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Is All This Tariff Talk Real? I hope Not!

Is all the Trump tariff talk real? Or is this just a better-orchestrated rehash of Trump vs Pina Nieta 2017?

Do you remember when President Donald Trump begged Mexico to pay for the wall, or failing that, at least not to say publically that they wouldn’t?

Of course, you don’t. If you linked here from FB you probably can’t remember what people were pretending to care about just before they pretended to care about illegals being separated from their kids. (It was Trump meeting with the crazy fat kid – even though the same people pretending to object to the meeting were insisting on it the week before Trump announced the meeting.)

But the idea behind the phone call to Mexico, cited in the link above, was to create theater around the border wall issue. I believe that by mid-2017, the Donald already realized the slim chance he had of getting a needless wall built. But his entire political trajectory is predicated on him being the Ultimate Deal Maker. Building the wall was supposed to be one facet of this title.

He isn’t a great deal maker. He never was. As streetpolitics.us has pointed out in other pieces, citing a variety of sources, Trump was never the big deal maker in the multi-billion dollar empire that bares his name. He was the face man. He was the dog-and-pony show that kept the flamboyant public image of empire alive, and the big money marks occupied, while the real deal makers hammered out real business. Ultimately, after it became apparent that he had no mature interest in the actual running and monetization of the corporation, the board fired him from positions of real responsibility and paid him a monthly stipend to stay on as the public entertainer-in-chief.

But hey, it’s an image, right?

When Trump first donned the MAGA hat and announced his candidacy, he knew that most of the public was blissfully unaware of his real role in Trump Enterprises and counted on his undeserved “Gordon Gecko” image to say that he would make “great, great” deals as president. “Such beautiful deals!”

But when it came time to actually perform, we found the Donald woefully lacking.

President Donald J. Trump

For example, when Trump did call Mexican President Pena Nieta in 2017, not only did he tip his entire hand, leaving himself no avenue of attack or retreat, he made a series of cringe-worthy gaffes which for some reason, even his political detractors didn’t really hammer him for. But Trump displayed an ignorance of parlay not seen since the Duke of Edinburg demonstrated the diplomatic skills of a Moe Howard on Chinese soil.

Along with racial groupings that only a modern “liberal” would conflate (because modern liberals are racist), Trump suggested to the president of another nation, that although his “wall” was the least important thing being discussed, that it would be helpful TO TRUMP if they would pay for the wall or at least stop saying they wouldn’t. This was tantamount to begging someone of an opposing point of view to pretend not to be, so the requesting party might not be made to “look terrible”.

I’ll try to address the racial gaffes in another article. My to-do list grows exponentially with such asides.

 Fast Forward

Is it possible we are seeing the same immature theater playing out with these tariff battles (minus the leaks that resulted in the WAPO article linked above)? Did Trump actually sit down with leaders in recent summits and say something like, “Look, I have to pretend to be this tough guy. So I will announce tariffs, then you can do the same and then we’ll settle back to basically where we are right now anyway. I have to do something because I said I would in the campaign. Not doing so would make me look stupid.”

If so, then the worst you can say about this “trade war” dust up is, at least in private, the leaders of the world are giggling behind their hands at the President of the United States. After a few months of posturing and stock market drama, all things will settle back to where they are right now, with a few meaningless, token changes. Trump will declare victory and the our trading partners will be happy to let him do so  because they will continue to gauge our exports as they have for the last 50 years.

I can live with the embarrassment. I would be disappointed with the result.

But what if the tariff talk is real?

What if Donald Trump really intends to use a tariff war to “help” the U.S.? Is it possible that someone who has no understanding of history or economics convinced him that haphazardly slapping several countries with tariffs is a good idea?

I will stipulate that among Facebook bozos and talking heads in the “Entertainment News” business, there is almost no understanding of history or economics. Most people in those two intellectual ghetto forums are motivated by what is politically helpful to my tribe?

 But when White House advisors start telling someone as pliable as Trump that protectionism is GOOD for our economy, well… Houston, we have a problem.

Assuming this is not a stunt, this is how Trump’s present course of action will pan out. We are hitting several key trading partners (I use that term advisedly) with broad, impulsive tariffs. They must respond in kind for their own domestic consumption. This includes China. It can be argued that they need our markets more than we need theirs. That is mostly true, but as you will see, hardly of any help in this scenario.

