Trumponomics

Donald Trump - Caricature

Photo courtesy: DonkeyHotey

(Read in Donald Trump’s voice) ‘JOBS JOBS JOBS. It’s gonna be yuuuuuuge’. Economic policies of former presidents focused on various areas, Ronald Reagen focused on ‘trickle-down’ supply-side economics (famously known as Reaganomics) while Obama was attentive to increasing taxes on high-income American families. For Trump, it’s all about jobs, jobs and jobs. Oh and it’s also about tax cuts for the rich, but he doesn’t want to amplify that yet.

Trump’s election campaign suggested that switching the jobs from the immigrants to Americans to correct the ‘imbalance’ is paramount on his agenda. His recent activities suggest the same. There have been speculations that the current leader of the free world is on the verge of modifying the famous H1B visa, lowering the quota from 85,000 to 65,000. The L1 visas won’t be spared either. Quite catastrophic, if you are an Indian techie craving to live the American dream. This might indeed be effective in achieving what Trump wants, but he has no idea what he has to pay for it.

Here’s where Trumponomics is flawed: Donald Trump is a businessman. Businessmen like Trump tend to be singleminded, with the goal in sight but the underlying effects in order to pursue the goal are not considered to be a concern. He wants to modify the H1B visa? Great. Has he thought about the fact that Silicon Valley is what it is because of H1B? Hasn’t he realised that there are jobs that only the holders of the H1B and L1 visas can fulfil? Michio Kaku, one of the scientists who crafted the famous ‘String Theory’, stated that anti-immigration modifications made to the H1B could cause the collapse of the entire scientific establishment of America. The words collapse and scientific establishment together in a sentence would seem scarier than it sounds.

What’s even worse is the effect on education and research institutions. Since Trump’s other plan to cut taxes is likely to be executed, the budget for public education institutions are set to decrease and these institutions will take a big hit. Private universities won’t take that much of a big hit since the previous elongated periods of excellence will help to withstand a few years of turbulence and eventually prevent destabilisation. For-profit education institutions are likely to increase and may disincentivize Americans to pursue higher education. Funds for research is likely to be cut down, and the decrement of foreign talent to the USA wouldn’t help either. Scientific discoveries will decrease. It would also be harder to pursue an education in the United States for foreigners and hence diverting them to study in countries like New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Honk Kong.

And what does he pay for with all this? Jobs. Jobs that most Americans might not even be able to take over.

It is interesting to watch America on the verge to destroy the comparative advantages it has with Trumponomics. The influence on the rest of the world due to Trumponomics is yet to be seen and could be favourable or unfavourable. Who knows? Countries like India managing to keep its talent at home might improve the local scenario and also, who knows? America’s contribution to the global scientific community (which is a lot) might decrease to a very very large extent. This can lead to the halt of major scientific advancements for elongated periods.

Celebrity power and Politics

Jay Z, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus. The combination of these celebs gives you the ultimate star power which equates to a larger fan base, and a larger fan base equates to more influence, right? Not really. Not all the time.

Upon reading the above, you might have very well guessed that I am addressing the loss of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States elections. Let’s move from the US to another part of the world, to an important state in India and more importantly, where I’m from, Tamil Nadu. Ironically, politics in Tamil Nadu has many similarities with the conduct of politics in the US. The current political status in TN (Tamil Nadu) is quite turbulent, where the ruling party (AIADMK) remains divided as I write this post, quite similar to the Republican Party. The existing state of political affairs of TN are not a concern to this post, rather, we need to travel back in time to 2010 when one of the most loved and prominent celebrities, a comedian actor by the name of Vadivelu, campaigned for one of the major parties in TN, the DMK. The Tamil people loved Vadivelu for his brilliant one-liners and applaudable acting. However, the people’s affection for Vadivelu failed to perform, and DMK faced a severe defeat to AIADMK (the opposition party) in the 2010 elections.

It would be quite irrational to state that celebrities have no sort of influence when it comes to politics, but the extent to which they are influential could be up for debate. I personally believe that celebs are unlikely to affect the political waves to a large extent. The result of political events is paramount to each and every human being in that respective territory, and the average taxpayer does not want to be told who to vote for from some millionaire who regularly ends up in the daily gossip column. Also, on a few occasions, it can be said that celebrities showering their support for a political candidate may show the candidate’s weakness. ‘Can’t he/she stand for herself?’  would be the imposed question. The fact that Trump declared that he needed no celebs to win the elections might have made him more appealing to the general public. Perhaps that was one of the many factors that showed the justification for many swing voters to then affiliate to Donald Trump in the US elections.

