The King of Debt Delivered

The federal government ran a deficit of $205 billion in November, a 48 percent increase from the $139 billion shortfall a year earlier, and the biggest November deficit on record. The self-proclaimed King of Debt, a/k/a President Trump, certainly delivered. And now our children and grandchildren can pay it back. With interest.

At least some of the voters are pleased. The ones who voted for him, that is. I guess they don’t have kids.

Mr. Cohen Is a Stark Reminder of the Temptations that Come Our Way

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, was sentenced to prison yesterday. Among his crimes were ones conducted with and at the behest of Mr. Trump. Whether Trump will be held accountable for his misdeeds remains to be seen. But in any case, Mr. Cohen is headed off to the pokey. Before he leaves, however, it’s good to take stock of the lessons imparted by his tragic experiences. Why? Because they may help you avoid the same fate, Vera. Continue reading

Tariff Man Fails

Tariff Man (the term President Trump coined for himself) hates the trade deficit we run with China. He’s been working to correct this, or so he’d like us to believe. But the data don’t lie. And the data show our trade deficit with China is higher than it’s been in a decade (higher than it ever was under President Obama). It seems Tariff Man may be all talk. Now there’s a surprise.

Here’s the chart:

I suppose there are a couple lessons here for us, Vera. Continue reading

Raping the Nation’s Wealth? How Stupid Does He Think We Are? Oh, Yeah.

President Trump thinks allowing imports to be sold in the U.S. in amounts greater than our exports is tantamount to “raping the nation’s wealth.” Think for a minute. No, for a second. Just consider how stupid this is. And the level of thinking demonstrated by the man who makes such a claim.

Of course, imports sell here only if they’re cheaper or better than what we produce domestically. So banning imports would cause us Americans to pay more than we’d otherwise have to pay, thereby lowering our standard of living, or would compel us to accept inferior products (such as GM cars in the ’80s). There is nothing about this arrangement that could even remotely be characterized as an economic “rape.”

A legitimate issue, of course, is whether we should give a preference to domestically produced goods either by taxing imports (tariffs) or subsidizing domestic producers (in the way the U.S. subsidizes its farmers), or banning certain imports altogether or restricting the volume coming in (quotas). There could be legitimate reasons for doing so.

For instance, if one’s national security depended on it, then it may make sense to protect the domestic suppliers. For instance, it would not be prudent to become entirely dependent upon aircraft made in foreign countries. That would make the U.S. Air Force and Navy highly vulnerable to potentially hostile regimes.

Another legitimate reason could be the fairness doctrine. For instance, if the reason an import is cheaper is because of a subsidy the producer received from its home country’s government, then the U.S. could decide, as a matter of policy, to place a leveling tariff on the import to ensure the competition is fair. Or it might chose not to, instead being grateful for the subsidy that the foreign government is essentially providing to the U.S. consumer. Obviously, the U.S consumer stands to benefit from the lower price, even if it’s the result of a foreign subsidy, where the U.S. worker who might lose his job due to the subsidized import might be harmed. Which brings us to the policy decision: which jobs are worth protecting and which one’s aren’t? These aren’t always easy decisions. In any case, there are remedies in place to protect against competition from subsidized producers (indeed, I’ve been involved in several cases where tariffs were sought because of such unfair competition).

But to cut off or restrict imports simply because someone is selling more of their products to us than they are buying from us is sheer lunacy, especially if your country’s currency is the world’s reserve currency (as is ours). In short, mindless protectionism is a sure recipe, over the long term, for diminished competitiveness, economic stagnation, and lowering of a country’s standard of living. And based on history, there’s a good chance it will lead to recession, depression, or war. Yet that’s precisely the mindset of our president.

You wonder how someone like this could be elected president. Or maybe you don’t. But I do. And you should.

The broader lesson in all of this, Vera, is simple: think for yourself. And don’t accept as gospel anything someone says, even if they hold a lofty position. Just because someone is a president, CEO, or, for that matter, a grandfather, doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice If Our Next President Did These Things?

Another week of observing the clown show we call the Trump presidency (culminating Monday in actions that would get anyone else indicted for obstruction of justice and in yesterday’s Tariff Man tweet that tanked the stock market) got me to thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if our next president: Continue reading

Because It’s the Right Thing Is Reason Enough

This week confirming evidence of the president’s lies about Russia came to light. Yet no one seemed to be surprised. It’s as if everyone knew he was lying all along. So when his lies were confirmed, there was little surprise or outrage. That’s where we find ourselves today: in the post-truth era.

You will have to decide for yourself, Vera: whether to be one who tells the truth, or one who says whatever serves your interests at the time.

Sometimes, the truth may be costly. It may be easier to lie. And more profitable.

Consider this however: Doing something because it’s the right thing is reason enough.

Trumponomics

President Trump and his minions on the Hill gave a gigantic tax cut to rich people and corporations this year, which translated into a $1.5 billion tax cut (approx. ) for General Motors. Supposedly all of this was necessary to make America great again. And to win!

Today, GM announced it was shuttering two U.S. assembly plants and two U.S. propulsion plants. In addition to the U.S. workers at those four plants who will be losing their jobs, 15 percent of the salaried staff at GM will lose their jobs as well.

Here is what Wall Street thinks of the cuts.¬†In short, Wall Street loves it. It realizes this means higher margins and more money for the investors. The fact that labor is once again getting kicked to the curb isn’t the concern of the owners.

Meanwhile, U.S. tax receipts are dropping like a rock, further inflating the country’s debt balloon. Consequently, the Government is having to incur huge amounts of debt that our kids and their kids will have to service in the years and decades to come.

Isn’t it great that U.S. citizens thought it was wise to elect the self-proclaimed King of Debt to the presidency?

All of this winning is exhausting.

 

Misogyny Turns Out to be a Turn Off for Certain Women

When you choose a misogynist bully to lead your party, as have the Republicans, it turns out certain people will be repelled by your values. Especially, certain women.

I remain perplexed by women who continue to support the misogynist-in-chief. But it is what it is. At least there will be fewer of them in Congress next year. And more women who find his crude, demeaning, predatory conduct to be repulsive and thoroughly unacceptable.

If You See the Stock Market as a Sign of Presidential Success, Then at Least See Clearly

Lest I mislead you, I do not subscribe to the belief that a president should be judged by the stock market. Or that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Trump was the principal driver in the rise of the stock market during their terms. But some people do, especially, it seems, the Trump acolytes who want others to believe Mr. Trump is a good president as proven by rising stock values. The graph undercuts such silly ideas, although, to be honest, I don’t expect facts to have any bearing on the foolish beliefs some of my fellow Americans tout. We are, after all, living in the post-truth era. It’s the narrative that counts. Facts be damned.