Very quickly, trade will slow, production will slow, and people WILL start losing jobs. Companies with the money and dexterity to quickly move production into countries, considered our to be “trade war” enemies, will do so. This will minimize some of the damage they will endure. These companies will be punished (mostly with rhetoric – look at Harley) by our deal-maker-in-chief. No one will actually be able to do anything to them legally, except congress, but there isn’t a gonad to be found among the entire 535 creatures there.

And so it will go. Eventually, no country will be able to sustain the economic hostilities. Slowly, quietly, the barricades will be dismantled, and as before, all belligerents will slowly retire to about where we are right now. As was the case in Cuban missile crisis, all countries involved will make some token gestures that will leave their home audience thinking they are strong and the international community thinking they are magnanimous. Everyone will get a participation trophy.

But after wrecking jobs and retirement accounts, nothing really will have changed in the grand scheme of things…

Except for one thing…

…The market sentiment and economic trend created with Trump’s election will be over. In fact it will see a huge reversal. Everything we have enjoyed over the last two years will be wiped out. And this COULD all happen by November of 2018. That means we could be looking at a real “blue wave” as opposed to the imagined one of today.

This is one reason I have still not completely let go of my old Trump-as-democrat-shill theory.

It all depends on whether we are looking at an opening gambit, with real free trade[1]  to be proposed in the ensuing weeks or if Trump and company are actually stupid enough to follow through on the existing threats.

[1] Real free trade is just that; no tariffs, no subsidies, no protectionism.

In my next economic piece, I will discuss REAL free trade and why we need it now more than ever.

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Sexual Counterfeiters

I wrote this before leaving town for the holidays.  But check out the update at the end.  I love being right!

Let’s pretend we’re Puritans and we’re irreparably offended by Roy Moore, et al!

A good holiday read this year might be The Crucible: A play in four acts by Arthur Miller. Yes, the original play is a great read. It beats the movie all the hell. And it couldn’t be more timely.

People who do not understand economics, and there are far too many in this country, usually fail to realize what happens to the value of their money when worthless dollars are injected into the economy. Whether on a small scale by counterfeiters or a large scale by the government trying desperately to keep Wall Street afloat, flushing money with no underlying value into the system cheapens the currency and hurts everyone but the Federal Reserve and the cronies or criminals who will profit directly from the circulation of the funny money.

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The same holds true with just about every other aspect of your life. When there is too much of something or false versions of something flood society, the real thing loses value. Sometimes the real thing becomes the object of contempt.

So in an age of me-too-ism, where hoards of people try to inject themselves into high-visibility narratives, the experience of real people with real problems becomes cheapened.

In recent weeks we have seen a gully wash of sexual harassment claims made public by people trying to gain notice by riding on the backs of people who have real harassment grievances.

We hear stories every day from people coming out of the woodwork to tell us what happened to them way back when. Some are real. Some indicate real trauma, if the activity involved was unwanted.

But many are of the type we hear from a handful of women trying to get some mileage out of some me too stories.

Barbara Boxer recounts a story about a fellow member of congress in the 80’s who said, “I’d like to associate with the gentle-lady (Boxer),” In a joking and suggestive manner. Please remember that Boxer is an attractive woman. In the 80’s she was HOT.

So what are we to make of this? Was it harassment? Of course not. It was a joke and one can safely assume meant as a compliment. And it happened thirty-some years ago. If Boxer considered it harassment what are we to say about her strength as a person. It seems she wants us to feel sorry for her because she is just a girl.

In a world where sexual harassment charges have become a cottage industry even before fat Harvey hit the headlines, are we to assume that Barbara Boxer was too weak to bring this capital offense to light? Of course not. She is putting forward this story because she wants to gain some political cache while all this SH talk is still percolating. So she takes a joke, which she in all likelihood laughed at, and is now touting it as trauma.


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Oh! But they must all be believed!

This is actually the message, both direct and indirect, that we are being sent. If a woman says she was harassed or assaulted sexually we are to believe it without question. If we don’t we are no better than the accused. And in this reinvigorated age of penny ante sexual offense, the accused has no assumption of innocence. The accused is guilty and that is that.

