Sunday, September 9, 2018

THE SHOWMAN AND THE REALITY

The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favorite movies, a bit dated, but with some enduring values.  The Wizard himself was a nice enough guy who projected power that awed his subjects.  Dorothy was an innocent young girl who was focused on just getting back home. Somehow she looked behind the curtain and found he wasn't nearly as powerful as his subject took for granted.

Donald Trump is a showman and superficially effective in some circumstances, but he is not a nice person.  For some intelligent people including many of his supporters they don't care.  Many of them think he is on their side and that he is accomplishing important things.  In truth not being nice is indicative that there might be something behind the curtain.  Admittedly if an advocate for what I believe in was a showman who got things of value done I wouldn't care an awful lot if he or she was a nice person. 


His supporters proclaim that Trump has done some very important things that benefit lots of people.  They point to a booming stock market and low unemployment rates.  They should be looked at as the short term results of misleading policies and also ironically a continuation of many discarded policies.

He attributes the economic boom (while exaggerating its historic uniqueness) to tax cuts and deregulation.  Behind the superficial claims comes the real force behind them.  The biggest donators were demanding large tax cuts and deregulation.  Some Republicans claimed the tax cuts will pay for themselves and deregulation would just free up business energy.   For a clearer picture of who wanted the tax cuts and deregulation:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/07/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html

The tax cuts do not pay for themselves and it is already evident that the government will have to borrow more money which in the end will raise interest rates and make it more difficult for the average person to borrow money.  Another course which is favored by many conservatives is to cut government expenses in a wide variety of areas including education, safety net programs, foreign aid, etc.  But not military which admittedly does provide jobs, but are they the ultimate jobs we want?

More seriously deregulation is portrayed as unfair restrictions on honest business men.  The problem historically has been that some of the more successful businessmen have little hesitation to take advantage of innocent consumers.  This was very evident in the 2008 recession when money lenders were on one hand more generous, but also deceptive.  Many borrowers found themselves over their heads.  Banks and investment houses were also big donators and demanding looser regulations.  Eventually the con men will disrupt our economy.  Chances are the wealthiest will suffer the least.

International relations is a relatively safe place to spout off.  Only it is not.  We now live in an increasingly inter-connected world.  What is the point of alienating nations that have historically been supportive?  When most of the world recognizes climate change as a major concern (more on that below) the United States federal government makes a very emphatic statement as it withdraws from the Paris Agreement.  Trade agreements that have benefits are ridiculed, but are tied to jobs right around the globe and have engendered peaceful relations.

The Iran Agreement was not designed to take care of every complaint against Iran, but was focused on the most serious concern to limit nuclear arms proliferation.  Several nations with different politics united to force compliance.  Yes everyone realized that Iran might not live up to its part, but the most comprehensive protections in all history were designed to protect international interests.  Like many countries Iran has conflicting factions and those who distrusted the American government have gained influence as a result.  America has created distrust.

Immigration is perhaps the most flammable issue.  Immigrants are pictured by those in power as job stealers and cultural diminishers.   It hides the fact that the real job squeeze comes from automation and the desire of those in power to maximize their profits by seeking the lowest wages with the least regulations.  It overlooks the historical value of diversity and also the global refugee crisis created by global trends with which most of us are complicit.  Some more thoughts on the refugee problem http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/04/rescue.html

Climate change is increasingly being recognized as one of the most serious concerns for all living beings although others argue that the threat of a nuclear war is maybe more serious.  Again vested interests have found bribing politicians the best way to stifle any efforts to cramp their profits.  Some of the efforts to lessen the worst effects of climate change are tied to reducing pollution.  One area Trump felt was successful was the work of Scott Pruitt who eliminated dozens of restrictions on polluters and after his overwhelming corruption forced him out his successor has carried on.  Another example of putting the fox in charge of the hen house but in this case everyone's health is endangered.

To a Canadian such as myself, the fight over health care seems ridiculous.  Canadians live longer and pay less for their healthcare than Americans do.  Not unusual as most developed nations are very similar in comparisons.  Why aren't Americans asking their politicians about how they can boost the outcomes of a health care program and who benefits from the current status?

Who benefits the most from the Trump regime?  There are of course individuals who are smart enough or lucky enough to be in a good position, but as groups I would suggest two.  The 1% who now have a thicker cushion.to enjoy a high standard of living.  Another group is the anti-American forces, most specifically Russia who want the breakup  of international alliances and increased polarization in western nations. 

Who suffers the most.  Pretty much the bottom 90% of the population somewhat proportionately as the most unfortunate people are concerned.  Minority groups who are the brunt of blame and some considered sinners by the evangelical base.

As part of the conservative agenda is a desire to rid themselves of big government restrictions.  They have convinced those who have been protected by a liberal large government  that their interests are not protected.  Conservatives are quick to extol the advantages of private enterprise, but overlook the contributions of government  for their own benefit.  See how the government has boosted business:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/07/the-entreprenurial-state.html

Voting is a right, but if it not used carefully can hurt those who make a poorly thought out decision.  Criticizing the Trump regime has the danger of overwhelming the victims who do not believe them anyway.  I hope no one has been overwhelmed by my list of misdeeds, but assure you it is an incomplete list.

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