Make China Great — For Years, China’s Leaders Have Been Trying To Get The Upper Hand On The US — Now, Trump Is Doing The Job For Them, According to Thomas L. Friedman In The NY Times!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/opinion/trump-is-a-chinese-agent.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

Friedman writes:

“Now more Asian nations are falling in line with China’s regional trading association — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — which has no serious environmental, intellectual property, human trafficking or labor standards like TPP. A Peterson Institute study said TPP would “increase annual real incomes in the United States by $131 billion” by 2030, without changing total U.S. employment levels. Goodbye to that.
But Trump took his Make China Great campaign to a new level on Tuesday by rejecting the science on climate change and tossing out all Obama-era plans to shrink our dependence on coal-fired power. Trump also wants to weaken existing mileage requirements for U.S.-made vehicles. Stupid.

O.K., Mr. President, let’s assume for a second that climate change is a hoax. Do you believe in math? There are now 7.5 billion people on the planet, and there will be 8.5 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations population bureau — and most will want to drive like us, eat protein like us and live in houses like us. And if they do, we’ll eat up, burn up, smoke up and choke up the planet — and devour our fisheries, coral reefs, rivers and forests — at a pace we’ve never seen before. Major cities in India and China already can’t breathe; wait for when there are another billion people.

That means that clean power, clean water, clean air, clean transportation and energy-efficient buildings will have to be the next great global industry, whether or not there is climate change. The demand will be huge.

So what is China doing? Its new five-year plan is a rush to electric cars, batteries, nuclear, wind, solar and energy efficiency — and a cap-and-trade system for carbon. Trump’s plan? More coal and oil. Hello? How can America be great if we don’t dominate the next great global industry — clean power?

The U.S. state leading in clean energy innovations is California, which also has the highest vehicle emissions standards and the strictest building efficiency codes. Result: California alone has far more advanced energy jobs than there are coal miners in America, and the pay is better and the work is healthier. In January 2016, CNNMoney reported that nationally the U.S. “solar industry work force is bigger than that of oil and gas construction, and nearly three times the size of the entire coal mining work force.”

“More than half the electric vehicles sold in the U.S. are sold in California,” said Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation. “If there are two jurisdictions hellbent on transformation, it is China and California. There have been 200 million E.V.s sold in China already. They’re called electric bicycles, which cost about $400 — quiet, not contributing to congestion or pollution, and affordable.”

China is loving this: It’s doubling down on clean energy — because it has to and it wants to leapfrog us on technology — and we’re doubling down on coal, squandering our lead in technology.

It was bitterly ironic that on the same day that President Trump took America on a great leap backward to coal, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Tencent Holdings Ltd. bought a 5% stake in Tesla Inc., giving the backing of China’s most valuable company to the Silicon Valley electric-vehicle maker as it prepares to launch its first car aimed at the mass market. … Having a powerful friend in China could help Tesla as it eyes further global expansion. Big Chinese tech companies have backed a wave of green-car start-ups in the country recently.”

. . . .

So you tell me that Trump is not a Chinese agent. The only other explanation is that he’s ignorant and unread — that he’s never studied the issues or connected the dots between them — so Big Coal and Big Oil easily manipulated him into being their chump, who just tweeted out their talking points to win votes here and there — without any thought to grand strategy. Surely that couldn’t be true?”

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Friedman didn’t even get to my recurring thought. As we push Mexico, our second leading trading partner away, China will be waiting with open arms. What better than to fuel up some technology and capital-driven economic competition for the U.S. right here in North America, right across our Southern Border. And, once Mexico sees that the Chinese aren’t going to lean all over them on immigration and Central American migration, and that Beijing has no particular interest in trying to publicly humiliate Mexico’s leaders, the incentive for Mexico to cooperate with us on reducing migration and border issues drops to somewhere below zero.

I’m certainly no economist or foreign trade expert. But, I’m getting the feeling that neither are our President and his team. They just go around stirring things up, making gaffes, insulting friendly foreign leaders and organizations, and then, apparently, relying on their secret weapon, “Czar of Everything Trumpian” Jared Kushner to work behind the scenes to assure folks that nobody meant anything they said or did. Wow! What a way to make policy.

