Categories
Economics Politics

Is Donald Trump Good for the American Economy? An Honest Review

Is Donald Trump, President of the United States, good for the American Economy? I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times and it’s an incredibly difficult one for me to answer. Here’s why…first, I simply do not like the man as a human being. His actions and words have painted him as a racist, a mysogenist, and a liar. Second, I don’t like his political stance about social issues because I believe in open borders, body rights (such as right to abortion and right to assisted suicide), and common sense gun control. Third, I don’t like his economic policies because I believe in rational socialism, healthcare as a right, organized labor, and I am against crony capitalism in all of its forms. It’s hard for me to look at anything Trump does in a positive light. However, in regards to the American economy- I feel like it is important to look at the policies of his administration and the direct effect they have had on the American economy as a whole.

The Strength of the American Economy

After 2007-2008, the American economy was a mess. Over the next 8 years, Presidetn Obama and the Federal Reserve used a common sense strategy of limiting exposure and creating a healthy and low-risk borrowing environment. These policies slowly brought the economy back to a point of strength where jobs were slowly being added, consumer spending was increasing, and economic output measured by GDP (gross domestic product) was increasing. Increased regulation and oversight was making it more expensive to do business in the USA while at the same time forcing business to build in a rational but slow progression. There was also a focus on preserving nature, protecting the environment, and making sure that business did not discriminate against minorities or protected classes.

Enter Trump in 2017

The first (and only) major piece of legislation in the first year of his administration was a major tax break for business and the wealthy. The new tax plan also gave workers a tax break, but only for a limited amount of time as the tax breaks for individuals are set to expire in 2025 but for business they are permanent – note that most wealthy people have their wealth sheltered as a business but workers generally do not.

The effect of this tax plan was to light the economy on fire. Suddenly, business had a lot more money to spend, the wealthy had more money to invest, and workers had the illusion of extra money in their pockets which drove consumer spending higher. Bottom line, tax cuts work for the economy even if they work against the bottom line of the government.

In addition, enviromental regulations have been eased, labor and discrimination regulations have been eased, and the United States has left or renegotiated numerous trade deals that were biased against the United States for international economic stability reasons. All of these things have made doing business in the United States more profitable for purely financial reasons.

Trump’s tariffs and threats of tariffs have driven the price of foreign companies down and generally not had negative effect on domestic business. In many cases, his trade policies have driven domestic share prices higher. In general, Trump’s policies have lit a slow growth economy on fire. But there have been some mis-steps. Trump’s attacks against Amazon – arguably the most important American driver of economic growth turned the market negative in early 2018. This along with his politically ill-advised (and short lived) push for a weaker dollar started to show some of the weakness inherent in his current model – but being a brilliant political animal, Trump saw the decline in his polling numbers among his base and reversed course – and his numbers recovered along with the economy.

Trump’s administration has also been easing regulations around investment banking (Glass-Steagall) and easing credit restrictions. These two things have increased investment, borrowing, and spending. They have driven the economy to repeated new highs.

In summary – Trump’s policies thus far have lit the economy on fire. In his less than two years in office. US GDP has risen from $17.78 Trillion to $18.51 Trillion U.S. dollars – a rise of $365 billion per year on average. Compare this to Obama’s $15.33 Trillion to $17.78 Trillion in eight years which comes to $316 billion increase per year on average. Trump’s GDP growth  also exceeds George W. Bush’s $260 billion annual growth and $205 billion from Bush, Sr and even exceeds Reagan’s $275 billion annual GDP growth,  but doesn’t quite hit the mark of Bill Clinton’s $428 billion year by year GDP growth average. If the economy keeps growing at the same pace, Trump stands to have presided over the fastest growing American economy in modern times by the end of his second term in 2024.

