By Patrick Brogan
Trump’s current and threatened trade wars betray the people that elected him to the White House and if continued will cost him in the long run.
MAGA. Make America Great Again. Although Trump ran on the anti-political ticket, this phrase was suitably vague enough for people to project their own meanings on to it, like all good political slogans, including some racist dog whistles. A big part of what it seemed to mean was jobs. Jobs for honest, hardworking citizens. Who could argue against such a proposal? Is he delivering, is the big question?
The Stock Exchange is booming, but this doesn’t always translate into the wider economy, but, this is doing strongly, too. Not all of this is dependent on or down to the President, regardless of who it is. This is not begrudging Trump his due, but that is the reality. However, Trump’s own decisions may be about to negatively impact upon the US economy and alienate his core supporters.
Let’s Start a Trade War
This refers to his infamous trade wars. While the impact of this is exaggerated by sections of the media, and certainly not as bad as he threatened before being elected, it is likely that it will have a negative effect on the very people who elected him. So, what is at stake?
As it stands, the US, under the Trump administration, has imposed a tax of 25% on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Before being elected, President Trump at various points said he would impose a 40-50% tax on all Chinese goods entering the country, which runs into the hundreds of billions. For now, the impact on the wider economy is minimal and more can read about that here, but, and there is a certain amount of irony in this, the only people it is really hurting are those that saw Trump as the answer to their problems.
Agricultural workers are a great example. Soybeans account for $24 billion of the US economy. The next closest crop is corn at $9 billion. So, it is a big deal. And it is a big deal when Soybean prices hit a ten-year low like they are now. There are a number of factors behind this and many of them are environmental, but it is also partly down to the trade wars. China understandably has not taken the embargos lying down and has looked to Brazil to get its quota of Soybeans. The biggest importer of US soybeans has turned its back, and it is all down to the farmers as they voted for Trump.
It is not just the agricultural sector that’s suffering. Manufacturing is taking a dint, too. The EU has also retaliated with its own taxes. The impact this has on US manufacturers is two-fold. The raw materials cost more, pushing up the price of production and the selling price in Europe, a huge market, is increased, but the extra cost goes to the EU coffers, not the producer. For this reason, many high profile US companies are planning to move their operations to Europe and taking US jobs with them. Harley Davidson being a good example;
Old Men Trump
Perhaps this is not surprising if we look at Trump’s character. Whilst many of his supporters looked at him as a modern-day messiah, putting America first (whatever that means), there is nothing in his past to suggest he would. Like all politicians, he’s an opportunist. From helping rip-off would-be students at Trump University to bribing Pam Bondi to stop her investigating this. Many of his claims are racist. And wrong.
His claims about Mexicans bringing a high crime-rate across the border are difficult to prove either way, but almost certainly false, as this report points out. Meanwhile, very little consideration is given to those two million Americans on the other side of that border. Maybe this stems from his father, who faced frequent allegations of racism and Woody Guthrie even wrote a song about this after living in one of his properties. A man named Fred Trump from Queens was dressed as a Klans member and arrested in New York at a Klan march in the late 1920s. Donald has denied this was his father. A time when the KKK marched through New York? Is this what Trump means by Make America Great Again?
His grandfather, Frederick, is often described as having made his fortune through prostitution and selling drugs. While both of these claims are more than likely highly exaggerated, they do highlight his very murky background. Questions still remain about his involvement and at the very least he had to have known it was going on. Fast-forward to the 1990s when the grandson makes a profit off of exploiting women through the Miss Universe contest. Frederick also fled Bavaria to avoid military conscription.
Costing Him Re-Election?
This could cost him re-election to the White House. He lost the popular vote last time and only got in because of the arcane and outdated system of the Electoral College. The “Blue Wave” and candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would automatically appeal to Trump’s core constituency on the grounds that they also disagree with the status quo and the role of Wall Street in US society. This will amplify if Trump’s trade wars continue and he starts to cost the people that voted him in their jobs.
However, there is a bigger problem that Trump is creating. He loves barriers, both physical and mental. These harm trade and choices. It is interesting how many compared Trump to Reagan and described him as a paragon of free-market capitalism. He is creating something actually closer to a closed off Communism system. The US and Europe are the leading economies, not because of natural resources, but because they have been open for the best part of a century. Open to ideas, open to migrants with an entrepreneurial spirit, open to competition. And they were also willing to sell to foreign markets.
Trump is undoing all of this. The impact of a closed-off world is bad. Any society that closes itself off eventually goes backwards. As the US is still the driving engine for most of the global economy, this bad for the rest of the world, too. Legislation like the Fair And Reciporical Tariff (FART) Act go against what the World Trade Organisation is trying to create; a world where trade is easier and more accessible for all people, regardless of where they are from. Undoing this is bad for humanity, not just the US.
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