Thursday, May 31, 2018

Trump Tariffs, Trump Deficits = Trump Inflation

Four German marks would buy one dollar in 1921. By 1923, the exchange rate was four trillion marks to the dollar.
Economics can be devilishly complicated but there are rules of thumb.
  1. Deficit spending is inflationary.
  2. Tariffs are inflationary.
  3. Recessions/Depressions are deflationary.
This is why the Federal Reserve during the Nixon/Ford/Carter presidencies hiked interest rates to usurious levels, nearly 20%. They wanted to induce a severe recession to, in the words of Gerald Ford, Whip Inflation Now!

Trump is flipping two inflation triggers at the same time.

His tariff wars against Europe, Canada, Mexico, China (the entire world except Russia) will cause the inflation of prices of imported goods and domestic goods built using imported materials. Also, by removing price competition, retailers will increase prices just because they can.

Trump's deficits will exceed $1 trillion a year by the end of his term. Double that if the US goes to war with Iran. Double it again if the Fed hikes interest rates to induce a recession.

There is one more rule of thumb that applies.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

If you need something, buy it now. Every day you wait the price will go up and the value of your savings will shrink.
There is a story of a man in Duesseldorf bringing a wheelbarrow of cash to the market to buy food. He ducked into the store for a moment to find out the current price of bread, it changed hourly. When he went back outside to fetch his cash he found the wheelbarrow had been stolen but the money had been dumped on the ground, The thief thought the worthless reams of cash weren't worth the effort of stealing.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Now Comes the Fox News Doublethink

Trump has cancelled his delusional chance at the Nobel Peace Prize by backing out of meeting with the North Korean dictator. Yawn.

The interesting bit will be Fox News turning on a dime from declaring hourly how Trump's dedication to the Korean summit was the greatest thing in the history of mankind to declaring with equal verve that the summit was never going to happen and how Trump is the greatest leader in the history of mankind for not meeting with Kim Jong-Un.

It will be classic Orwellian doublethink.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink. ~ George Orwell, 1984

Friday, May 18, 2018

Another School Shooting

The Houston event is the 22nd school shooting of the year, that's a little more than one a week. There have been 34 deaths, to date, with at least 60 wounded. What we have learned so far...

'Thoughts and Prayers'
Texas politicians seem to have learned not to use that shopworn phrase anymore. Now they have edited out the thoughts and are just claiming to be praying. Not even bothering to think about it anymore.

Talks and Prayers
The old plan of praying for a few days and then ignoring the shooting doesn't work anymore. The new plan is forming a "roundtable commission" to talk the issue into torpidity. Then ignore it. Paralysis by analysis.

Middle-class Kids
Did you ever notice that most of the mass casualty school shooting are done by middle-class suburban kids? Given their parents socio-political leanings (conservative gun culture) they have access to the enhanced weaponry needed to kill multiple people.

Some Idiot on MSNBC
Advocated installing metal detectors at all schools just like at airports. While they might work in compact urban schools, they are a joke for sprawling suburban schools with multiple points of entry. Short of installing prison-like fencing around all 100,000 schools in the country then hiring teams of TSA trained guards for each school, this is a stupid idea.

Hormonal, angst fueled teens with serious rage issues will simply move on to the local shopping mall. Then we'll have to install metal detectors and prison wall around stores, which will not be great for the nation's economy.

Best Solutions
Are the simplest. Keep guns away from children, the mentally ill, and socially irresponsible (require individuals to receiving training, pass a test, and have a license to own a gun). You know, like with a car. Require gun owners to have liability insurance for each gun they own. You know, like with a car. And require a gun's owner to be legally liable for any death or injuries caused by their gun. You know, like with a car.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Israel and Me

The Jordan River is much smaller than its reputation.
While a gentile, I have always been a Zionist. Always in this case beginning somewhere between the first time I read The Diary of Anne Frank and the 1967 Six Day War. I saw then, and still do, Israel as the rightful homeland of a people who have been tormented throughout the centuries by Christians and Muslims, Babylonian horsemen and Roman legions, Czarist Russians and Nazi Germans, Catholic inquisitionists and KKK bigots.