There is no question that President Donald J. Trump has been good for the growth of the American economy so far…

Economic Sustainability and Volatility

Can he keep it up? This is the big question that no one knows the answer to. Trump’s adminstration is riddled with problems from the Mueller probe which questions the validity of his election and even whether or not he is a puppet of the Russian government to daily scandals ranging from affairs and hush money to insider trading and what can probably best be described as economic date-raping where Trump and his cronies are profiting from the use of the power of the presidency. So, there is the question of whether Trump himself will survive – but he is nothing if not a political mixed-martial-arts fighter – his short political history has shown that it never pays to count Donald Trump out – as much as many of us would have liked to.

Also, there is the question of economic sustainability. The stock markets continue scaling giddy heights and reaching new all time highs, the dollar’s strength has thus far worked to our economic advantage, and the fallout from tariffs and leaving trade deals has yet to hit our shores. The Federal deficit is spiking to new all time highs and the loosening of credit and environmental regulations create the dual dangers of inflating new bubbles only to pop them with defaults and of future environmental catstrophe. The student loan crisis is a real and as yet unexperienced pitfall which is coming at some point unless it is addressed – Trump’s administration seems to have no desire to do so. The consumer credit and auto credit bubbles are getting pumped daily. These are just a few of the dangers which sit on the horizon.

And then there is Trump himself – he is nothing if not volatile. One never knows what he will do from day to day whether it is attack a political enemy, negotiate with our enemies, tweet attacks against American companies, or as he once suggested he could do “walk out in the street and shoot someone” – while extremely unlikely, it’s not outside of the range of possibilities because with Trump, nothing is. He could start a war just because he is offended…

The truth is that none of these policies are long term sustainable. Trump is very good for the American economy RIGHT NOW but the big question is whether the economy will implode while he is in office or whether a successor will have to clean up the messes he is creating. Long term, nothing he is doing is sustainable – but most people don’t care about long term. He is actively creating an environment where American workers can compete with Chinese workers and that means lower wages, less bargaining power, longer hours, and less economic power for average working Americans. He is creating an anything goes as long as profits rise business environment. He is shifting the burden of carrying the expense of the United States government with taxes from the wealthy and big corporations to building a huge deficit for the future to deal with. He is actively decreasing the fringe benefits of being American by eliminating the Affordable Healthcare Act, reducing government programs, and taking away protected status from wildlands, forests, and monuments. His policies are contributing to the future degradation of the environment, the exploitation of labor, the continued rise in wealth disparity, and ultimately to the downfall and collapse of the United States as we know it.

Full disclosure here – I am making some money in the stock market from all of this. I trade volatility and I’m buying into companies that are benefitting from the Trump Administration policies. Personally, I generally choose not to invest in oil companies, big banks, or defense contractors for moral reasons – but aside from that, I’m making the most of the chaos and investing in the rising tide while keeping an eye out for the inevitable collapse.

Trump could potentially keep this boat rising for the next six years – but while he is doing that, he will be stripping away everything that makes this country great – very similarly to what President Erdogan of Turkey has done – and with a similar end result.

Conclusion

Trump is very good for growth of the American economy right now – but in the longer term – he is destroying it.

(If you are curious about the 18k Gold Toilet in the picture – you can find that story here)

 

Categories
America Oddities

Creepy Clowns – Collective Psychosis Manifesting (in ways that aren’t Donald Trump)

I think it’s fair to say that our collective psychosis has been on display for a while now – first let me define the words
psychosis- a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
collective – all of us, together, as a whole

So, our collective psychosis is our societal loss with reality. I can think of countless examples..
unfettered capitalism
war leading to peace
trickle down economics
government sponsored insurance corporations
lack of campaign finance control
student debt
privatized ‘for profit’ prisons
planetary rape despite climate change
denial of climate change
school shootings
road rage
glorification of ‘anti-heroes’

