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Rocky VIII: An Economic Metaphor Part 2

8/14/19

4:27

The markets have closed down 800+. And no, it still isn’t the Hong Kong riots that caused the drop. That is just another symptom.

In Hong Kong, as with all drawn-out protests by youth, a Lord of the Flies mentality has set in. Agitators in their little corners of the conflict are fighting for the conch by attacking police and trying to be the toughest boy scout. This will cause them to lose public support and has doomed their fight. China wins. Of course they were always going to. They won’t let ANYTHING change because of this protest. The government is not civilized and they don’t preside over a democracy.

One cop showed incredible restraint when cornered by several attackers using sticks to beat him, quite badly. He drew his weapon but didn’t fire it. If it had been me, there would be dead kids at the Hong Kong airport. That’s one GOOD cop.

But back to the real problem at hand.

Who are tariffs good for? Certainly not consumers. And they don’t help suppliers of goods not protected. As I stated in my January article, they only help the specific industries being protected allowing them to RAISE prices with less competition, but only for a short time. Then everyone looses.


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Thanks to this ridiculous tariff scheme we STILL have silly scenarios like this one: There are tariffs on materials used to make bicycles but no tariffs on bicycles. So U.S. manufacturers of bicycles, already hampered by higher labor costs here, now must pay more for materials and parts. The result? Foreign bike manufacturers, including Chinese companies have an even greater advantage in our market. Come Christmas all the “buy American” slogans in the world will not put an American-made bike under the tree in this country. And the tariff scheme is riddled with this stupidity, as if just launching this campaign wasn’t stupid enough.

So who pulled Trump’s chain?

I don’t know who in the administration stroked Trump’s ego well enough to put him on this idiotic tariff bender, but I’d like to strangle them. We had just emerged from an abysmal 8 years of little of no growth and had just a bit of traction under out feet (even Europe was growing for the first time in a decade) when it was all wiped out with this one impetuous and utterly ill-conceived act.

Yes, many players on the world stage are corrupt and still charge tariffs to please their cronies. Hell, Europe has been enjoying tariffs we allowed since after WWII to give them a shot at recovery. And we completely dominated the world’s economy for 75 years. Europe didn’t become a dominant power. Still, tariffs are an insult to free trade and should have been done away with. But how? With US tariffs? Hardly.

In our last episode a victorious Rocky (the US economy), still injured from his rematch with Creed, is being forced to fight Clubber Lang, Tommy Gunn and Ivan Drago (trading partners) at the same time. Mickey (Trump) said it was for Rocky’s own good (national security).

At the outset, Rocky seemed to be standing his ground. Gunn (Mexico and Canada) didn’t have the stomach for a fight and knew it wasn’t in his best interest. He immediately threw in the towel because Mickey was willing to renegotiate NAFTA. It was a smart move. He leaves the ring, not a hair out of place.

But problems remain.

Lang (Europe) puts up more of a fight. He throws lots of punches at the US economy and calls Mickey a bully but then slips in a few concessions, some of them really good (like zero tariffs on cars – our biggest obstacle). Where Lang might be inclined to turn on Drago in the overall fight and stand with Rocky, he can’t. Every time he tries to step in, Mickey tells Rocky to punch him on the face. Mickey says he doesn’t want parody with Lang, he wants a complete advantage. Instead of taking 80% and turning Lang on Drago, Mickey chooses to post childish and insulting tweets about Lang, pissing him off and reinvigorating him.

Despite a groin injury (zero, and even negative economic growth) Lang persists in the fight. While he isn’t as much of a threat, his continued presence in the ring makes Rocky’s real challenge more difficult. And with each punch he gets weaker, so even if he does eventually try to turn on Drago, he will be too weak to help.

Drago (China’s economy) is huge, everyone says his economy is weak and he can’t stand up to a trade fight with the US. But he has something the Rocky doesn’t have. His corner is a totalitarian police state. The corner will not suffer if Drago takes hits, even severe ones. Drago’s fans will. But they will endure what they are told to endure and they will like it.

It won’t end well.

You see, ultimately, that is where controlled economies must end up. You can’t control economics like you are planning a birthday party, although idiots who call themselves economists and politicians try every day. But you can oppress people. The more control exercted over the economy, the greater the oppression must be. I give you Free College for All, The Green New Deal and Tax the Hell Out of the Rich as examples.

Where will this end? It remains to be seen. But it won’t end well. Serious and unnecessary damage has been done and it will take a while to unwind.

