If anything, globalization increased the cost of meat in America
Returning to this quote from Kevin Williamson's well known article from National Review:
The manufacturing numbers -- and the entire gloriously complex tale of globalization -- go in fits and starts: a little improvement here, a little improvement there, and a radically better world in raw material terms (and let's not sniff at those) every couple of decades. Go back and read the novels of the 1980s or watch The Brady Bunch and ask yourself why well-to-do suburban families living in large, comfortable homes and holding down prestigious jobs were worried about the price of butter and meat, and then ask yourself when was the last time you heard someone complain that he couldn't afford a stick of butter. That change happened a little at a time, here and there.
In contrast, it's clear that the cost of butter was not a major financial concern for well-to-do families in the 1980s, nor is it a concern now. But another of Williamson's points needs to be addressed: the effect of globalization on meat prices.
Globalization started to kick in during the mid-1990s, and by the late 1990s, it was well underway, as evidenced by the WTO protests in Seattle during 1999. What happens when you look at historical food prices in the U.S. dating back to the 1980s is that the story the data tells is the exact opposite of what Williamson is trying to convince us of.
We'll start with that stick of butter. Not only was the cost of butter irrelevant in the family budget during the 1980s, but the nominal price of butter was essentially constant at about $2/pound throughout the entire 1980s (meaning its real price when adjusted for inflation was declining), and it even declined down to nearly $1.50/pound by the mid-1990s (representing a large decrease in inflation-adjusted terms). But then, after 1995, the price of butter skyrocketed from $1.50/pound up to about $3.50/pound over the past 20 years. That is almost three times faster than the average rate of inflation (50%) during this same period.
It isn't just butter. All types and grades of beef have seen prices explode since the mid- to late 1990s. The following chart shows the price of ground chuck since 1980, and it is representative of what has happened to beef in general:
Between 1980 and 1999, the price of ground chuck was approximately constant in nominal terms, while the general inflation rate was 100% (i.e., average prices doubled). Thus, the real cost of ground chuck in the pre-globalization era declined by 50% during the '80s and '90s. Since the end of the 1990s, the nominal price of ground chuck more than doubled, while the average inflation rate was just 42%.
Same thing happened with other food groups: flour, eggs, cheese, most fruits and vegetables, various cuts of chicken and pork, and so on. There are exceptions, to be expected, but trolling the time trends for food prices since the 1980s tells a fairly consistent story.
Keep in mind that during the 1980s and early 1990s, the nominal minimum wage increased by about 40%, and the median family income almost doubled. Thus, if food prices were staying constant or declining in nominal terms, the food-buying power was increasing rapidly.
Since the end of the '90s, the minimum wage has been increased 40%, and the median family income went up by about the same amount – both in nominal terms. Meanwhile, the nominal price of ground chuck and other types of beef doubled, as did the prices of flour, and bacon, and eggs. That is a large decline in food-buying power.
Across a wide range of foods, real prices were in significant decline in the pre-globalization period of the 1980s and early 1990s. After that, they started to rise for many foods. That is hardly a feather in the cap of globalization.
In fact, the ratio of the cost of ground chuck to the minimum wage rate is higher now than it was in the mid-'80s, meaning it is less affordable for low-income families, not more. The same trend has taken place for the ratio of the ground chuck cost against the median family income. Again, less affordable now than 30 years ago.
The two most fundamental needs are food and shelter, and globalization has certainly not reduced the real costs of these. Average Americans know this, and that explains the rise of Donald Trump. It isn't based on some hate-filled xenophobic and racist ideology, as clueless leftists and the other low-IQ-bating trans-spectrum Trump-haters claim; it is based on two to three decades of cumulative household economic experience and wisdom by normal everyday families.
Dismiss the silent majority, and you lose elections – simple as that.