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Gwynne Dyer: The Populist Revolt - Its Causes and Cure

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Algonquin College - Pembroke Campus

1 College Way

Pembroke, ON K8A0C8

Canada

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Algonquin College Speaker Series Presents…

Join us on Monday, January 21, 2019, at 7 p.m. @ the Waterfront Campus when freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and lecturer Gwynne Dyer, explores The Populist Revolt - Its Causes and Cure.

Nationalism is back, and it’s very angry. Populists have already come to power in three major countries, and some people even fear that we are seeing a re-run of the 1930s. We all know how that ended.

In Europe, the visible driver of the populist revolt is immigration, although widespread unemployment and stagnant or falling incomes feed the anger. In the United States it’s simpler, in a way, because job losses are really the big issue -- even the "immigrant threat" is mostly expressed in terms of lost jobs.

But Donald Trump can’t “bring the jobs back”, because most of them never left the country; they just vanished because of automation. The US official unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, but that is a fantasy. One-sixth of American men of prime working age are not gainfully employed; they just don't show up in the statistics. And there is a plausible forecast that automation will destroy 47 percent of existing American jobs by 2033.

What got Trump elected, more even than racism and immigration, was the anger that comes from the misery and humiliation of joblessness. The key votes that pushed him over the top came from the Rust Belt, where the automation started destroying assembly-line jobs 25 years ago. Trump has no solution for automation, and more extreme populists may come after him unless the anger is extinguished. But at least his election has focussed our attention on the problem. Automation really will kill the jobs, and not just in the United States.

The main political task for the next generation (post-Trump) will be to ensure that those without work have an income they can live on, and don’t lose their self-respect. One way that is already being widely considered is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). It would put money in everybody's pockets with no strings attached, whether they are working or not -- and since everybody gets it, there would be no stigma involved.

The anger that drives the populism comes as much from the humiliation that people feel when they are unemployed as from the actual financial pain they are suffering, so any solution must treat both aspects of the problem. UBI might be the answer, although there is still much research to be done. Basic income pilot programmes are already running in a number of countries.

UBI may turn out to be the least revolutionary answer to the revolutionary change that is coming in the amount of work available. Everybody would be free to top up their UBI with earned income, and half of today's jobs will probably still exist in 2033. Indeed, there may be a lot of mix-and-match, with most people working at least part of the time. There would still be millionaires, too: UBI is a floor, not a ceiling. But big change is coming, and big solutions are needed.

Gwynne Dyer’s newest book, “Growing Pains: Surviving the Populist Wave”, was published in April 2018 by Scribe in Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.


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No, all are welcome.

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Please contact 613-735-4700 ext. 2756 with your questions.

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Algonquin College - Pembroke Campus

1 College Way

Pembroke, ON K8A0C8

Canada

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Refunds up to 1 day before event

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