The Weiner Component #161 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency in 2016

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until this point we have examined Donald J. Trump, the potential Republican Candidate.  It was hard, if not impossible, to find anything positive about him.  In fact the probability is that if he weren’t extremely wealthy, with a string of highly paid lawyers, he’d be in jail for his semi-legal and illegal actions.  Interestingly, everything he has accused Hillary Clinton of doing he has done or is doing.

 

It is now time to look at the perspective Democratic Candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is difficult to find anyone more hated by the Republicans, especially those in Congress, than Hillary Clinton.  This apparently goes back to when her husband, Bill Clinton was President of the United States.  When he first attained that position in 1993, Bill Clinton announced that the country was getting a bonus, his wife, Hillary, who would head up a task force to develop a plan for Universal Health Care for everyone in the United States.

 

The Republicans fought the plan presented by the Task Force like they were fighting a rapidly spreading disease.  There were all sort of dire predictions about what it would do to our society in a negative fashion if free universal health care came into existence.  Finally one of them came up with a simple slogan that defeated it: “There has to be a better way.”  Of course the better way was no plan at all.  It was successfully defeated by the Republicans and essentially forgotten by the general public.

 

1993 seemed to be the year the antagonism against Hillary Clinton began.  She was initially denounced that year and the antagonism has grown and continued through to the present, 2016, for 23 years.

 

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician.  She was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.  From 2001 to 2009 she served as a U.S. Senator from New York.  She is the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and was First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1993 to 2001.  In 2008 she attempted to run for the presidency and lost in the primary elections to Barack Obama.  Since 2015 she has been the leading Democratic candidate for the Presidency.   In 2016 she is the presumptive Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States having achieved more than the required number of state delegates and caucus votes needed to become the Democratic candidate.  She will be nominated officially as the Democratic candidate in late July of 2016 at the National Democratic Convention.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in 1947 in the Chicago area.  She was raised as a Methodist.  Her parents were Republicans.  In 1964, as a teenager she volunteered to work for the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in his bid for the presidency.  She graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science.  As a college student she supported Eugene McCarthy and Martin Luther King.  She had changed political parties and become more liberal.

 

Hillary Rodham got her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1973.  She worked as a congressional legal aid for a short time, then moved to Arkansas to marry Bill Clinton in 1973.  She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978.  As First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1993, she led a task force that reformed the Arkansas public school system, mandating teacher testing and state standards for curriculum and classroom size.  She also became a full partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979.  In addition Hillary was on the board of directors of several large corporations, like Wal-Mart.

 

After her husband was elected to the Presidency of the United States, as First Lady, she led the Clinton health care plan in 1993, which never reached Congress.  She played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the adoptions and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  After Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton is regarded as the most empowered wife in American history.  Among the causes she has supported women’s rights has been one of her major ones.  She has stated in speeches around the world that women’s rights are human rights.

 

Hillary was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in 1996 regarding the Whitewater controversy.  Actually the Clintons had lost their late 1970s investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation.  First Lady Clinton was the subject of several investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Council, by committees of the U.S. Congress, and the press.  No charges were ever brought against her.

 

William Jefferson Clinton, shortly before he became president, said that in electing him the country would “get two for the price of one,” referring to the principle role his wife would play.  In August of that year, 1992, there was an article in the “American Spectator,” a conservative Republican publication, referring to “The Lady Macbeth of Little Rock.”  Hillary Clinton’s past ideological and ethical record came under attack at that time.  This seems to be the beginning of the long hate affair the Republicans have had with her.  At least twenty articles in major publications at that time compared her with Lady Macbeth.

 

It seems that since William Jefferson Clinton first ran for the Presidency of the United States leaders in the Republican Party have been out to get him.  And when that proved impossible they went after his wife.  The antagonism has lingered on since that point and Republican vehemence has increased over the years and is now focused upon the presumptive candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton.

 

In point of fact there were many investigation of Hillary Clinton over many of the things she did both before and after Bill Clinton became Governor as well as during his presidency and beyond.  In no case were charges ever brought against her.  It was a case of the Republicans continually fishing for something, anything under which they could possibly indite her.  In the end there was never any evidence that she had acted illegally.  It would seem that to the many Republicans involved in these investigations that had they been in the Clintons’ place they would have been totally dishonest.  They could not imagine Hillary not being like them, basically dishonest.

 

In addition her marriage to the president was subject to extreme stress during the Lewinsky scandal and the attempted impeachment of the president.  Initially she stated that the charges were the result of a “right-wing conspiracy.”  She characterized the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Bill Clinton’s political enemies.  After the evidence of President Clinton’s encounter became incontrovertible, she issued a public statement confirming her commitment to their marriage.  But she was privately reported to be furious with him.

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While her husband was still President of the United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in 1998, announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate.  Hillary Clinton was urged to run for his seat.  The Clintons bought a home in Chappaqua, New York in 1999.  She became the first, First Lady to run for the Senate.

 

After eight years in office her husband left the presidency.  They moved to New York and Hillary Clinton was elected to the United States Senate.  After the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack upon the Twin Towers she voted for and supported military intervention in Afghanistan.  Also assuming that President George W. Bush was telling the truth she voted for and initially supported the Iraq Resolution.  Subsequently she objected to the Bush Administration’s conduct in the Iraq War and to most of Bush’s domestic policies.

 

She served on five Senate committees: Committee on Budget (2001-2002), Committee on Armed Services (2003-2009), Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001-2009), Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001-2009), and Special Committee on Aging.  She was also a member of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (2001-2009).

