The Second Final Reflection

20 Nov

It has been just under two weeks since the world woke up to President-Elect Donald Trump.

Since then, certain things have become clear. Hillary Clinton’s unfitness for office – for anything, really – has been illustrated by her refusal to address her supporters after the results were clear. Reports have it that she was drunk, violent or both. Regardless, the reaction of many of her supporters have provided an excellent rationale for voting for Trump. Crying college students, riots on the streets, calls to adjust an electoral system that has worked very well over the last few years …

In short, a great many people have behaved like children.

This is dangerously counter-productive. Peaceful protest is a time-honoured American (and Western) right. Violent protests, on the other hand, make the vast silent majority cry out for heavy repression. No one can claim the moral high ground when they’re screaming insults and threats, beating up dissidents, burning and looting and generally remaining everyone of why they voted for Trump in the first place. In the long term … how can these people possibly be trusted to handle their own affairs, let alone govern a country?

There is no such thing, in the real world, as a prize for participation. There will always be winners and losers. And in politics, you win by convincing the majority of people in each state to support you. You have to convince them that it is in their best interests to support you, not that they’re somehow obliged to support you or that you’ll blackmail them (emotionally or physically) into supporting you. The latter two breed resentment. No one is entitled to win – no one, not even Hillary Clinton, is inevitable. You want to win – you have to earn it.

If you cannot handle losing, how the hell are you going to handle the real world?

Politics – American and European – have steadily become poisonous. And part of the reason they’ve become poisonous is that both sides have steadily become convinced that the other side is the personification of evil. And that anything is justified because the cause, the defeat of evil, is right. Individuals vanish without trace in the fog of social justice, where the details are forgotten or twisted in service to the narrative. And now there are elements of the Right that want to pay the Left back in their own coin. Why should they not?

I could argue – and I will – that we should not sink to their level. But a right-winger could easily counter my argument by pointing out that such treatment deserves retaliation, that we should give the Left a taste of the punishment they’ve meted out. And, in the increasing tribalisation of politics, he may have a point. If identity politics can be used to blame right-wingers for everything done by other right-wingers, why can’t they be used to blame left-wingers for everything done by other left-wingers?

Live by identity politics, die by identity politics.

The core of the problem remains, as I have said before, that the elites and their supporters – the media, etc – have lost touch with the real world. And it is that problem, more than anything else, that needs to be fixed. But I fear it is beyond them.

***

The irony of the problems facing the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is that both parties are facing essentially the same problem. Both party elites attempted to put forward candidates chosen by them, as opposed to the rank and file. The Republicans pushed Jeb Bush, hoping he would be the third Bush to serve as POTUS; the Democrats pushed Hillary Clinton, after the Clintons effectively sewed up the nomination process.

Both party-preferred candidates faced heavy resistance from the rank-and-file. The Republicans had little reason to love Jeb or the handful of other establishment candidates, particularly as both George HW Bush and George W Bush were widely disliked. The Democrats, too, had little reason to love Hillary Clinton. Her history was dubious at best, while she had a reputation for being a flip-flopper. And so both candidates were challenged, by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Perversely, despite all the hyperbole about Donald Trump breaking the Republican Party, I think there is a good argument to be made that he fixed it. Trump never enjoyed the support of the elites (who chose to effectively commit treason, given that they were supposed to support the nominee) but he did have the support of the rank and file. Trump, for better or worse, reflected the desire of the rank and file for a plain-speaking candidate who would defy the elites and actually win. The elites recoiled in horror because the idea that anyone would find Trump appealing was unthinkable to them. But the rank-and-file showed its power by nominating Trump.

Pretend, for the sake of argument, that the entire command crew of USS Nimitz were summarily sacked. Would this actually put the giant supercarrier out of service permanently? Of course not – a new command crew would be appointed and the carrier would head back out to sea, rapidly overcoming teething troubles as the new crew learned the ropes. And, just like the carrier, the Republican Party will survive. It does not need the elites to survive.

By contrast, there is a very strong possibility that Hillary and Obama wrecked the Democratic Party.

We do not know if Hillary would have won the nomination fairly. We do know she rigged it in her favour. The DNC was effectively an arm of the Clinton Campaign. Reasonable candidates for the nomination were edged aside, leaving an outsider – Bernie Sanders – as the sole opposition candidate. And he was sabotaged by the DNC. And so the levels of shattering distrust between the elites and the rank-and-file have risen sharply. How many voters stayed home because they couldn’t bear the thought of voting for a cheat?

