Hodgepodge

This just in:  I woke up this morning…inspired and yet mired.  There is just so much I want to get on the table that I find myself lacking direction.  So, I’ll throw stuff out there in no particular order.

Let’s start with a video of me doing my morning exercise…

Now a couple of political points…

Trump cancelled the security clearance of former CIA director Brennan.  Now, Brennan doesn’t need this clearance but the rationale is what concerns me.  Trump is doing this because Brennan is a political enemy.  Trump also listed several others that he was threatening.  In short, Trump is using his position to attack those that speak out against him.  What’s next?  IRS audits if you speak out against him?

A Republican Congressman this morning criticised Trump’s tariffs and the Brennan issue.  He then went on to say how happy he was about the great economy and rise in wages caused by the tax cut.  So, when it comes to something he had a hand in…nothing but good news…except the tax cut is doing nothing for wages.

For some reason, Trump calling Omarosa a “Dog” is still bothering me.  If my neighbor referred to anyone that way, I’d be disappointed in that person.  For the president to do this, knowing he is under fire for being a misogynistic racist shows a complete lack of understanding his place in the world.

Trump’s need to strike back at anyone that opposes him (instead of doing his job) reminds me of this…

And finally, I like good news and I like Reddit.  Here is a subreddit called “good news.”  People go here to post news that is actually good.  Check it out.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Economics of a Bully

This just in:  Trump’s tariffs have started a global trade war in which there are no winners.  Not unless you call the smug satisfaction Trump gets when he is bulling someone a “victory.”

Here is what tariffs do.  They are a tax on an imported good.  For example, if China once sold a cell phone in the United States for $400, then a 25% tariff would increase the cost of that phone to $500.  We put a tariff on China and Americans pay more for goods they buy from China.

To be clear…the tariff on imported goods is a tax on Americans.

If this is true, why would anyone implement tariffs?

Setting Trump aside for the moment, there are times that tariffs are practical.  For example, let’s suppose China has a huge technological and cost advantage when it comes to producing solar panels.  Let’s also assume that the United States would like to encourage the development and production of solar panels domestically.  Since China has such a huge advantage and can sell panels much cheaper than we can make them, any company in the United States that produces panels will not be able to compete.  Their panels will not be as advanced nor as cheap as those from China.

Enter the tariffs…

By putting tariffs on Chinese solar panels, their panels will now cost Americans more to buy.  In fact, the Chinese panels are now so expensive that we will buy American panels instead.  This allows a domestic industry to survive and grow.   Eventually, we will be on par with China and the tariffs, no longer needed, will go away.

So, the tariff increased the cost of solar panels but in exchange, we got a foothold in a huge global market for our domestic panels.

Let’s bring Trump back into the picture.

As president, he is allowed to unilaterally implement tariffs up to 25% if it is in the interest of national security.   For example, to protect an American industry that contributes to defense.

What Trump has done is to impose arbitrary tariffs on China, the E.U. and Canada without any clear rationale.  No one, including those in this cabinet, know what it is that he is actually trying to do.  No one can tell us what the “national security” issue is.

And what’s worse, those countries he is imposing tariffs on don’t know what he wants.  They don’t know what he is trying to negotiate for.  He says things like “China is treating us unfair” without clarification.  He puts tariffs on Canadian milk as if this will prevent a national security breach.  He puts a tariff on German cars and leaves the E.U. to scratch their collective heads in confusion.

Trump does all of this for two reasons.  The first being because he can.  The Republican Congress has indicated to Trump that they will not challenge any issue he wants to take on.

The main reason for tariffs is that Trump is a bully.  He puts tariffs on counties for the same reason the biggest kid in 3rd grade beats up on the other, smaller kids.  He is mean and insecure.  Being a bully is the best way he has come up to deal with this.

So, the world is entering a trade war because Trump basically needs a nap.

And as the result, Americans will pay more for many for the products they buy every day.

