Category Archives: economic news

Socialism = red herring

Socialism is the newest four-letter word we can add to our political glossary of epithets.

The problem with the word, though, and the way it is tossed around is that those who oppose socialism hang the label of “socialist” on folks for the wrong reasons.

They don’t know — or choose to ignore — the true definition of the word. Yet we hear it all … the … time! It comes from those on the right and the far right. It is meant to tear down the ideas of those with whom they disagree.

Socialism defines an economic system that spreads public assets around. Government takes over private industry and distributes assets to everyone the government represents. Here is one definition I found: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

I heard Donald Trump — yet again! — toss the s-word out there during a recent campaign rally. He said Democrats are not-so-closeted socialists who want to destroy our way of life, our economic system, our prosperity. He and his allies contend — and they are largely, but not entirely correct — that socialism doesn’t work.

I have been accused of being a socialist by readers of High Plains Blogger. They make me laugh. For starters, I’ve never posted an entry on this blog that espouses the economic benefit of a socialistic society.

Why is that? I am not a socialist! I am as much of a capitalist as any of my friends who happen to oppose the views expressed in this blog.

I have not endorsed the idea of Medicare for all, or a single-payer health care system, and I damn sure haven’t endorsed the notion of the government nationalizing heavy industry.

And yet …

We hear critics of those who tilt left accuse them of being socialists, of wanting the government to do everything. They say we lefties are in favor of creating something called a Nanny State.

C’mon, folks! Let’s get real!

Socialism — and those who believe in it — have become a convenient political rallying cry at right-wing rallies. Hey, whatever works, right? It’s working for those level these accusations against those who oppose them.

It damn sure is working for the president of the United States, who got elected by stirring up fears and anxiety of voters in precisely the right states to win an Electoral College majority in 2016.

Stoking those fears and leading the cheers of those who believe this nonsense is no way to govern.

Let’s call it NAFTA 2.0

Donald Trump vowed to toss out the North American Free Trade Agreement, calling it the “worst trade deal” ever negotiated … ever!

Over the weekend, the president announced a new trade agreement — which is called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — with Canada and Mexico. It remains to be seen whether it’s better than NAFTA. I’ll say this: Trump has delivered on a key campaign pledge to get rid of one trade deal and replace it with another.

I believe in free trade. I also believe that NAFTA was good for all three nations. It stripped away tariffs, enabling the nations to ship goods among each other. Trump contended during the 2016 that NAFTA cost the United States too many jobs, more or less echoing the mantra delivered in 1992 by Texas billionaire businessman H. Ross Perot.

Let’s look at the details of this deal

Congress will have to approve NAFTA 2.0. The president wants Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, to sign it before handing his office over to his successor. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who Trump once blasted as “weak” — called the new treaty a “good day for Canada.”

Midwest farmers are happy with the new agreement. I hope that happiness makes its way to Texas, with its own huge agricultural industry.

The new deal has drawn some guarded, but optimistic, responses from key lawmakers. According to Politico: “Maintaining the trilateral North American deal is an important prerequisite to preserving and extending those gains and the Trump administration has achieved that goal,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “I look forward to reviewing this deal to conform it meets the high standards of Trade Promotion Authority.”

I remain committed to free trade among the three friendly giant nations. I hope the new deal, once we dive deeply into the details, is the result of the guy who has boasted of his ability to cut the best deals in the history of Planet Earth.

How about sharing credit, POTUSes 44 and 45?

Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump are arguing over who deserves the credit for the nation’s booming economy.

Trump keeps hogging all the credit. Obama is reminding us that Trump inherited an economy on the upswing.

Trump says the tax cut has spurred job growth. On his watch, the unemployment rate is at historic lows, job growth is booming, as is the stock market.

Oh, but Obama says the nation’s economic stimulus package approved not long after he took office has spurred much of the growth. The nation has been on an upward climb since 2011.

I know this won’t happen. Ever! How about the men sharing the credit?

Why won’t it happen? Obama and Trump are politicians of different political parties. They obviously detest each other. Trump fomented the Big Lie for years about Obama’s place of birth. Obama has recently taken the gloves off with Trump, calling him out by name in his attempt to help Democrats get elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm election.

I am inclined to side with President Obama. I know: no surprise there. It’s just that Donald Trump has continued to speak untruthfully about the nature of the economic recovery and about the base line he inherited. He calls the economy a “disaster,” which it clearly wasn’t when he took office.