PWS

03/29/17

POLITICO: One Nation Likely To Be Hurt By Trump’s Trade Policies: The U.S.

http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/03/world-prepares-to-move-on-without-us-on-trade-000361

Adam Behsudi writes:

“Here’s what happens when the U.S. pulls out of a major trade deal: New Zealand seizes the opportunity to send more of its milk and cheese to China. Japanese consumers pay less for Australian beef than for American meat. Canadians talk about sending everything from farm products to banking services to Japan and India.

President Donald Trump dumped the 12-nation TPP right after he took office, saying it was a “horrible” deal and blaming it for sucking American jobs abroad. But now other countries are ready to rush into the vacuum the U.S. is leaving behind, negotiating tariff-cutting deals that could eliminate any competitive advantage for U.S. goods.

That phenomenon is on stark display this week in Chile, where more than a dozen Pacific Rim countries are meeting in a beachside hotel to talk about moving on in the post-TPP era. China, not one of the original signers of the TPP, is here looking to cut deals. So are Canada and Mexico. And while the U.S. would normally send a high-ranking trade official to this kind of gathering, the Trump administration, is just sending an envoy from the embassy in Santiago.

Competitors say they have no choice but to take the money U.S. businesses would have earned otherwise.

“We are not trying to take market share from the U.S. It’s more like you are putting money on the table and pushing it towards us,” said Carlo Dade, director of trade and investment policy for the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based think tank.”

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PWS

03/15/17

ECONOMICS: Mary Anastasia O’Grady In The WSJ Says Mexico Can Fight Back Against US Threats!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexicos-trade-reply-to-trump-1488144051

“Many conservatives who opposed Hillary Clinton are still skeptical of the Trump presidency as well. It may have something to do with recurring whoppers from the administration like White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim last week that “the relationship with Mexico is phenomenal right now.”

Bilateral relations with Mexico are on the rocks “big league,” and if Mr. Spicer doesn’t know that, he should get out more. Declaring otherwise undermines presidential credibility and leaves Trump fence-sitters to wonder what else the press secretary is making up.

Millions of American workers, investors and entrepreneurs who depend on trade with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement are right to be worried. Unless President Trump finds a way to climb down from his position that Mexico cheats the U.S. under Nafta, their livelihoods are at risk.

Courteousness and formality are signs of good breeding in Mexican society and this often produces, in foreigners, illusions of approval. But when the extranjeros are out of earshot, locals can be colorful. It is now fashionable to hold protest marches, beat Trump piñatas, burn effigies with orange hair and even post vulgarities about the U.S. president on public buses. Angry does not begin to describe the popular mood.”

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Read the entire article at the link. My main question is why would the Trump Administration pick this unnecessary fight with a neighbor whose goodwill, economic partnership, and cooperation we depend on?

PWS

02/27/17

“Duh” Articles Of The Week: Rural Trump Supporters Discover They Are Likely To Feel The Brunt Of His Trade & Immigration Policies!

From the WSJ:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-punishment-for-trump-voters-1486686758

“Global competition has forced U.S. farmers to become efficient and productive, but the reality is that other countries have arable land and willing labor. They can replace U.S. agriculture in a tariff war. Australia has a trade deal with Japan, and exports Down Under will have an advantage over American beef and wheat. U.S. beef imports to Japan will face high tariffs that the Trans-Pacific deal would have phased out or reduced. Mexico has bilateral trade deals with Chile, the European Union and others, and may buy more from Canada.

The bigger political picture for the Trump White House is that U.S. agriculture is already struggling amid a strong dollar and declining export volumes. Net farm income dropped 15% to about $68 billion last year, the lowest since 2009, according to the Agriculture Department. Unless Mr. Trump wants to compensate with more taxpayer subsidies, the best way to boost incomes is to let farmers sell in more markets, not fewer.

One reason the U.S. benefits from free-trade deals is that America has among the lowest import barriers on earth (5% average for agriculture), so new agreements tear down levies abroad and open new markets. President Trump should consider that reality before escalating on trade—and betraying the Farm Belt voters who are relying on him to bring growth and opportunity.”

WSJ Subscribers can read the full opinion piece at the link.

From the NYT:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/us/california-farmers-backed-trump-but-now-fear-losing-field-workers.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

“They are hopeful Mr. Trump will not make good on most of his threats. “Quien más habla, menos hace,” they tell each other — the more you talk, the less you do. There are too many of them, they reason, to throw them all out.