Vote in November and get the Republicans out of our house.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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The insanity of Trump’s economics

This just in:  It has been said that economics is a “soft science” because the outcomes of certain actions are not always predictable.  In fact, there is an entire field of economics known as Behavioral Economics, that tries to find out why this is so.  This diversity of outcomes from a repeated experiment is why we find several economic opinions that all differ with regards to nearly any given topic.

But there are some things we can count on, either by observation or irrefutable logic.  On these types of issues, the economic world is in nearly unison with their recommendations.

One such issue is Trump’s fantasy world of economics.  Nationally and abroad, the absurdity of Trump’s actions are astounding anyone that is paying attention.

Let’s look at a broad view of what I mean.

I will lay this out in steps, trying to put order to something that is nearly random.

  1. Trump wants to deport millions of illegal aliens.  These are people that have raised families here.  They pay taxes.  They commit crimes at a much lower rate than others.  And, this is important, they are filling many of the jobs that most of us would not take due to the low pay.  Trump’s policy of deporting these people is, in large part, justified by “They are taking away jobs that belong to U.S. citizens.”  Somehow, Trump is saying that for every field hand we deport, a high paying job is Silicon Valley opens up.
  2. Trump, and the Republican Congress passed a tax bill that takes from the nation as a whole, and gives to the vastly rich.  There are two ideas behind this: (1) Rich people will hire us to mow their lawn if they have more money.  This is known as Trickle-Down economics and is the most widely disproven economic theory there is.  And (2) Corporations will use their tax breaks to raise wages.  This makes the assumption that corporations are benevolent.  Instead, companies exist to make a profit.  If they already have employees that come to work for $x per hour, why would they pay more?  In fact, they didn’t. Instead, they are in the process of buying back company stock which has the effect of enriching shareholders, not workers.
  3. Trump cut subsidies for Green Energy, one of the fastest growing industries in the world today.  Many of the jobs in this industry are good paying.  Instead, Trump is investing in coal and other fossil fuels; an industry that is rapidly shrinking.
  4. Trump dropped out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and is now threatening to drop out of the World Trade Organization.  There is no clear reason for doing this but the outcomes are certain.  These are the exact steps one would take if they wanted to reduce the amount of goods we sell overseas.  Confusingly, Trump complains about the Trade Deficit all the time.  He thinks its a bad thing (it’s not) and then he does the exact opposite of what it would take to increase exports.
  5. Trump is putting tariffs on everyone that pisses him off.  As president, he can levy a tariff as high as 25% if it is deemed necessary for national security.  So,  suddenly, Canadian cheese imports are a threat.  The result of this is two-fold.  First, is causes our trading partners to levy counter-tariffs against us.  These counter-tariffs raise the price of our goods overseas.  Harley Davidson is a good example of this.  Tariffs placed on their product means they will sell fewer of these  overseas…unless….they move the factories and jobs overseas…which is exactly what Harley Davidson is doing.  Secondly, we now pay more for good that are imported.  If we put a tax on imported steel, then everything that uses imported steel will cost us more.  Already we are seeing spikes in goods like automobiles.

In summary, Trump touts jobs and then does everything he can to eliminate them.  He claims he is putting more money into the hands of the middle class and yet, they small amount we all get from the tax cut is quickly eaten up by the higher prices we are paying for anything imported.

And here is the kicker.  Europe, China and the rest of the world want to make this stop.  they actually want to know what it will take to make Trump stop this Globally Destructive behavior.

The thing is, even Trump doesn’t know what he wants.  The conversation goes like this…

Trump:  Here are some tariffs on the rest of the world.

The World: What can we do to make you change your mind?

Trump: I have no idea.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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A Return to Facebook

This just in:  I left Facebook on May 1st and took the next 2 months off.  I seemed to have survived just fine.

My plan was to come back and start all over.  I would “friend” very few people; mostly those of a like mind.  Instead, Facebook hooked me up with everyone that I left behind.  This is a bit of a problem since one of the reasons I left was that I got tired of reading one Russian produced meme after another.  A surprising number of people I grew up with will believe just about anything.  In many cases…it’s the Dunning-Kruger effect on steroids.

