Basking in the Glory of “Words”

This just in:  I see that Trump allowed himself to get played by North Korea; today, stepping out of the proposed summit so that “He could do it before they did.”

Just in case you missed it, Trump has accomplished virtually nothing since taking office.  Yes, some things have happened but nothing that would (or should) be considered an accomplishment.

Trump is very big on making a bold promise and then basking in the adulation.  Here’s the deal…he actually doesn’t do anything other than say the words.  I’m going to post a list of things that Trump has claimed credit for doing simple because he “says he’s going to do it.”

First, a couple of footnotes:  (1) Trump recently told Leslie Stahl of 60 minutes that he calls news fake so that people will not believe it when bad stories are written about him and (2) In his book, The Art of the Deal, he says you can lie to people and then do whatever you want to do.

Here is my list….

  1. Trump promised better healthcare at a much, much lower price.  “The best healthcare you have ever seen.”  He got lots of applause for this on the campaign trail…then did nothing.  That’s not quite true.  He actually made it worse by eliminating the “individual mandate”; a move that is supposed to add $1,000 to the average medical bill next year.
  2. Trump promised to cut taxes which will bring jobs back to America, lower the debt and spur grow “like we’ve never seen before.”  He claimed, without evidence, that GDP would grow at a rate above 5% under his plan.  Again, people ate this up on the campaign trail believing that Trump could turn water into wine.  As it turns out, he had no plan.  This allowed the GOP to cut taxes for their billionaire donors, leaving the rest of the 99% to foot the bill of the largest deficit ever.
  3. Trump promised to deal with North Korea.  So far, his strongest action has been a tweet calling the leader of North Korea “rocket man.”  On his watch, North Korea has developed the ability to strike North America with a nuclear tipped ballistic missile.
  4. Trump said he would deal with the Iran threat.  Instead, he reneged on a treaty with Iran and 5 other countries; opening the door for Iran to once again pursue the development of nuclear weapons.
  5. Trump claimed that he would renegotiate the TransPacific Partnership trade deal.  Instead, we dropped out and the deal moved forward without us; effectively reducing our ability to trade with about half the world.
  6. Trump claimed that he would renegotiate NAFTA.  Instead, both Canada and Mexico are looking for trading partners to replace us with.
  7. Trump claimed he was going to “deal with China”.  Instead, China claimed the South China Sea as their own.  Economically, they have outplayed him in every way.  China knows that Trump responds to flattery and bribes so they use both to great effect.
  8. Trump claimed he would build a Mexico wall and have them pay for this.  His supporters (those that fear we will become a non-Christian, non-white country) loved this idea.  Mexico has told him to pack sand.
  9. The biggest one is simply Trump getting on television and saying, “We have been the most productive administration of all time.”  His followers believe this and applaud wildly.

Sadly, this too is just words.  He brags.  People hear what they want to hear.  He retains his power.

Sad.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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

How would you spend your taxes?

This just in:  On 60 minutes a couple of weeks ago, there was a segment about a program at MIT where students invented stuff.  Combine this with stories we often hear about soldiers that come back from the Middle East, traumatized, and with no idea of why they were sent there in the first place.

This made me think, “If I were King, how would I spend my tax dollars.”

I thought I would offer up a few choices.

Let’s start with…

  1. Which would you rather do: (1) Pay no taxes and have only toll roads and private schools  or (2) Pay taxes to finance things that promote the public good?
  2. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) sending soldiers to Syria or (2) doubling the budget for NASA?
  3. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) sending soldiers to Afghanistan or (2) high speed transportation between cities and population hubs?
  4. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) Subsidizing the oil industry or (2) financing research into finding cures for things like Alzheimer’s or cancer?
  5. Which would you rather spend tax money on: (1) A military that is larger than the next 10 militaries put together (many of whom are allies) or (2) State of the art education that is available to all Americans, not just the wealthy?
  6. Which would you rather spend your tax money on: (1) Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico that can be defeated by a $20 ladder or (2) Universal healthcare that makes sure no one ever goes without healthcare and no one ever declares bankruptcy because of their medical bills?
  7. Which would you rather do: (1) Spend money on tanks and foot soldiers suitable for warfare as it existed 50 years ago but has no relevance to today or (2) Revitalize inner cities with the goal of every American being able to live free of fear with equal opportunity to the benefits of being an American (healthcare, education, freedom etc.)

