Donald Trump, Elijah Cummings, Maxine Waters and the Neoliberal Abandonment of America’s Industrial Cities

In a recent fit of pique, after having been attacked for weeks by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on various matters, including the treatment of illegal aliens at detention centers, President Donald Trump struck back. Cummings should pay attention to his own district and the conditions of the citizens who he is supposed to represent, Trump said. This exchange was followed by denouncements that President Trump is a racist. A similar situation occurred last year with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and the President.

Certainly Trump has a point. During the long terms in Congress of both Maxine Waters (in her 15th term), who has represented South Central Los Angeles since 1990, and Elijah Cummings (since 1996) in Baltimore, conditions in the areas they represent have gone from bad to absolutely wretched. Denying this fact is a complete waste of time.

In Los Angeles, as has been widely reported since November of last year, there’s a full-blown safety, security, environmental, humanitarian and health crisis – complete with Medieval-era diseases. Homeless encampments are visible throughout the city. But if there was any doubt at the level of crisis, homelessness statistics released in June show the number of people living rough is up 16 percent in the city to an official number of nearly 60,000. Most citizens believe the official number is underreported and that the actual number may be much higher. The crisis is so great, so morally unacceptable, and so mishandled by L.A. leadership that there’s now a call to recall Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

In Maryland, the office of Gov. Larry Hogan said homelessness had decreased nearly 10 percent, while Baltimore’s Health Care for the Homeless, an organization that works to end and prevent homelessness, said that it’s difficult to truly know the number of people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore. But according to the Health Care for the Homeless website, the organization will care for 12,000 people this year. The population of Baltimore is about 610,000.

While unemployment in Baltimore is somewhat higher than the national average, one of the most telling statistics of the health of the city is the homicide rate. Murders are up 16 percent versus last year, with 171 murders in the city; often there are multiple shootings in a day. The murder rate in Baltimore is higher than that of Guatemala and El Salvador, two countries with high murder and violence rates.

Bad situations clearly in both Baltimore and Los Angeles. However, most of these conditions must be attacked and managed by local and state governments, and it is unfair to hold the Congressional representatives directly responsible. That said, the elected representatives to Congress should be putting pressure on the federal government for resources and on local governments to apply for those resources and to push the applications as hard as is legally permissible.

But what, realistically, given globalist Neoliberalism as the default belief system of both the Republican and Democratic parties, could Congress members Waters and Cummings do about the appalling situations in their districts?

Globalist Neoliberalism demands employment go to the lowest paid workers in the world. In fact, with this belief system, the worst thing that can happen to a country is for its workers to rise in skill, education and living conditions to the point that they begin to demand higher wages, better working conditions and civic amenities.

Higher pay, better benefits and improved working conditions – things we term progress – are now the kiss of death that will get a manufacturing plant moved from Baltimore or South Central Los Angeles to Mexico, China, Vietnam or India. Under this globalist neoliberal “free trade” anti-protectionist system, workers who would be other than slaves are simply left jobless.

Under the globalist neoliberal structure, if work must be done for some reason in-country, the workers needed, in the case of low-wage work, will be imported illegally. In the case of slightly above subsistence-level work, they will be imported legally with visas that in effect make the worker the property of the employer. Those include the H-1B visa and the OPT program. The H-1B originally allowed employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, but now has dual intent, meaning visa holders can petition for Green Cards. OPT is a temporary program that allows foreign students to work. Both programs crowd out American workers.

Waters and Cummings represent cities that were industrial hubs of America just 30 years ago. Thanks to the Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama administrations and the globalist neoliberal policies, those areas – and others like them across the country – have been mostly abandoned by employers. Where employers are present, such as in the garment manufacturing area of Los Angeles, the labor force is largely illegal. City police and building/zoning inspectors have all been directed by policy to ignore the not-up-to-code factories and the presence of thousands of illegal alien factory workers. In many of these factories, the staff live literally on the factory floor, essentially as slaves.

None of these workers provides a multiplier to the local or national economy, as a factory worker in the same job 30 years ago would have. They do not buy or rent homes. They do not buy a new car every four years. They don’t buy back-to-school or summer clothes for their children. They don’t even make it off the factory floor to McDonald’s. They provide no money to the local government for sewers, for road maintenance, for lighting districts, for police and fire protection and for pensions. They depress local area wages. Through no fault of their own, they are a vortex of the death spiral of inner-city economies and local area governments.

It used to be that the Democratic Party at least had a wing that stood for the needs of American citizen employees. That ended with the election of Bill Clinton to the White House. Clinton and his Blue Dogs decided they were not going to lose any elections as Democrat Jimmy Carter had to Republican Ronald Reagan. They would not be outspent. Devoid of any ideas, but with the will to power, they sold out to globalist corporations, eventually primarying and crowding out all truly Progressive Democrats who didn’t agree 100 percent with the globalist corporate agenda.

This is why Democrats in the House and Senate are seemingly more concerned about the plight of illegal alien workers hundreds or thousands of miles from their districts, than their own citizens. Their donors have told them what they are allowed to be concerned about. They are allowed to be concerned about the donors’ low-wage workers, not citizens who need jobs paying living wages.

Calling President Trump a racist against this backdrop is of course cynical. Trump is a lot of things – callous, rude and crass – but he is not a racist. But also cynical is Trump raising these inner-city conditions with no well-thought-out series of programs to address the destruction of American cities and the working class by globalist Neoliberalism.

In fairness, the President has attempted to close the U.S.- Mexico border to illegal crossers and raise tariffs. But, that’s not enough. Trump needs to walk across the aisle and reach out to ALL of the American people on a program to re-employ American workers and rebuild American cities through protectionist policies that place the needs of American citizen workers ahead of the wants of globalist pirate capital.