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Trump’s Potential Fatal Errors Part 2: Martial law

In part 2, I am going to veer from talk of deficits and crash into the border wall. I will tie it all up in part 3.

Well, it’s this or martial law.

I said last time that the Trump administration could pose a much greater danger to our country long term, than anything this tariff nonsense might pose. We are careening toward a very ominous deadline agreed to by all parties, at which time we will have border wall funding or we won’t. If we arrive at the latter, one of two threats will emerge; another shutdown or a declaration of a national emergency (cover to build the wall against the will of congress).

I would contend the lesser of these two evils, hands down, would be another shutdown. I’ll break it down in small bites.

Oh, but the shutdown will permanently damage the economy!

 No, it won’t.

In the course of the previous shutdown (all of it theater, by the way) we heard constantly of the poor people affected by it. The same people balling woefully about the non-essential workers being…well…non-essential, have remained intentionally obtuse about the people injured by the issue this whole dust-up is about, illegal immigration.

Further, we have been bombarded by false reports about how the slightly wider economy (those businesses effected by the 800,000 non-essential workers who are not “working”) will never recover from the damage incurred by the shutdown.

This is, of course, bullshit. From day one of the government re-opening they immediately started to recover. And for as long as the government remains open, the recovery will glide along nicely.

How do we know this?

If you look at economic demographics you will find that more than half of the country can’t absorb a $1000 emergency. Fewer still, I believe below 20%, have enough savings to get them through 90 days of unemployment. As few as 12% are doing anything serious to prepare for retirement.

What does that mean? It means that, on the whole, we spend like drunken sailors. These non-essential government employees, many of whom are VERY well-paid, being by and large average Americans, spend a tremendous amount of money. It should also be noted that during the 15 years I was a contractor for the Department of Defense, my government counterparts received substantial pay raises in 13 of those years.

Yes, the deli and dry cleaner across the street from these non-essential offices lost SOME money during the shut down. The restaurants favored by those employees saw slightly fewer dinners eaten during this time. Many workers may have been on the verge of house hunting or buying a new car or washing machine when the shutdown started. Oops. Gotta put that off.

Being average Americans, do you think these same employees, who know their jobs are safer than ANY private sector jobs, got back to work last week and said, “Boy, that was close! I better start hording my money for these emergencies!” A few very bright ones may have. But as a group you know the answer is NO.

Why? Because they know they will get full back pay on the other end of these events!

As for the wider economy, there is a slingshot effect. Flush with more cash than they normally have and interested in doing what they intended to do beforehand, these non-essential workers will be pouring into their favorite restaurants, dry cleaners, movie theaters, etc. They will eat out perhaps one or two more nights than normal, after all it’s been a month during which only some of them tightened their belts, while others just lived on credit, knowing they would get their back pay. Many may be looking at the next three weeks and waiting to see if they can buy the car or the house, but when it is all finally over, there will be that many more people shopping big ticket than there would be normally.

Again, it’s all theater. Most damage IS NOT permanent and life continues apace. The only folks who will see permanent damage will be contractors whose companies didn’t figure loss of time into their contracts. That sucks, but it is part of the risk.

So another round of shutdown theater with the obligatory, mind-numbing media commentary throughout is much preferable to the alternative: “National Emergency”.

It’s Just a Little Bit of Martial Law!

 Fortunately for Harry Truman, when he declared Martial Law, for which “national emergency” is just a euphemism, there wasn’t, at the time, a party of 12 year-olds waiting, who would use the declaration as a precedent for EVERTYTHING.

In the 50s and 60s, even into the 70s we had politicians who were, yes, corrupt. They were nakedly opportunistic. But by and large they were adults who understood the concept of overreach. When it really counted, they could set aside the rancor for a short time and give whomever had the upper hand some running room to do what they thought they should do. They also were not wussies over the results of an election. Their attitude was correctly, we’ll whoop ya next time.

So, Truman declared a national emergency and essentially took over the steel industry. Eisenhower didn’t then say, oh, highways are important, so I am going to declare a national emergency to get my signature project through without having to pay union scale, because, wah, Harry did it. That would have been seen as monumentally childish and unseemly; at the risk of sounding sexist, unmanly.

