Sunday, January 08, 2017

2017 is all about Donald Trump !

On 20th January 2017, unless something really drastic happens, Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States. As SMU's only law student who supported the Republican ticket in 2016, I promised my classmates a dinner buffet if Trump won the presidential election the day before the election results were announced. I figured that there was only about 16% chance Trump would win over Hillary Clinton but lo and behold, it suddenly dawned on everyone that the party would indeed take place !

To understand the mechanics of a Trump victory, I strongly suggest that a disappointed liberal or a triumphant conservative should try to read JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. It not only details the disintegration of a a southern white town in the US, it chronicled how a hillbilly overcame life's obstacles to graduate with a Law degree from Yale.

Here are some things which jumped at me :

a) Try not to equate a Hillbilly with an Ah Beng

The first thing a Singaporean reading the book would instantly equate a Hillbilly with an Ah Beng. Try not to do this. Even our worse off Ah Bengs are not even half as tragic as a Hillbilly living in a town where a major plant or mining operation has ceased to exist.

Hillbillies have to deal with drugs in their everyday life and are effectively segregated from more successful whites from coastal towns and cities. I definitely credit our own government with desegregating the races when in the 1960s.

The books also raises an interesting point relevant in Singapore politics. Welfare which targets non-working poor may make life better for them, but it enrages the working poor who are struggling and faced with higher taxes. This is something we need to think about before we give in to welfare schemes here.

b) Yale Law school is light-years ahead of my own law school experience

There is another food for thought for law students here. JD Vance's encounter with Amy Chua the Tiger Mom was featured in the book and would make a great reading for all local law students.

While Yale costs 4-5x what I pay for my own program with SMU. The lengths Yale professors would go for their students is almost unfathomable in Singapore.  After pulling strings to help the author, Amy Chua went as far as to dissuade JD Vance from a clerkship because she felt that he has a great relationship with his girlfriend and should not prioritise his career over their relationship. As I am a big fan of the Tiger Mum, I am glad to read an anecdote which humanises her.

Other stories of Yale alumni coming back to campus to assist juniors in preparing for law school exams is also make me envious. But on balance, I would still prefer my fees to be lower, thank you.

c) Marines look after their own kind

The author would probably still be languishing away in Middletown if it wasn't for his stint with the Marines. The Marines straightened him out and may actually be that magical "conscientiousness" raising pill for many lost young men.

Marines really look after their own kind, which is very unlike the SAF. A senior Marine would go as far as to assist a junior when buying a car so that his money goes a longer way. This allows the warriors to stretch their dollar when their monthly paycheck is $2,000 SGD at most.

Anyway, I'm going to end with making some predictions on the Trump presidency :

a) Trump is very likely to reduce regulation faced by Wall Street. This is in line with business interests.
b) Trump is like to succeed in building more infrastructure during his stint. But this infrastructure will not include a Wall of Mexico.
c) Trump is less likely to start a trade war with China. If you think about it, businesses in China and the US would hardly benefit from a trade war so I doubt this would happen.

Will I be right ?

Only time will tell...

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