And now one final one for my Republican readers (if there are any)…

Which would you prefer:  (1) a food program that makes sure no child in our country ever goes hungry of (2) allowing millions of children to go hungry because less than 1% of those on such a program are lazy?

There you have it.

Now…I have to run off and save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

Choices

This just in:  I was in Miami Beach last weekend.  As I walked along a harbor, I was able to marvel at the super yachts lining the piers.  These are boats that can easily cost tens of millions of dollars.

The thought crossed my mind, “I wonder how many of these yacht owners took their multi-million dollar tax cut and turned it into jobs?”

The answer is zero, of course.

People and companies don’t hire people unless they need to.  They also don’t give pay raises unless they need to.

In other words, the tax break for the rich did nothing to increase wages or create jobs.  This is Economics 101.  If you don’t agree with this, then you lack education.  This is not “a matter of opinion.”  It’s a simple fact.

So, where did that tax break money go to?  Well, individuals bought yachts or nicer houses or new dresses.  Corporations bought back stock which served to enrich shareholders.  If you don’t own stock, then you missed out on this as well.

The latest Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Republican Tax Bill is that it is going to bankrupt our country.  It is increasing our national debt by $1-$2 trillion a year…forever going forward.

Meanwhile…90% of American see no benefit.  None….

Eventually we will have to make some choices.  Let me list a few here…

  1. We can spend money on education. We can pay teachers living wages.  We can buy textbooks and computers. OR…we can let the very rich continue to buy yachts.
  2. We can maintain our roads and bridges.  We can invest in high speed transportation that brings labor into cities that are too crowded and too expensive to live in.  OR…we can continue to elect Republicans which are funded by groups like the Koch Brothers who are now making an additional $1 billion a year thanks to the tax break.
  3. We can create a healthcare system that is the envy of the world.  Or…we can allow income inequality to continue to grow so that for every $1 our country earns, $.99 go to the top 50 richest Americans…so they can buy more yachts.
  4. We can provide for Social Security so that our elderly don’t spend the last few years of their lives in poverty or as burdens to their children OR we can continue to believe the line that “Big Government is Bad” and thus continue to elect people that will govern to the needs of the rich.

These are the kinds of choices we face.  They are not new choices. They have always been there.

The right choice seems clear in every case.  The only roadblock is the Populist Agenda.  This is where someone with no educational background to support their assertion will tell you, “Vote for me and I’ll give you the best healthcare in the world and it will cost you nothing,” or “Vote for me and I’ll give you the biggest tax break in history and our economy will blossom with high paying jobs.”

Populism is basically promising people whatever they want to hear knowing that a large percentage will vote for you “just in case you really do know how to turn lead into gold.”

Populists are gullible and therein lies the problem.

Time for me to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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

 

I know who to blame

This just in:  I noticed I have become increasing less sensitive to those that propagate political nonsense.  For example, yesterday I saw a post that said, “Hitler supported universal healthcare.”  The implication seemed to be that if you supported everyone having healthcare as a right…you want to kill 6 million Jews.

So…today…I’ve decided to put “niceness”aside and call ’em as I see ’em.

Let’s start with Trump.  He is a crime family boss indebted to the Russian government.  His existence as our president instead of an an inmate is the fault of the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

For underprivileged kids that get free meals at school because their parents can’t afford to feed them….I blame the Democrats and those that vote Democrat.