But times have changed we have adolescents running the halls of congress calling the word “No” a negotiation. These children are also calling for Medicare for all and a “green new deal”. We are talking about seriously disingenuous, ignorant children.

If Trump declares a “National Emergency” to deal with a problem we’ve had for the last 60 years he will set the stage for everything these children stand for being pushed through in Stalinist fashion for decades to come.

DC politicians have thwarted the Constitution at every opportunity, but with Trump’s declaration, we will see the utter undoing of everything left of our republic. You don’t think so? Look at the vapors we’ve witnessed over Russia’s use of Facebook to spread false information.


I would argue that we are responsible to check our facts and make good decisions. The Russian efforts were shown to be amateurish. And they spent only $40,000 in the effort. Anyone who got their news from Hillarywatch.com or Ihatetrump.org, or whatever, through FB is an idiot.

BUT…

They meddled in our elections! We must take control of social media and get rid of this pesky electoral college thingy. Foreign meddling is a “national emergency”. Mark my words if Trump declares a little bit of Martial Law, the above scenario will pan out over multiple issues. Congress is that corrupt, that immature, that bereft of clear reason. And we are in deep, deep trouble.

And Yes, Trump Fans, it Would be Martial Law.

 What Truman did was to nationalize the steel industry. The Supreme Court handed him his ass for trying. But he used the term “national emergency” to justify the ham-handed move. But it was an act of Martial Law. I have heard apologists say that it was, well, very limited Martial Law.

WTF?!

While I have watched Trump cheerleaders like Lou Dobbs salivate at the idea of an emergency declaration, believe me, for the reasons stated above, you don’t want Trump to set this precedent. Hell, he and the Administration may have already talked too much of it! That alone may give the socialists in our government the impetus they need to turn us into a police state, should they ever get the White House back.

So you should be real careful about what stupid move you might wish for. It just might happen.

And yeah, about the damn wall…

 There isn’t going to be a wall. There never was going to be. For a year Trump et al have been walking back the actual WALL Trump promised during the election; a big, beautiful wall across our southern border. And it will have a door in it so you can come through legally. His words.

Now they are talking about 127 miles of fencing. Most of that will never happen either. And fences are only as effective as the number of people you have waiting directly on the other side from those going over, under or through it.

Even if Trump gets his $5 billion, it won’t pay for 127 miles of triple fence with barbed wire and sensors. What fence/wall it would pay for will require years in court with activists and land owners for every 10 miles of fence.

A section of “the wall” at the coast. Boy, you could never get around that, huh?

It will not happen. AND IT DOESN’T HAVE TO!

Sadly, what does need to happen, what should happen, is just as unlikely. We need Congress to enforce existing laws. But corrupt cowards that they are, they won’t. The Dems want to push illegals toward the vote. California isn’t waiting to do that. And the GOP wants the slave labor. But if they ever decided to do their jobs and make being an illegal uncomfortable, there would be no illegal immigration problem.  A cop at a traffic stop wouldn’t care if you had a Hispanic or Eastern European accent.

It won’t happen, and that is our fault. As a group we can’t see past the ends of our noses when it comes to whom we vote for or why.

If you are against illegal immigration but don’t want to put some seriously dangerous wheels in motion, perhaps you should email the White House HERE and tell them if it comes to it, they should weather another shut down and not get stupid.

Or you can contact congress HERE and HERE. And tell them to do their damn jobs!

 

 

Photo Credit: Dane Van Flickr via Compfight cc

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Trump’s Potential Fatal Errors: Not for Him, But the Country. Pt. 1

Is he stupid or pretending to be?

To this day, I have been needled by a suspicion that Donald Trump is actually a shill for the sleazy, Clinton wing of the Democratic party.  I’ve said it many times, including when he was just hitting the political scene, and in my book. I had a hard time coming to grips with his immaturity, impetuousness and utterly disorganized style.

How, as I have often asked, here and elsewhere, can his clearly erratic behavior be actual stupidity and not just political shtick?  Is he really trying? Or is he putting a four-year monkey wrench in the GOP, damaging their brand for the next decade?

Don’t get me wrong.  When he seems to have at least gotten a basic concept right, I have been happy to say so. But he still gets so much wrong. And so many people seem to have it in their heads that Trump is a genius and worse, they think he is a “conservative”.