 

Following the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City Clinton helped obtain funding for the recovery efforts.  She was instrumental in obtaining $2.1 billion in funding.  She strongly supported U.S. military action in Afghanistan.  Her position was that it was a chance to combat terrorism and improve the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government.  She worked stringently at her job as Senator.

 

In 2007 Hillary Clinton was reelected for a second term.  At this time she opposed Bush’s Iraq surge which passed along party lines.  She supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the financial crisis of 2007-2008, supporting a bailout of $700 billion for the financial institutions.

 

In 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton was also involved in her own Presidential Campaign.  On January 20, 2007   she announced on her website the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the Election of 2008.  No woman had ever before been nominated for that position.  She came close but in the primary elections lost to Barack Obama, who became the presumptive nominee.

 

President-elect Obama offered Hillary Clinton the position of being his Secretary of State.  She was initially reluctant to accept the position but changed her mind.  On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Hillary Clinton would be his nominee for Secretary of State.  Clinton stated that she did not want to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a “difficult and exciting adventure.”  On January 21, 2009 she was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94-2.  She became the first former First Lady to serve in the President’s Cabinet.

 

As First Lady she had visited 79 countries; as Secretary of State she visited well over 100.  Initially she contacted a number of world leaders and indicated that the United States would change direction.  She announced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Developmental Review.  This established specific objectives for the State Department’s diplomatic missions abroad.  It was modeled after a similar process in the Defense Department that she was familiar with from her time in the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The plan also sought to institutionalize goals of empowering women throughout the world.

 

Clinton and Obama developed a good working relationship without any power struggles.  She was a team player and a defender of the administration.  Both Obama and Clinton approached foreign policy on a similar basis; the President trusted her actions and she totally supported him.

 

Secretary Clinton was among the group that argued for the raid into Pakistan to get bin Laden.  In a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council she advocated for gay rights and legal protections of gays.  She also stated that the 21st Century would be “America’s Pacific century.”  This was part of the Obama’s administration pivot to Asia.

 

For the four years she served as Secretary of State Clinton was a very busy lady.  She viewed “smart power” as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values.  By combining military hard power with diplomacy and U.S. soft power capacities in global economics, development aid, technology, creativity, and human rights advocacy the United States could lead other nations in maintaining peace and stability.

 

She greatly extended the State Department’s use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the message out and to help empower people.  In the Mideast turmoil, Clinton saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of the tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide.  She viewed women’s rights as critical for U.S. security interests because it was a link between the level of violence against women and the gender inequality within the state, and instability to international security within that particular country.

 

Clinton visited 112 countries during her tenure, making her the most widely traveled Secretary of State in the history of the nation.  Time Magazine wrote: “Clinton’s endurance is legendary.”

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On September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked resulting in the death of the ambassador and three other American officials.  The news of this incident originally was splotchy and several reports were issued before accurate information was released.  Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, took responsibility for what happened.  The Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, blamed her for not anticipating the incident.  They have held approximately four separate hearing on the Benghazi attack, all focused upon the Secretary of State, all essentially fishing expeditions looking to find her guilty of something.  After the initial hearing the others have turned up nothing new.  The results of the last hearing, in which Hillary Clinton testified for eight consecutive hours, presented its non-results in June of 2016.  Nothing new came out even though its Republican chairman indicated in his report that it was an important investigation.  No doubt it was important to the Republicans because Hillary Clinton was campaigning in the Presidential Primaries at the time.

 

At the conclusion of the first Congressional investigation of Benghazi, on November of 2014, the House Intelligence Committee concluded in their report that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.  That did not stop at least three other House investigations of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.

 

What I find fascinating is the fact that atrocities have occurred under many different Secretaries of State.  We even have one case where the country was misled under the leadership of President George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, over a needless war in Iraq where thousands of Americans have host their lives and billions of dollars were wasted.  There is also President Ronald Reagan’s illegal actions toward the end of his second term in the Iran-Contra Affair.  None of these have been investigated by any Standing Committee of Congress but millions have been spent trying to blame the Benghazi attack upon Hillary Clinton by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

 

What I find even more fascinating is the fact that prior to the attack the penny-pinching Republican dominated House of Representatives reduced funding for protection of embassies.  For some reason that fact has never been mentioned in any of the hearings.

 

What we have here is a prime example of “Get Hillary”; a prime example of using government funds to politically embarrass or possibly indite Hillary Clinton.  The Republican whip in the House, Kevin McCarthy, a close relative of Charley McCarthy, credited the Hearings as lowering Clinton’s pole ratings, meaning they were political moves.

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A controversy arose from March 2015, when it was revealed by the State Department’s inspector general that Clinton had used personal email accounts on a non-governmental maintained server, instead of email accounts maintained by the Federal government servers, when conducting official business during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Some officials, members of Congress, and other political opponents, contended that the use of private messaging, a private server, and the deletion of nearly 32,000 emails that she deemed private violated State Department protocols and procedures, and Federal laws and regulations governing recordkeeping requirements.

 

According to Clinton nothing she sent out dealt with the categories of confidential or secret.  But nearly 2,100 emails were retroactively marked classified, 65 were later marked secret and more than 20 contained top secret information. James Comey, the FBI Director, had the FBI both investigate Clinton’s emails and reported to a standing committee in Congress.   He commented upon the number she sent that were confidential and stated that while she made a mistake there were no grounds upon which to indite her.  The Republican’s in the Committee were very unhappy; some seemed to be at the point of tears.  The Committee will hear from the Attorney General next.