For a tax break that gives billions to the richest in the country while almost nothing to the middle class and the poor, all the while creating the largest annual deficit in our nation’s history…I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Every time there is a “Death by Gun” I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

When there are federally funded advances in technology and medicine, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Every time there is an attempt to keep people from voting (voter suppression) or to keep 1 vote from having the same weight as another vote (Gerrymandering) I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Every time I see a public project, like transportation, that costs billions but contributes to the public good, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever the NRA gets it way with regards to gun legislation, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Whenever our government reaches out to help those in need (contributions to poor countries, welcoming refugees etc) I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever my health care cost go up as services decline, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

Whenever I see the United States working with other countries in harmony on issues such as the Environment or trade, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

When I see a news station put out knowingly bias and/or false information while those that offer real news are called “fake” I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.  (You must watch this video to see what I mean.  After watching…pass it along)

When people see families as families and not as “Muslim” or “Mexican” and treat them as such, I blame the Democrat Party and those that vote Democrat.

Whenever I see the rest of the world turning their back to the United States, whether it’s because of trade or human rights or whatever, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

When I see hate groups legitimized; when Muslims are seen as terrorists and Mexicans as someone to blame for our own shortfalls, I blame the Republican Party and those that vote Republican.

In short, I see no reason to vote Republican.

I see nothing but The Dark Side, when I think of a Republican.

It has not always been this way.  I, myself, am an ex-Republican.  However, in the last 15 years…this party has morphed into something unrecognizable.

We must vote in 2018.  We need this corrupt Political Party of fear, hate and greed to be erase from the American vista.

Now…it’s time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

The State of Trump’s Union

This just in:  I didn’t watch the State of the Union address live.  There are two reasons for this.  First, I have learned that nothing Trump says means anything and secondly, Guardians of the Galaxy was on another channel.

I did read quite a bit about it and came away feeling unimpressed.  This does not mean disappointed, just…so what.

Here are my State of the Union talking points.

The three biggest winners of the Trump presidency thus far are (1) large corporations, (2) Russia and (3) China.

  1. Corporations win because they got a huge tax cut.  They basically saw their profit margins take a big leap and all they had to do was pay for the lobbyists that got the bill passed into law.
  2. Russia wins because of the Quid Pro Quo they have with Trump.  They helped him win an election and he does not implement tough sanctions that Congress passed nearly unanimously.
  3. China wins because every time we step away from a trade deal, they step in.  The future will record this last year as the turning point: that point in time where the United States stopped leading the world and let China take a shot at it.

The three biggest losers of the Trump presidency thus far are (1) non-super rich tax payers and (2) American security and (3) the truth.

  1. Trump says, “I just passed the biggest tax cut of all time.”  What he should have said is, “I just charged the biggest debt to our national credit card of all time.”  He should also say, “The debt would have been even bigger except the states of New York and California will pay higher taxes as a result of my national tax cut.”  Now, if we get the 4% or 5% growth Trump claims we’ll get from this tax deal, I will eat my words.  But he won’t.  Not even close.  This was nothing more than a redistribution of wealth from the middle class and poor to the very richest of the rich.
  2. American Security has taken a hit from several fronts.  Trump has alienated NATO.  Trump has allowed Russia into his inner sanctum where they now call the shots.  Trump has attached our FBI and National Security agencies; hurting their credibility.  As we will see by 2019 when we slide into a Trump recession, he has weakened our economy which is the very soul of our strength.
  3. As for the truth…that doesn’t seem to matter at all any more.  When I saw that Bush lied about the WMD’s 15 years ago, I left the Republican Party.  Now, Trump does worse than that on a nearly daily basis.  It sometimes feel like “opposite day” has stretched into the infinite future.  Everything Trump does makes absolutely no sense…unless you suspend your belief that the truth matters.

I really wanted Trump to succeed.  I didn’t think he would but I would have welcomed the surprise if he did.

Instead, he has been worse than I could have imagined.

Now, a secret part of me wants him to fail – spectacularly.  I want this because only such a monumental failure will have the potential of turning the heads of those Trump Faithful Forever.  Something needs to happen that slaps some of these blind followers right up side their heads in a way that they can’t help but notice.  Notice that their King has no clothes.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim