Posted tagged ‘mexico’

The Week That Wasn’t

June 10, 2019

Today begins a new week.  What can President Donald Trump do this week to top his claims to fame last week?

The big news this past week was the President’s United Kingdom visit where his “Trumpiness” displayed his lack of sophistication without yielding any bully-ism towards Mexico. 

Pundits have observed that most world leaders are counting the days until November 2020 when they hope Trump will become a one term President.  To their credit, these leaders have figured that unabashed flattery would serve them best until the 2020 elections.  To their discredit, foreign leaders do not have the intestinal fortitude to call a bully just that.  Calling Trump out serves much more than just easing anger or frustration.  Calling Trump out serves to inform all who will follow (and there will be others), that bully-ism and scoring easy points by not observing past precedents does not fly.

It will be a few weeks before Americans will learn whether Trump’s reckless threat to place tariffs on Mexican imports has resulted in any improvement in reducing the influx of Latin Americans refugees.  Had Trump pulled the trigger and imposed the tariffs, the consequences would have sealed his one term status.  But if anyone has watched Trump over these past 18 months, one would have known he was bluffing.  (And so did the Mexican Government.)

Why does the President insist on this brinkmanship?

Could it be that Donald Trump has serious mental limitations?  Could it be that his narcissistic nature drives him to bully others and when they are not looking for him to (you pick the word) steal, rob, or misappropriate, values locked up by contracts, long standing precedents, or widely accepted standards of fair practice.  Hmmm.

What can be sure, this week will be prime time for the President.  My guess is the Chinese trade situation will get center stage.  Regrettably for the President, the Chinese already have his number.  Regrettably for Americans, Trump’s solution for trade with China will cost each American a lot of disposable income.  Being a “one trick” act has its limitations. 

But then, according to the President Americans don’t understand the value of tariffs.  

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Smoke Screen

May 31, 2019

For many who have lived in New York City, knowing what Donald Trump meant, was a no brainer.  His shenanigans were well know from tabloids and call in talk radio. 

If one paid attention to the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, there was adequate information to gain understanding that a rudderless narcissist was about to bloom. 

And the 2016 Presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton should have answered any questions about how shallow, hateful, and self centered, candidate Trump was.

Seventeen months have now past in Trump’s Presidency, and no reasonable person should remain deluded that Trump will grow into the stature demanded by the “office”.   With Democrats in control of the House, the country is safe from any draconian legislation, and that is good.  Americans (or at least 65% of them) can sleep at night with the belief that 2020 will bring the end to Trump’s American nightmare.

But Americans must also come to realize that Donald J Trump has served as a “smoke screen” for Team Red’s special interest.  Trump the circus master has kept the focus on himself and thereby kept the American collective mind off the recognition that Republicans, funded by special interests have supported the President and enabled his most destructive behaviors. 

Now the President has made a move to bite the second hand that feeds these backers.  First the trade war with China makes no practical sense but now threatening tariffs on Mexican trade boggles the mind.  The ramifications will recoil across the country including most “red” States and therefore GOP legislators.  Not only are tariffs the wrong tool to “fix” the influx of Latin American refugees, Trump’s actions are a clear indicator to all other nations just what being a “friend” means to Trump… and his Administration.

The threat of tariffs as high as 25% on all Mexican exports to the US is so egregious that GOP legislators have no excuse to not act to stop the President. 

  • First, the tariff will be a tax on all Americans as prices of Mexican imported goods rise. 
  • Second, should Americans substitute automobiles or watermelon or avocados from Mexico with the same products from a different country, the economic impact upon Mexico could be devastating.  Does Trump and the GOP want a failed State of 80 million citizens on the southern border?

Trump’s motivation behind the tariff threat is unclear at this time.  If Americans are talking about the border and tariffs, however, they are not talking about the Mueller Report.  Hmmm.

The Last Word On The Wall

February 6, 2019

In a democracy there is a vote, and who ever receives more votes, carries the verdict.  In the case of the Trump monument “wall” (big and beautiful) the President apparently thinks his vote is all that is needed.  Fortunately, the “wall” the President says, will be the key difference in boarder security (with the Wall Americans are safe, without, big problems), also requires Congress’ vote to appropriate the funding before the President can build it.  The Democrat controlled House has said “no” (actually even stronger, “no way”).  So, is that the end of this idea?