The problem I have with this investigation is that the two prior Secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell both used private email servers as well as the official government server.  Why weren’t they also investigated?  Is it because they’re both Republicans and also not running for office?  Sometimes I wonder about the current Republican Investigating Standing Committees.  Do they do anything that isn’t for show?

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Much has been said about the Clinton Foundation as a nefarious entity that the Clinton’s own for their own uses.  The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that was established by former President Bill Clinton in 2001 with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global independence.”  Currently it employs and houses at least 2,000 people at different areas of the world in order to do this.  Through 2016 the Foundation had raised two billion U.S. dollars from U.S. Corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and other groups and individuals.  The Foundation has received praise from philanthropic experts, has had support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Obama administration and the George W. Bush administration.

 

When Hillary Clinton left the State Department she, for the first time in thirty years, became a private citizen.  She and her daughter joined her husband in the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013.  They backed causes on early childhood development and a $600 million initiative to encourage the enrollment of girls in secondary schools worldwide led by former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.  She also worked on a College Project with Bill and Melinda Gates to study data on the progress of women and girls around the world.  The Clinton’s Foundation has accepted donations from many sources and used the money for numerous causes that have helped enhance the position of women and others worldwide.

 

It should also be mentions that the Clinton, both Bill and Hillary, are paid substantially by assorted organizations to make oral presentations.  They have earned quite a bit of money in this fashion.

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On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the presidency of the United States.  She had a campaign organized, which included a large donor base, experienced operators, functioning political action committees, and infrastructure that could operate in all fifty states.

 

Her focus included raising middle class incomes, establishing universal preschool, initially making college more affordable and later advocating free education to youths from any family earning under $125,000 a year, and improving Affordable Health Care.

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It would seem that the 2016 choice for president is an extremely liberal Hillary Rodham Clinton or an erratic, blustering, essentially dishonest businessman who never kept his word in business, Donald J. Trump.  Trump has made impossible promises that could not even be fulfilled with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in both Houses of Congress.  Among other things, like a multibillion dollar wall between Mexico and the United States, Trump is promising economic nationalism in a world where most large corporation are multinational.  He would take the country back to the 1930s.  That period ended in World War II.

 

There is a cottage industry in the United States, books and articles demeaning Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Hate Clinton Stance has today grown into an industry.  It’s rather sad and too much, I suspect, to fight with endless lawsuits.

 

The question remains: Who would you better trust to be the next president of the United States?  Would it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

The Weiner Component #160 – Thoughts on the British Brexit

On Thursday, June 23, 2016 the British public voted on whether to stay in the European Union or not to remain in it, to Brexit – British exit from it.  The Prime Minister, David Cameron, wanted the vote to be a reaffirmation of his position within the European Union.  Instead a very small majority voted to exit the EU.  Cameron, the head of the Conservative Party, has resigned his position.

 

Interestingly the head of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is maintaining his position by a thread.  He is in no position to assume the leadership of the country.  And Nigel Farage, the leader of the far right UK Independence Party, who strongly supported Brexit has resigned from his political party, stating that he has achieved his goal with the Brexit vote, which is strange since the party only has one member elected in Parliament.

 

All this leaves Britain at this time, June and early July, essentially rudderless.  Nothing has happened yet politically.  The question is or questions are:  When will something happen?  And who will bring the happening about?  Currently both Britain and the EU are each waiting for the other group to start the process.

 

Economically there have been disastrous changes virtually overnight:  the Pound sterling and the Euro over night dropped significantly, raising the prices of just about everything from gasoline and food to all their imports and their stock markets have dropped significantly, to just begin to name changes.  The pound sterling has decreased 11% against the dollar and 9% against the euro which has also dropped in value.  Prices within the country have certainly risen.  The probability at the end of the first week of July is that an actual Brexit may not begin until 2017.

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The final vote was 17,410,742 to exit from the European Union and 16,141,241 to remain: 51.89% to leave and 48.11% to stay.  A difference of 1.89%.

 

Geographically the vote is a loud announcement of the inequality that exists within Great Britain.  London and the South East consist of the financial and government centers of the nation, the people living there are far more well-to-do than the rest of the nation.  The rest of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar generally speaking, are largely ignored by the wealthier regions.  What exists, and this is also true for a good part of the industrial world, is an ever increasing unequal distribution of the GDP or National Income.  Some people do financially better each year, while others, the majority, seem to do worse.  This is true even though the GDP increases every year.

 

Interestingly both Scotland and North Ireland voted to remain in the European Union.  The probability is that Scotland will again organize a referendum, she had one several years ago which failed, in order to separate from Britain and after it is passed, vote to stay in the European Union.  North Ireland is caught in a bind; it is split between those who want to join up with Eire and those who support the Sinn Fein and want to remain as part of Britain, actually between the Catholics and the Protestants.  We could again have religious wars there.

 

The part of Gibraltar that is part of England voted to stay with the European Union.  But Spain also claims that land which is currently part of Britain.  It will probably remain with Britain even though it voted to not exit from the EU.

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The European Union is a political-economic union currently of 28 member states that are located mainly in Europe.  It covers an area of 1,669,808 square miles and has a population of over 508 million people, that’s roughly 150 million more people than currently live in the United States.  The EU has developed a single internal market through a standard system of laws.  Their policies ensure free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within their area.  All the states enact their own legislation but maintain a single market through common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development.  Passports within the EU have been abolished.  There is a common currency, the euro, within nineteen of the member states.

 

The European Union operates through a system of super national and intergovernmental bodies.  The seven principle decision-making bodies are the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the Court of European Auditors.

 

The Union developed gradually from 1951 on.  It went through a number of stages in its development and is still dynamic, moving toward a United States of Europe.  The current EU came into existence in 1992.  It covers 7.3% of the world’s population and in 2014 generated a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 18,495 trillion U.S. dollars.

