Donald Trump As Bizarre Champion of the Older IT Professional

My blog has strayed a bit into politics in the  past few posts, however I got an email from a reader which said something like, “I don’t give a $h!t about whether Trump is scum, crazy, or whatever … at least he’s against the H-1B which could cost me my job.”  Its understandable that someone might feel threatened when they read others in their industry are being replaced by cheaper younger foreign workers.  In some cases, they are forced to retrain the new worker who will sit in their chair.  I think they believe a number of social contracts have been violated.

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We often do not think about social contracts since many are unwritten.  The old are expected to sacrifice/contribute for the next generation and the young are expected to care for them when they get old.  If you work hard, its expected that society will reward in some manner your commitment.  A nation, which can call on its citizens to defend it with their lives (even involuntarily as in the draft), will look after its own first.

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When social contracts are abandoned people feel abandoned.  Those who faithfully fulfilled these unwritten commitments feel betrayed and confused.  When people feel abandoned, betrayed and confused, the next natural feelings are anger/rage.  In the post WWI period, war reparations were used to punish Germany for that war.  The reparations were designed to cripple and humiliate Germany which many historians site as critical in the rise of Hitler.  Few know that Germany only finished paying off the WWI reparations in 2010!

Faced with hyperinflation and soaring unemployment, people sought refuge in a movement that promoted national pride, and signed up to Hitler’s Nazi party – which used the reparations as a propaganda tool. – Why has Germany taken so long to pay off its WWI debt?

Now, I’m not saying Trump is Hitler.  I thought initially he was hoaxing American society by running for President, but now I see that he’s just some egotistical fame seeker with loads of money.  He’s a buffoonish spotlight seeker with bad hair … but why are people backing him?  My view of history is that when people are existentially threatened (facing the street) they act badly.  Very badly.  Even violent badly. Let me clarify.  Why do middle class or formerly middle class act very badly.  Often the lower classes have are so beaten down and/or entrenched in a sense learned helplessness that they can generally initiate widespread movements.  People who have had power and lose it can be dangerous.  Especially if they feel that unwritten social contracts have been betrayed or perceived to have been betrayed.  Really dangerous if they can call upon the underclasses to rally with them.

Matloff argues that abuse of the H-1B system by companies that give preference to cheaper foreign candidates over equally qualified, and in many cases older, American workers is common across the technology sector, not just among the India-based outsourcing companies but also at the U.S. technology companies that hire international students. – Source: Republican presidential candidate — and immigration hardliner — Donald Trump sends welcoming message to international students | InsideHigherEd

It is understandable that Machiavellian-orientated tech companies have no sense of social contract, respect for citizenship, or even respect for the inherent dignity of their workers.  As it appears with Amazon, its all about the mission and workers are just fuel for building their cultish vision of Amazon-world.  What is not understandable is that politicians are letting them do it.  What is even more understandable is that politicians, especially the Democrats do not understand the consequences of their failure to protect citizens from obvious undermining of the social contract between state and citizen.  Championing poor migrant workers might trump (pun intended) protecting a nation’s citizenship rights, but there is no just case for championing young highly educated immigrants at the expense of older, committed, skilled IT workers.  Unless of course, you don’t care in the least for social contracts.

I roadtrip a lot and in an Oregon campground a police officer and his wife shared our campfire one evening. She explained with some embarrassment the Tea Party stickers on her RV.  “We don’t believe everything they say, but they stand up for us.”  There was no racism and they weren’t buck toothed hill-billies, but clearly people who felt that their lives were threatened and were turning to movements which promised the protect them.  About 1/3 of Tea Party supporters sometimes vote Democrat.  Look at the statistics for membership in this movement and you’ll see who feels threatened.   Yes, there is the caricatured old white Republican segment, but the data also shows 41% female and a that Tea Partiers are generally have more education than the general population.  They also are not doing well given the recession. The main segment, driving the movement is older professionals who feel threatened economically and do not think the current leadership of the Democrats and Republicans are looking out for them.  I’m not saying they are right or wrong, but rather pointing out there is a large segment of alienated middle class people and that I think that is a dangerous for our common future.  I think most of this alienation has been dismissed by the mainstream parts of the political class of America.  Over coffee I’ve heard friends say, “Oh they are just a bunch of idiots who will eventually go away”.  The data says otherwise and history says otherwise.  An alienated middle class is an unpredictable animal.

In my reading of the human condition, I believe that modern social contracts within a democratic framework can easily give way to oaths of feality within non-democratic frameworks when people feel significantly existentially threatened.  When society is bereft of the stability that commonly shared social contracts give or appear to give, many will look for the powerful for protection.  Much has been written on the threat of fascism on the rise in Europe.

I don’t think Donald Trump is the great leader for whom people will cast their loyalty to for protection.  He’s popular because he’s voicing the angst which the middle class and especially older professionals are experiencing.  I would not be surprised if loads of former democrats are supporting him.  They are not supporting the Republican Party or Neo-Conservatism or even right wing economics, but Trump.  I imagine someone thinking, “He’s a prick but he’s saying stuff that I can’t say and he’s someone standing up for me and mine.”

I see Trump as a bellweather of dangerous times ahead if America does not wake up to an alienated middle class and the abandonment of various social contracts which have helped stabilize their society.  You can not expect people to respect societal authorities for long if they have no reason to benefit from doing so.

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This is my second politic post in a month. I don’t intend this blog to be a political one, but given the Amazon Acting Like A Cult story in the news, I’ve been thinking about the big picture that Geezer Geeks live within these days.  Instead of continuing to lament the bastards at Amazon and other of their ilk, I want to instead highlight those who hire older IT workers.

I think it is more fruitful individually for older IT workers to steer clear of ageist tech companies and focus on those who “get it”.  Let’s look for places which see us as the treasure we are!  Dear readers, let me know about companies which value older IT workers and I will highlight them.

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