Leaving the ring for the real world, we have two options to fix this and move on:

  1. Real free trade

OR

  1. Demanding tariff-free trade among all our trading partners

I’ll address number 2 first.

U.S. Dominated Trade

We can start by country or by region or with all our trading partners at once. Congress passes a law that states by a date certain there will be no tariffs anywhere in trading with the United States. We send you our Spaghetti-o’s, you send us your kumquats. They are sold to our respective consumers unencumbered by tariffs. If you keep or create tariffs, you have sold your last kumquat in the US. Subsidies would have be eliminated at the same time as they are just the B side of the same 45, created to thwart competition.1

This is preferable to the existing fight and the pre-existing status quo. However, it isn’t really free trade. If trade takes place under the auspices of the US government, like it as we may, it isn’t free. Making a product and gaining market share at home or abroad is up to the companies who wish to trade, not the government!

And, oh, by the way, try to wrestle sugar or corn subsidies from the political whores on Capitol Hill or the cronies they protect. They’ll tell you the economy is too complex and you just don’t understand why we have to take the bribes we take to help market sectors. Poor, ignorant you.

Market-Dominated Trade

Number 1, above, is actually the real answer. Free trade. Really free.

Sadly for the dupes who think the government is obligated to get your rubber dogshit into novelty stores in Poland, this scenario pretty much resembles the situation we have right now, based on how ignorant other trading partners remain.

If you, unlike most politicians and career government workers, have brains and vision, you understand that having rich trading partners is better than having poor ones. So rule number one for healthy trade is don’t impoverish your customers. You are not obliged to prop them up, but you don’t kick the stool out from under them either.

Further, if Heinz wants to sell ketchup in Germany and pay a hefty tariff to do so, that is none of the U.S. Government’s business. That is 100% up to Heinz and the board of directors. It is up to that company if they wish to move into a market where they are made artificially less competitive based on price. If they didn’t think they could use the popularity of their brand and quality of their product to make money in that market, they wouldn’t send their stuff there to begin with. And if Berliners wish to pay more for ketchup or pay tax money to their own ketchup companies in the form of subsidies, that is their concern ONLY.

Naturally, if Heinz finds a political whore who will go and fight and threaten the Germans or initiate tariffs here, I suspect Heinz would make huge campaign contributions and pay tens of thousands of dollars for speeches to be made by the whore in return. But that doesn’t make it right.

The lesser of two evils? Meh, Maybe.

I support choice number 2 over the status quo. But I know choice number 1 is the best long-term answer to all of this. I hold out absolutely no hope that ANY of our politicians have the guts to start the process by winding down our existing market protections to undeserving cronies. And I also despair at Trump’s lack of intellectual curiosity on the matter.

How bloody it gets depends on how long people insist on being stupid. But when it all finally shakes out we will all be financially weaker and pretty much the same place we were relative to the rest of the world when this all started.

So, Rocky is screwed on this one. We all are. But don’t worry. You’re screwed on lots of other ways as well. Maybe next time we’ll revisit how Facebook, Google (and politicians that are supposedly “taking on the tech giants”) are playing all of you for total suckers

 


Don’t be a political pansy! Read Street Politics, the book that predicted it all!

1. But we’ll deal with subsidies in another article.  I did deal with them in my book.  See the link above.

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The End of the Trump Presidency

As of Thursday, 8 June 2017, the Trump Presidency has reached a point where it has no allies. Well before this, Ryan and McConnell had alternately duped Trump into backing stupid ideas (Ryancare) by stroking his ego, or turned their backs on his agenda (taxes and infrastructure). Now they have the cover they need to simply walk away.  And they will.  These are no men of honor.

They’ll still pay lip service to doing the right thing, but they have no intention, and now no motivation, to actually lift a finger to fix anything. Within weeks, Washington DC will be every man for himself.

 This is not a pity party. Much of what we are seeing is Trump’s own doing. Through his open display of ineptitude, undercutting his own people and his mindless tweeting, Trump has made himself easy prey. If he had the least inkling to listen and learn over the last two and a half years, he would not be where he is today.

He won’t be impeached. There is nothing apparent right now which would be impeachable. In fact, he is more useful to his enemies, and those who have abandoned him, in office than he would be if he resigned.

But between James Comey and the news networks’ drama with their dipshit, countdown clocks, there will be almost no place left for the Administration to work its will.