I intend to be blocked and to block in abundance.

I’m still not into conspiracy theories.

I still think “Thoughts and Prayers” have zero impact on gun control.

I still believe that science is a real thing.

And I’m certain that Donald Trump is a corrupt con man.

So, not much has changed in the last 2 months.

So…what’s on my mind today?  I know that may not be important to you but it’s why I blog in the first place…to put it down on paper so my head won’t explode.

On Netflix, the SciFi show “The Expanse” has to be one of the best things out there.  I read where the SciFi channel had to drop it because, even though it was popular, the production costs were just too high.  In steps Jeff Bezos (Amazon owner).  He is a big fan of the series and is now footing the bill for season 4.

Pork Bellies are good with anything.

Radiatore pasta is the best pasta to eat when covered with chili and cheese.

On the Trump is an idiot page….(yes, I still do this)

Two weeks ago he met with Kim-Jong-Haircut of North Korea and announced that he’d solved the nuclear crisis.  Last week he said North Korea has already sent home the remains of 200 MIA from the Korean War.  Now, it looks like North Korea is actually accelerating its nuclear program AND….no, it turns out North Korea has not returned any remains.

Trump has managed to take the immigration issue and make it worse.  I won’t go into all the details because it has be blanketed by the news already.

Trump’s genius economic mind, the one that caused him to declare bankruptcy over and over again until Russian banks bailed him out, came up with the idea of tariffs.  For no apparent reason, he has started a trade war that will raise costs and cost jobs…around the fucking world!

For no reason at all…

Trump’s economic advisor went on television and bragged about how well the new tax plan is working.  It’s causing record economic growth and shrinking the deficit.  When the entire world pointed out that this was false, he changed his story to “Well, we think it will happen in the future.”

Meanwhile…common wisdom says that when a new president takes over, the economy still belongs to the previous president for one year.  The reason for this is that economies don’t change overnight.  So, the stock market continued to grow and unemployment continued to drop during Trump’s first year.  This should rightfully be put on Obama’s record. However, after 1 year, starting in 2018, the stock market has had its worst year since 2010.  Economists around the world are starting to talk about the recession that will come.  They blame 2 things for this: (1) The Republican Tax cuts for the rich and (2) Trump’s trade war.

Watch this bit on Trump by Jon Stewart.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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A look at how bully Trump negotiates…

This just in:  Here is a quote from renowned economist Jeffery Sachs, a professor at Colombia University…”no one expressed a single word of respect for Trump during his (Sachs’) recent trip to Europe.”

Here is a link to Sachs’ article.  You should read it then pass it along.

The world has no respect for Trump.  They are also starting to look at us a bit sideways.  Who can blame them.  After all…Trump was voted in by us.

I wanted to just take a moment to point out the obvious – Trump’s singular style of negotiations.  We’ve heard stories about how he bullies those that did work for him in the past.  In those cases, it was always “his word against theirs” but it always seemed like he would put his team of lawyers after a contractor that he didn’t want to pay.

Let’s look at The Wall.  Trump cannot finance The Wall because he doesn’t make the national budget.  Also, those that make the national budget don’t want The Wall.  So here is what Trump did…He took the very successful DACA arrangement and threw it out the window.  It didn’t expire.  It wasn’t broken until he broke it…on purpose.

His next step was to tell the Democrats that if they wanted DACA back, they would give him his Wall.  The Democrats said, “No, we have better stuff to spend $25 billion on.”  So, Trump goes out to the world and says, “The Democrats are the reason we don’t have DACA.  I want DACA but the Democrats don’t want it.  It’s all their fault.”

This is effective because his faithful don’t check the facts.

