Archive for July 2018

Sadly, You Get What You Asked For

July 15, 2018

President Trump is cruising around the world making a spectacle of himself and sullying America’s image as never before.  His wanton disrespect for truth and precedent combined with self glorification tend to keep the news spotlight on the Donald and overlook the Republican enablers in Congress.

The President is engaged in a high stakes performance.  Should his bombastic, cruel, and shortsighted acts somehow lead to a better life for most Americans (not just the 1/2 of 1%), the President will be rewarded with a second term, no questions asked.  With corporate profits soaring (thanks in part to the unnecessary Trump tax cuts) and average wages still stagnant, there would appear little chance that “good jobs with good pay” are around the corner for most Americans.  My crystal ball does not bode well for President Trump.

But, it will not be sufficient to simply reject Donald Trump in 2020.  Both Houses of Congress will need to be purged and control left in Democrat hands.  The more “conservative” the Republicans, the more hypocritically loyal to evangelicals, and the quiet supporters of the Koch’s, Mercers, and Adelsons, for the good of the country need to be turned out of office.

If this is to happen, Americans must see that President Trump is a special case and worthy of dismissal on his own merits.  The bulk of elected Republicans, however, have acted as enablers and apologists, and as such have forfeited their legitimate claims for reelection.

The Republican lead country is on a path to provide less health insurance to fewer people, to turn its back on fellow Americans with pre-existing conditions, to endorse discrimination if endorsed by religious beliefs, deny woman their right to reproductive health, and acquiesce to income (and wealth) inequality guaranteed to keep the American Dream beyond the reach of most (try 95%) of Americans.  This is what Republicans are responsible for.

President Trump is simply an outlier who is in this commander in chief role for what he and his family can get out of it.

By voting for and too many not voting at all, Americans asked for both Republican controlled Congress and President Trump.  You get sometimes what you asked for.

Have You No Shame?

July 12, 2018

The “made for TV” performance this week by President Trump during the NATO meetings leaves anyone with a heart beat breathless.  How could a grown adult behave so boorishly and so out of touch with reality?  President Trump’s ranting over how much NATO countries spend as a percent of their GDP defies current reality and even more amazingly, historic facts.  Suggesting that Europe rearm demonstrates the President is not a student of history.

During the President impromptu news conference Thursday morning, President Trump referred to himself as a “genius”.  Have you no shame?

In between President Trump’s NATO rants, the President found time to insert threats of imposing new tariffs on European produced automobiles.  Think BMW or Mercedes for starters.  This is akin to the “luxury boat tax” which has virtually no impact upon the sale of yachts.  American style automobiles do not appeal to Europeans while BMWs and Mercedes appeal strongly to Americans who can afford them and will pay the price.

The President’s actions around NATO and trade, at first glance, seem like a death wish.  The consequences of miscalculation would be horrendous for the US security and economy.  But, world disorder combined with economic recession could increase fears across the country.  Many Americans, especially in a time of uncertainty, gain comfort in turning to a strong leader.  (Remember Mussolini is credited with making Italian trains run on time.)  Hmmm.

Could it be that President Trump is a genius?  Could it be in the dark recesses of the Trump mind plays a video of America awarding him a second term simply out of fear from the mess that President Trump has made of foreign affairs or domestic policy?  Could it be that President Trump sees a weary country even welcoming the elimination of the 22nd Amendment.  Hmmm.

Could it be President Trump is a genius even with no shame?      

Happy 4th

July 4, 2018

The 4th of July celebrates the Declaration of Independence, the date when the American Colonies banded together and said “enough” to Great Britain (and its King).  The Colonies sought to become free States and throw off the yoke of power held by Britain.          Happy 4th.

The resulting experiment in a democratic republic built upon certain freedoms (first 10 Amendment) has been hardly a perfect union. In comparison to other nations, however, the United States has grown and prospered enabling Americans to become some of the wealthiest people in the world.  Happy 4th.

The path from 1776 has not been trouble free.  For sure, hypocrisy has abounded.  Just compare the virtues and aspirations of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to the treatment of First Nation Americans (American Indians), slaves and blacks in general, and first generation immigrants from almost anyplace (Ireland to Italy to China to Mexico).  And the idea that now the American melting pot will suddenly see the errors of its past ways and do better today is not going to happen.  Happy 4th.