On the micro scale, the DNC should never have even considered Hillary a potential candidate. She had too much baggage. But on the macro scale, the Democratic Party is in serious trouble. It’s leaders are, if anything, more isolated from the common herd than the RNC. They assumed, arrogantly, that minority groups within the US would continue to provide mindless support. But such support was no longer forthcoming. If the living conditions of black Americans, for example, failed to improve after eight years of a black president – and democratic control of majority black areas – why should black Americans trust the Democrats?

And now, the Democratic Party is facing a major crisis. The system failed – it didn’t just fail, it was deliberately broken. It would have been problematic even if Hillary won – which would have provided minimal justification for stealing the nomination – but she lost. Now, the DNC needs to come to terms with its problems in order to face the future. And it is doing this after the Republicans won a crushing victory.

The rank-and-file needs to kick out the elites and reassert control. But that isn’t going to be easy.

***

The implications of President Trump will not be contained within America’s borders, even if Trump does build a wall. And I suspect that, whatever they may say openly, a great many foreign leaders are relieved. Hillary Clinton was a deeply suspect nominee from the start, a woman of terrifying incompetence and zero credibility mixed with a complete disregard for the optics (let alone anything else). The prospect of Hillary accidentally – or deliberately – starting a war with Russia could not be overlooked.

If nothing else, there will probably be a pause in the endless geopolitical power game as Trump takes office. Hillary could reasonably be assumed to be following in Obama’s footsteps, but Trump is a different issue. There will be an opportunity for the US and Russia to strike a deal that will please neither side, but one that both sides will find tolerable (and certainly preferable to a war with an uncertain outcome). And this will also be true elsewhere. Trump may recommit American power to defending Saudi Arabia, but also demand concessions in exchange. (The Saudis are still fuelling extremism and this has to be stopped.) Indeed, in many ways, the sense that Trump is irrational works in his favour, at least in his early days. One does not poke the rabid dog.

And yet, President Trump raises other concerns. European powers have been skimping on their defence contributions, despite a treaty obligation to spend at least 2% of their GNP on defence. In 2015, only Britain, Poland and the US met those treaty obligations. Trump has a point, as little as Europeans might want to admit it, about free-riders. This is not 1945. The European powers, if they want to be secure, can afford to spend more money on their own defence. Why should the US pay? And why should American boys and girls be sent to defend Berlin when Germany is unwilling to defend itself?

This actually has deeper implications. The US, for better or worse, is a proactive force on the world stage. Europe often feels differently. Can one reasonably expect the US to put up with absurd rules of engagement? Or outright sabotage – the Italians were accused of bribing Taliban insurgents, for example. Or sanctimonious speeches from politicians safely isolated from global politics? Or uncontrolled immigration that destabilises politics and may spread to the US?

At what point does the US conclude that the protectorates have a choice between shutting up and doing as they’re told … or being shoved back into the cold and ordered to look after themselves?

The real question is how this will play out over the next few months. Trump’s rise is the sign of a populist uprising against the elites, but it isn’t the only one. BREXIT happened, at least in part, because the elites made the fatal mistake of convincing the voters that they didn’t give a damn about them. The rise of other right-wing parties across Europe is another sign – on matters ranging from the economy to immigration, voters have come to believe that the elites just don’t care. Angela Merkel’s letter to Donald Trump, I suspect, pushed many buttons … and not in a good way. What respect has the elites shown for the safety, let alone the dignity, of their own citizens?

The blunt truth is that the European Union is nothing more than a castle built on sand – and the tide is coming in. There’s no such thing as European unity. The idea of merging a dozen different nations, with very disparate economies, into one was absurd right from the start. No one should have been surprised by the disaster slowly tearing Greece and the other weaker economies apart. The political delusions of the elites led to disaster.

Why should they be surprised, therefore, when their policies are rejected?

Trump has an opportunity to re-establish links between the ‘rebel’ European states and the US. It is not an opportunity he should miss.

***

There are three possibilities that should be borne in mind by all Americans, of whatever political views.

First, Trump may be unable to push his proposed legislation into law. The Republican elite still maintains a great deal of influence … and they don’t want Trump to succeed. His success spells their doom. It is therefore possible that all of his proposals will die in committee and nothing will be done.

