Closing Thoughts–10Aug18

As long as I was writing about corruption  how about our current Sec. of Commerce?

There has always been a story about the greed of some in public office….but it seems that with the present administration of Our Dear Leader has more than his fair share……but one of the best is his choice for Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, sets a new benchmark for greed and corruptibility….

Forbes magazine, a much respected business publication has issued a story about the “Chief Grifter” in charge at the Commerce Department……

The buzziest political story of the day comes courtesy of Dan Alexander at Forbes, who’s out with some devastating allegations against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Alexander interviewed 21 people who say that Ross, through his private equity firm WL Ross & Co., “siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there.” All told, the allegations add up to more than $120 million, prompting this jarring assessment: “If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history,” writes Alexander. Ross denies this, asserting that “the SEC has never initiated any enforcement action against me,” though Alexander notes that Ross’ firm did get hit with a $2.3 million fine in 2016. One lawsuit against the firm is in the appeals stage, and two others have been settled.

The story details the alleged transgressions—some involving allegations of improperly calculated fees to clients—but it’s also drawing attention for something on a much smaller scale. In demonstrating that Ross has a reputation for frugality, Alexander writes this: “Two former WL Ross colleagues remember the commerce secretary taking handfuls of Sweet’N Low packets from a nearby restaurant, so he didn’t have to go out and buy some for himself.” Other tales of being a cheapskate, including unfulfilled pledges to charity, follow, and a commerce official dismisses them as “petty nonsense.” Besides, the official adds, Ross doesn’t add sweetener to his coffee. Click to read the full story, which accuses Ross of trying to mislead Forbes about his wealth in order to climb the rankings of the rich.

I wish this was the one and only “leader” acting like a self-centered toad….but then that would be a lie….this administration is built on greed and corruption.

Peace Out!

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The Consequences Of Tariffs

I know that we get nothing but rosy news coming out of Dear Leader’s mouth….we hear how much better our economy will be when he wins his trade war with the world….we will have a strong economy, more jobs, better wages, yada yada…..

But you know that there are consequences for these tariffs that have been instituted…..think not?

As the China-US tariff volley continues—China on Wednesday announced a 25% tariff on an additional $16 billion worth of US goods in retaliation for our similar move, reports CNBC—the consequences have become real for one South Carolina company. The State reports TV-maker Element Electronics is citing the tariffs as the reason it is essentially closing its doors: It intends to shut down its Winnsboro plant and lay off 126 of its 134 employees, it said in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce—though it does have a glimmer of hope.

The letter explains the tariffs hit television components from China that it relies on, and the layoffs will commence in October unless it can get its parts off the tariff list. CNN Money cites a tweet from the company that suggests optimism: It writes that as the “only USA assembler of televisions, we believe the inclusion of our parts on the list … is accidental and resolvable.” It’s working to have the parts removed from the list. The State notes the layoffs would be a big blow for Fairfield County, which counted Element Electronics as its biggest employer, having recently suffered the loss of a Walmart and a textile mill.

The longer these tariffs are in place the more damage it will do to the workers and the consumers of this country…..will the “art of the deal” win out?

Personally, I feel that Our Dear Leader is gambling and hoping that he is right in his economic views…..

I have been a devotee to economist Henry George since the 1980’s……and he touches on tariffs in his book ……..The problem identified by Henry George, in Protection or Free Trade, is that of poverty, and more specifically, wages and unemployment. What follows from that is George’s systematic and all-embracing dissertation of the effects that protectionist and free-trade policies have on the wealth of a nation and its individuals. Naturally, he arrives at a conclusion that is decidedly in favor of free trade — as opposed to protective prescriptions — as a surefire solution to the ills of poverty.

George develops his focal point early on by posing the essential question: Are protective tariffs helpful to those who make their living via labor? He considers this the “tariff question,” calling it the “great political question of the immediate future” (George 1886, p. 3). He does, in fact, dare to say that he approves of the ends promoted by the protective tariff advocates when the ends sought are the promotion of higher wages and prosperous employment.[1] Nevertheless, he maintains that his position is to objectively determine whether or not protective tariffs are in fact favorable to those ends.

https://mises.org/library/henry-george-and-tariff-question

I would say that if more people knew of Henry George and his theories then we could do away with a lot of noise around trade and tariffs…..but that may be asking too much for it would require reading……a technique that is slowly disappearing……

Turn The Page!

Closing Thought-06Aug18

Slavery is alive and well!

