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172. Tariffs Explained and Tariff Lies

15 May

JUST IN: Wall Street J. states that tariffs generally drag down ALL economies in the world, including ours. All markets have gone down. Trump’s tariff war with China is a poorly-planned  effort, which does not consider Chinese strengths and financial skills.

A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports (or exports). The tariff is paid by the importer. For example,  if we put a tariff on imports from China, the tariff  is paid by the US importer (not China). The tariff money does go to the US Treasury. So it is true that the US Gov does get increased income. I suspect that part of Trump’s need for tariffs is to make up for the disastrous loss of gov income due to wealthy tax giveaways.   Major blog points, below:

CHINA DOES NOT PAY TARIFFS IMPOSED BY USA
ALMOST ALL TARIFF COSTS ARE PASSED ON TO US CONSUMERS
ONLY CHINA CAN SUPPLY CERTAIN GOODS AT LOW COST
TARIFFS USUALLY RESULT IN MORE “TAX” FOR US CITIZENS

The Gov gets tariff money, but the US importer passes on the cost. The retailer, like Amazon or Walmart pays more for the product and so will pass that cost on to the customer. It is like an extra tax that WE pay.

Re US tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump says that you can get around the higher cost, by buying non-Chinese goods. The problem with that argument is that China has much lower prices than USA and other country’s manufacturers. Also, China provides us with special parts that would be difficult to find or develop elsewhere. So in the end, American customers will be paying more. The higher prices will decrease purchases and that will have a negative effect on our retailers and could cause general economic negatives. The trade war with China will be costly for our people and may well be  unsuccessful in its ultimate goal changing China policies.

Now let’s look at the other side: retaliatory tariff increases by the other country. In the case of China, every tariff imposed by Trump has a carefully targeted Chinese tariff imposed on our exports to them. If Chinese importers must pay a tariff then they are less likely to buy American products. This can negatively affect USA farmers and manufacturers. In fact, farmers and workers here are already suffering from the China tariffs.

The headline reads: “Soybean Farmer Loses From Retaliatory Tariffs With No Bailout Funds In Sight.”

The general fact is that Trump himself benefits from tariffs, but many US workers will suffer. Of course, the totally reliable Trump says he will pay the farmers for their losses (good luck to them). But won’t reimburse citizens for higher prices.

The Trump tariffs may have some positive effects (pure speculation) but there are already losses for the people. The China tariffs are an attack on China and the start of a trade war is not generally supported. And remember that China owns a lot of US debt. Tariff effects are complicated and can have negative effects on our citizens and on foreign respect for our government. Between trade wars and withdrawal from vital foreign agreements, who can trust the USA under Trump.  Also, I must bring up Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP (Pacific) trade agreement. This agreement was carefully developed under Obama to strengthen US trade relationships with Asian countries. Trump’s withdrawal has opened the door to China to become a leader in this world area. 

Trump and Republican tax law changes have resulted in a huge loss of revenue, which has promoted discussion of decreasing social programs like Medicare. Trump may like tariffs because they can make up for a little of the loss. It can be viewed as a further tax on the non-rich, so that the rich can have even more money.

Under Trump, there have been some improvements to our economy, but what is very important, many middle-class wages are stagnant and still very low.

161. Democrat Strategy for 2019

7 Apr

Recently, much has been said and written about Democrat strategy. As Trump continues to damage our country in his effort “to win,” and erase all of Barack Obama’s accomplishments, our primary concern is to put more Dems. into office. This blog presents an outline of issues and strategies that I consider most effective for our goals.

Far left ideas should be on a wish list, practical progressive ideas should form platforms (as a general rule). Winning elections is our primary goal. I favor many far left ideas and when we are in power, these can be ardently developed.

The biggest scam perpetrated by Repubs is that giving more money to very wealthy people and corps, will provide benefit to the non-rich. This scam is often called “trickle-down economics,” and history shows it does not work. Claims are made that by lowering taxes for the rich, corporations will increase wages. This generally does NOT happen. The extra money is mostly used for stock buy-backs and executive bonuses — little if any extra for the workers. After our treasury is robbed by lowered tax for the rich, Repubs plead that funds for Medicare, Social Security, infrastructure, education, etc. must be decreased, because we just can’t afford them. It is simple:

RICH made RICHER > Less Gov INCOME > Cut VITAL Programs

This scam has been used for decades.

Emphasis for political speeches should be:  1. Climate Change,  2. Healthcare, 3. Income equality and fair taxes, 4. infrastructure repair and advances, 5. Education, 6. Green jobs,  7. Revisions to criminal justice system  8. healthy environment, 9. Immigration laws, and many other areas. Climate change and healthcare stand out, but other areas are also vital.