 

Its members are alphabetically: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

 

A number of different languages are spoken within these countries but they do far better economically as a single unit than they did as individual nations.  Each member retains full sovereignty as an individual nation within the whole.  This can create problems but they all benefit from being interdependent.

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This British referendum brings to the foreground a number of issues that existed but were not as obvious before.  The modern 21st Century Capitalistic System that has developed from the prior century is not working for the majority of the people in Britain or for that matter, in most of the industrial nations.  The rich are continually getting richer and every year, even though the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increases, a smaller percentage of it is left for the poorer majority of the population.  Too many people are struggling to just survive.  They are looking for potential leaders who will promise them a better tomorrow, like Donald Trump in the United States who is very free with promises.  In Governments in countries like France and Austria their present governments have moved to the far right.

 

What we see is the masses objecting to having been taken for granted for the last twenty years or so.  What we see is, rather than have the governments take on the problems and work toward solutions, the state governments and the well-to-do have ignored the situation and the general populations, angry and frustrated, have looked for people who will lead them out of their mainly economic dilemmas.  The leaders, who have arisen generally come from the far right, from the intolerant political parties.

 

In addition Civil wars and terrorism in the Middle East have driven out large segments of the population of such countries as Syria.  There is a fear that these immigrants are taking away jobs from many of the citizens of the EU countries.  This seems to be the spark that started the Brexit Movement in Britain.

 

Did, the Brits who objected to the status-quo by voting separation with Europe, realize the forces they were unleashing?  Probably not.  Did they object to the status-quo?  Very definitely.

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In the first two days after Brexit was passed in England by a 1.8% majority the DOW in the United States dropped 900 points.  A point represents an average of one dollar of the 30 stocks that make up the DOW.  The stock market, as has been stated, also dropped significantly in Great Britain and the rest of Europe.  In Asian countries there was also a large decrease.  The pound sterling and the Euro also dropped significantly in value.  After two days and nothing specific happening the markets tended to go up again and gradually the value of the euro and the pound also increased.

 

Nothing specific happened.  Each side called upon the other to begin the process of separation.  Presumably the process of separation will begin with Britain’s invocation of Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty.  Up until Monday, July 11, 2016, there was no one in the British government who could say when or if that would happen, mainly because there was no functioning government.  On Monday, of the above date, there was news that a new leader of the Conservative Party will become Prime Minister on Wednesday, July 13th.

 

This person, Theresa May, the former Home Secretary, has stated that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will be applied and the process begun at the end of that week or the next one.  Cameron will leave office on Wednesday, July 15 and a new government will begin functioning.  In point of fact Britain will have a government at this point.  The British Government will have reorganized and the new Prime Minister will have emerged and begin the process of separation.

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If we wonder what will happen, there are numerous possibilities.  The one I like best goes back to the historical period just before the Constitution was adapted in the early United States.  After the 13 colonies defeated Great Britain in the last quarter of the 18th Century and they became 13 separate states they incorporated under the Articles of Confederation and set up their new government.  The problem here was that no state gave up any of its sovereignty and the Congress could pass laws but there was no way to enforce them if any state or states wanted to disregard them.  This is similar to the EU today.  Consequently, even though each state was represented, the Central Government had very little actual power.  This was remedied by the Constitution of the United States which was mainly written by members of the upper class and made the central government paramount.  This government existed until 1861 when the Union was finally torn apart over the issue of slavery.  The Union was brought together again in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.  The principle promulgated then was that the Union was indissolvable or irrevocable and ultimate power rested with the national government.

 

Obviously Britain isn’t going to go to war in order to separate from the European Union.  But it does have a central government and if the remaining 27 member states were to give up a certain amount of their nationalistic feeling and think of themselves as a part of a single whole existing for the common good then they would all be better off.  Twenty-seven distinct states will always have some disagreements.

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Another distinct possibility is that when a new government is formed in Britain, then the new government can hold another referendum; they can always argue that the first vote didn’t count because they, the new government, didn’t hold it.

 

I am again reminded of an incident in early U.S. history.  After the Constitution was written it had to be approved by nine of the thirteen states before it came into legal existence.  Of the states that had to pass it New York was primary because it separated the new states into two separate halves, northern and southern, being then in the middle of the 12 other states.  A number of states had passed the Constitution and then it was New York’s turn to vote.  The initial vote was a rejection of the Constitution.  After promising to add a Bill of Rights and a very active campaign to get it passed, a second referendum was held in New York.  It passed.  Later James Madison would write twelve amendments to the Constitution.  Of these ten were ratified by nine or more states and became the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.  They were and still are called The Bill of Rights.

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Technically the referendum was only advisory, and Parliament, which is heavily pro EU, still has the last word whether or not to leave the Union.  During the election there was a great deal of misinformation, distortion and false promises made.  Most of this was revealed in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

 

On Thursday, July 7, 2016, 330 Conservative members of Parliament voted to choose a new Prime Minister.  David Cameron, the former Prime Minister abstained; his was the only Conservative abstention.    The top winners in this Parliamentary vote were two female officials in the Conservative Party.

 

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, with 199 votes and Andrea Leadsom, the Energy Minister, got 84 Conservative ballots cast in her favor.  May campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU and Leadsom wanted to leave it.  Five Conservative members of Parliament had originally put their names in the running to succeed David Cameron.

 

One of the three losers, who had far less than 84 votes, commented that “Whoever the next prime minister of this country will be it will be a female prime minister and a female prime minister who has formidable skills.”