Then… Trump wants better trade deals.  He doesn’t really know what that means.  After all, I have NEVER heard him mention a single factual thing about any trade deal.  It’s mostly stuff like, “We are being treated very unfairly.”  What does that mean?  Give us a single issue so we can agree with you.  But no…he can’t because he has no understanding of economics (see article linked to above).  Instead, it appears that he just wants some sort of deal, any deal, so he can say that he’s a big deal maker.  I point to the tax deal as an example of this.  It made things in our country far worse (Here is a link to a recent UN study on the impact of Trump’s policies).

His next step is to impose tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the E.U.  He cites national security as his rationale.  He is telling a gullible base that we need to save our steel industry so we remain strong.  To save this industry, he has declared a trade war on all of our global allies.   His hope is that all of these countries will shake in their boots and give him some sort of concession on existing trade deals.

Instead, EVERYONE in the world is imposing retaliatory tariffs against the United States.  There are even companies that are refusing to make any further investments in the U.S. so long as Trump is in power.

So, Trump’s negotiating strategy is to find a big stick and say, “Don’t force me to hit you with this because if you do, it will be your fault.”

And the world…didn’t blink as he had hoped.

Instead, they are uniting against us and rightfully so.

Thanks to Trump, the United States of America has become the face of the “Bad Guy” in the eyes of the world.

We are not the leaders anymore…

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Art of Donald Trump’s Con

This just in:  Trump has failed at nearly every business undertaking except for real estate.  If he had taken his dad’s money and just invested it in a Stock Market Index Fund, he would be worth more than 3 times what he is reportedly worth today.  He has declared bankruptcy several times.  Within the last decade, he has found that banks in the United States would no longer loan him money.  He turned to Russia and now appears to be cash-rich.  He started buying properties at market price and then, without making any improvements, sold those properties to Russians for huge profits; a practice most often associated with money laundering.

Take all of this in and then ask yourself, “Is Trump a genius or a con man?  Is Trump laundering money with help from Russia?  Is there a link between Trump’s benevolent attitude towards Russia and his financial dependence upon them?”

Let’s put all of that aside.  Forget about it.

I now have a new question: Is Trump a genius negotiator or an idiot?  In other words, is he a legitimate president or just a con man?

Let’s look at the deals he’s been involved with since taking office.

Healthcare:  He promised much better healthcare at much lower prices.  It turns out that neither he, nor the Republican Party had a plan.  In fact, Trump has no idea how healthcare works.  He claimed he was going to fix it without knowing what he was talking about.

NAFTA:  Trump calls this the “worst deal ever,” and claims he will negotiate a much better deal for us.  It turns out that his threats to back out of NAFTA have caused two of our top trading partners to look elsewhere for goods.  Trump has never given any indication that he understands what is even in NAFTA.

TPP:  This is another deal Trump calls “the worst deal ever.”  He says this without once mentioning a single thing he does not like or would change.  He apparently does not understand TPP any more than he understands NAFTA or Healthcare.  He calls previous deals “the worst deal ever” so his followers can nod in agreement and pretend, along with Trump, that he has a plan.

Paris Climate Accord:  Another deal that is the “worst ever.”  Trump has demonstrated that he has no idea what is in this agreement saying, “He wants to negotiate a fairer deal for the United States,” even though everything in the accord is voluntary.  If we want to participate less or pay less, then we can.

The Iran Non-Nuclear deal:  Again, “the worse deal ever.”  Trump has been saying the Iranians violated the deal by testing missiles.  Clearly, he didn’t understand that Iran is free to test missile within the bounds of the agreement.  Every other country that joined with the United States on this deal has urged Trump to stay with the agreement.  Instead, Trump is stepping away.

All these deals were already made.  The United States had already agreed to them.  What Trump has done is renege on these deals without understanding even the basics about the deals and having no alternative.  Why?  So he could pretend that he could fix things.

But let’s continue…

Trump is imposing tariffs without understanding the very basics about such an action.  He appears to know less about Economics than someone who has just completed their first week of Econ 101.