I would ask why? Are we obliged to believe something because the person making the claim wants to be believed? Is that the reasoning process?

The justification, we are told, is that coming out with such allegations is a brave act.

Well.

I would submit that to approach your organizations chain of command, as a lone accuser, in a timely manner with accusations about someone you see every day or actually work for is brave. There are hoops to jump through. Despite assurances, we’ve seen that companies or government organizations are not always honest brokers in these situations. Hell, Fat Harvey’s company had a schedule of financial penalties they would charge him every time he got caught begging women for sex. THAT is NOT an organization with a desire to see its employees protected from abuse. That is a company with incentives to support the abuser.

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Gloria Allred being celebrated at a men-dressed-up-as-women parade. Because she “cares.” Photo Credit: calvinfleming Flickr via Compfight cc

It is NOT brave to be recruited by the media or bottom dwellers like Gloria Allred and to smear politicians or anyone in exchange for 15 minutes of fame. I’ll deal with the veracity of claims against Conyers, Moore and Franken in a bit. But true or not, to come out and claim offense, years after the alleged incident, to the public, surrounded by cheerleaders, at a time that JUST HAPPENS to be the most damaging to the accused is not brave. It is underhanded, vindictive and questionable on its face.

To Wit…

The stories presently swirling around many male celebrities have sweeping degrees of credibility. In the case of poor John Conyers (D-MI) things do look bad. It seems his odd predilection for walking around his office in his skivvies was well-known [1.See what I mean about organizations not REALLY being interested in helping the actual victims of harassment…or even embarrassment] throughout Capitol Hill. AND he’s paid settlement money [stolen from us] to hush his accusers. We have to chalk him up as guilty.

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Al Franken dehumanizing two women at once. He is evidently an ambidextrous dehumanizer. Photo Credit: RamseyCountyMN Flickr via Compfight cc

The stories around Al Franken (D-MN) show him to be sophomoric and kind of pathetic. If true, some of the claims do rise to at least smarmy. The original accuser, who I tend to put the most trust in, had pictures. Franken’s response to her was at first dismissive. Then when the pictures came out, Al was suddenly somber and contrite. He would restage his contrition, always fine-tuning his remarks again and again. But his tone was always somewhat smug and self-important, even while trying to pretend he was sorry.

His non-resignation resignation speech was an exercise in deflecting, projecting and chest beating.

But as is almost always the case with these high profile smack downs, out from nowhere we get the ones who WANT to pile on. The last one I heard piling onto Franken said when he posed for a picture with her at an event YEARS AGO, he put his hand ON HER WAIST and squeezed twice. On her waist? Is the waist a sex organ? Is it depraved when mooning for political photo (the attendees are always the ones to request a picture) to throw an arm around the people you’re posing with? And squeezed how?

The complainant in this case said a hand on her waist made her feel diminished, less human. She also said she won’t allow her husband to touch her that way in public. Wow! She sounds like loads of fun! She also sounds like she is piling on. Oh yeah…uh…me too! Me too! He assaulted me!

As for the original accuser, Leeann Tweeden, I think my wife hit the nail right on the head. Little troll with a permanent Joker smirk on his face wants to “rehearse” a stage kiss with hot lady. Hot lady finally gives in. Little troll, desperate to feel attractive lays a killer lip lock on hot lady. Hot lady is, of course, annoyed with the little troll. She also finds out he posed for pictures while she slept, pretending to grope her boobs. There was no groping, but again, even the accuser at the time considered it all adolescent behavior. It was probably the subject of many a demeaning giggles and gossip over the ensuing years.

But in the age of “all men suck” and “I want some too” it all went from Isn’t Al gross? to I was abused and damaged for life.

 My wife said that if it had been an A list star for whom Tweeden felt a physical or romantic attraction, the whole “rehearsal” would have seemed cute and sexy, [sigh] impetuous! But it was the little troll, so he needed to be punished.

The Roy Moore Story: In A Class of its Own

Roy Moore dressed up as a rootin’, tootin’, gun-totin’ cowboy. Yeeee-hah! Credit: https://i0.wp.com/www.occidentaldissent.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Roy-Moore.jpg?fit=1200%2C630

In most states, it is legal to marry at 16 with parental consent. In Hawaii that age is 15. In Alabama and Utah it’s 14.

