizophrenic genius John Nash who won a Nobel Prize in Economics. His theory which is used in practice still is called the Nash Equilibrium. In essence, he said if we focus on everyone doing better, then the pie is larger and we all win. This flies directly in the face of zero-sum game economics and ties into multinational agreements. Keith

  3. Excellent post, my friend! You are so right … rather than address the real issues this nation is facing, some politicians and political commentators prefer to point a finger of blame in all the wrong directions. There is no panacea, but the ‘bumper-sticker’ solution is to blame somebody, be it Blacks, immigrants, LGBTQ, women, Democrats, or cute chihuahua puppies. This ‘replacement theory’ nonsense is yet another attempt to instill ‘fear of other’ into the voting public, and sadly it seems to be working on a large number of people. That, my friend, is the problem as I see it … far too many in this country are unwilling to think, to research, or perhaps simply don’t have the education to know where to find answers. The internet has made it all too easy to promote a conspiracy theory and get people onboard with it. There are no easy answers here, but we the people really need to sit up and take notice, to do our homework, to recognize a ridiculous lie such as Jewish space lasers causing the west coast wildfires! Thanks for the great, thought-provoking post, dear Keith!

    • Jill, many thanks. The outrageous lies are bothersome, but the ones which cause the greatest pain are the more routine ones. Such as Trickle down economics being touted yet again as a reasonable plan, when five studies have proven it does not work and the state of Kansas about went bankrupt trying it and had to abandon it. Keith

      • Ah yes … Reagan’s ‘trickle down’ theory of economics that has been disproven so many times. It’s rather like a bouncy ball that just keeps coming back, gets swatted out of the park, but within a few years bounces back in again. To coin a line from a song we’re both familiar with … “when will they ever learn?”

      • Jill, even its name defines why it won’t work. Its first name was the “Horse and Sparrow theory.” It meant feed the horse (the rich) and what they excrete the sparrows (everyone else) would eat. This is one key example of what I say about my former party, the GOP – their true mission is to give more money to rich people and help them keep it. Everything else is window dressing to appeal to voters while they do that. They want conservative judges to rule in the favor of corporations and the rich when sued by their customers, eg. Roe v Wade attacks are window dressing to appease the evangelicals. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: I mentioned Thomas Friedman, whose best selling book was “The world is flat.” A sequel was written by economist David Scmick who advised two Republican and one Democrat presidential candidates, two who won. His book is called “The world is curved” and focused on how we invested in big projects. He said there tends to a mix of government, venture capital and private investor money, but they vary in order depending on the infancy of the idea. He also noted that “innovation is portable” so it is essential to keep innovators here in the US, as the initial labor usually surrounds the innovator.

    • Janis, thanks. This binary view is short-sighted. Please refer to my response to Annie regarding the Nash Equilibrium, where we all do better if we focus on everyone winning not me winning more than others. Keith

  5. A wise and solid post Keith.
    As any ragged socialist will agree with (at great length), a company seeking profit will always employ cheapest labour, which will be the folk at the bottom of the social rung which will be the immigrants or traditionally exploited. So the fact that a community or part of a community perceives itself to be unemployable and blames those being employed is playing the victim card and holding a big pity party.
    No matter how many ways you try and you cannot rationally blame another community unless that community is steeped in illegal acts (I would cite by the very definition active paedophiles as an example).
    Regrettably this tendency is a flaw of Human Nature and is prevalent around the world. That said it cannot be accepted as simply as unfortunate as it will fracture a nation.
    Take care

    • Roger, here in the states, if you want to stop illegal immigration, stop employing them. To many businesses, led by even Republican voters, hire illegal aliens to cut cost. When a major textile company declared bankruptcy and the company officials were speaking to an audience of employees they needed a valid Social Security number to get unemployment benefits, 1/3 of the audience rose and left. The landscaping, food processing, roofing, construction, harvesting industries are built on the backs of illegal immigrants to cut costs. It is one of the greatest hypocrisies, as those guilty are the business leaders who come in all political persuasions and ethnic groups. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: Conservative pundit Ramesh Ponnuru wrote an excellent op-Ed piece called “Great replacement theory is really a grand delusion.” In it, he correctly notes just because a mass murderer spouts off about his rationale only means he believes this BS, not that we should. He also points a critical finger at Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and opinion host Tucker Carlson saying they are saying something that “is irresponsible and wrong” as they have over-simplified a stance of Democrats on immigration “to the point of falsity.”

  7. Those who don’t want to accept responsibility for their own failings or shortcomings are always going to blame someone else.

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