Second, Trump may be seduced by the political elite. He would hardly be the first reformer to enter power and then be led astray. (Tony Blair, anyone?) His pro-change agenda may be quietly dropped and the current unsatisfactory situation will be allowed to continue.

Third, the naysayers might be right and Trump genuinely is a fascist, with plans to establish a dictatorship. Or he will turn authoritarian – following precedents set by Bush and Obama – after the rest of the government blocks his reforms. I don’t think that’s remotely likely, but the possibility should be acknowledged.

And even if none of these possibilities come to pass, his ability to be effective may be more limited than you suppose.

The political revolt that led to the rise of Trump – and BREXIT, etc – must not be allowed to fade away. Westerners must strive to regain control of government, to bring the bureaucracy to heel and keep local control in their hands. The idea that someone in Washington can propose a ‘one size fits all’ policy for the entire USA has proven disastrous, just as the same problem has torn Europe apart. Political power must be devolved as far down the line as possible, allowing maximum input from those who have to live under it. Common sense must be allowed to dominate. Change – real change – needs a grassroots movement that won’t give up, even when the odds seem hopeless.

The elites may have good intentions. But any organisation, as Jerry Pournelle noted, eventually becomes dominated by people more intent on bolstering their own power rather than the overall goals of the organisation. A sufficiently large organisation will effectively go to war with itself – witness the rise of obnoxious HR departments – as its people forget their true purpose. The RNC and DNC became dominated by people more interested in their own power and position – the Cuckservatives, in particular – and lost sight of their true goals.

This is not the beginning of the end, to quote Churchill. This is merely the end of the beginning.

***

I’d like to close this essay – and hopefully this series – with a rather droll observation – and a warning. Reality has a conservative bias.

I say ‘conservative’ instead of ‘right-wing’ because there are people on the right who are just as prone to absurd flights of fantasy as people on the left. The only real difference, at base, between fascism and communism is the lies told to maintain the elite in power. And both sides tell so many lies that they eventually start to believe them. Their rulers become deluded into believing that they can change reality with the stroke of a pen.

You can get a credit card, if you like, and defer payment for months or years. Or you can take out a loan (for education, perhaps) secure in the knowledge you won’t have to pay it back at once. I recall students who did just that, back when I was in university. They lived high, spending their student loan as though the money would never run out. But debt will eventually catch up with you. One day, your creditors will arrive to repossess everything you own. And that will be that.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The safety and security enjoyed by the vast majority of westerners depends on both a solid defence and the rule of law. Both have been grievously weakened, by politicians who believe the good times will never end and ‘social justice warriors’ more concerned with appearance than reality. As our laws become warped and twisted, with different levels of justice offered to different people, trust in society weakens and breaks. People voted for Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders because they were outsider candidates, when they could no longer trust the elites.

The core problem facing the Left is that many of its ideas sound good – and sometimes they are good – but they don’t know when to stop. Political correctness started out as an attempt to convince people to be polite. But it has become a mania for policing speech, when anything can be deemed offensive … in a world where the rules keep changing. How can anyone listen to politicians trying to explain away the latest terrorist atrocity and not feel disgust. The truth – that all decent people, including many Muslims, are at war with Radical Islam – is undeniable. And yet most politicians are unwilling to even consider whispering the truth.

It gets worse. Good intentions lead to hell … for other people. Affirmative action taints everyone who benefits … and those who didn’t benefit, but fit the favoured demographic; well-intentioned bids to forbid employers from checking criminal records lead to increased unemployment among black males, who are disproportionally likely to have criminal records … and so on and so on. Is it any surprise, therefore, that Donald Trump’s pledge to drain the swamp proved so popular?

The Left – and the Right is often guilty of this too – does not attempt to win arguments by reason. Instead, it appeals to emotion; the sense of doing good or the fear of being publically shamed by being called a racist, sexist or worse. One may have free speech, as long as one mouths politically-correct platitudes; one may have tolerance, as long as one is part of a favoured demographic. The hierarchy of victimhood breeds nothing, but utter contempt from the average person. And so does the crap spewed out about every right-wing politician over the last fifty years.

Indeed, if Donald Trump is a fascist, he owes his rise to the media crying ‘racist fascist bigot’ at every GOP candidate. They’ve cried wolf so often that no one believes them any longer.

The rule of law – that the guilty must be proven guilty – is forgotten. And now many – many – people on the right want to retaliate in kind. And so we have the warning, a quote that has always lingered in my mind.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

It’s a bad idea to dismantle something purely because its inconvenient. You never know when you might need it.

