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Why some voters embrace Hanson and Trump

By Toby Ralph - posted Wednesday, 26 October 2016


There's a serious misunderstanding of the intentions of many Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson voters.

Focus groups consistently show that a significant slab of them do not actively support the policies of their candidate, nor do they particularly want them to win. What many supporters seek is a shake-up of the cosy and narrow focus of Washington and Canberra, and they are using candidates like Trump and Hanson as grenades to help achieve it.

Society is changing much faster than the political establishment.

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Globalisation ultimately is making our world more efficient and equitable, although there are - not unnaturally - some pot holes on this path. Productivity can bring freedom from labour, but its distribution is unfair, and adjustment takes society a while to work through.

Former First World "haves" must learn to have comparatively less, or there will be trouble.

Former Third World "have-nots" must learn to have, which can be almost as ugly, but in time this leads to greater expectations of free choice and demand for democracy and the separation of powers. This, in turn, reduces corruption, oppression and abuse of power, while increasing transparency, safety and fairness.

Eventually, this helps lift both global productivity and human happiness.

Global thinking means looking for the best value, so in a world where $100 a month is the average wage, $1000 a month defines the top 10% and $70,000 a year makes someone part of a one in 1000 elite, an Australia manufacturing worker earning more than that is an endangered species. That's why manufacturing in Australia has tumbled from 26% of gross domestic product to about 7% in not much more than quarter of a century.

While we First World countries are importing poverty and exporting our manufacturing jobs, poorer countries export poverty, which has fallen an astonishing 80% in 40 years - arguably one of the greatest achievements in human history.

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At the other end of the scale the rich are getting richer. The new rich are the global class of owners, less tied to country than ever before. Just 85 of them control the same discretionary income as the poorest half of the world population. In America just two, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, control as much disposable money as the poorest 40%, despite having given much of their respective fortunes away.

While both rich and poor win, someone must lose - and today it's the turn of the First World low-skilled worker and their dependents. As their work, hope and expectations are exported, society changes; there's an evaporation of average.

Many sacked workers crawling from the wreckage of the car crash of the unsubsidised part of the Australian manufacturing sector have found themselves unable to get employed again. This has washed through communities causing stress and family break ups, with kids of single-parent families having a 40% chance of being below the poverty line.

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This article was first published in Crikey.



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About the Author

Toby Ralph is a practitioner of the dark arts of persuasion and is a not infrequent member of the panel on The Gruen Planet. He is also the author of Bullets, Ballots and Kabulshit: An Afghan Election.

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