The US does more to support modern day slavery than most Americans know……support may be the worse word to use but it still tells the story.

A new survey on modern slavery around the world pegs the number of people in the US who fall into that category at about 400,000, reports the Guardian. The new Global Slavery Index also puts the number worldwide at 40.3 million and rising. While modern slaves in the US make up just a fraction of that figure, the group behind the survey—the Walk Free Foundation—says America plays a deeper role in the problem as the biggest importer of goods produced by suspected slave labor. The 2016 estimate was $144 billion worth of such goods. Other report highlights:

  • Worst offenders: North Korea has the highest concentration of modern slaves, who account for 1 in 10 of the population, or 2.6 million people, reports CNN. Then comes Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Iran.
  • Women hit hardest: The vast majority of modern slaves, 71%, are women, reports Axios. The usual route is through forced marriages.
  • Solutions: The foundation calls for outlawing forced marriages, setting a minimum marriage age of 18, setting up a database of human trafficking cases, and bringing greater transparency to the world’s supply chain.
  • One victim: “Over 40 million people … they are not numbers,” says North Korean defector Yeon-mi Park, who escaped to China only to be forced into a marriage, per the AP. “It could be anyone. It was me. It was my mother. It was my sister. Even now, there are 300,000 North Korean defectors in China, and 90% of them are being trafficked. They are being sold by Chinese men for a few hundred dollars.”

Human trafficking is a blight on this world…..every civilized nation should be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

My week begins and Monday comes to an end….at least my posting…..be well, be safe….chuq

Trade And National Security

Our Dear Leader has decided that the way to extend what is left of his legacy is by declaring a trade war on allies and foes alike……but what does this do to our national security?

The US has a military advantage around the world……if so then what will these trade wars do to that advantage?

Is the United States undermining the foundations of its military advantage by initiating trade wars with most of the known world?

The connections between trade and innovation are complicated, but generally speaking freer trade tends to generate more technological innovation than autarky, although much depends on the specific legal and structural conditions under which trade is conducted. During the Cold War, the United States derived immense military advantage from the global trade system that it constructed. This trade system tied the world’s most powerful economies to the United States with private and public binds, and also ensured that American producers would find consumers. While the system had drawbacks (exposure to international shocks, limitations on national economic policy) it provided a sounder basis for long-run economic growth than the autarkic policies undertaken by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European subject states.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/trade-wars-are-not-good-for-the-us-military-advantage/

Alright let’s say that you agree with Dear Leader’s stand on trade wars and tariffs……can we justify tariffs from a national security point of view?

Economists nearly unanimously support open and free trade among nations.1 The arguments for free trade are not new, dating back at least to Adam Smith’s famous book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 and David Hume’s series of essays, On Commerce and On the Balance of Trade in 1752. Free trade increases wealth in a nation by promoting the division of labor, thereby increasing the quantity of goods and services in the economy. This increased division of labor benefits people in two main ways. First, it expands the range of goods and services available to people. For example, many spices that are not native to the United States would be unavailable without international trade. Second, it allows people in a nation to buy goods of a given quality that are made more cheaply—that is, produced with fewer or cheaper resources. In short, free trade allows people to minimize their own use of scarce resources to achieve their desired ends.

https://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2018/MurphyJtariffs.html

Let me hear what my readers think……both pro and con on tariffs are welcome.

My Techno Post

I am not much of a techno geek so I only post on the subject as an FYI or something new that has been released……

These are my two techno references…..

Some see the rise of AI as a rise of Skynet….but then there are attempts to prevent that from happening……

Thousands of artificial intelligence (AI) experts and developers have signed a pledge vowing to “neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons,” and imploring governments worldwide to work together to “create a future with strong international norms, regulations, and laws” barring so-called killer robots.

More than 160 companies and groups from three dozen countries and 2,400 individuals from 90 countries are backing the pledge, which was developed by the Boston-based Future of Life Institute (FLI) and unveiled Wednesday during the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Stockholm, Sweden.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/07/18/worlds-artificial-intelligence-experts-sign-pledge-aimed-averting-dystopian-future

Your fears are addressed…..then why do I not feel better?

Next…..we all run on GPS….our blue tooth, phones, tablets, etc and the world economy also runs on GPS and that should be changed……

Duke Buckner was enjoying his breakfast at the Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel, looking out on the city marina, on the day that time stuttered. Buckner oversees marketing and business development for Microsemi Corp., an American communications and defense contractor, and he gets a copy of emailed error reports for its equipment. It’s rare to get more than one in a given day. But on the morning of Jan. 26, 2016, they flooded his inbox. He forgot about breakfast.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-07-25/the-world-economy-runs-on-gps-it-needs-a-backup-plan

My two small attempts to post on techno issues…..