Trump supported a tax reform plan that gives virtually nothing to the middle class while enriching the top 1% of the population. In this instance, I’m not sure if he doesn’t understand the tax break or if he did this on purpose.  Notably, there was a last minute “pass through” issue that basically enriches anyone in the real estate business…like Trump.

The Con continues as Trump takes credit for progress between North and South Korea.  He does this expecting us to believe that his tweets about “Rocket Man” have brought the North to its knees.  He has done nothing to help in that part of the world.  Even North Korea says Trump has had nothing to do with the denuclearization talks going on now.

Trump has the Black Midas Touch.  Everything he does make things worse.  His EPA is dismantling itself; allowing for the rapid rise in nearly every area of pollution.  He’s weakened consumer protection.  He’s alienated NATO allies.  He’s shown racist tendencies and legitimatized the rise of white supremacy.  He’s actively supported the NRA while calling for “thoughts and prayers” and armed gym teachers as solutions to violence in schools.   He thinks saying “don’t do drugs” will cure the opioid crisis.  He thinks telling teens “don’t have sex” will lower teen pregnancy.

Notice all of this exists in addition to the Russian Collusion allegations or Trump’s constant lying.

This guy is a train wreck…and we put him in charge.

Just sayin…

Gotta run.  It’s time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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My Last Day on Facebook

This just in:  This afternoon, I will look up how to cancel my Facebook account.

There are a few reasons for this.  First, let’s start with the fact that I love being able to connect with friends I haven’t seen in years.  I intend to still do that, just not through the Facebook format.

Over the years, I’ve seen more and more nasty stuff being posted on FB.  At first, I thought, “This is fine.  I think it’s great that people have strong opinions, even if they differ from me.”  Then I noticed that “opinions were turning into hate.”

This is something I have no need of.

Lately, FB has been nothing but an expose on what people really think.  I see things like, “Michelle Obama was a terrible First Lady; nothing as great as Melania Trump.”  This is not just a statement about opinion.  This is a statement about someone’s acceptance of having a black person in the Oval Office.

I see posts about, “Liberals are trying to take away my guns.”  This is not about the Constitution.  This is about someone willing to risk 30,000 American lives annually so they can maintain their fantasy about killing a home intruder and making the front page of their hometown newspaper.

I see posts about how Trump is doing a great job.  This is possibly the most telling of all.  To support Trump is to demonstrate to me that we, as Americans, are not capable of governing ourselves.

This list can go on and on but I think the point is made.  I’m finding Facebook to be a disappointment.

So, this evening, I am logging off.

Elsewhere….

I see that North and South Korea are making nice with each other.  I really think there is something here this time.  We could end up with a unified Korean peninsula with no nuclear weapons and no Forever Presence of U.S. troops.

The best part of this is that all of this denuclearization is taking place without interference from the United States.  We are completely out of the loop.  However, this has not stopped Trump from taking credit for all of it.

Speaking of Trump…

His tariffs are set to tear apart the global economy.  Yes, it could be that bad.  Already, car prices are spiking up; quickly gobbling away at the extra $100 per year we each go in the Kock Tax Cut.

Europe is scrambling to figure out how to retaliate.  Meanwhile, China is sitting back with open arms as the world turns to them for new leadership in the global economy.

I was speaking with an economist last week.  I asked, “How can any country know what to do about Trump’s tariffs when even he has no idea what he wants?  He keeps changing his position and is often directly contradicting himself..”

The response was golden: She said, “Maybe he’s doing this on purpose.  Maybe he is trying to leverage his stupidity.”

This may be the most brilliant thing I have heard in a year!

On the Entertainment Page…

Watch “The Death of Stalin.”  This is a black comedy with several priceless lines and situations.

Watch “Mr. Robot” on Amazon Prime.  There are 3 seasons out.  Granted, a few episodes are a bit slow but overall, this is a very unique type of show.

On my webpage…

I will try to beef up the ability to make comments and interact on this site.  So, if you are on FB and want to stay in touch, make sure to sign up in the right sidebar.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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La Ze Faire

This just in:  I thought I would explain the impact of Trump’s tariffs in an easily digestible way.