There will be no wall, but we already knew that.

There will be no tax cuts. If there are they will be offset by Ryan’s incredibly stupid import tax.

There will be no real improvements to infrastructure.

There will be little done in the way of improving our position internationally.

Obamacare will remain intact or 80% intact. Again, thank you Speaker Ryan!

The budget will not be cut by one, thin dime.

The deficit and debt will explode as both parties in congress will embark on a vote-buying frenzy the likes of which we have never seen before. Even Obama’s monumental irresponsibility will pale.

History and Context

Source: The Daily Coin, thedailycoin.org. They have an interesting article here. http://thedailycoin.org/2017/05/14/james-comeys-brother-works-law-firm-audited-clinton-foundations-taxes/

Among the most egregious crimes Hillary Clinton committed by keeping her illegal and unsecured server during her time as SecState, was her concealment and destruction of historical records. While not as many people will die from this as those who might due to her sharing of intelligence documents, there are now historical gaps in the record.

She did slick her server, of course. She knew the device was illegal and that she held the information on it illegally. So by trying to cover her misdeeds, she not only made it easier to prosecute her, but when it is important to know what was said when, and by whom, we won’t have the information. And thanks to Comey, the damage will be forever buried.

But these historical documents are as much the concern of the Federal Code and the Federal Records Act as any of the classified documents she stole and destroyed. None of these documents belonged to her. They were entirely the property of the U.S. Government.

There are a few decent, thinking human beings left in this world who understand the importance of keeping a clear history of events for our benefit and the benefit of future generations. Clinton is not in their number. It is by DNA alone that Clinton qualifies as a human being.

Comey seems to have learned a lot from the sham investigation into HRC’s illegal servers. And it has served him well in the estimation of dull-witted people.

For starters, many actions taken by Comey mirror Clinton’s in both intent and motivation. And his explanations even surpass HRC in terms of vanity and self-righteousness. He is nowhere near as slick as Clinton. But he’s trying anyway.

Working backward from this week:

In his congressional testimony, Comey stated affirmatively that he kept memos of his meetings with President Trump because he feared Trump might lie about their conversations. With only one exception, the pleas for loyalty (not a target of these hearings), their stories jive almost perfectly. Not a whole lot of lying going on if you believe either of them.

But beyond that, our previous president had been caught repeatedly throughout his tenure lying outright about all kinds of things. Among the worst could arguably be, “everyone will save $2500 on the health insurance”, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” and the biggee: denying the administration’s knowledge or involvement in Operation Fast and Furious. (This debacle resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. It also got a bunch of those little Mexican people killed as well. Offense was compounded by the harassment and denigration of Brian Terry’s family for pursuing the truth about his death.)

And those are just three of the countless whoppers told by BHO and the spineless people who served under him, including James Comey.

But Comey took no notes of his conversations with BHO. He also kept no record of his interrogation of Hillary Clinton for her crimes. She wasn’t even put under oath. And Clinton can’t go from here to there without lying, stealing or extorting. You can call Trump a lot of things. I make a habit of beating him up often. The one reputation he hasn’t earned is that of a liar. That doesn’t mean he is or isn’t a liar. But he hasn’t had the time to establish himself as one, at least not in his capacity as President.

But poor Jim was worried, so he kept notes.

The Self-Appointed AG

Comey’s story about his dealings with Trump, in sworn statements has gone from never having been pressured to stop any investigation in the spring – to – I felt quite sure he was ordering me to stop the investigation as of early summer. When was he lying? Both statements cannot be true.

source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/22492551342

 So many fascinating things pour off the transcripts here.

First when asked why he didn’t take his impressions and his memos to the DOJ, Comey gave two reasons. First he didn’t want investigators to get the impression the President of the United States wanted the investigation to move in a specific way.

Well! I’d like to thank my personal god that James Comey is the man he is. Imagine the burden he suffered. He was the only FBI guy who could have such knowledge and still remain honest and forthright. Oh heavens! What if all those average, mortal agents heard the president wanted to see Flynn left alone! They don’t possess Comey’s super human fortitude! They would be crippled by the knowledge and would stop investigating.

Oh! Oops! That’s right, they did hear it. Months ago. Comey had already leaked that conversation too. And by some miracle, the investigation continues unabated.

So instead of reporting what he thought was interfering with an investigation, which he saw as his duty (his own words) he decided to keep things to himself. After all, we only had an acting AG at the time. The acting AG was still Comey’s superior and was the correct authority to report to. But Comey appointed himself Deputy Extra Double Secret Attorney General and reported the potential offense to himself and his immediate staff.