He is neither.

I’ll give you an example.  The President gets endless praise for his tax cut.  But, with just a little ass kissing by congressional leadership, he owned a pathetically watered down version of a cut, without the valuable reform he had promised.  If you were paying attention and not just celebrating this fig leaf legislation, you came away thinking what a sucker this guy is.  With the slightest stroking of his ego, Trump will sign off on anything.

Continuing the same example, with little preparation and in complete ignorance of history, Trump spiked the entire economic uptick the tax cuts did provide with the monumentally stupid tariff announcements and implementations.

I will go into greater detail about this in my next book.

The costs of the Trump ego

Tariffs are wrong on too many levels to fully catalog here.  But a few aspects do leap out in this case.

1) First, as is ALWAYS true, tariffs help the bottom lines of the protected companies ONLY and, without exception, hurt the wider economy. The very people who are singing the praises of the administration’s get-tough trade policies are the ones being hurt by it, along with the entire world’s economy.  

President Donald J. Trump

2) If you follow the news cycles from Trump’s election, through the tax cuts and through the tariff announcements, you can plainly see that our economy was expanding beautifully. This was the direct result of someone – anyone – other than BHO going to the White House and that someone was talking about free market concepts.

As a result (and because we are still the world’s largest consumer economy) the world’s economies were expanding apace.  Even the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) were suddenly healthy again. 

But along with the rest of the world, our markets were thrown into turmoil and volatility because of this very stupid tariff idea.  The PIGS are now talking about defaulting again.

As ridiculous as the idea of tariffs already is, the way Trump rolled them out (i.e., with no forethought) we have this untenable situation as a result!

3) On top of the damage EVERYONE but the cronies who own the political whores feel, tariffs don’t work. They never have and they never will[1].  This how it will all play out:  We will place tariffs on whatever. Other countries will respond in kind (or maybe not because they already skim money from us on a huge scale.)  There will be “negotiations”.  In the end, when we’ve all had a bellyful of this stupid idea, all parties will declare victory and we will go back to where we all were before, relative to the economies of each country involved.

source: The Spectator

4) As was the case in the Travel Ban and the Zero Tolerance border policies[2], rolled out by executive order early in the Trump Administration, tariff actions were announced and launched impetuously and without any adult supervision. 

The result? Peter Morici, a respected economist, points out correctly that we now have barriers to raw materials for, say, bicycle parts and metal tubes, but no barriers against foreign bicycles.  As a result, American bike makers have to pay more for their raw materials, giving foreign makers a market advantage.  MEANWHILE, YOU NOW PAY MORE FOR A BIKE BECAUSE NO MANUFACTURER, FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC, IS IN THE BUSINESS AS AN ACT OF CHARITY!

5) In order to do what only Congress is permitted to do (introduce tariffs) by executive order, DJT declared our trade deficit vs the rest of the world is a national security issue.  Am I the only person who see how perfectly insane this position is? 

For more about the roots of this tariff debacle, and my earlier warning, read this.

Give me fair trade or I’ll kill you

Was the rest of the world going to attack the United States because we made it too easy for them to sell their goods here?  Were we on the verge of nuking Canada because of their unfair treatment of American dairy farmers? I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say neither was about to happen?

I would submit, and history does insist, that the placing of tariffs, especially by a stronger nation, are more likely to be the catalyst of unrest and even war.

Look at Germany immediately before and then after the clearly discredited Smoot/Hawley tariffs were rolled out.  Germany was struggling mightily to recover from World War II.  As they were beginning to turn the corner, people like Hitler were looked upon as weird opportunists, trying to advantage of Germany’s weakened, but improving, state of affairs.  Our market collapse in 1929 sent shock waves through the world economy. But the suffering was well distributed. Countries like Germany were continuing to work their way into world markets albeit at a slower pace.

Smoot and Hawley, two old men pictured from 1930s.
The authors of Smoot Hawley (that would be Smoot and Hawley themselves) the Dumb and Dumber of 1930.

Then along comes the Smoot/Hawley debacle.  Immediately, what was left of Germany’s chances of recovery were put off by at least a decade.  Already weak, the German economy had the chair kicked out from underneath it.  Suddenly, the blame-the-rest-of-the-world activists, including Hitler and the Communists, were seen as visionary. When you are dangling over the edge of the cliff, you’ll grasp at anything.