The list could go on and on…these are dangerous delusions. Native American people called this psychic disease ‘wetico’ – it’s been with us for a long time, but the most obvious symptom is the individuals dissociation with reality – the adoption and often violent defense of what is obviously not true. There is a painfully obvious denial of one’s connection to the rest of our species, our biosphere, our universe, our reality. Those suffering from it exist in a universe where they are completely alone and only their needs, wants, and desires matter. Donald Trump is a good example of a full blown case…the support of him would seem to support a mass outbreak affecting huge swaths of the population. The recent outbreak of creepy clown sightings – in my opinion – are a visual manifestation of our broken psyches – a visual hallucination shared by a cohort of severely traumatized individuals who are struggling to make sense of an increasingly insane outer world. Are they real? I’ve no idea – if they are real, it is just another sign of our collective madness – a real world symptom of the breakdown of the human consciousness. If they are not real – it really doesn’t matter. The creepy clown in chief is right there in front of us all, placed there by one of the powerful institutions we are supposed to put our trust in. I’m not sure there is a cure for the illness we suffer – like those movies where people are exposed to an evil video tape and it tags them for death – I think our greed, our inflated sense of self importance, our acceptance of evil as necessary for the good, our delusions – all of it has been spread with the speed of a California wildfire after six years of drought amidst heavy Santa Ana winds via the internet, binge watching television, and smart phones. No video tape necessary, just a wifi connection. Don’t expect the clown sightings to go away. A few years ago, I had a website called Clownjazeera – I wanted to make a news site where creepy clowns did the news – deadpan, with no explanation. It never happened, which is probably a good thing. Here on this site, my obsession with creepy clowns manifested on this site too…there are a lot of creepy clowns on this site from around the 2005-2008 period…my only conclusion is that I’ve been suffering from this disease for longer than most – to quote a man named Skeeter who I once interviewed about his organization ‘Friends of the Trees’ “The bad news is that the world is headed towards hell in a handbasket. The good news (if good news there be) is that more people are aware of it.”

Categories
America Politics

The World Doesn’t Need White Men Anymore

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the world ever needed white men, but there was a time when many people were convinced that it did. White men did a pretty good job of convincing and bullying all the non-white-men (women of all colors including white and everyone else) that white men were essential to civilization. Lately I’ve been struck by the bloated sense of self-importance that fills the prose of my favorite writers – Steinbeck, Hemingway, London, Kipling, Maugham, Verne, Melville, Stevenson – these guys were convinced of their place in the world and how important it was to keep it. White men – the keepers of order and civilization. White men – the last bastion of sanity between the encroaching primitive civilizations and the hysteric female imperative. White men. Yes.

I think – and I’m not sure of this – but I’m pretty sure – I grew up in the last years that white men were the self-acknowledged and self-proclaimed masters of the universe. The 1970s and early 1980s were a time that the world was still processing the movements of feminism, Native Americanism, Black Pride, Hispanic pride, Asian pride, and multi-genderism. I don’t know what to call all of these movements – but they can all be lumped together under the banner of “Straight White Men Are Not Better Than Anyone Else” movements. These movements took place mostly from the late 1960s through the 1990s and during much of that time – white men still held the keys to the kingdom.

It was a time when it was still okay to tell black jokes (if there were no black people around), it was okay to characterize Asian people with a language that sounded like ching chong and with slanted eyes, Hispanics were still considered lazy and sneaky (the men) or lascivious and waiting for rescue from white men (the women). It was fine to demean other white men with descriptions about how they had female genitalia, how they were homosexual, or how they were (fill in the blank) like a (fill in the blank). To be a straight white man was the ideal.

I think I can pretty well pinpoint when it began to change. Bill Cosby and the Cosby Show – a black doctor wearing colorful sweaters and raising a respectful family. Whoopi Goldberg becoming a wise character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. All of this right around the 1984-1988 period. The world was thrown on its head – suddenly there were African-American characters who didn’t speak with a ghetto accent, Hispanics on television who were not drug dealers, and Hillary Clinton – the First Lady, actually had the audacity to take on real political issues like healthcare and gender equality. Mind you, it was still fine to tell gay jokes through much of the 1990s – but much of the mythology of the straight white man being the pinnacle of civilization had worn off by the time I graduated in 1990.