The recent immigration ban received sharp criticism from various celebrities, with many of them voicing out their anti-immigration-ban opinions in award ceremonies. However, these opinions were categorised by many as ‘just another person whining about Trump’ (Notable mention: Piers Morgan told actors to sit the fuck down about politics in The Real Time with Bill Maher), and the star-power had no major play. In fact, people who are inclined to Trump started hating them more.

One could easily argue against my stand with the emergence of Ronald Reagen and Donald Trump, who were once celebrities (Trump still is, though). It should be noted that these former celebs did not become leaders of the free world simply because of their star power, but due to various other factors. Trump for instance, might have emerged as President due to his America-first and other vetting policies. Reagen on the other hand, due to his political realignment in the US in favour of conservative domestic and foreign policies.

All this makes us question about how influential celebrities are when it comes to politics. Celebrities might have been very influential with your clothing line or the diet plan you have or even the kind of dog you want to adopt, but politics is a different field. It has become increasingly evident with recent events that celebrities are not so effective with politics.

Jallikattu protests: reopening the gates to a larger fact

Are you ready to challenge me ?

Photo courtesy: Vinoth Chandar

A week full of protests all over Tamil Nadu surely has got a lot of attention, and here is the good part; it’s not only intra-state. The aftermath of the protests has informed many about the unity of the  people of Tamil Nadu, and even more, it has inspired other States to stand up together as one crowd for what it believes in synchrony, as observed from the recent protests in Andhra Pradesh to attain the status of a ‘Special State’. Setting aside unity, the protestors in Tamil Nadu displayed heavy resistance, no matter how they were wooed, showing that the Indians in Tamil Nadu know what’s best for them. ‘Government intervention? Who the hell needs that?!’ The rewards certainly weren’t posthumous, the protests didn’t stop until the united crowd were informed that an ordinance had been passed. Although the protests ended violently, it is more than clear that anti-national and political elements had come into play.

Here’s something that was amplified but only a few noticed: the idea of social proof. If a group of people perform an activity, it motivates another group to do the same. How many of us have done things because we’ve seen other people doing it? Most of us. We live in a world where most of us humans need social proof to perform an activity. Same applies to these jallikattu protests; with one state standing together for what it believes in and is willing to show high resistance, it automatically motivates the people in another state to do the same. If we Indians stand as one united crowd to develop our respectives states (and eventually our nation), it instills fear in the state governments, and eventually corrects the disoriented system. It is not only the affairs of tradition that can come into the picture, but other issues can be tackled, such as education and rural development.

Aim

It’s common for people to contemplate on how to form a perspective of any specific issue; whether to take a moralistic view or to fall into the realm of pragmatism causes most of the hassle. It is in my personal belief, that we need to find the right balance between the two just like we do for many other things. If we were to illustrate in a Venn Diagram, I’d say the intersection of the areas of the Circle of the Moralistic View and the Circle of the Pragmatic View is what we require when tackling any issue. Let’s look at this affair: imposing vegan diet as the only kind of diet. It is tempting to look at this issue with an end point of a moralistic solution, that is the prohibition of eating meat because animals are being killed, but this issue needs pragmatism into play as well. Lets cut the cliché argument that goes along the lines of ‘We eat chicken because we get protein’: it is getting clearer day by day that there are various vegan protien-rich alternatives, which brings us to the central but an unpopular immoralastic argument: ‘We prefer meat because it is tasty’. This argument accounts for a basic human desire, which is pleasure. The prohibition of eating meat would take away the pleasure humans count on when they eat food. The decision to not prohibit meat because doing so would take away the simple pleasures of life, could be looked at as a view which is purely pragmatic.

So which view offers the best solution? None. As stated above, the combination of both these views would be optimal. If we were to deal with this specific issue with the combination of both the views, we would say that more should be invested in making vegan products taste like meat, while traditional meat products are carefully regulated and bought down to a minimum.
Hence, the purpose of this blog is to discuss trending issues with a combination of both the moralistic and the pragmatic view. Though this blog’s title might look contradictory, it’s rather aimed at the fact that the relative importance given to pragmatism to modern issues is very low. Therefore, this blog aims to increase the level of pragmatism and find the right balance.

PS: I’m Manickam Valliappan, and I just finished my A levels. I could tell you more, but you wouldn’t care.