Is Donald Trump “Fighting The Last War”?

As a history nerd, I’ve learned that a consistent mistake generals have made throughout the centuries is preparing to fight the last war instead of looking ahead to how the world has changed.

Is Donald Trump doing the same thing?

His campaign rhetoric made it sound like he wants to return to an earlier era, I’d say about the 1970s, when there were plenty of well-paying manufacturing jobs and coal was our primary fuel source.  But remember the change part.   The best way I can think of to show this is to compare the top five Fortune 500 companies from 1970 and now.  In 1970, they were:

  1. General Motors
  2. Exxon Mobile
  3. Ford Motor
  4. General Electric
  5. IBM

Here are the top five today:

  1. Walmart
  2. Exxon Mobile
  3. Apple
  4. Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett’s insurance and investing conglomerate)
  5. McKesson (the largest U.S. pharmaceutical distributor)

Trump says he wants to bring back those manufacturing and coal-mining jobs.  We have lost more than seven million factory jobs since manufacturing peaked in 1979.  Yet the vast majority have been lost to automation.  According to the Dayton Daily News, “General Motors, for instance, now employs barely a third of the 600,000 workers it had in the 1970s.  Yet it churns out more cars and trucks than ever.” (“Thieves Who Took Lost Factory Jobs? Robots”, Nov 6, 2016, page D6).  You can bet this trend will continue.  In ten years, how many truck drivers will be unemployed due to self-driving vehicles?

Trump also says he wants to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Based on the latest statistics, it appears that the illegal immigrant population in this country has actually fallen in the last couple of years, and is currently stable.  Also, the number coming from Mexico is declining and more illegals are coming from the rest of the world.

So there are two quick examples that the world may be changing faster than anyone, including Donald Trump, realizes.


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