President Barack Obama warns critics of globalization that the international economy is here to stay and that many jobs lost in the United States are not coming back.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Obama said that globalization and automation would continue to grow and urged older workers to stop resisting change.
“I think that the temptation in that circumstance is to resort to nativism and nostalgia and the sense that these are things that are now out of control and I want to take control back,” Obama said, referring to free trade critics in both political parties.
He asserted that the younger generation of Americans were not “knee-jerk anti-trade” or “anti-globalization,” but that older workers fell into the trap of wanting things to stay the same.
“If you look at surveys, it tends to be older workers who are feeling displaced who are attracted to this notion of ‘let’s pull up the drawbridge and shut everybody off,’” he said.
He suggested that Donald Trump’s supporters in America and supporters of the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were merely frustrated that they were not getting a decent wage. He urged CEOs and company board members to focus on raising wages or face increasing political pushback.
“Over time, you’ll strangle this goose that’s been laying you all these golden eggs,” he warned. “Share the eggs.”
Obama criticized politicians who campaigned in areas affected by factory closures and promised that blocking trade deals would restore their local economy.
“So I think this is where we need to go into those localized areas that are most acutely affected by trade and work with them — not to sell them a bill of goods that somehow if we just stopped trade, all those manufacturing jobs are coming back, because they’re not,” he said. “Automation has displaced them a lot more than globalization has.”