Germany, circa 1930 – 31 would be similar to our PIGS now. Their politics and economics are in ever increasing disarray. The tariffs aren’t helping them or the US in any way.

The cliché is: “When goods stop crossing borders armies soon will”.  It’s a cliché because it is true. So the talk of needing tariffs for national security reasons was undiluted bullshit from day one.

But, boys and girls, if I may be permitted the microaggression of noting the difference, we are now facing a far greater threat from Trump than any harm this tariff lunacy might do to us.

In an upcoming post I will outline the greater threat and the stupidity (not just Trump’s stupidity, this is widespread ignorance) behind it. In a separate post I will define the clear solution to our trade deficit.  I will give you a hint about the latter: We are SUPPOSED to have trade deficits with just about every other country because we are stronger and richer than they are.


[1] Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.  It is a college education in one easy-to-read book. You can read it free here.

[2] The author supports both concepts, generally

 

Don’t be a political pansy! Read Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.
Let’s demand good governance!

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!


 

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Don’t Be A Political Pansy…on Election Day.

The tag line I use to promote my book is “Don’t be a Political Pansy!” That is tongue-in-cheek advertising, and as much a joke as it is a challenge. But there really is a breed of political pansy out there.

I normally serve up red meat on this site. There is so much we can devour! And I am serving up plenty of it elsewhere. But right now I am talking to EVERYONE. I may be preaching to the choir though. It is likely that the people this is directed at won’t see it because, well…they are the people it is directed at, political pansies.

Who are these pansies? These are the people on both side of the political spectrum who harp endlessly on how screwed up everything is. They call names on Facebook and sit in the break room at work looking down their noses at politicians and the people that vote for them. But in reality they are too lazy and insincere to actually go out and make their own noise in a way that is constructive.

 These pansies have a laundry list of reasons to not fulfill their civic duty and vote. But my favorite is, “Why bother? It never changes. They’re all the same.”

These pansies already know the answer to their own question. Things remain as they are because too many people say, “Why bother? It never changes.” By being that guy, you hand the worst of our politicians the advantage of incumbency and the comfort of knowing that not enough of the electorate is awake enough to impact their political ambitions.

You have to trust me on this: If the political class woke up on Wednesday morning to find out 90% of the population voted (the results would be wildly out of sinc with what the talking heads are saying now) they would piss their pants! And rightly so. It would mean that they would have to start performing. They would have to shitcan their poll tested garbage and really try to make a difference. They would realize that all the special interest cronyism won’t protect them from US!

And damn! Look how easy they have made voting! You can vote online, vote mail-in (used to be called absentee, and you can vote early. I have made my concrete concerns for these stupid ideas known in my book and here.

Despite those misgivings, how much easier do you need it to be before you participate and drop the phony self-importance about how the man will keep you down no matter what crap?

HOW IT OUGHT TO BE

I was talking to my buddy Bob D. on Facebook the other day. We were in disagreement about a particular get-out-the-vote campaign. But on one point, I don’t believe there was a spark of light between us.

I said that Election Day should be a bank holiday. Forget early voting or online or mail-in garbage. Only real cases should vote absentee. On election day, we should all gather and celebrate the day and the franchise, win or lose. Voting is at least as important as the Fourth of July! It’s way more important than Labor Day. There should be Election Day parties. No one allowed in without an updated “I voted” sticker. These parties should not be mandated by law, of course, but it would be an original party theme. On this day, even as the returns are still being counted, we are all one again. We all did our civic thing and now we are enjoying just being Americans.

Tomorrow, it all starts again. But today, no rancor or discord would be of any use to anyone. Pass the beer and the brats! 

But what am I saying? [snide whiney voice] No one would ever do that. It’ll never change. Right?

To this I would respond with a slightly non-contextual quote from Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1977: There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” At the time, that was the prevailing wisdom.  It would last less than 5 years.  Of course we would need a center of influence bigger than my brilliant self to make Election Day a holiday.

And what the hell, it would give Hallmark a reason to jack us up for a whole new set of greeting cards.

 

Don’t be a political pansy! Read Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.
Let’s demand good governance!

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!