The next few months are going to be very interesting indeed.

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28 Responses to “The Second Final Reflection”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 20, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

    The next few months are going to be very interesting indeed.

    Yep. 😀

  2. bretwallach November 20, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

    Chrishanger wrote: “Political power must be devolved as far down the line as possible…

    I’ve made similar statements many times but when I look at local corruption (think Detroit or Chicago or in the past things like Tammany Hall …) it makes Hillary look like a saint in comparison. Much of Detroit is a wasteland and things like that are definitely NOT a testament to the good of devolving power to localities. I have no idea what the solution is though.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 20, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

      Better to have a few more Detroits than to have a US in the same shape as Detroit.

    • Andrew Jones November 21, 2016 at 1:02 am #

      One of the best reasons to keep political power, the power to force others to support your ideas, small, is so that it’s not such a big deal when they go down in flames.

      The problem isn’t so much that government is full of bad ideas, but that those bad ideas never stop, no matter the level of failure.

  3. Walt Dunn November 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

    Very True,This should be a fascinating four years or so…

  4. PuffinMuffin November 21, 2016 at 12:30 am #

    It’s no good crying about how a winning candidate stole your election victory. Put up a better candidate, address the current problems and stop being complacent.

    Complacency loses many elections these days.

    As for the Republicans, they won. That’s all that matters. “You win or you die”

    PS still waiting for SIM 11

  5. BobStewartatHome November 21, 2016 at 4:23 am #

    The riots following the election were not what they seemed. There is a youtube video of charter buses parked on both sides of a side street for about a mile in St. Louis. These buses were the conveyances for the rioters. If we had an independent media in the U. S., one or more enterprising reporters would have taken note of the bus companies and the locales they haled from, and made a few phone calls to try and discover who paid for the buses. If we had honest municipal governments and police forces, they would have taken note of the buses, and attempted to trace any arrested rioters back to their sponsor through the charter bus contract. Instead, we are encouraged to assume that thousands of rioters appeared like mushrooms in a lawn. An act of spontaneous combustion, so to speak.

  6. Terrie Wiese November 21, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    I’m not concerned about politics. The election is done. So how about the status of “The sergeants apprentice”? Hope it’s closet to being ready for us to read. Thanks

    • chrishanger November 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

      I should have the first draft (and beta-edits) done by the end of the week. Then it will be in the hands of the editors.

      Chris

  7. Billy November 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    Something that I have not seen a lot written about.

    When I was a kid, most everything (Here) was made in the USA, Anything made in japan or china was considered junk and not even worthy to be purchased.

    People could make a good living working in a factory, those were high paying jobs.

    You could buy a nice house, a couple cars etc.

    Now, you buy anything , and I do mean anything here(USA) and it says on the tag China, Mexico, Japan, etc . It says anywhere , except * Made in the USA.

    We (Americans) want those jobs back.

    That is why we voted for Trump.

    P.S.
    Also the wall. And we want the wall built like the great wall of China or bigger.

    • ChaosDancer November 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      First of all mate, not a US citizen, but if you think those jobs are coming back i have a couple of nice bridges to sell you 🙂 Those jobs are never coming back due to lots and lots of reasons but the main ones are:

      1. Automation, most factory jobs have been automated and if you needed 50 people back then to do something now you will probably need 4 with engineering degrees and one semi skilled.

      2. People, due to globalization, demand to buy the least expensive product in the market, thus if a company can sell you a widget for US$2 and can make it in US for 1,50 and in China for ,25 cent it will make it in China no questions asked.

      So unless a UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) becomes available in US (not in a million years) most of the people that voted Trump for that reason are fucked, totally and unconditionally fucked with no hope whatsoever for the future. If people were more accepted of social programs i could say maybe they could be saved but there is the perception of “I got mine, now fuck off”

      • shrekgrinch November 21, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

        Love the Magical Unicorn Farts otherwise called “UBI”.

        UBI has a serious problem tho: The Basic Income Impossibility Trinity Problem

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-24/note-to-swiss-basic-income-plans-have-a-basic-flaw

        Whenever UBI proponents are confronted with it, they all but universally ignore it. I know, because I have confronted over the past six months on various sites/forums about fifteen of them pushing for UBI. Not one response. Not a peep. Denial City. The Ostrich Reaction.

        It is what Al Gore likes to call “an inconvenient truth”. And it is a show-stopper one, too.