First of all, tariffs cause inflation.  Why?

Let’s suppose you by bagels at your local store for $1 per bagel.  Then, one day, the son of the grocer wants to start making and selling his own bagels.  Since the son is just starting out, he doesn’t have everything streamlined just yet so it costs him more to make a bagel than the original supplier.  He needs to sell his bagels for $2 each.  Now, the dad wants his son to succeed so he tells the original bagel supplier that for now on, he must pay a tax of $1.10 for each bagel sold at the store.  This means his son’s bagels are cheaper than the competition and his business begins to thrive.

Good for the grocer; helping out his son that way.

What does this mean for you?  Well, you used to pay $1 for a bagel and now you pay $2.  This is inflation.

Trump is seeing our steel industry in much the same way as the grocer saw his son’s bagel shop.  Good for Trump.

Except for the inflation part.  We put a tariff on steel so, in the future, everything made from imported steel becomes more expensive.

Yes, this could help our steel industry but that would take decades.  It’s not like a steel mill can be bought and unpackaged like something from Amazon Prime.

So, point #1:  Tariffs cause inflation.

What else happens?

Countries that feel tariffs are unfairly imposed will fight back by putting tariffs on products that they import.  Europe, China, Canada and Mexico are already preparing to do this.

Let’s go back to the Grocer example.

Suppose the grocer has a major customer for its vegetables.  That customer is the brother of the original bagel manufacturer.  The bagel guy tells his brother, “Hey, that grocer is charging me extra to sell my bagels, I think you should tell him that you will stop buying his vegetables unless he gives you a huge discount.  That will teach him a lesson.”

So, the grocer lowers the selling price for his vegetables.  Now, he can’t pay as much for his incoming vegetable supplies so he passes the loss to the farmer.  The farmer can’t make a living at the new prices so he cut back on how many vegetables he grows hoping that the smaller supply will drive up prices.  In the meantime, he has to lay off a bunch of workers.

In the end, bagels cost more; vegetables cost more and jobs disappear.

So, point #2: Unfair tariffs cause retaliation with side effects

What else happens?

The government/Central Bank has basically two ways to impact the economy: Fiscal and Monetary.

Fiscal policy is when the government increases or decreases spending to stimulate (or cool off) the economy.  For example, if they want there to be more money in the economy, they can lower tax rates.  Alternatively, they can increase employment.  People with jobs will spend more money.  This causes economic growth; at least in the short run.  The problem is that putting more money into the economy causes inflation.

This brings us to Monetary Policy.  The Federal Reserve (central bank) can raise and lower interest rates.  When interest rates are low, people spend money instead of saving it.  This causes inflation.  When interest rates are high, people save money (because saved money earns high interest).  This takes money out of the economy and lowers inflation.

The problem with raising the interest rate to control inflation is that is affects everything.  If you want to by a house and have $500K to spend, you can by a bigger house when interest rates are low.  When they are high, you can only buy a smaller house.  If you own a house and interest rates go up, the value of your house goes down because it is now more expensive for someone to borrow money to buy your house.

Higher interest rates also cause companies to save.  Instead of expanding they save.  They won’t spend $10 million on a new production line if the interest on the money borrowed to buy that line eats up all of the potential profit from that line.  No new line = no new jobs.

We recently lowered our taxes.  Today, we just imposed tariffs.

It should come as no surprise that the Federal Reserve just raised interest rates.

So, point #3:  We can control inflation but it comes at a price. 

From my perspective, we are trying to fix an economy that isn’t broken by pulling on both ends of a rope at the same time.  We cut taxes to to incentivize people to spend more which creates jobs.  We impose tariffs that cause inflation.  We raise interest rates to  control inflation which causes us to save instead of spend which results in job loss.

This is the type of economic policy we get when we don’t have knowledgeable economists working in the White House.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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