That does it for my Saturday……foul weather is about and we should get a lot of rain today…..so a lazy day watching Britbox (compensation not given)……

Closing Thought–27Jul18

The US has a suicide rate that is anything but envious…..our vets kill themselves….our homeless commit suicide……our bullied teens feel suicide is their only out….suicide is all too “popular” in our society……

There is a sector that is having its trouble with suicide and it is a sector that one would never consider as  problem……our farmers.

Suicide is exploding in America – and the increase isn’t confined to celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Suicide rates have risen by an astonishing 30% since 1999, with suicidal people citing relationship stress, financial difficulties and other issues as the underlying cause.

But suicide rates have increased for some professions more than others. According to CBS, farmers are facing the highest suicide rate of any profession in the US. The suicide rate for people in the field of farming, fishing and forestry is 84.5 per 100,000 people – more than five times that of the broader population. And with retaliatory tariffs from China and the European Union set to further undermine US crop prices, a bad situation could be about to get worse. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, making the loans on which farmers depend increasingly expensive.

http://theantimedia.com/farmers-america-killing-themselves/

Please do not think I am blaming any of this on current policies…the problem goes deeper than that…..

This is a problem that has a cure but our current system will never end the spiraling problem….plus if the tariffs do much damage the rate may even increase…

Please have a good weekend….I will see you guys tomorrow….chuq

 

The Coming “Farm Aid”

It will not be Willie Nelson and John Mellenkamp…..no music….no foot long hot dogs…..no crappy beer on tap……

The story making the rounds is the tale of the American farmer and how he/she is losing markets and money thanks to the policies of Our Dear Leader……but not to worry….there is relief coming from DC…..

President Trump showed off a new campaign hat on Monday—it’s green with yellow letters, reminiscent of the John Deere logo, and it reads “Make Our Farmers Great Again,” notes Politico. (See Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sporting one here.) The message is a calculated one as the White House seeks to ease farmers’ concerns that a US trade war will hit them hard. On Tuesday, the White House put the word out that its efforts will go well beyond hats, however—it’s rolling out $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers, especially those dealing with dairy, pork, and soybeans, reports CNBC. Details:

  • The money: It will come partly from a program set up in the Depression to help farmers called the Commodity Credit Corporation, reports the Washington Post. Because it’s an existing program, congressional approval isn’t necessary. Trump had asked Perdue to explore options months ago, and more details are still to be released.
  • Short-term: Perdue said the “one-time” program would help farmers dealing with “illegal retaliation” to US tariffs, reports the Wall Street Journal. “This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration time to work on long-term trade deals.”
  • The politics: The rollout comes as Trump travels to Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa ahead of the midterms, states where the agricultural community has voiced concern about the fallout of retaliatory tariffs from other nations. “The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary,” Trump said of his trade disputes in Missouri on Tuesday, per USA Today. “Just be a little patient.”
  • Criticism: The new plan isn’t sitting well with members of Trump’s own party who are worried about the longer-term picture. “What is our future down the road?” asks Senate Agriculture Committee chief Pat Roberts of Kansas. “We are trying to make the point that we don’t want aid, we want trade.” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse: “This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches.” But it wasn’t only politicians: “This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs,” Brian Kuehl of the trade group Farmers for Free Trade tells the New York Times.
  • ‘Welfare’ theme: Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Rand Paul of Kentucky both hit upon the same phrase in their criticism: “If tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers—the answer is remove the tariffs,” Paul tweeted. “Our farmers have been in nonstop, saying they want trade, not aid, and now they’re being put on welfare,” said Corker. “Hopefully soon this ill-thought out policy will end.”

No end in sight: Most stories point out that the emergency aid is a good sign that Trump doesn’t intend to stop the trade disputes anytime soon. He extolled them again on Tuesday morning with a “Tariffs are the greatest!” tweet. And in Missouri, he said, “What the European Union is doing to us is incredible, how bad. They sound nice but they’re rough.”

There you go…the answer to crippling tariffs……agriculture welfare!  WAIT!  According to dim wits that would be creeping socialism (Humor!)…..I believe  Our Dear Leader fell asleep in the Wharton School when they taught trade and tariffs……never fear he is a genius.  (wink wink, nod, nod)