In Trumpian “smash mouth” style, the President forced the closure of government by refusing to sign government funding legislation and held out for 37 days.  One must think that the President knows something that everyone else does not.  Why would President Trump close about one third of government functions and interrupt the lives of several hundred thousand government workers causing many to have to seek food through charity?  Any sensible President would immediately realize that the “cost” government workers would bear could not justify the unproven and unsupported benefits the President claimed would flow to Americans in general.  

Consider, the “caravan refugees” go to legal ports of entry, not isolated stretches of the border, in order to seek asylum, no wall needed for them.  Drug smugglers, for the most part (like 80%) use legal ports of entry too and simply hide drugs in otherwise normal trade in order to gain US entry.  And most migrant workers or anyone else just wanting to live in the US, enter legally (like with a tourist visa), go where they wish, and simply “over stay” their visa.  Hmmm.

The last word on the Wall, that President Trump would understand begins with “no” and ends with “make me a sweet offer”, like comprehensive immigration reform with paths to citizenship.  That in not going to happen, since the same people President Trump is attempting to please with his “wall” are even more against comprehensive immigration reform.  Hmmm.

Practically speaking, the “wall” is not going to happen at least until the 2020 election, and then only if the President wins and Republicans control Congress.  Not likely.

So maybe the last word is “no”.

How Can One Be So Wrong On Trade?

June 16, 2018

With a Republican (or Democrat) Administration, how could one not expect trade policies would flavor someone?  Normally the favored ones are some sector of the US economy that votes Republican (or Democrat), such as farming, financials, or manufacturing.  With Donald Trump, there never is any free lunch so the question is, “who (which group) is getting the help from Trump’s tariff wars?

When one considers the steel and aluminum tariffs against Mexico and Canada, which domestic group is Trump thinking about helping?  Could it be US steel manufacturers, or dairy farms, or farm interests?  And why exactly is (once more) is NAFTA so bad?

While you are thinking of that answer, consider, what is the purpose of the simultaneous attack on China trade balances?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to define one set of goals before embarking upon another?

The simple answer, says President Trump, “ there are grievous trade infractions with China and these must be rectified”.  But is a trade war wise, or better said, are trade wars on two fronts wise?  Hmmm.  How about trade wars globally and include Europe and Southeast Asia?

President Trump has proposed that the trade imbalance is so wide with China, in any “trade war”, the US would easily win.  Hmmm.

I wonder whether any of President Trump’s advisors has given the President a “casualty” assessment.  While killing all the Chinese trade offenders, how many US trading partners will die too?

The infrequently discussed contribution to the US economy by trade with China is the imported costs of so many utilitarian items… such as underwear, shirts, pants, nuts, bolts, etc… where an equivalent American made product would cost 50-100% more.  In economic theory, that import advantage of low cost items should allow the US to employ its manpower and resources in other more valuable products and services, which in turn could be exported yielding even greater profit.

Each of President Trump’s tariff initiatives have been met by an equal and opposite (in value) set of tariffs against US goods humorously made in “red” States.  Soy beans, Bourbon, aircraft, and automobiles have been named as starters.  There is about one more week before these tariffs and counter tariffs take effect.  Presumably this pause should allow for further negotiations.  Which side will blink first?

These Trump Administration’s trade skirmishes could be all about misdirection and diversion of the public’s attention.   But what would be the purpose of misdirection?

How about the Trump Administrations primary focus on 2020 reelection?

Would you think that keeping the “issue of the day” new and different each day be advantageous if an Administration has no strategic goals and clueless about what domestic or foreign issues to tackle.  Hmmm.

Without a doubt, the President’s trade strategy is on course to increase consumer prices (tariffs are taxes ultimately paid for by Americans) and as importantly, will not increase the total number of jobs. Trump’s tariff war is misguided or he has an ulterior motive, or both.  The Trump trade policy, as currently being demonstrated, will result in no successes… at least over the next few years (maybe three).  The tactic of fighting trade on the basis of “east-west”, democratic governments-non-democratic, or strategic versus non-strategic ally is a losing strategy to begin with. 