So worried was poor Jim about doing the right thing, when he was fired from the FBI he took government documents with him and had a friend leak them to the media.

(Oh yeah, I almost forgot about this self-appointment. Comey appointed himself HMFIC of Ignoring the Federal Records Act. There was a vacancy now that Clinton was gone. He decided the memos he’d written in his capacity as FBI director about official meetings with a sitting president, were his personal property. Those memos were suddenly the equivalent of Comey, sitting in his pajamas, scribbling in his diary about hanging out with his old pal Don at a barbecue. “Dear dairy: spent the day by the pool with Donny. He’s DREAMY! I think he likes me. Tee-hee.”

But in reality he was writing about official business, which, according to Comey, showed possible corruption on the part of the president. In order to use these memos as a weapon of personal vengeance he had to break more rules. So, abracadabra, presto! The memos are now personal notes, his to do with as he wished.)

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But Wait! There’s More!

Comey’s testimony was a circus of self-impeachment and mind-blowing hypocrisy.

  1. Comey volunteered that Loretta Lynch requested he lie to the press and to congress, calling the investigation of Clinton’s illegal servers as “a matter” and not “an investigation”. Comey said he was confused and shocked by the order. This is a lie or gives lie to Comey’s “reason” for taking notes about Trump. Because when shocked or confused by a government official, we already know Comey takes note and leaks them. He did neither in the case of the corrupt lackey, Loretta Lynch.

And he was in no way confused by Lynch’s clear abetting in the Clinton cover-up. Unless he forgot all his years as a prosecutor and his years and head of the nation’s premiere investigative service.

     2. “I am not a legal scholar,” says Comey. WTF!?!? A law degree? Years as an attorney? Years as a federal prosecutor? One of the brave legal minds that held the line against making policy decisions behind AG Ashcroft’s back? Years as head of the FBI? And not a legal scholar? The convenient, disingenuous humility is…

…Excuse me. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  1. “I leaked information [to get a] special prosecutor appointed.” As a statement without context, that could be true, and rather prescient. But in the context of Comey’s fairy tales on Thursday, a reasonable person must stand incredulous.   As we have established here, the memos the committee were fixated on were not the only information Comey leaked. The memos about “loyalty” and discussions about Trump firing him because of the Russian investigation were leaked as reprisal for being fired. That leaves any claims of honorable motivation in doubt.

The ONLY EVIDENCE we have as to his being fired (Trump’s impetuous tweets not withstanding) is Rosenstein’s memo, which speaks simply and legitimately to Comey’s deplorable handling of the Clinton investigation. I will go a step further and call it Comey’s participation in the Clinton cover-up. There too, he appointed himself Attorney General because he knew no matter what he said about his investigation, the utterly corrupt AG was not going to prefer charges. So, he gave himself a field promotion (from Senior Investigator to Extra Double Secret AG) and declared the case was beneath prosecution, nailing his name in the pages of history as the man who saved the unworthy HRC.

This was the clearest demonstration of Comey’s desire to thwart Trump. Save Hillary, he thought, and Trump is done. Being a creature of the Beltway, he was incapable of seeing that the citizens saw HRC as even more nauseating than Trump.

It’s Academic Now

And so, we are seeing the end of the Trump presidency as an effective entity. Not because Comey was right in any of the things he’s done. Since his July 15 press conference he has rarely put a foot right. He has been motivated by two ambitions: The aggrandizement of James Brien Comey, Jr. and the diminishment of Donald J. Trump, Jr.

And the media has only helped Comey. There was no way the MSM was ever going to warm up to Trump. But the “great deal maker” handled them as poorly as he has almost everything else.  Instead of simply touting good press and ignoring, or even spinning negative reports, Trump showed he is probably the worst deal maker ever. He lacked understanding of the press and refused to approach his PR problems as tactical ones.  He treated every negative news story as a personal vendetta against him. As a result, he made enemies, even in camps with conservative editorial lines.

So Is All Lost?

There is a silver lining here. We can anticipate the actions of our bloated, corrupt federal government. We may now, as a people, have the motivation to do something about it. I have talked about this in the past and will do so in my next piece. We’ll see who is paying attention.

Here’s a good primer.

Matt Jordan is a travel writer and political commentator.  He is the author of Street Politics:  It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore!©

 

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The Four Morons Are Laughing At You!