So right off the bat, we can dispense with the whole child abuse thing regarding Moore. We may think a 30+ year old man pursuing teenagers is kind of pathetic, but it doesn’t automatically rise to the destruction of someone 40 years after the fact.

In the case of one of Moore’s accusers, the mother of the girl in question encouraged her to pursue the relationship. One can safely assume mom thought gittin’ daughter hitched up to a lawyer might not be so bad.

Eliminate Yearbook Lady.

Before I break down this circus I’ll say this: When a politician comes at you waving a bible or any holy paper and says vote for me, assume first that you are being played. Moore is a Southern political stereotype. He is smarmy and disingenuous. His whole religious schtick is laughable. I can’t believe how easily people still fall for that crap. But if he says he’s a Christian and wears a cowboy hat, I guess that’s good enough for Billy Bob.

That said…

…Beverly Young Nelson, likely recruited by Gloria Allred for fun and profit, has stunk to high heaven from the start. Her overly rehearsed statement, read from a script, was an outlier from the beginning. The narrative is in no way similar to that of the other accusers. It sounded completely contrived. Then after insisting twice in that press conference that the inscription in her yearbook was entirely from the hand of Moore, we find out Nelson added the cute little notations. So in the court of law and the court of common sense we are permitted to dismiss her and Allred entirely out of hand.

As for the others, whether Moore made a play for them or not, my question is where the hell have they been for the past 40 years? Where were they when Moore was elected to the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court? In that position he has a much more direct effect on people’s lives than the 535 jackasses we have working on Capitol Hill. Why didn’t these brave troopers speak up then about his antics from 38 years ago? Where were they with Moore’s Ten Commandments circus stunt? He clearly knew it would spark a shits storm, it always does. He did it for political mileage. Why didn’t these women call him out as a hypocrite then, while he was making national headlines?

The answer is obvious. Roy Moore was not running for a precariously balanced Senate yet. So there was no press or political operatives snooping around hoping to create a story.   Opposition research led to some stuff that was ripe for the pickin’ in the age of Fat Harvey. And voila, you have a 38-year-old story that is treated as if it were serious and happened last week.

If you are truly so puritanical as to be offended by this, so be it. But I expect to see the same people rallying against child marriages, parental consent or not, because to get to that point with a young girl, we all know there has to be some he-in’ and she-in’ going in before hand. If that is sexual assault or child abuse, there can be no child marriage. Period. If you are not ready for this fight, spare me your faux offense.

Hypocrite Hill

We hear congressmen saying if Moore wins the ethics committee will immediately launch an investigation. About what? The allegations are 38 years old. And as we have demonstrated here, this is none of the Federal Government’s business.   They have absolutely no bearing on Moore’s ability to legislate.

Besides, until Congress comes clean about who paid tax-payer dollars to hush up sexual harassment accusers, and what these congressmen did to those who were paid, they have no ethical authority to investigate anything of a sexual nature.

But as I said earlier, it is stories like these that will cause bosses, coworkers and potential mentors to hold people at arm’s length.   When someone is legitimately accused of sexual abuse, stories like these will cheapen the charge, cause eye-rolls and give organizations even more incentives to circle the wagons against REAL accusers.

And no, we don’t have to believe anyone just because they said something. Certainly we don’t if the story is years old and timed to damage someone at a key moment. I couldn’t care less if Franken and Moore slid into a sinkhole together. But when we treat petty complaints like these as if they were the equivalent of REAL abuse, we hurt women.

Update: Well, well!  It turns out that I had it exactly right.  Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom (Mama Sleazebag and Baby Sleazebag, respectively) have been COLLECTING DONATIONS  from liberal suckers to pay women to make sexual assault and harassment allegations against high-ranking conservatives.  To have suspected it bothered me.  To learn it was true infuriates me.  These “crusaders for women’s rights” have done more damage to the position of women in society than anything Franken or Moore could ever dream of.

And just to make it all even sleazier, these two wretches were schlepping donations to do this!  They’re both richer than god.  They could have bankrolled these “offended” women if they really believed their complaints.  And when many turned out to be duds, Allred and Bloom claim to have returned “some” of the donated money.  What skanks!