South America has been a poster child for countries inherently rich in land and resources which seem unable to narrow the gulf between the rich and poor.  These nations have been victims of dictatorships, military take overs, and experiments in communism/socialism, each failing to raise the standard of living of the average person.  Why couldn’t these South Americans simply follow the example from their north?  Happy 4th.

History has also recorded that reasonable access to a nation’s wealth (even if only the perception of access) is a key to stable governments.  If the masses (or the common man) thinks the rules are fair and if he does X, Y, and Z, then he can succeed, the country as a whole benefits.  While the growth in wealth of an immigrant segment is good for everyone, those who currently hold wealth and power normally become frightened.  With fear comes attempted repression.  Hmmm,  Happy 4th

The Donald Trump phenomena which has been labeled the random results of a narcissistic, ego maniac could also be viewed as an allegory of a Pied Piper responding to the call of many Americans fearful that their wealth, status, and property are under threat of being taken by others.  For this worried cut of Americans, the messages contained in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the written record of America’s brightest and darkest days melt away.  These Americans, supporters (or accepters) of President Trump, instead prefer the words of fear, distrust, and outright animus towards others not of their tribe.  Happy 4th.

The Trump populous movement is a clear threat to all Americans’ liberties.  America will not be a better place if women are denied control of their own health, or if it becomes acceptable to use “deeply held religious beliefs” to discriminate and treat others as lesser people, or if tax codes are jiggered to enable the already wealthy become even more wealthy.  More to the point, the cross section of Americans, not all wealthy, that have fallen under President Trump’s trance and think their current life styles are more secure, instead are beginning to walk down the same path that others in other countries have done and unwittingly traded their liberty and freedom for a more authoritarian government that tells them what they want to hear but delivers less than before.  Happy 4th. 

Zero Sum Crowd

July 3, 2018

President Trump’s “America First” gang sees the world as a zero sum game.  One country wins and one loses.  Real simple.  And for the President and his Administration life is all about winning.

Arguably if one goes back far enough in history, where waring marauding nations either conquered their neighbors or were conquered by them, win-lose was the law of the world.  Today, however, the world is far more complicated.  Nuclear weapons have neutralized the larger nations’ ability to simply force their will on other nations.  While larger nations still try from time to time to exert their will on smaller rivals, there is usually an effort to gain broad support first (eg United Nations resolution) for the use of force.  Going it alone is discouraged and if necessary, non-involved nations will band together to sanction economically the offending country.

The world is different in other ways too.  With the relatively free flow of capital, modern  highly productive manufacturing methods, and the low cost of labor in undeveloped countries, goods can be made where ever an entrepreneur wants.  So, as is often the case, someone in America has a brilliant idea on a widget thought to bring high demand in the US.  But where will that widget be made?  The answer is normally where it is the least costly to produce and ship back to the US.

What happens then when President Trump applies his “win-lose” formula to trade deficits?  From his speeches and “tweets”, one must conclude the oceans will recede and other nations will accept more expensive US goods or will sit back and accept US tariffs on goods exported to the US.  Not going to happen.  

The WTO rules have allowed nations to negotiate trade partnerships, including tariffs, which protect certain industries in one country while a different set of tariffs protect other industries in the other trading partner.  The goal remains fair and reciprocal trade. The real world, however, often does not allow for total open, unrestricted trade due to local political conditions (like with steel workers, coal miners, soybean farmers, for example).  Central governments often determine it must take steps to protect certain segments or face voter recall.  Without some protections governments fall and the world order becomes unstable.  

In essence, without a less than perfect solution (the perfect solution being open boarders and no tariffs), unconstrained protectionism will reign and each country will be worse off.  In this real world there are only win-win or lose-lose solutions.  For black-white thinkers where win-lose is the goal understanding that both side must win is a tough sell.

America First is about to get a bloody nose.  As usual the top 1/2 of 1% won’t suffer, but everyone else will feel some unnecessary pain.  Americans have the elections in 2018 and 2020 to eliminate the “zero sum” crowd and get America back on course.