President Trump was elected on a wave of protectionism by semi-literate white voters who have lost track of reality. It is fact that USA has lost manufacturing jobs to China and other countries. But the reason for flight of jobs is less due to cost saving competitive edge and more due to Trade Union movement. Trade Union loved to create chaos in the name of getting bigger share of pie and demanding easier jobs (actually full pay for doing less and less work). Protectionism does not help in economic growth. America has forgotten that it is the the immigrants who made it great and brains from across the world migrated to the land of dreams. It offered them freedom to be what they wanted to be which was its main attraction. Now, fear and hatred arising out of loss of jobs and losing white supremacy is causing steps which it will regret later. We Indians still remember how Kolkata lost its supremacy as commercial hub in wave to pro-Bengali movement aimed to throw Bihari migrants out.
India understands it best as it has been victim of protectionist policies which stifled its growth till 1991. We Indian still remember License raj and nobody can claim to understand the evils of protectionism better than us. Trump can learn lessons from the downfall of Kolkata, which used to be commercial hub of India till emergence of a communist state government in West Bengal. Immediately after winning elections in 1977, the communist party kick-started a campaign to gain control of all trade unions across Kolkata through the most potent tool of Unions-Strikes. Kolkata’s factories were closed down in a string of strikes. Companies like Dunlop Tyres, Bata, lost their competitive edge to their competitors because of the strikes, which caused their competitors based outside Bengal to steal a march over them. Bengalis kept dreaming that if all Bihari’s and others were kicked out, they will get those opportunities without considering their inability to do those jobs.
But in reality, Bengalis never got those jobs and Trade Unions lost because businessmen found alternatives and money moved out of Kolkata. Fall of Kolkata lead to flight to cheap and trained manpower to Delhi and other northern cities. Emergence of National Capital Region as manufacturing and fastest growing city is due to Kolkata and its protectionist policies combined with trade unions movement going overboard.
USA under Trump is going the way Kolkata went, which is the path to oblivion. Trump has been unleashing protectionist policies expecting manufacturing jobs to shift back to USA. But it is not going to happen as the businesses are not going to come back to Trade Unions as willing victims for slaughter. Even if the factories come back to USA, they will prefer automation and not hiring the semi-literate whole racists ie. Trump Voters. But, the protectionist policy combined with ban on Muslims will result in flight of brains away from USA.
USA has always been the land of dreams and worlds best brain flew to USA for better opportunities and a land where ability was respected with equality and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and environment, which was best in the world for their kids to grow up. Now, these immigrants and the business will seek destination favourable to them. We feel that downfall of USA will lead to growth of another destination for best brains of the world. Let us see which nations emerges as the next happening destination, will it be Canada or Germany or India. Canada seems to best bet but I will like to keep my fingers crossed and end by saying let us wait and watch the way.
*Sr Company Secretary & Corporate Lawyer. Worked with Fidelity, Microsoft & Jabong.