Expect to see more of this in coming elections.  Hey, when you don’t have real issues to pursue, why not make a mockery of a real issue?

 

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Why Everyone Is Wrong About "Tax Reform"

So, What’s Wrong With “Tax Reform”?

I’ll start with this little hint:  What we are seeing debated right now in the abortion we call Congress is not tax reform.  It isn’t even a significant tax reduction.  Okay, so that was more than a hint.

Take a gander at my piece about Boris and Ivan.  When I posted it last week a Boris attitude was running rampant through social media and cable news.  Commentators and the wider ignorant crowd were whining about how unfair it is that the rich get the several times more than everyone else.They should pay more still!

When I read and hear people saying such things I often wonder if they are stupid and pathetic enough to actually believe it, or if they are hoping to join the chorus of the left, hoping that Daddy Government will kill Ivan’s goat for them.

At any rate, it seems to be working.  Since last post congress has been debating who should get taxed to pay for the tax cuts.  (Can you see the stupidity at work here?)   It appears they will not only keep the top rate at 39.6%, there is serious talk of running it up to 48%+ to pay for the measly tax breaks the middle class is getting.

There are so many things wrong with the ongoing debate it is hard to know where to start.  The undiluted bullshit is flowing out of DC like a wall of stinking lava.

The first, and most significant point is how blatantly disinterested the Republican are in a true, free-market fix to our tax code.  I would lump Trump in with them but I have to allow for his monumental ignorance about all things political and economic.  I have been so hard on him over the years it wouldn’t be fair to pretend he understands what is actually being debated here.  Clearly, the Four Morons simply stroked his ego, let him think he was the driver of the debate and told him this was going to be a historic tax cut.  It’s not going to be any such thing.

If the GOP actually wanted to REFORM the tax code, they would have started from a position of real reform.  This would have been to announce that taxes and spending were going to be slashed to the bone.  Naturally, the Dems would have had fits.  But they would have been forced to defend the ridiculous code we have now.  Any conservative, even pretend conservatives like Paul Ryan could have easily won that debate.

The result, even with compromises, would have been far more productive and far better for the economy than what we have now.  That’s because the GOP started, as they did with Obamacare repeal and Immigration, from a position that was already 90% a Dem/Socialist position.  And as with Obamacare and Immigration the Dems couldn’t have been happier with the laws being proposed by Ryan and McConnell.

When you see the Democrat half of the Four Morons saying how horrible the GOP plans are, you are just hearing hot air.  They know three things: There are a few honest conservatives on the Right who know this is all theater and will have a hard time supporting it.  They also know there are at least two political whores, McCain and Collins, who will not support anything that isn’t 99.9% liberal so they can claim to be “mavericks” working across the aisle.  Finally they know the Ryan and McConnell are weak leaders who care more about simply being in their cushy positions as party leaders than actually accomplishing something.

Result:  the Dems know they will either keep everything as they want it or if they “lose” the debate, they keep 90% of what they want.  In other words, the Dems can’t lose and the GOP had already surrendered their principals before the first committee took up “tax reform”.

Oh Yeah, about the “reform” thing.

I really hope if you are reading this you are not one of those pathetic rubes excited about the post card tax form.  THAT is the first “reform” Paul Ryan has been touting.  There is nothing new about that card.  It is a 1040A printed in a smaller piece of thicker paper.  You’ll enter the same numbers in basically the same way.  The only difference is there will be more people claiming “gifts” from the government in the form of “earned” income credit (EIC) and the “alternative minimum” tax (AMT) repeal.

While these “gimmees” send more of our money to mostly people who don’t pay income taxes to begin with, they represent more of the federal government taking money from you and me and pretending to help us by giving it back or giving it to someone else.  Why take it to begin with?

So the card is a hoax.

The state tax write-off.

Most people actually think this is a good thing.  While I am sure they love the idea of getting the money in their Federal refund, did you ever consider what little sense it makes?

Let’s say you live in Mississippi.  Your government taxes you and everybody else. At the end of the year you get a deduction for what you paid Mississippi.  In other words Daddy Government is subsidizing your citizenship in a state.  Pretty good, right? 