Here is an example of how to state our goals: “improving healthcare and insurance coverage is vital, and we will consider ObamaCare improvements, Medicare for all, and other ideas.” If our ideals are carefully presented to the voters, we will have success. Very socialistic ideas presented too soon, just provide ammunition for Repubs.

Here are some slogans that we should put on signs, hats, t-shirts, and billboards:

Good healthcare for all

Climate-Change disasters, already here

Repubs purposely damaged ObamaCare

Tax the wealthy, they can afford it

“Trickle-down” doesn’t work

Less tax for the wealthy does not help us.

Trump creates crises to scam you.

Trump rules and scams by stoking fears

Extra Border walls won’t stop immigration or drugs

Tax breaks for Wealthy are permanent, for us, temporary

 

159. Fundamental Worldwide Problem

1 Apr

In positions of power are ruthless greedy leaders that have learned to influence gullible and less-educated citizens to accept (and if applicable) vote for them. This is true for all of human history. They tend to find scapegoats for problems that in many cases they have created, and to stoke fears of immigrants and foreigners. They often advocate violence to achieve their goals. Year by year, potential autocrats tend to worsen, which is why countries have term limits.

They tend to rob citizens of their rights, such as reliable unbiased voting, free speech, proper governmental organization, and a responsible police force.

They work against: adequate wages, reasonable social programs, healthcare coverage, infrastructure projects, environmental protections, education, and freedom to assemble and protest.

They re-write political history, cover-up bad acts with lies, support their rich friends in business, and attack an independent press that can hold them responsible. In the worst case, they murder unfavorable reporters.

What is the result of this problem?

There can be rioting, revolution, and many types of suffering for the citizens and in some cases the leaders. There are numerous examples of this fundamental problem throughout history and in current governments. The Arab Spring revolutions are really good examples of these concepts. Hungary and Poland, currently, are trending towards autocracy.

How can we correct this tendency towards tyranny? The short answer is to fight it in every (peaceful) way possible, including elections and investigations. We must encourage patriotic candidates for every office, that care about the country and its citizens; and promote voting. There already are many plans publicized for attacking this oppression.

Much of this analysis is applicable to the USA. Many of us believe that the Syrian refugee problem stirred up fears in the USA (and elsewhere). Opportunists used these fears to manipulate and take power. There is now a surge in progressive candidates that have the courage to fight corrupt systems.

Final note: I have tried to make a brief and understandable analysis of what is really a very complicated problem, that have been the subject of numerous books and essays. It is my goal to provoke thought, and further exploration of these profound issues.

145. How to Evaluate Democrat Candidates

13 Feb

With so many Democrats running for the presidency, it is important to develop a good system, which leads to your actual vote.

I want to start by saying that the details of specific proposals should not be a major factor in your choice. We must look at more general statements of goals and ignore the details because after the election, the hard work of developing detailed plans will begin. After the election all the specific plans will be over-ridden by various research findings, hearings, and committee work. (Please see my blog no. 133 for more info.)

Here are the factors that I think are most relevant, starting with most important.

First, the candidate should have a long history of promoting Democrat values, such as supporting the non-rich, fighting climate change, higher taxes for the very rich, support for allies and NATO, sincere concern for election integrity, and willing to govern with maximum possible transparency.

Second, the candidate must be physically healthy and strong. An ideal age is 50 to 65 to ensure these qualities, which should last for eight years. There could be an exception for people that are a little older than 65, but are in great health.

Third, the candidate should have traits that people like and will generate votes. A long history of winning elections should be considered. Any significant negative could play a role, but we must be careful to accurately judge the effects of a negative factor.

Fourth, although a Dem. President will have really good consultants and staff, to do a really great job the chosen President must be highly intelligent, adaptive, open to various opinions, and respectful of traditional gov workers.

I think that any candidate that scores highly on all four factors would do a great job for our country. I could mention one more often discussed idea, which is to select a person that is most likely to beat Trump, regardless of other factors. Well, there is some merit to this. Imagine how we will feel, if we chose a fantastic candidate, and then Trump wins another term !!  Unfortunately, we can only speculate about how to deal with this concern.

 

 

129. Trump vs Hillary Administration

24 Nov

I often think about how the USA would be different if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Here is my comparison of the real Trump and my speculation about Hillary, based on her extensive experiences: first lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and a successful candidacy for POTUS (won popular vote by 2.7m).

Trump: Because of a questionable history involving fraud (Trump Univ, etc), failure to divest (hotel revenue from foreign leaders), and election irregularities, and other failures, Trump could not hire top cabinet members and advisory personnel. His primary concern had to be loyalty, rather than ability.
Hillary: Her varied experiences and association with Pres. Obama would have enhanced her ability to hire top personnel. There would be no loyalty limitations. She could hire top university professors, top scientists, top officials, top economists, and experts in many areas. Look at Trumps turn-over rate.