“We’re just waiting and praying, hoping that somebody can convince them that we are not hurting anyone by being here,” said Isabel Rios, 49, who has been picking grapes for the last two decades. Like most women in the fields, she covers her face with a bandanna to protect against the blaring sun, dust and pesticides. Her two children, 9 and 18, are American-born citizens and she worries what will happen to them if she is sent back to Mexico. “Who will benefit if we are not here?”

Mr. Marchini, the radicchio farmer, said he felt similarly after seeing generations of workers on his family farm send their children to college and join the middle class. Mr. Marchini’s family has farmed in the valley for four generations and he grew up working side by side with Mexican immigrants.

He said that no feasible increase in wages or change in conditions would be enough to draw native-born Americans back into the fields.

It was the other conservatives, Mr. Marchini said, who were out of touch about how to deal with foreign workers. “If you find a way to get in here,” he said, “there’s a need for what you do.”

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PWS

02/10/17

 

 

World Trade: As the U.S. Disengages, Africa Turns To China!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/africa/africa-china-train.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Andrew Jacobs writes in the NYT:

“DJIBOUTI — The 10:24 a.m. train out of Djibouti’s capital drew some of the biggest names in the Horn of Africa last month. Serenaded by a chorus of tribal singers, the crush of African leaders, European diplomats and pop icons climbed the stairs of the newly built train station and merrily jostled their way into the pristine, air-conditioned carriages making their inaugural run.

“It is indeed a historic moment, a pride for our nations and peoples,” said Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, shortly before the train — the first electric, transnational railway in Africa — headed toward Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “This line will change the social and economic landscape of our two countries.”

But perhaps the biggest star of the day was China, which designed the system, supplied the trains and imported hundreds of engineers for the six years it took to plan and build the 466-mile line. And the $4 billion cost? Chinese banks provided nearly all the financing.

. . . .

Mr. Hadi praised the Chinese for going all in after Western banks declined to help finance the nation’s glaring infrastructure needs.

“We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision,” he said. “They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision of Africa from the past, as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”

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PWS

02/07/17

 

Newsweek: Bannon Wants “American Gulag” — Will Anyone Have The Guts To Stop Him?

http://www.newsweek.com/steve-bannon-fever-dream-american-gulag-551472

Jeff Stein writes in this week’s Newsweek:

“Imagine: Miles upon miles of new concrete jails stretching across the scrub-brush horizons of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, with millions of people incarcerated in orange jumpsuits and awaiting deportation.

Such is the fevered vision of a little-noticed segment of President Donald Trump’s sulfurous executive order on border security and immigration enforcement security. Section 5 of the January 25 order calls for the “immediate” construction of detention facilities and allocation of personnel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico” and process them for deportation. But another, much overlooked, order signed the same day spells out, in ominous terms, who will go.

Trump promised a week after the November elections that he would expel or imprison some 2 million or 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions—a number that exists mainly in his imagination. (Only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Many of those have traffic infractions and other misdemeanors.)

Still, the spectre of new, pop-up jails housing hundreds of thousands of people is as powerful a fright-dream for liberals as it is a triumph for the president’s “America first” Svengali, Steve Bannon. But, like the fuzzy Trump order dropping the gate on travelers from seven Muslim-majority states, the deportation measure presents so many fiscal and legal restraints that is also looks suspiciously like just another act of ideological showboating from the rumpled White House strategy chief.

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed to the writer Ronald Radosh at a party at his Capitol Hill townhouse in November 2013. “Lenin,” he said of the Russian revolutionary, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

The executive orders were “not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House,” Department of Homeland Security officials conceded in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a statement from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. They were all Bannon-style revolutionary theater.

. . . .

Expect DHS to start advertising for bids from private prison operators, a much-maligned industry that was collapsing in the latter years of the Obama administration. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., are already seeing windfalls from their second chance at life: Their stock prices have nearly doubled since the election.

All of which recalls another Leninist idea that Bannon may have forgotten: Prisons are universities for revolution.”

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Stein’s article confirms what many of us had suspected all along — these draconian and unnecessary measures were were “’not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House.’” No, they were part of a pre-hatched anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim program cooked up by Bannon and others in the White House to “make good” on Trump’s campaign promises (regardless of whether the measures were necessary of sensible).

But they will be a boon for two important U.S. industries: the private prison industry and the legal industry, as both sides “lawyer up” for a long-term, avoidable, and wasteful fight. Who needs foreign enemies when the Administration is so determined to wage warfare against a large number of our own citizens and residents who disagree with his ill-considered and ill-timed policies?