But in MS, you don’t pay very much in the way of state taxes.  New Yorkers, on the other hand, pay a huge tax bill to the state.  Their deduction is a lot bigger.  So when businesses and people decide to live in New York, it is understood that to live in such a “great” state, you have to pay for the privilege.  But wait, they are subsidized too.  Hmmm.

What would happen, I wonder, if the federal government dropped everyone’s tax rates a bit and stopped subsidizing people living in congested, high tax, big, bureaucratic areas?  Would a small to medium sized business person stay there with the traffic and the crime and the red tape, if someone else was not paying him public money to do so?  Just chew on that one.

But everyone is worried about the deduction (which the government never had any business creating) going away.  The idea of the government subsidizing what state you live in deserves more attention.  And I will revisit this subject in greater detail soon.

And what of your mortgage interest deduction?  Did you buy a home because you got a deduction?  Don’t lie.  You’re not a billionaire.  You bought a house because you were ready to buy a house.  Period.  The “deduction” you get is smoke and mirrors.  How about we knock a few more point of your tax bracket and stop wasting time and money factoring and paying inflated refunds.

How about the child-care credit?  That’s going up!  How about we knock more still off what you pay to begin with and not pretend to “give” you that money every year?  Do you know what happens to prices when there is less money chasing them?  That’s right!  Very good!  They go down.  It is the illusion of getting that money from Daddy Government that contributes to the high cost of child care.

And if you don’t qualify to pay income taxes, everyone else is paying for your child care and your “earned” income credit.  You should thank people for that every day.  If that line makes you smirk it is because you are an ingrate with an over-bloated sense of entitlement.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  This tax debate and the comments I see on social media indicate there a bunch of you out there.

Don’t get me wrong.

Any reduction in taxes will have a positive effect on the economy right now.  But the pathetic little we will come away with after this bit of worthless theater in Congress will not be anywhere near the boost we’d get from a real across-the-board cut.  Everyone paying the same percentage of their income, closing all loop holes would be better.

But the tax cuts need to be paid for!!!!

No they don’t.  Not in the near term.  But once the economy settles into the new norm, there will be no new boost from the tax rates.  So, since we know that any new revenue from the volume of taxes being paid will be wasted by the spending pigs in the House and Senate, what is a voter to do?  What is the 1 smart statesmen in 50 to do?

Well, if you want to offset tax cuts directly, you don’t raise other kinds of taxes.  That kills the point of the exercise.  You must cut spending.  First there has to be a push for no new spending.  No one is dying in this country because the government doesn’t piss enough money away.

Uncle Stinky can, as I point out in Street Politics, dump a lot of useless spending over night. Start with the entire Department of Education.  It has never educated a single child in this country since its inception.  In fact, like the “war on poverty”, every dollar spent by the Dept of Ed has resulted in one less educated graduating class after another.  It is a drag on REAL education.  Dump it.

Put the EPA under the Department of the Interior.  Strip it of its entire mission other than referee of disputes between states over shared waterways.  Every state now has an EPA of its own.  We don’t need a 51st EPA in DC.  Slash it by 90%.  Not a single molecule of carbon will be emitted because of that cut.  Until now the only thing that stood between fossil fuels and success was bribe money on K Street.  Now the states will be the final arbiter of who burns what fuel and who builds wind farms.

And don’t get me started on job training programs.  They are most wasted tax dollars ever spent.  Not one of the 47 job training programs run by the federal government has reported a single success.  Most don’t even pretend to have a matrix to justify the money they waste.

That’s just three examples of billions we can save to put the “pay for tax cuts” canard to rest.  There are more in the book and many more to be had throughout the federal pig trough.

Conclusions

This should be your take-away.  There is only one true, honest, permanent tax reform to be pursued.  That would be a flat tax.  To be most effective it should be a point-of-sale retail tax, but or now we just leave it as an income tax.  No pretend loop holes.

Arguing for more taxes to pay for tax cuts is the kind of sick shit Orwell tried in vain to warn us about.  Reduce the size of the pig trough.

My final conclusion is this:  I am likely pissing up a rope (old Navy talk for wasting my time).  My guess is the GOP will put out a plan even more Byzantine than our existing tax code which will do 1/10th of what a simple across-the-board cut will do.  There will be great fanfare.  The Donald will call it the greatest tax cut in history.  And you will let them all get away with it.

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