My hope is a futile one. Still, it’s good to remember that when our Special Forces took out Osama bin Laden in May 2011, the then-president — Barack Obama — made sure to spread the credit to where it was due. He praised the anti-terror work done for many years across two administrations, Republican and Democrat.

Is there that kind of sharing to be expressed these days with a relatively robust economy? Hah! Hardly.

Socialist? Why, I never …

I’ve been called out by a critic of High Plains Blogger.

Some fellow who I don’t know, but who reads my blog regularly, has called me a “socialist.” He likens me to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer as a socialist in their ilk.

Hmm. I need to respond to this guy.

I’ll start with this: He doesn’t know what a socialist is. A socialist is someone who believes in, um, socialism. And what is that, precisely?

Socialism is an economic philosophy that emphasizes collective ownership of business and industry. Let’s see. Have I ever advocated taking over business and industry by the government? Have I ever said that private ownership is bad for the country? No. I haven’t.

To that end, I am as much of a capitalist as this fellow who purports to know — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that I am a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool socialist.

I tend to avoid getting involved in these tit-for-tat responses on social media. For starters, many of High Plains Blogger’s critics tend to suffer from last word-itis. They have to get the last word on any exchange. So, I concede the last word to them. I’ll make whatever point I want to make, let ’em respond and then I move on.

As for the socialist rap, this individual hung that label on me after a blog post that didn’t discuss economic policy at all!

I believe, therefore, many of those who hang the “socialist” tag on folks such as yours truly are using the word as  cudgel to beat others up whenever they disagree with them on any policy at all.

To call someone a “socialist” is akin to saying “your mother wears combat boots.”

When in doubt, I rely on my tattered American Heritage dictionary, which describes socialism this way: “A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community.”

Is that me? Umm. No. It isn’t. So there.

How do you say it in, oh, Mandarin?

Donald J. Trump has been facing this scrutiny ever since he rode down that escalator at Trump Tower and declared his intention to “Put America First” while campaigning for the presidency of the United States.

Reuters News Agency reports that the Trump re-election campaign has getting its “Keep America Great” banners from a factory in the People’s Republic of China. The Trump team denies it. Reuters stands by the story.

I am going to go with Reuters’s version of events.

You see, Trump and his team have demonstrated repeatedly their ability to lie to our faces. They’ve done so on almost any and every issue under the sun. They get away with it in the eyes of the “base” that continues to support the president.

The Hill reports: Manager Yao Yuanyuan told Reuters that she was worried Trump’s own tariffs would hurt production numbers, but said she did not know if the banners’ buyers were officially affiliated with the Trump campaign or the GOP.

Yao said her factory has been making Trump banners since the president was a candidate. 

There have numerous reports ever since Trump entered the rough-and-tumble world of politics about Trump-brand clothing being made offshore. Trump hasn’t denied it categorically. So, there’s a history of his using foreign labor to manufacture items with his name on them.

Should it surprise a single person that he would do so with the re-election campaign banners? Hah! Not even …

Some perspective, please, on GDP numbers

Donald J. Trump is damn proud of the Gross Domestic Product report given this week, showing the economy grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent.

Good news, yes? Sure it is! It’s even great news! But hold on, Mr. President. It ain’t “historic,” as you contend.

And, in fact, the rate of growth might not last, thanks to the trade war the president has launched with, oh, Canada, Mexico, China, the European Union … and maybe even the outer planets of our solar system.

As CBS News is reporting, the president didn’t inherit a “fixer-upper economy.” He took command of an economy in good condition. It has been on an upward spiral for, oh, the past eight years.

However, the president yet again took pains to disparage the growth rate during the Obama administration years. And, as is the norm, the criticism of President Obama’s handling of the economy was incorrect.

As CBS News noted: While Mr. Trump praised the 4.1 percent annual growth rate in the second quarter, the economy exceeded that level four times during the Obama presidency: in 2009, 2011 and twice in 2014.

The latest numbers are quite good. There’s no mistaking it. Are they sustainable? The trade war impact on various economic sectors will reveal that in due course.

In the meantime, the president and his team — who gripe about Trump Derangement Syndrome afflicting their critics — should check their own vital signs to see if they can ever shake their Obama Derangement Syndrome symptoms.