Israel was never as noble as I had wanted to believe. One of its tactics during the 1948 War of Independence was to force out Muslim civilians from strategic villages and cities like Haifa and Jaffa. On April 9, 1948 the terrorist organization Irgun attacked the peaceful Arab village Deir Yassin and massacred the residents, killing men, women, and children. In 1977, the leader of the Irgun during the massacre, Likud leader Menachem Begin, was elected Prime Minister of Israel.
The "Separation Wall"
Begin began a program of moving Israeli settlers into the Arab lands captured during the Six Day War. Likudnik Ariel Sharon added walling off Arab populations from Israel proper and the Jewish enclaves in the West Bank most reminiscent of the Berlin Wall
and the wall built around the Warsaw Ghetto to keep Jews confined following the Nazi occupation of Poland.
While I was in Jerusalem last month the Israeli Defense Force sought to quell riots at the prison-like wall surrounding the Gaza Strip by killing scores of Arabs and wounding hundreds. One Israeli official said they had to kill women and children to get at the terrorists hiding behind them.
Israel is again attacking and killing people in Gaza protesting the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

Yet, through all this I still love Israel and want her to exist and thrive. Not for the reasons of American evangelicals, they believe Israel must exist so that Armageddon can come and kill all the Jews conveniently gathered in one place, but that the Jewish people deserve a place where they can finally live in peace.

I am a Zionist, albeit a frequently sad and disappointed one.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pence: It's a Private Matter

Mike Pence opined today that Michael Cohen's criminal solicitation of bribes for access to Donald Trump is a "private matter" of no interest to him. Others before him have held similar beliefs.
The Saint Valentine's Day discussion was a private matter between members of Bugs Moran and my business organizations and of no interest to law enforcement. ~ Al Capone
The cash withdrawal I made from the First National Bank of Mason City was a private transaction protected by the Banking Privacy Act. There is no reason for the public, press, or government to get involved. ~ John Dillinger
The forced recruitment of Patty Hearst by members of my social circle is a private matter between Miss Hearst and myself. Patty, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and I wish the FBI would halt their intrusive hunt for her and allow our relationship to evolve naturally. ~ Field Marshal Cinque aka Donald DeFreeze
The movement of vacationing Russian soldiers into Crimea and eastern Ukraine is purely a personal matter. The soldiers brought their tanks and other weapons simply to insure their comfort during their stay. You never brought your own pillow on a trip? The international community should respect the privacy of these men and allow them to recreate among the Ukrainian people as they see fit. ~ Vladimir Putin

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Trump Is the Absence of Joy

One of the things traveling taught me is how much joy there is to not obsessing with every insane massination of our disaster-in-chief. That doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention.

Closing the Circle
Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels and other women Trump knew in the biblical sense. Cohen was reimbursed. That reimbursement seems to have come from a Russian oligarch. The question that begs an answer is what motivated a Russian with close ties to Putin towards such generosity? The word "bribe" comes to mind. Not bribing Cohen, who is a worthless individual, but bribing Trump by paying his illegal debt. I can't think of any other logical answer.

Rudy the Lip
Giuliani's friends say his has always been like this (running his mouth like a broken faucet and then claiming the things he has said were facts are now just unsubstantiated rumors from some unknown source and not him). Which just means Rudy is not senile as we thought, he's been a raving lunatic for several decades. I can buy that.

Trump spiking the Iran nuclear deal does not, necessarily mean the end of the deal. It could mean isolating the United States from the rest of the world who will continue to support the deal and strengthen their ties with Iran.

Of course, if John Bolton and Benjamin Netanyahu have their way the US, acting as a client state of Israel, will invade Iran with an overstretched military ill-suited for combat in Iran's mountainous terrain. This is the same military that has failed to defeat the Taliban after seventeen years fighting in Afghanistan. Lest we forget, Russia will provide Iran with all the arms it needs to bleed the United States to death.

And Now
I'm going back to my happy place.