While any one trade dispute might be legitimate, feuding with friends and foes alike at the same time, effectively neutralizes any legitimacy the US might put forward in dispute negotiations.  Internationally, naked protectionism is the only conclusion a reasonable person can reach.  Domestically, hopelessly inept if viewed in economic terms or calculatingly insincere if viewed politically.

Hmmm.

Trump’s DACA

September 6, 2017

A lot of people, (some estimates most Americans), have found President Trump’s decision to end DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals) using an executive order, unfathomable. Why would a President signal all Americans (as well as the world at large) that values and facts no longer count in determining American Government policies. Hmmm, like the Paris Climate Agreement or the Trans Pacific Partnership?

What could be the greater purpose for tuning against an estimated 800,000 DACA registered but illegal Mexicans?

Conservatives have long objected to Mexicans entering the country or over staying their lawful visa. Arguments have ranged from “we must have secure borders” to “these Mexicans are taking jobs from Americans”. Occasionally a conservative will give a nod to the potentially changed voting demographic should these undocumented Mexicans gain US citizenship.

For these hard right conservatives, the preferred positions are based upon fear. What else is new?

The President’s standard line that growing the economy will “make America great again” fails the smell test should a process actually begin to deport these DACA Americans. Mexicans are religious, hold strong family values, and work tirelessly to better themselves and their families. Can this be said of many American citizens?

President “Braveheart” tapped his Attorney General to make the public announcement and in his sniveling way, Jeff Sessions, tossed out one easily refuted excuse after another. The net effect showed that the Trump Administration neither cares about the facts or appreciates the strategic implications. Why would the President approve of ending DACA?

The most popular explanation says President Trump is just following his political base’s wishes. The more sophisticated of this base favor a sharply divided American electorate and see division as the best route to reelect President Trump in 2020.

A second reason shifts the responsibility away from executive orders to Congress where laws are suppose to originate. Money and special interests have thwarted previous attempt at comprehensive immigration reforms and earlier versions of aid for the “dreamers”. But why not ask Congress to act before ending DACA?

Most Trump critics see phasing out DACA and shifting responsibility to Congress as a cop out (shifting the blame). The likelihood of Congressional action is extremely low. Look at seven years of “repeal and replace” Obamacare and failure to do so when Republicans finally had control.

The Mexican Americans caught in the DACA category are here in the US through no fault of their own (parents brought them to the US as children).  DACA, for those current enrolled,  should not be ended based upon a fairness and justice argument.

US history would demand some sort of accommodation for these worthy residents. Just as important, immigrant labor, given the low American citizen population growth, is even more important than the past. Most economists favor this view and predict a slowing US economy if undocumented workers are purged.

The President’s actions are both cynical and sinister. Immediately these dreamers will suffer but in the fullness of time (lacking a change of Presidential heart or Congressional action), it will be the American citizens who pay the price.

Remember, Americans elected Donald Trump and we all own the consequences.

The Border Hot Potato

July 12, 2014

Women and Children, many unaccompanied, are streaming across the south west US boarder. It is reported they are fleeing violence and economic hardship. For many politicians, this situation is a gift from heaven.

For these politicians, there is reason to demand increased boarder security and the golden opportunity to spread fear amongst voters.

In earlier times, immigrants were more welcome. The Statue of Liberty comes with a poem containing these lines,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

What has happened to change public opinion so greatly that what in the past were viewed as potential resources and are now viewed only as a liability?

Of course there have been other times in American history when immigrants were felt unwanted and at times feared. But the overwhelming American experience has been that immigrants helped propel America into global leadership and wealth.

To be sure this current crop of Salvadorian, Guatemalan, and Honduran have no right to self immigrate. There was no US invitation nor are there pre-arranged jobs waiting them. So how does the richest country in the world deal with such a situation?

House Speaker John Boehner said the President should enforce the law. Hmmm. I wonder what law he means?

Currently law requires women and children be released pending an immigration hearing. What?

A law from George W Bush era, ratified unanimously by the Senate, restricts the immediate deportation because of fear that “human traffic-ing” might be involved. But if your goal is to curry favor with xenophobes who in turn might vote for your party, then Boehner’s comments might make sense.

In the recent past, newspaper headlines have been all about Mexican undocumented workers. Congress has failed to deal with this issue and now with women and children entering the country Congress is facing a much more nuanced threat.