      • shrekgrinch November 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

        For #2, that is what tariffs (legal ones like a VAT, which the US needs but doesn’t have) are for. That and cracking down on currency manipulations.

        And you are right about the massive jobs loss. But those will happen at the hockey stick end of the “semi” exponential curve (semi because it will be limited a bit from achieving full potential in reality by physical and financial factors from being truly exponential, just like algae reproduction is limited by nutrients and space).

        Think of how fast cell phone adoption happened in time spans of years and cut that by half. Then look at how most of that market saturation occurred towards the end years of that timeline.

        My personally predicted ‘aggressive’ timeline for that is around 2020 – 2025. Conservative, 2025 – 2030 for sure. That means about 80% – 90% of the total job losses per robotified sector will happen in the span of the last few years of this process. Like when all the truck drivers lose their jobs en masse, for example.

        But the US won’t suffer as much as a lot of other countries will. This is because all the jobs we lost are already gone and will be automated either where they went to or new automated manufacturing will boom here in the US. But for China and all those countries now trying to emulate that well proven export manufacturing path to wealth development (like Vietnam and India are pouring capital hands over fist into now), they are the ones who are screwed & tatooed the most. It’s back to the rice paddies for them. Permanently.

        In the meantime, just getting US GDP growth rates back to 4% or better will do a lot to create more jobs than are being destroyed over the next 4 – 6 years. And Trump is zeroing in on doing just that.

      • Billy November 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

        Quote : 2. People, due to globalization, demand to buy the least expensive product in the market, thus if a company can sell you a widget for US$2 and can make it in US for 1,50 and in China for ,25 cent it will make it in China no questions asked. End Quote

        Trump has already said he will add a Tariff , like China does to USA made stuff going to China.
        (China already does that to imports to China)

        In your example , that 25 cent product made in China would get a $1.60 Tariff to import it to the USA .

        Thus it would be cheaper, to make it in the USA.

      • shrekgrinch November 22, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

        “Thus it would be cheaper, to make it in the USA.”

        OR, people will decide do with less of or entirely without, like people start eating more chicken when the price of beef rises. Either way: Bad for China, Inc.

  8. shrekgrinch November 21, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

    The same people whose political party uses super delegates believe that the electoral college is unfair. Got it. #DumbâssDemocrats

    Oh, and I believe that Estonia exceeds their GDP spending requirements as per NATO as well. Either Estonia or one of the other baltic states. Maybe even all three.

    • ChaosDancer November 22, 2016 at 12:00 am #

      I agree UBI has many problems not the least is it would require massive reorganization of society in order to work, which from what i have seen and read about US this last year is impossible, more probably its a pipe dream.

      Also about tariffs you know they don’t work right not in this interconnected world were everyone economy depends on everyone else. I give you an example check google with “Obama tire tariff” but the main point is it saved 1200 jobs for 1,1 billion so that’s about US$916.000 per job.

      If you implemented tariffs then it would require for the US to isolate itself in order to work and then you would need to have an economy and a population eager to get past the first few years of hardship and i don’t think lots of people would be that eager.

      Furthermore what jobs would Mr Trump create? I mean hes reviled by the left and right for different reasons so what cooperation would he have, an infrastructure bill would help but “$478B Infrastructure Bill Blocked by Senate GOP” comes up, so how does the new president would expect to help. War is out, i don’t think hes stupid enough to invade Russia, China or Iran, maybe North Korea? Social programs are out as those are felt are not american enough so whats left?

      Unless there is a massive and i mean massive effort to reorganize the education system, offer help to people to retrain and then lead them to some semblance of “normal work” i don’t think anything will change, and after a few more years you will have the same situation due to technology, population and nature of man.

      I know its a bit dark but unless 20 – 30% of the population of the world dies i don’t see a solution, we are too many with too few resources and the people with all the power they really like were and they are never going release the reigns of power.

      • shrekgrinch November 22, 2016 at 1:54 am #

        “Also about tariffs you know they don’t work right not in this interconnected world were everyone economy depends on everyone else.”

        VATs are de-facto tariffs and they do work. Especially when they are at high rates like it is in Germany and Sweden (25%).

        They get levied on imports and deducted from exports, as allowed under WTO rules.