Who Are The Four Morons?

You would only know the answer to that if you are a regular reader here.  The Four Morons are the house and Senate leadership; Mitch McConnel, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan.  Donald Trump has lately filled the roll of court jester, keeping the Morons entertained and happy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan and his band of cowardly, corrupt Republicans are going for a second bite at the apple to preserve Obamacare.  This time they are offering the Freedom Caucus a “compromise” that amounts to an insult.  Even the MOST basic free market reform, and the most effective in driving down costs, is not included in the present proposal; the sale of insurance policies across state lines.  Instead we have territories carved out by the government. 

Why?

Because major insurance companies pay government lackeys to keep competition off the field.  And they pay well.

How do most of you NOT know this!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have said many times, (notably here) that Trump was either completely ignorant of the Constitution, or he was a shill for the Democratic party.  One of those statements is true.  You can decide which.  But you can’t deny the damage he is doing to the Conservative cause and to the country, as he sits in the White House deciding who likes him and who doesn’t.  Nor can you deny his complete lack of intellectual curiosity.  He has no intention of learning his job or following the Constitution.

And the “Experts” Aren’t Helping

Amazingly, if you listen to people who call themselves conservative, both on the idiot box and on social media sites, you’ve heard them saying that Republicans needed to pass Obamacare Lite.  It’s a binary choice they said;  Obamacare or Ryancare.  Or they point out how important it is for the Freedom Caucus to “support the President” by passing legislation they find repugnant.

First off, legislators are not sent to Washington to make sure the President, any president, looks good. Unless they are Democrats.  It is not their job to sell the mistakes of the President and Congressional leadership to us rubes outside the Beltway.  Unless they are Democrats.  Their job, as Ryan has long forgotten, is to represent their constituents based on the principles they ran and succeeded on.  In the case of every single Republican save one, Collins, all ran on conservative, free market principles and a belief in individual liberty.  Even Collins paid a bit of lip service to those principles.

But only a handful stood by these beliefs and they killed the crap designed to replace the extra smelly crap.

And how does the Twitter twat-in-chief react to REAL conservatives voting down trash legislation?  He threatens to fight them and the Democrats as opponents.  This assures us of two things. 

First, no matter what, he’ll now not be able to muster a majority to kill Obamacare.  Dems and lame Republicans (who got elected saying they are conservative, but are no such thing) now have Trump’s cover to reject any real free market reforms to medical insurance. 

Ryan and his ilk didn’t want to get rid of Obamacare.  They want all the corporate goodies and easy votes from chumps that Obamacare gave the Dems.  So they put up a poorly-funded version of the same dog shit, hoping we’d be stupid enough to let them get away with it.

And don’t kid yourself.  No matter what he said, Chuck Schumer LOVED Obamacare Lite.  The only thing he loves more is the full-flavored Obamacare.

Second, Trump has made the possibility of his re-election much more difficult.  Ann Coulter, FOX News and Brietbart will have to work overtime to pull the wool over your eyes again. 

Of course it wasn’t too difficult the first time around.  Trump mangled a couple of Bible verses and that was enough for the “Christian” hucksters to jump aboard and bring almost all of their rubes with them.  He blurted out utterly nonsensical statements on abortion and the Obamacare individual mandate and still his cult, and not just a few “experts”, declared him a conservative!  Amazing!

As Usual, I Hit the Nail on the Head!

So as I predicted, one year ago yesterday, Trump IS overseeing the destruction of free-market conservatism either by design or ignorance.  But he is doing nothing to move this country in the right direction.  And no, executive orders saving 1000 jobs here and 200 jobs there, don’t amount to anything.

To put a finer point on it, watch what happens with “tax reform”.  There will be no reform AT ALL!  There will be a reduction in the amount you pay right now.  But the all mechanisms in place to raise them again, when the country sickens of Ryan and Trump, will remain in place.  That’s not reform.  That’s cotton candy, sweet and fluffy but without real substance. 

And that is the nature of the Trump presidency so far.

If Trump ends this calendar year without striking all of Obamacare from the books and allowing competent professionals to produce free-market medical insurance, he will be a one-term President and a failure.

Matt Jordan is host of Streetpolitics.us and author of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore!  Grab your copy here and support a good cop in his battle with Multiple Sclerosis!  50% of all author proceeds go to Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Kerr and the Colonial Crossroads charity event.