Stein’s full article (well worth the read) is at the link.

PWS

02/03/17

WSJ: Two Articles Show How “Trump Country” Depends On Foreign Trade And Immigration!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-country-might-suffer-more-in-a-trade-war-study-says-1485752403

Bob Davis writes in the WSJ on Jan. 30:

“WASHINGTON—Should the U.S. get embroiled in a trade war, communities that voted for Donald Trump are likely to take a bigger hit than those that voted for Hillary Clinton, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

Brookings measured what it called the export intensity of urban areas around the country—meaning local goods and service exports as a percentage of local GDP in 2015—to get a picture of those places most dependent on access to the global economy. The most export-intensive places tended to be smaller cities in the Midwest and Southeast—solid Trump country—rather than the big metropolitan areas that went heavily for Mrs. Clinton.
“Trump communities are relatively more reliant on trade,” said Mark Muro, head of Brookings’s metropolitan policy program. “They are smaller communities with less flexibility” to adapt to a cutoff in trade.

“Disruption could be especially troubling for those places,” he said. Brookings said it traces exports back to the point where value is added via production, rather than where goods and services are shipped. The latter gives too much weight to big ports.

Columbus, Ind., a center of machine-making, is the most export-reliant city in the country, Brookings found. The GDP of the city of 46,000, which voted 2 to 1 for Mr. Trump, is 50.6% dependent on exports. Three other Indiana cities—Elkhart, Kokomo and Lafayette—are among the top 10 cities dependent on exports.

The work by Brookings researchers is in some ways the complement to the better-known work of economists David Autor,Gordon Hanson and David Dorn, who identified the localities most vulnerable to Chinese import competition.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/cities-in-midwest-rust-belt-say-they-need-immigrants-1485890637?emailToken=JRrzcf15YH6Qit0wZsw31UEpY7JNCunMQ1LbM33RJg3WqWfJ5Oisw7lwnNKm5H+vSFc/4d0J4ys+QDjQj3BjWtOK3ucjwQr0KiED9c4=

Will Connors writes in the Jan. 31 WSJ:

“An array of Republican and Democratic officials from across the Rust Belt and Midwest are united in concern about President Donald Trump’s clampdown on refugees and certain immigrants for one overriding reason: Their communities need more people.

Large Democratically-controlled “sanctuary cities” including Chicago, San Francisco and New York have been outspoken in resisting the administration’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, citing political and moral reasons.

But officials from a second tier of smaller cities, from Columbus, Ohio, to Troy, Mich., to Garden City, Kan., are highlighting the economic importance of welcoming refugees and immigrants to bolster declining populations and add manpower, skills and entrepreneurial know-how.

“I understand that the president is trying to protect the U.S. However, there are many good people that have located here that are escaping wars and political actions, and they’re just looking for a chance to raise their families in a safe environment,” said Janet Doll, a Republican city commissioner in Garden City, Kan. “The immigrants we have here are productive members of society. They have nice jobs and want to contribute to the quality of life in our community.”

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We haven’t even gotten around to the Trump Administration’s next initiative: an attack on legal immigration to the U.S., family members, workers, both temporary and permanent, and refugees, which was covered in one of my earlier blogs.

Perhaps, instead of stirring the pot for a fruitless “can’t win war” on a well-qualified conservative Supreme Court nominee (actually, along with taking Ivanka to be with the family of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens at Dover AFB, one of the most reasonable things Trump has done since Jan 20) the Democrats should take the “high road.”  Democrats might also want to do some thinking about how to “build bridges” with with some of these folks in “Trump Country” who are more likely to find economic disappointment, than economic success, in the Trump Administration’s blunderbuss assault on loyal allies, trading partners, and immigrants of all types who fuel the success of the real America (not just Washington, D.C. or “big cities”).

President Trump proved that he could win a comfortable (even if not the “landslide” he likes to claim) electoral victory with only 46.1% of the popular vote.  That’s about 40% “Trump base” and a critical 6.1% who might have voted for Obama or Bernie Sanders in earlier elections, but pulled the lever for Trump this time around.  If the Democrats don’t come up with a workable strategy to connect with and “peel off” at least some of those voters, Trump will likely be headed  for a second term even if he never gets support from a majority of American voters. In that case, Democrats will long for the days when screwing around with an otherwise well-qualified conservative Supreme Court nominee was their biggest problem.