        Ted Cruz’s tax plan was going to exactly do that. Replace the 6.2% flat payroll tax workers have on their paychecks for social security and the 6.2% levied on the employers side with a 14% de-facto VAT (called a Business Transfer Tax actually). This would have granted an immediate trade advantage for domestic manufacturing and services as US labor taxes would be reduced while the Chinese, Canadians, South Koreans and Mexicans would be ponying up for paying Social Security for each and every import they ship to the US and at the same time making their products somewhat more expensive, while US exports would have that full VAT refunded back so as to give the US an export advantage. Right now, US payroll taxes are baked into the cost of our exports which creates a trading disadvantage.

        You say it doesn’t work? It presently works for most nations on the globe. In fact, the US is one of the few nations to not have a VAT and it is pretty stupid given the competitive disadvantage it puts us in.

        “I agree UBI has many problems not the least is it would require massive reorganization of society in order to work”

        I wouldn’t say ‘massive’ nor confined to the US. The Impossibility Trinity problem exists with ANY UBI implemented ANYWHERE. In order to have true UBI, that requires dismantling the welfare state as it exists everywhere — and that includes old age public support like Social Security in the US. That is not a massive change since a full UBI would replace it. But it would be politically a non-starter except in dictatorships, perhaps.

    • chrishanger November 23, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      There was an argument put forward that Greece met its commitments too. Just how much this is actually worth, given the state of the Greek economy, is an open question.

      Chris

  9. ChaosDancer November 22, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Hmm one moment don’t the US has VAT? I was under the impression that everyone in the world was paying VAT 🙂 Also isn’t VAT a sales tax that’s levied at everything (That’s the way it is here with 19% added on everything), i suppose you could slap it on anything imported but i doubt that could pass with people.

    Oh well the next 4 or 8 years are really going to be interesting just don’t start any more adventures in the middle east as i don’t think your reputation can stand any more blows 🙂

    • shrekgrinch November 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

      “Hmm one moment don’t the US has VAT? I was under the impression that everyone in the world was paying VAT”

      Nope. US does not have a VAT.

      “Also isn’t VAT a sales tax that’s levied at everything (That’s the way it is here with 19% added on everything)”

      Define ‘here’? Standard VAT is that it is added in each stage of production to final point-of-sale, except for exports. Exporters get a refund for all the VAT payment steps prior in addition to what would be normally their own.

      “i suppose you could slap it on anything imported but i doubt that could pass with people”

      If ‘here’ has a true VAT, then yes…it gets slapped on imports.

      “i don’t think your reputation can stand any more blows”

      America has now been ‘re-taken’ over by Americans who can care less about how foreigners think. While I follow a lot of what goes on outside my country, I can care less about what powerless foreigners think. The Chinese and Russians, yes. The Europeans? Depends….it is ‘Dying Europe’ after all. Those we have to play nice to use as cannon fodder in our international manipulations, like most of East Asia’s nations, somewhat. But everyone else, who cares and why should we?

      • ChaosDancer November 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

        So much Arrogance, such an american characteristic, although not exclusive to you guys but such a defining one.

        You know i always believed that “Might makes right” all through history violence and whoever has the biggest stick wins but remember that he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

        You might not care, US is such a short sighted country, do what will benefit you now and maybe a year down the lane but after that, who cares 🙂 You have a population that’s falling behind on education and economic prosperity, you have people decrying other people just for what they believe and the difference between those people that live on the coasts and those in the “Flyover states” is staggering.

        I read both right and left blogs and you guys do not even want to talk to each other, 50% of your country thinks you elected Hitler and the other 50% thinks is … well whatever idol the right has, Reagan maybe?

      • shrekgrinch November 22, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

        “So much Arrogance, such an american characteristic, although not exclusive to you guys but such a defining one.”

        It is no such thing. It is called “being logical”.

        Nobody wants to waste energy on people and things that are a complete waste of time. And for those that aren’t a COMPLETE waste of time but just a necessary waste of time (like doing chores) we logically want to reduce as much of that energy and time put into it as possible.

        You’re the one with an irrational, purely emotional-based attitude towards that simple, common-sense and purely self-evident logic. But guess what? Your attitude doesn’t matter either (harsh, but true).

        All the rest that you wrote doesn’t mean a fig, either. All of it was you engaging in psychological projection towards me of your feelings of national castration before US power. Do try to stay on topic, will you? 🙂

        You were doing well on VATs.

  10. Big Ben November 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    First off, does anyone see the irony of considering a VAT (value added TAX) now that we have a republican dominated government? 95% of all Republican members of Congress have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes. That’s leaving aside the tax cuts that Trump has promised.

