The best letters from The Economist readers in 2016



The Trump revolution

You used so much ink trying to convince us that Donald Trump is not fit for office (“Time to fire him”, February 27th). Do you think the type of person who reads your erudite publication would ever consider voting for him? Not likely. The people who will vote for The Donald are the disaffected bitter-clingers whom the last candidate you passionately begged us to vote for—Barack Obama—disparaged in his campaign. Those same disaffected people haven’t been doing well over the past eight years, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are mad as hell.

Government isn’t working for us. There are few good jobs, we’ve been stuck with a joke of a health-care system, the few rights we still enjoy are under siege and the future looks dim for our children. We are powerless to foment a revolution while working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, so all we can do is register a protest against the Dickensian nightmare that the elites have created for us by voting. Apparently, nobody listened (Republican or Democrat) to what we were trying to say in 2012. Come November, you’ll be hearing from us again, louder and clearer.

MARK KRASCHEL, Portland, Oregon


Dickensian nightmare是指狄更斯笔下描写的在工业革命背景下,西方国家的各种社会问题,讽刺地是,这些问题仍存在于今天的世界:laissez-faire capitalism (Hard Times), class divides (Great Expectations), child poverty (Oliver Twist), debt (Little Dorrit), legal injustice (Bleak House) and tyranny (A Tale of Two Cities).

Irreconcilable differences

Your reaction to the result of Britain’s referendum on the European Union floats roundly inside the grieving London bubble (“A tragic split”, June 25th). More than 17.4m people voted to leave. The distribution of their votes across all of England belies the insulting image being peddled that Brexiteers are angry, semi-literate, racist northerners. The middle-class cognoscenti is in shock, unable to comprehend that the entire nation actually does not share their near-fascistic Weltanschauung. Had Remain won, no one would now be discussing the need to heal a divided nation. Instead it would be “common sense triumphing over isolationism”, “tolerance overcoming hate”, and so on. I voted Leave on the basis of Tony Benn’s inarguable case regarding democratic accountability and I am delighted with the outcome.

STEPHEN HAND, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire


A new entry for the Oxford English Dictionary:

Plebicide n. the self-inflicted ruin of a nation’s prospects or interests via a reckless act of direct democracy.

BRUCE STEEDMAN, St Helier, Jersey


When the plain men and women take into their own hands the question of peace and war with another country, I am perfectly sure, before that very question is decided, there will be quarrels, broken heads and wars between the plain men and women themselves. (Ku Hung-Ming, The Spirit of the Chinese People, 1922)

Why they’re right

A lot of what you said in your leader on trade and globalisation made sense, but those who oppose trade deals are not “wrong” (“Why they’re wrong”, October 1st). Free-trade deals have changed remarkably since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s. Accords such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement are more about protecting the interests of large multinational corporations than they are about reducing costs for consumers and promoting competition.

These deals expand intellectual property rights, increase patent protections and enable foreign companies to sue governments for alleged losses of potential profits in supranational courts through “investor-state dispute settlements”. This is what the protesters are most opposed to: noxious provisions that boost the economic power of large corporations at the expense of democratic governments, smaller businesses and individual citizens.

TOBY SANGER, Economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ottawa


Coping with refugees

The Economist has persistently championed Angela Merkel’s position (“How to manage the migrant crisis”, February 6th). But it is her unilateral action of accepting 1m refugees in Germany without consulting her EU neighbours, her own voters, or her own governing coalition, that has prompted this negative reaction. The enormous sums of money now being promised to Turkey should have been spent long ago in building border controls and screening systems in Greece and Italy.

“The situation today is a mess”, you argue. It is worse than that; it has discredited EU ideals of co-operation, and strengthened those who say it is an undemocratic, out-of-touch bureaucracy, incapable of governing efficiently in the interests of its citizens.



Sovereign claims

The dispute over territory in the South China Sea, you say, constitutes a contest between “an American idea of rules-based international order and a Chinese one based on what it regards as ‘historic rights’ that trump any global law” (“Courting trouble”, July 16th). You note that America has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but do not explain why. In 1982 the Reagan administration reasoned that the convention cannot take priority over domestic legislation that declares American sovereignty over the extended continental shelf. This is not entirely different from China’s claims of historic rights.

The Reagan administration was also uncomfortable with the compulsory dispute-resolution mechanism proposed by the convention, which is a similar argument to the one China put forward when it rebuffed the recent court ruling that rejected its claims in the South China Sea.

Therefore, the dispute is less a clash of “two world-views”, as you suggest, but simply China taking cues from America in attempting to demonstrate its own exceptionalism.

KARTHIK SIVARAM, Stanford, California