Perhaps it was that sense of being thrown adrift into a world heading towards equality that pushed me to join the US Marine Corps – a last bastion of white masculinity. I’m happy to say that in the USMC, I was part of a multi-racial fraternity – that while still heavily self-segregated (whites and blacks tended to sit at different tables in the mess hall) introduced me to African Americans, Latinos, and even Eskimos – but I’ll be brutally honest here – it was much easier for white guys to get promoted even in an equality Marine Corps. And it was don’t ask/don’t tell – which translated to it not being okay for guys to be gay. As for women in the Corps – they were treated as inferiors and sexually harassed almost constantly during the time I was in.

Between 1994 when I got out of the Marines and 2008 when I graduated from the University of Hawai’i – things changed even more drastically. I majored in Anthropology – I suppose in part because I grew up reading Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe, and other books where white men encountered and learned to live with the ‘savage’ other. I was always fascinated by the pre-Christian, pre-Muslim, primitive cultures of the world. I was drawn to the wild blood drums of howling fires in far off lands. I sought the pageantry and intense passion of intense humanness. I wanted to peel the onion layers of civilization back to see the reality of the human condition. I gazed at the other with a white man’s eye. My advanced level of civilization – looked down on the people of the world with a paternal eye born of thousands of years of white men dominating everyone else. Our society, however, was moving on.

Now, in 2016 – I live in a rural Oregon town where straight white men still rule supreme. From the time I graduated to now, I’ve traveled a good bit of the world. I married the daughter of an Arab shepherd I lived with in a poor African village. I left my country for nearly half a decade and then returned to this region of ignorant white men in huge gas guzzling trucks who look down on the world with a paternal eye while they cut down ancient trees in exchange for paper money to buy gas and vegetables grown far away by non-white laborors on multi-million dollar corporate farms owned by rich white men.

And all of this has led me to a conclusion that I should have come to long ago. The world doesn’t need white men anymore. It really doesn’t. And it never did. The reign of the white men is coming to an end. They won’t give up without a fight, they will continue to dominate for as long as they can. Donald Trump carries their banner. To some extent Hillary Clinton carries it as a proxy for her husband – a man who was the most powerful man in the world and used his position to fuck an intern who was just barely out of her teens – and got away with it. Bill Clinton would carry the white man vote if he were able to run – and for that reason. Hillary Clinton might win because she brings Bill with her – she was the ‘Good Wife’ who stood by her man. White men don’t hate Obama for his policies nor because he is black – they hate him because he is not a white man. It’s why Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stand no chance of winning – they are Latino – they are other. Bernie Sanders is a different story – being a non-practicing Jew who likes guns – he stands as an almost white man other – but not quite. He may get the white man vote – it’s hard to say.

I’m saying a lot here – I don’t expect this kind of honesty to go without harsh responses from white men and from non-white men both. Let em go. I’m happy to hear my blind spots. Thank you.

Categories
America Crime and Punishment Politics

A Scary Nazi World

I admit it. I’m a little freaked out by the world we are living in.
This morning there was a NPR Story about Donald Trump followed by a story about how Hitler’s Mein Kampf was released for the first time in 70 years in Germany.
It’s not the first Hitler allusion the universe has put next to Trump. From a ‘mistake’ at the beginning of his campaign where an aide put Nazi SS soldiers on the White House lawn to a Trump supporter yelling Sieg Hail! at a Trump rally in Vegas while a black protestor was dragged out of the building. Maybe it’s foolish, but I believe in signs from the universe. I’ve seen too many, benefitted from too many, and ignored too many (to my chagrin) to discount them completely. I’m rational and hate to admit that I have a hippy dippy side, but there it is, I do. And I think the universe is trying to tell us something. I think we are heading into a very dark time, my friends. I hope I’m wrong. Hitler committed suicide in 1945. A year later, Trump was born. I think it’s worth considering a re-incarnation. If ever there was an anti-Christ – few will deny that Hitler was he. Scary, scary, scary Nazi world.