    Google the top retailers in the world. Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, etc. These did not become the titans they are over the last several decades by selling relatively expensive products made in America. The American public has spoken, and they like cheap foreign-made junk.

    Putting tariffs on that cheap crap will only raise prices here in America, impacting those who can least afford it. And who would get all that money raised by those taxes (…. sorry, tariffs?)
    And here’s the kicker – for most things currently made in overseas sweat shops, those will never be made by Americans. If Trump’s crazy dream came to pass, those manufacturers forced back to America would simply build fully automated factories. That’d cost them less than hiring Americans at $8 to $15 an hour to make sneakers, t-shirts and toys coated with lead-based paint.

    Finally, has Trump moved any of his own manufacturing back onshore? A Harvard professor recently examined the Ivanka Trump fashion line, a proudly touted part of the Trump Empire, and found that all 800 items (dresses, shoes and accessories) are imported.
    In total, thousands of Trump branded items from clothing to furniture, kitchen goods to soap are made overseas and imported.
    Sounds like some good American jobs for good American robots.

    • shrekgrinch November 22, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

      “First off, does anyone see the irony of considering a VAT (value added TAX) now that we have a republican dominated government? 95% of all Republican members of Congress have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes. That’s leaving aside the tax cuts that Trump has promised.”

      First off, you didn’t read what I said:

      Ted Cruz’s tax plan was going to exactly do that. Replace the 6.2% flat payroll tax workers have on their paychecks for social security and the 6.2% levied on the employers side with a 14% de-facto VAT (called a Business Transfer Tax actually).

      In other words, eliminate one form of taxation and replace it with a more benign alternative. That is not ‘raising taxes’.

      “Google the top retailers in the world. Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, etc. These did not become the titans they are over the last several decades by selling relatively expensive products made in America. The American public has spoken, and they like cheap foreign-made junk”

      Yeah…because their incomes are taxed so much and the value of their savings have been trashed by Keynesian rape of the dollar’s purchasing power.

      “Putting tariffs on that cheap crap will only raise prices here in America, impacting those who can least afford it. And who would get all that money raised by those taxes (…. sorry, tariffs?)”

      Yup. It is a tax on consumption instead of production/work. Best kind of tax there is, short of a Georgist land value tax (which the Federal government can’t impose because of Apportionment restrictions) as the vast majority of economists agree.

      “Finally, has Trump moved any of his own manufacturing back onshore? A Harvard professor recently examined the Ivanka Trump fashion line, a proudly touted part of the Trump Empire, and found that all 800 items (dresses, shoes and accessories) are imported.”

      So? What does this have to do with Trump the person? Nothing.

      “Sounds like some good American jobs for good American robots.”

      At least they will be American robots. We can tax the outputs of American robots easily…a VAT is set up to do just that. Payroll taxes are not.

  11. G November 23, 2016 at 3:59 am #

    One controversial point might be that unless major sacrifices are made, the U.S., Europe, and Japan may all be declining powers…with people on both the right and left reacting with rage as they see their traditional standards of living and (in their view) “rights” continue to erode…this doesn’t bode well, especially as technology, even more than trade, will continue to eliminate the need for labor as time goes on…building walls won’t help with this…

  12. Billy November 28, 2016 at 2:40 am #

    Something interesting I found out.

    I used to sell things on eBay, If you want to send something outside the USA, it costs (I am rough guessing) about $20.00 to $50.00 in postage/shipping to send the item outside the USA and send it to another country like China for example.

    On the other hand, if someone from China (For example) wants to ship something to the USA from China it cost that person a few cents, to ship the item.

    Around $30.00 (For the same item) sent from the USA to China. Then send the exact same item FROM China to the USA , it will cost a few cents to send it.

    When I figured that out, I could not believe it.

    I don’t know what the answer is on that issue.

    But, it is giving a unfair advantage to everyone (Other countries) except the USA on doing business between countries.

  13. Chris March 24, 2017 at 5:36 am #

    pic¹Ãtutto-quello-che-ne–onsegue (tanto per giocare con le abbreviazioni ossimoriche).GULP! E sì che l'ho riletto…Meglio che per oggi non scriva più nulla. :-(Non ti preoccupare, può succedere: guarda cosa ho scritto nel mio ultimo commento, per esempio…Queste sono, a grandi linee, le responsabilità. Il dramma dei genitori è evidente, ma loro ne sono stati una parte non indifferente della causa.

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