 

Ordinarily the Prime Minister is chosen by the majority party in Parliament.  He/she is their leader and becomes Prime Minister.  But in this case we have the issue of Brexit.  Britain does not do referendums.  David Cameron did one to reaffirm his leadership as Prime Minister.  He guessed wrong and resigned after the country repudiated his leadership.

 

The British were not about to hold a general election.  Instead they would hold an election by Conservatives only within the United Kingdom.  Those registered as Conservatives only would vote by mail.  A vote for May will be a vote to remain in the EU and a vote for Leadsom will be a vote to Brexit.

 

It was an interesting and unique approach to the problem.  It had never been done before.  And keep in mind that British history goes back to Roman times, about 2,000 years.

 

What has happen is that on Monday, July 11th Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the contest, thus destroying the idea that the British Conservatives  would resolve the issue.  Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will be the new Prime Minister. She has stated that she will bring the country together again and also grapple with the immigration issue.  Even though she opposed Brexit in the election she will now enforce it.   And perhaps it is time to deal with the economic issues, the totally unequal distribution of the GDP.

 

Will this solve the problem that now exists in Great Britain?  The probability is high that it may; but only for a time.  And should Britain actually leave the European Union on the basis of 1.8% of its popular vote?

 

Perhaps the government will deal with the problem that brought about the plebiscite vote, the totally unequal distribution of the national income, the GDP.  A simple solution, which was first suggested by a Member of Parliament in the 1940s, was the Negative Income Tax.

 

The major difficulty in solving this problem is that money is still thought of in historic terms, as something of value.  Money today is paper printed by the National Government.  It has no real value except within the country that prints and uses it.  Money is an instrument of exchange; it provides goods and services for the person using it.  The transfer of money allows productivity to occur within the nation.  Its distribution allows for maximum employment and the maximu m distribution of goods and services.  Full production also enables the maximum collection of taxes.

 

The use of a Negative Income Tax would be a simple solution to the problem.  It would not ensure massive tax changes.  The government could print money as needed.  The gage for this would be the inflation rate.  If it began to rise rapidly the government easily reduce and reverse this operation.  This was done in the United States by the Federal Reserve in the early teens of the 21st Century, under Chairman Ben Bernanke with positive effects in terms of reducing unemployment and increasing tax collection with no negative effects to the economy.

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I suspect the basic immediate issue facing the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, is how to enforce Brexit without really enforcing Brexit.  All the advantages of belonging to the EU will have to be done by treaty agreements after Britain leaves the EU.   Whatever happens, it should be interesting.  The changes could start any day now after Britain enforces Article 50 of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty.

English: (Green) the United Kingdom. (Light-gr...

English: (Green) the United Kingdom. (Light-green) The European Union (EU). (Grey) Europe. (Light-grey) The surrounding region. See also: Category:SVG locator maps of countries of Europe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #159 – The United States & American Samoa

U.S. Supreme Court, 1998.

American Samoa is a group of islands located in the South Pacific, of which Tutuila is

American Samoa highway marker

the largest island.  It accounts for 2/3 of the land.  The total area of all the islands is about 77 square miles.  Its population is about 600,000 people.  Pago Pago is its capital, located at Tutuila.  The islands are largely surrounded by coral reefs.  The weather is mild most of the year and the islands mostly have beautiful beaches.  Interestingly for a family it is a phenomenal relatively inexpensive vacation area, far less costly than Hawaii.

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In the late 19th Century, once the United States had settled all the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, many of the people tended to look over the Pacific Ocean for more areas to settle.  They were still operating under the concept of Manifest Destiny or to states it undramatically, nationalist imperialism.  Earlier Mexico, to the South of Texas, was saved from being incorporated into the United States after the Mexican American War in 1846 to 1848 by the fact that its possession would have opened new lands to slavery.  The Northern States did not want this.  The Spanish American War that America entered in 1898 and which lasted ten weeks, was fought over the fact of the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor.  President Teddy Roosevelt later called it a splendid little War.

 

Toward the end of the 19th Century the people within the United States had been concerned about “our little Brown brothers in Cuba,” who were in revolt against Spain and when the American naval vessel, the U.S.S. Maine, was blown up, accidentally or otherwise, it became grounds for war.  As a result the United States ended up with “colonies” or overseas possessions.  Some of these we still hold today.

 

The Treaty of Paris (April 11, 1899), which ended the Spanish American War granted the United States the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  Cuba remained under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Military Government until its independence on May 20, 1902.  There was a debate on how to govern these new territories as nothing was said about a colonies situation in the Constitution.

 

In addition to war with the people of the Philippines, who initially thought we were helping them get their independence from Spain, and a potential civil war in Cuba, the relationship of the U.S. toward the remaining people in the conquered territory was worked out through a series of court cases called, at the time, the Insular Cases.  They are a series of opinions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1901, about the status of U.S. territories acquired in the Spanish-American War.  The Supreme Court held that full Constitutional rights did not automatically extend to all places under American control.  This meant that inhabitants of unincorporated territories such as Puerto Rico, even if they are U.S. citizens, may lack some constitutional rights.  The Court also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation, under which the Constitution applied fully only in incorporated territories such as Alaska and Hawaii, whereas it applied only partially in the newly unincorporated Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

 

The term insular signifies that the territories were islands administered by the War Department’s Bureau of Insular Affairs.  The cases were the Court’s response to a major issue of the 1900 Presidential Election and to the American Anti-Imperialist League, which was prominent at that time.

 

The Jones Act of 1917 made Puerto Ricans United States citizens.  Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth controlled by the U.S.

