Concentration of Economic Activity Explains Electoral Results

One interesting aspect of the 21st Century is the rise of the Internet and telecommunication did not lead to a flatter world. People can work anywhere, but instead geography has concentrated. The result in the United States and probably in much of the Western world: very expensive areas with concentrated wealth acquisition creates a stratified society, along with delayed marriage and family formation among the young because they cannot afford housing. A new urban-rural political divide follows.

While one can understand why rich people would find cosmopolitan liberalism like Hillary’s more attractive than Trump’s rude nationalism , the trend seems to be for young educated people who don’t themselves have all that much money (but live in expensive places) to be attracted to relatively unreconstructed Marxists like Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn. It strikes me that Marx was wrong for lots of reasons, but the biggest is because classes under capitalism are not in fact engaged in a zero-sum competition for resources, but in positive-sum economic exchange. Capitalism has been such a success by allowing for that positive sum process of trade and innovation to accelerate and progress. But if the supply of a good considered necessary to a dignified life (like owner occupied housing) becomes almost perfectly inelastic in spite of increasing demand, then the society becomes much more zero-sum after all, with what is good for Peter being bad for Paul. In this way, left wing politics become more analytically correct as the society constrains and limits the ability of capitalism to give people what they say they want- a dignified home and means of providing for themselves.

In the US, it’s still possible for people with some education to shoo the fly out of the bottle, as it were- there are enough jobs in places where it’s still quite cheap to live that to a significant degree living in a place where you “can’t afford to start a family” is a matter of choice. But just as, for the California Democratic party, making housing steadily more expensive over the last sixty years has turned out to be a very good plan, so too conservatives should probably prioritize Affordable Family Formation over tax cuts if they want more people to be conservative in the future.

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