Republicans who have consistently tried to deal with undocumented aliens “tactically” have been punished in opinion polls and in the last Presidential election. US demographics shout to Republicans that they need a better “strategy”.  Hispanic US citizens have become a major voting influence.

Immigrants and immigration are now and always has been a mixed bag of opportunity and challenges. Immigrants displace current workers and those displaced workers need to find work someplace else. If these displaced workers find as good or better employment, then all is forgiven. If not, then immigrants are bad.

Immigrants from Central America (including Mexico) arguably represent a special situation. These immigrants are our neighbors and if one thinks about it for a moment, carry with them a number of cherished American values. These would-be immigrants are religious, hard working, and strong family people. In short, they are like most of us.

Of course there is a limiting immigration rate which our economy could support. It is also important that these immigrants show their willingness to assimilate (language, allegiance to the country). I suspect the Mexican undocumented workers have already shown this. Otherwise how could an estimated 11 million be living already in the US?

The immigration issue is a hot potato for both parties. Regrettably, both parties’ willingness to use “tactics” on this issue has had the consequence of failure to form any national consensus. So far Democrats seem to have won the Hispanic vote with their “tactics”.

Unfortunately the undocumented worker problem is not going away, sealing the boarders is inadequate (if not impossible), and ultimately the US needs immigrants to supplement our natural birthrate.

The only question should be is who will be the immigrants?

Immigration Reform Is Dead (For This Year)

February 3, 2014

Over the weekend, Republican Representative Paul Ryan said, in his opinion, immigration reform was dead for 2014.  The sense was that Ryan was reflecting realities, not his personal preferences.  Republicans appear too ideologically divided to settle on any one sensible immigration position.  And, 2014 is an election year.  Ryan gratuitously allowed that too many Republicans believe that President Obama would wink at increased border control and move to open the path to citizenship instead.

I would hope that President Obama or anyone that succeeds him will do the same.  The preoccupation with “securing the borders” is a fools errand.  The US prides itself in being an open country and foreign visitors, for all sorts of reasons, are both a matter of fact and an  economy plus.  Anyone can overstay their authorized entry, with or without a visa.  Our country is large and with a history of privacy, citizens and undocumented visitors can come and go easily.

Taking this point a step further, if there was some way to build a solid, impenetrable wall between Mexico and the US, does anyone think that will stop undocumented workers from entering the US?  Each year documented workers tend our agriculture fields, or visit Disney World, or attend our Universities.  What keeps them from just staying?

Now lets look at this the other way.  Suppose we simply stopped the “secure the border” campaign and stopped building walls and fences.  Instead, we instituted unlimited work visas (for Mexicans) and seriously cracked down on the employment of undocumented workers (including domestic labor).  What do you think would be the consequences?

Securing the border is a copout for not cracking down on vusiness employers (who donate to political campaigns) and the top 2% who employ nannies, cooks, and handymen and do not pay social security.  Hmmm.

So while Representative Ryan’s comments reflect reality, these comments like so many before, really reflect an unwillingness to change the current situation.

Arguably, the current situation does most everyone well, or at least does everyone the least damage.  There is plenty of cheap labor and in boom times we know there is more labor still in Mexico.  So why should this issue concern us?

As Germany and other European Countries have found out, the importation of guess labor has complications when that labor remains for long periods of time.  Most European Countries were content with the presumed temporary nature of “guest workers” but when the guests remained for several generations (and did not assimilate) other issues arose.

The main issue is that a country cannot effectively send “guests” back to their home country after years of residency.  The guests have made a new home.

Of all places, the US is composed of “guest workers”.  Almost all the 320 million Americans can trace their family tree back to immigrants.  Do I smell hypocrisy?

Unfortunately, I do not expect the GOP (or Democrat) positions to mature much in 2015.  Speaking frankly about how to treat guest labor and why it is a good idea to make a path for the guest to become a red, white, and blue American does not seem likely.

For all sorts of economic and social reasons, a rationale path to citizenship for Mexicans and Canadians (our neighbors) will benefit all involved.  When the threat of legal problems are gone, many guests will choose to return to their native country while others will remain and become indistinguishable from the rest of us immigrants.