Trump: A horrendous record of thousands of lies and extreme exaggerations.
Hillary: No need to lie. She would value a reputation for truth and reliability.

Trump: Efforts to fulfill ridiculous campagne promises, like a South border wall to prevent illegal immigration.
Hillary: Realistic campagne promises that could be worked on during her office.

Trump: Petty name calling and childish conflicts, often with very respectable people.
Hillary: She would treat good people with proper respect, even if they made critical remarks.

Trump: He tried to break up NATO and destroy our valuable relationships with traditional allies.
Hillary: She would have preserved NATO, the UN, and other international organizations. We would have maintained our powerful and helpful, long-term allies.

Trump: No respect from foreign leaders.
Hillary: Her past experience as Sec of State and many other relationships with leaders would have engendered great respect.

Trump: Refuses to respect and believe our intelligence agencies. This promotes distrust by many parties and bad international actions.
Hillary: Always respected the intelligence agencies.

Trump: Makes impulsive decisions, not considering all the implications that are relevant. Example is our trade policies that have resulted in job loss.
Hillary: Trained to make careful decisions based on real gov experience.

Trump: Does not believe human-influenced climate change, that all reputable scientists confirm.
Hillary: Would have promoted responsible actions to avoid climate disasters. She also would have encouraged many energy-saving plans.

Trump: Gave us conservative Supreme Court justices that could undue numerous valuable laws and regulations.
Hillary: Better justices in all courts.

Trump: Withdrew the USA from several important treaties. This makes the US appear unreliable and discourages agreements with other nations.
Hillary: Most existing treaties would be maintained.

Trump: Is influenced by countries such as Russia likely because of financial entanglements. He clearly favored actions by Putin. Also he supported Saudi leader that murdered a Wash-Post associate.
Hillary: No foreign influence. Decisions only made which are for the good of our country.

Trump: Developed a policy of reducing gov regulations. Some of the regulations provided pollution safeguards. People will die from toxins.
Hillary: Would keep all appropriate regulations and would emphasize health.

Trump: Promotes seriously bad immigration policies such as separation of parents and children. He does not care about human suffering. He also moved thousands of troops to the border for only political purposes.
Hillary: Would never make such policies.

Trump: Our various agencies have been gutted and the Secretaries often sabotage the agency traditional goals; example EPA.
Hillary: Just the opposite.

Trump: Promised to drain the swamp but hired extremely rich agency chiefs that have wasted money and misused various funds.
Hillary: Would have hired responsible leaders.

Trump: Inappropriate in dealing with many important situations. For example, he said that bad forest management was responsible for the fires and promoted a ridiculous plan of raking 33 million acres of forest.
Hillary: would have been appropriately concerned and would have provided financial assistance.

Trump: Was tricked by the North Korean leader. He is still working on bombs and inter-continental missiles. Kim raised his international position at our expense.
Hillary: Knew that Kim would not be reliable and would have anticipated his tricks.

Trump: Ignores experts at our gov agencies, like the State Dept. He does not coordinate well which his agency secretaries so that foreign leaders don’t know what to believe.
Hillary: Would have made great use out of experts throughout the gov.

Trump: Press is enemy of the people.
Hillary: Not enemy.

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I could add more, but I think I will stop here. You get the point. Hillary Clinton would have provided responsible and reliable leadership (no short-sighted tweet decisions), would have enhanced respect for the USA, and would have gathered around her the very top-most experts to guide her decisions.

115. Voting in Desperate Times

1 Jul

Our democracy ordinarily works in wonderful ways, but as the founding fathers anticipated, could be corrupted. It is now on a dangerous path. Republicans and their top leaders (Trump, McConnell, Ryan, etc.) are quite willing to sacrifice our ideals, integrity, and world leadership, to survive, and to support their wealthy patrons. The “desperate times” are caused by the factors described below.

In order for Republicans to survive, they feel that they must tell lies, create havoc, and engage in ruthless character assassination. An example is the many repetitions of the investigation of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, which NEVER resulted in significant findings. The basic reason why Republicans must lie is that they cannot say “vote for us, so that our extremely rich donors can be made even richer.” They fool people by saying that their financial programs will help the middle class, but history shows that they do not. The often used “trickle-down” concept is not supported by fact (even the Pope stated this).