 

This leaves American Samoa.  Then as now the Samoans have no automatic claim to U.S. citizenship by birth despite being born in and living for their entire life-span in a U.S. territory.  This position was reaffirmed Monday, June 13, 2016 by the current Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation, declined to reconsider a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on people born in America Samoa.   The Supreme Court effectively preserved the appellate court’s decision in the case as the last word.  They are preserving a position that was taken at the turn of the 20th Century during the very short colonizing phase of American history when we felt we wanted to help our “little Brown brothers” who were not quite capable of ruling themselves.

 

The United States, unlike the European nations, came into the colonizing cycle toward the end of its existence.  It had been busy settling its own continent while the European nations took up what they called “The White Man’s Burden;” a poor excuse for attempting to colonize a good part of the world.

 

In the present case, an American Samoan, Leneuoti Fla Fla Tuaua, had petitioned U.S. courts for citizenship claiming that the Constitution confers citizenship at birth in the United States.  American Samoa has been a U.S. territory since 1900, 116 years.

 

They argued that those born in all the other U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianas, all got citizenship by birth. But that was determined by statute in Congress; no such statute exists for American Samoa.

 

Mr. Tuaua was opposed in his attempt to attain United States citizenship by the American Samoan government, which argued that recognizing a right to citizenship at birth could complicate their legal structure in the territory.

 

The appeals court, in a unanimous ruling agreed with the American Samoan government, stating that the resident population was to continue avoiding U.S. citizenship.  This opinion from a conservative panel of justices drew heavy criticism for drawing from a set of cases that were both controversial and outdated since the Insular Cases decision were made at the turn of the 20th Century, over 100 years ago and had been voided in the case of every other territory held by the United States.

 

The cases have drawn criticism for being racially tinged and for continued vestiges of colonialism.  One of the D.C. Circuit Court Judges, Janice Rogers Brown wrote that in her opinion under the Insular Cases distinction, birthright citizenship is not a “fundamental” right owed to the “unincorporated” territories.

 

She wrote in her decision that “Citizenship is not the sum of its benefits.  It is no less that the adoption or ascription of an identity, that of ‘citizen’ to a particular sovereign state, and a ratification of those mores necessary and intrinsic to association as a full functioning component of the sovereignty.  At base appellants ask that we forcibly impose a compact of citizenship … on a distinct and unincorporated territory of people in the absence of evidence that a majority of the territory’s inhabitants endorse such a tie and where the territory’s democratically elected representatives actively oppose such a compact.”

 

The statement is fraught with words that seem to be almost meaningless.  Most of us living in some part of the United States at birth are automatically citizens.  We are never really given a choice.  This is today also true for all the other unincorporated territories.  In the case of the Samoans they are automatically not citizens and they’re never really given a choice either.

 

The Judge could have argued that in all the other insular territories, belonging to the United States, it required a statute, a law, to make all the people born in the territory citizens of the U.S. and that it is not a function of the Courts, especially since this is what happened in all the other insular territories.  Consequently she could have recommended a referendum.

 

The question arises: Why did the current government of American Samoa oppose general citizenship?  From 1956 on the islands were turned over to the Department of the Interior.  The Navy gave them up in 1951. In 1967 the people of American Samoa adopted their own Constitution and held their first Constitutional Elections in 1977.

 

Obviously unlike the citizens of other U.S. territories American Samoans are U.S. nationals.  Neither citizens nor U.S. nationals in unincorporated area vote in Federal elections or pay Federal taxes.  American Samoans came under Federal minimum wage rules in 2007.  They control their own immigration and border policies.  They elect their own governor and legislature which consists of two houses: a House of Representatives and a Senate.  Their laws of property or land ownership is closer to tribal origins than to free enterprise in that Samoans equally own the land.

 

The probability is that U.S citizenship will bring about a major reorganization of some of their major values and their government doesn’t want to go through the bother.  They have since the 1970s gone through major changes in their society.  The Samoan as a U.S. national, if the military draft were to come back, could not be drafted into the military.  He also, like American citizens in other territories, does not vote in Federal elections.  Is this and will it continue to be a valid reason to avoid U.S. citizenship?  A good question.

 

Another consideration of this problem is that the Samoans as U.S. nationals are free to move anywhere in the United States.  If for any reason they leave American Samoa and come to the continental U.S. and have children there then are those children U.S. Citizens?  I would imagine the answer is yes.  The parents are nationals but the children are citizens.  How do you tell one from another when the children achieve adulthood?  And what is the status of these children if they go to American Samoa?

 

I think we had a similar problem with Japanese migrating to this country during the late 19th Century on.  The parents could not become citizens or buy land but their children, born in this country, were U.S. citizens could do all this.  It was a mess, an unfair mess.

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The lack of citizenship to the people of American Samoa means that they cannot vote or hold public office anywhere outside of American Samoa.  In essence they are legally a second-class group within the United States.  They are certainly free to move anywhere they wish within the United States.  And if they come to California or any other state within the country they will probably be able to illegally vote and get a government job.  I can’t remember ever being asked if I was a citizen of the U.S.  But then I’m not Samoan.  I suspect they can even get passports if they wish to travel.

 

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  On Monday, June 13, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Acting without comment, except to say that they had rejected over 100 cases similarly, the Justices refused to review the U.S. Appeals Court ruling that essentially said that it is up to Congress, not the courts, to change the legal status of American Samoa.

 

A civil rights lawyer, Neil Weare, who is also president of the We the People Project, that sponsored the lawsuit, stated, “We’re obviously very disappointed.  This means there will be many Samoans living in California, including veterans, who will not be able to vote in November.”