Below I will discuss voting, but it is important to first really define the Republican problem so that the urgency will be apparent. Here is a list of current and future dangers:

1. Alienation of our long-standing and faithful allies (example: NATO and G7 members) in favor of Russian Putin and other ruthless dictators. Difficult international decisions are best made with the support of allies.
2. Encouragement of racism through lies and false data. On two occasions, Trump provided some support for Neo-Nazis, saying “some were very fine people.”
3. Creating an ultimately unfavorable world trade policy, that is not good for us and creates world leadership openings for China and Russia. All of Trump’s tariffs were countered by foreign equivalents. The final result was a loss of many USA jobs. 
4. Shattering our reputation for honesty. World leaders never know where we stand because Trump frequently and impulsively keeps changing his mind.
5. Judicial appointments are based primarily on loyalty to Trump rather than appropriate reputation and experience.
6. Failure to seriously deal with Russian attacks on our election system and also Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other election scams.
7. Failure to separate politics from the functioning of the FBI and other agencies. Inane attacks on the FBI will have long-term effects on its important functioning.
8. Abolishing government regulations that protect us from various forms of pollution, and from financial scams that are often aimed at the elderly and those poorly educated.
9. Degrading government agencies that were established to improve international relations and decisions, such as the State Department.
10. Failure to fill important offices. We lack ambassadors, judges, agency leaders and experts, etc. Republicans want to blame the Democrats, but there is a failure to present nominations, and those nominated are often unqualified and simply Trump sycophants.
11. Disorganized border procedures keep worsening and are establishing rules that will negatively affect border policy for many years. Desperate decent people that are seeking asylum are locked up like criminals and have had their children taken away. It is well-known that certain Latin American countries have been essentially taken over by criminal gangs, and that decent people have needed to escape. Some of the money spent on their jailing could have been spent on helping these desperate countries.
12. Failure to support the problem of climate-change. This could be the most serious problem in the list. Eventually millions of people may die, and the mass migrations due to changes in rainfall patterns, could be horrendous.
13. Policies that negatively affect education and science can ultimately have serious harmful effects. Every nation needs educated people and will benefit from scientific research. Republicans fear education because knowledgeable voters will see through their schemes. Science is discouraged because some manufacturers may lose a little money in doing the right thing.
14. Future Supreme Court justices could be disreputable Trump loyalists that will create laws that a majority of Americans don’t want.
15. Corruption of the Census rules likely will eliminate non-citizens from being counted. This will have a negative political impact.
16. In general, current USA policies emerge from impulsive, simplistic decisions – often by Tweets. Frequently there is little study of all possible outcomes and all relevant factors when a decision is made. The traditional and effective process for making decisions based on hearings and the knowledge of experts is ignored. An example of poor judgment is the very biased tax-cut bill, which will affect infrastructure repair and other important programs. Trump’s advisors are mostly his friends, relatives, and yes-men rather than experienced leaders in relevant fields.

Now that the very real dangers have been described, we know that the most effective way (not the only way) to deal with all these long-term dangers is by voting Trump and Republicans out of office. Voting is critical.

Voting is so important now, that we must consider certain factors. It is sad to say that voting is often based on superficial subjective features like appearance, familiarity, religion, attractiveness, speaking voice, appearance of strength, etc.
We must choose candidates that will get maximum votes.
Of course, candidates must also be intelligent, well-educated, reliable, and supportive of the best policies.
What to avoid in getting maximum votes:
1. A certain number of people will not vote for those with foreign names and accents.
2. People that appear weak. Many voters require an appearance of physical strength.
3. People that lack charisma and a really fluent speaking ability.
4. I hate to say it, but a tall, white, Christian, articulate man is optimal. No one in the USA will reject someone like this, but someone lacking some or all of these features will definitely lose some votes.

A final thought:
I must admit that when the leading Democrat candidates for the presidency were Hillary and Barack, I was worried. Still, it was a great joy for me when Barack Obama emerged, and overcame these petty limitations. (I would also have been very happy with Hillary C.)
There are some really good trends now that hopefully will prevail. For example, women are more and more capable of getting votes. I see really good leadership ability in women like Elizabeth Warren. 

106. Health Care for All

30 Jul

It is already a basic USA value to help everyone with at least some types of health problems. If a homeless person is lying in the street with severe injuries, he will at least get minimal care. Covertly, Republicans might not agree with this, but on the record they would have to support it or be castigated.

Given this premise, that in practice, everyone will get health care if needed, then it does make sense to require everyone pay for it. The simplest and most agreeable implementation is Medicare for all. Remember that our POTUS promised health care for all at good rates, in his campaign.

I suggest that we greatly increase taxes for rich folks by having higher rates and by closing tax loopholes. If you are extremely rich, then your taxes will be extremely high. If you have no income, then no tax. If you have a small regular income then you could have a very small increase. As income increases, then the percent allotted to health care expense also gradually increases. Lower and middle class people will pay a little more and wealthy people a lot more. Why should wealthy people pay a lot more: because they use a lot of resources and because much of their wealth has been gained by unfair influence on Congressional financial (tax, subsidies, IRA’s, etc.) legislation.

Note that I am not against people who become rich through hard work and intelligence. It is extreme wealth and wealth unfairly gained that bothers me; particularly when there is substantial poverty in our nation. Many very wealthy people have stated that they would not object to increased taxes.

Countries with universal health care include: Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom (see Wikipedia).