 

The lawsuit originally brought by five Samoan plaintiffs cited the 14th Amendment, which declares that all people “born or naturalized in the United States” shall be American citizens.

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The results of that appeal were interesting.  The Supreme Court is currently split between four conservative Justices and four liberal Justices.  One Justice, Antonin Scalia, died at the age of 79 on February 13, 2016, leaving the Court split equally.  The Senate, since this is President Barack Obama’s last year in office has refused to consider giving “advice and consent” to any candidate he would appoint, assuming that he would appoint a liberal justice.  In fact they have not nor will they hold any hearings for an appointment to the Supreme Court until after the next President is sworn in, in 2017.  Currently where the Court has a split decision, in most if not all instances, the case is thrown back to the prior lower court.  This apparently is what happened here.

 

Will the Ninth Justice who is to be appointed approximately a year after the death of the former ninth justice be a liberal or a conservative?  It would seem that if the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, gets elected to the presidency and a similar case comes before the Supreme Court then a liberal majority of five Justices will endow American Samoa with automatic U.S. citizenship.  If, on the other hand, the conservative candidate, Donald J. Trump, were to get elected then a conservative majority on the Court would again send the case back to the Appellate Court.

 

It would seem that the Republicans are still espousing “the White Man’s Burden” in a society where the whites are no longer the overwhelming majority.

 

Somehow I have an image of Hillary Clinton appointing Barack Obama as the ninth Justice on the Supreme Court.  That would really frost the Republican dominated Senate for not doing its Constitutional job in 2016.

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #158 Part 2 – The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election: Donald J. Trump

Trump International Hotel and Tower

Trump International Hotel and Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in...

Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential candidate is in the opinion of many Republicans totally bad news.  He doesn’t act like a potential president and they fear his candidacy will do irrevocable damage to the Republican Party in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election and possibly even beyond that into future state and national elections in the future.

 

From examining his history as a businessman and entrepreneur with Trump University and beyond to his specific business practices we get a strong image of him as a flimflam man totally without principles, willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone for his own benefit.  It doesn’t matter if the individual is well-to-do or barely surviving; Trump doesn’t differentiate, he will cheat anyone.

 

In Part 2 of this article we continue the process and view him as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

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Trump, in his presidential run, constantly boasts about bringing jobs back to America.  “Non matter who you are, we’re going to protect your job . . . because, let me tell you, our jobs are being stripped from our country like we’re babies.”

 

But the lawsuits against him tell a different story.  In 2007 dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-A-Lag Club resort in Palm Beach, Florida, alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he had worked over three years and that the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.  Mar-A-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008.  The terms of the settlement included a standard statement that the company did not admit fault and forbad Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case.  The question here is: What about the others who worked at the Mar-A-Lago Club or other similar Trump facilities and, for one reason or another, did not sue him?

 

Real Estate broker Rana Williams, who had sold hundreds of millions of dollars in Manhattan property for Trump International Reality over more than 20 years with the company, sued in 2013 alleging Trump shorted her$735,212 in commissions she had brokered from 2009 to 2012.  Trump and Williams settled their case in 2015.  The terms of the deal were confidential, as in the case in dozens of other settlements between Companies and assorted plaintiffs.  This was one of many instances where commissions would not be paid to members of Trump’s staff.

 

In all we know that Trump has been involved in well over 3,500 lawsuits so far during his business career.  We don’t know the number in which he sued or was the plaintiff.  What I find fascinating is the fact that even some of Trump’s attorneys, on occasion, sued him over claims of unpaid bills.  He certainly didn’t discriminate over who he cheated.

 

There are today still a large number of lawsuits, a multitude of judgments, liens and other filings from a wide array of Trump employees and businesses who are still waiting to be paid for their work.  Trump has made a habit of stiffing not only his employees but also small businesses and suppliers over the years and then simply financially exhausting them in court or wailing until they go bankrupt and cease to exist as companies.

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Trump uses and abuses people, especially many of those who work for him.  People will, in turn, object to this abuse and there are lawsuits and among his many assorted enterprises, labor disputes and strikes.

 

In Las Vegas there is a Trump International Hotel whose workers: housekeepers, cooks, waiter, etc. are picketing the structure in 2016.  They was to belong to a union.  Most such facilities in Las Vegas are unionized.  The difference between Trump’s hotel and a unionized one is that Trump pays $9,11 an hour while a union facility like Mandalay Bay pays $13.81 an hour.  Union workers have medical coverage and retirement benefits.  Trump’s hotel has no benefits, not even a lunch or dinner hour; his employees have to clock out for the half hour they eat their lunches or dinners and then clock in again.

 

Trump employs 520 service workers at the Trump Tower; they have voted to unionize.  The Hotel Company challenged the vote before the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the union coerced workers, Trump lost.  The company is appealing the decision.  If they lose again the company is legally obligated to negotiate a contract.  But if the employers are hostel they have legal routes that can keep the union from negotiating with them for years.

 

In White Plains, New York, Trump Tower workers: doormen, porters, maintenance, and concierge workers are on strike.  As of the end of May 2016 they haven’t had a contract in six months.  Their overtime is currently being contracted out to non-union labor.  Toward the end of May the National Labor Relations Board filed charges against Trump Tower claiming that management has been filming union workers on picket lines.

 

At the Trump Hotel in Toronto, Canada, about 100 women, mostly middle-aged mothers from the Philippines, recently won union certification at the Trump luxury hotel and will soon negotiate their first contract.  The bargaining unit will include representatives of all the workers at the hotel whose jobs have not been contracted our: doormen, bellmen, the front desk, housekeeping and maintenance engineers.

 

In 2003, when the Tower was built, the city council sought and obtained a signed agreement that the Trump Hotel would automatically allow union certification if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union cards.  The later management claimed that they had nothing to do with this agreement and were not bound to honor it.  After a hectic period of denial the hotel has been forced to honor the agreement.  Negotiations will begin in June and July of 2016.

 

This pattern is apparently the standard behavior within all Trump facilities.  Trump tends to exploit and discard people freely.  He treats them as second class citizens and inferiors.  Everyone exists to be freely used by him.  Isn’t that what his successful television series was about, denigrating people and presumably firing them?  Where can he better practice that than with people who are employed by him?

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There currently seems to be a plot among many conservative media figures and others among the Republican Party to dump Trump at the GOP convention.  Many Republican leaders are not attending the convention.  What will happen with a growing Dump Trump Movement?  Trump is lashing back, saying he is campaigning against both Democrats and Republicans.  It should be interesting!

 

In May if2016, according to the polls, Trump had a 55% dislike ratio among the general public.  By the middle of June he had raised the level to 70%.  He is currently the least liked person in the entire history of the United States running for the presidency.  The man is an uncontrollable verbal canon; he doesn’t seem to have any self-control.  Besides being disliked by many in the Party the fear is that he will bring sown may other Republicans in a general election, some who have been in Congress for years, while running of the same ticket many people could lose the election by being associated with Trump.  The entire House of Representatives, which currently has a Republican majority, will be running for reelection in November of 2016.  On third of the Senate, mostly Republicans, will be running for reelection also in 2016.  They also have a slight Republican majority.  Conceivably the Republicans can lose both Houses of Congress and the presidency with Donald J. Trump heading their election ticket.

 

Can they dump him?  Presumably the answer rests with the Rules Committee and what they decide the week before the Convention meets.  Do they have the guts to dump him?  If they don’t dump Trump and he brings down the Party in Washington, D,C, will it be their fault?

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Another factor about Donald Trump is the fact that in his presidential campaign, beginning with the debates among the prospective Republican candidates, when he stated he was really rich and self-funding his campaign so he wouldn’t be beholden to anyone, he charged as many expenses as possible to his varied enterprises.  These he could pay back if he became the prospective candidate.  He owes himself about 1/2 million dollars for the use of the Trump jet.  When possible he has stayed at Trump facilities and for each stat he owes an extensive bill.

 

Basically Trump is shifting large amounts of money back to himself in his process of running for the presidency.  According to documents which he had to submit to the Federal Election Commission, Trump, whose campaign presently had $1.3 in cash paid at least $1.1 million to his businesses and family members in May for expenses associated with election events and travel costs.  He has and is currently soliciting contributions and according to his early definition becoming beholden to wealthy contributors.

 

The presumptive Republi9can candidate is required by law to account for his spending to prevent his companies from making illegal donations to his campaign.  In 2015 he spent about $2.7 million to at least seven companies Mr. Trump owns or to people who work for him, repaying them for services provided to his campaign.

 

In May of 2016, Trump’s use of the Mar-a-Lago Club, his Florida resort was paid $423,000.  The campaign paid 350,000 to Tag Air for his private airplanes, $125,000 to Trump Restaurants, and more than $70,000 to Trump Tower, his Manhattan skyscraper that houses his campaign headquarters.  In addition his family profited from the campaign.  His son Eric’s Virginia wine business took in $1,300.

 

Also Trump, who has said he will not take a salary if he is elected president, in May paid himself $3,085.  One can easily say that as a prospective candidate for the Republican Party he will make a profit whether he wins or loses the campaign.  He is probably the first candidate in the history of the United States who will have done this.

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Interestingly while he was in Scotland recently opening his golf club there a British newspaper man asked him if he would allow Muslims from Great Britain to come to the United States.  He had recently stated and restated numerous times that he wanted the U.S. temporarily closed to all Muslims because too many of them secretly belonged to ISIS.  Trump quickly stated that he had no problem with that.  The next day one of his aids clarified the issue by explaining that Trump only wanted to temporarily stop Muslims from terrorist countries like Syria, Iraq, and Iran from coming to the United States.  This was a very quick change in attitude.  Could Trump’s other hard-core statements like building a wall between the United States and Mexico and having Mexico pay for it or bringing the manufacturing jobs back to the United States be as flippant as his original Muslim statement?

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As far as the general public is concerned the questions are: Do they really believe Donald Trump?  Is this the man they want to represent the United States for the next four years?  Can he carry out his so-called promises or has he just told the public what they wanted to hear?

 

Of course another issue is: if he were elected President could he carry out his promises?  Congress makes the laws.  The President carries them out.  I doubt that even a Republican elected House of Representatives and Senate would give him what he wants.  And the ultimate question for the general public is: Do they want to go back to economic nationalism which existed from the period of the Great Depression to the outbreak of World War II.

 

From looking at what has come out about his life Trump is certainly not an honorable man.  He is instead a cheat and a liar.  In fact Donald Trump is a sad example of what a human being is supposed to be.  He uses the Courts, which are supposed to protect people, as a weapon against his fellow creatures. Is this the man we want as President of the United States?  Is this the man who will continue to make America great?

 

The Weiner Component #158 – Part 1: Donald J. Trump: The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

The Race to choose presidential candidates for both major political parties in the United States seems to be just about over now.  The presumptive candidate for the Republican Party is Donald J. Trump.

 

The Republicans will meet at the Quicken Loans Area from July 19 – 21 (M – TH) 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  There they will start with the meeting of the rules committee a week earlier, vote the 2016 rules into existence, choose the Presidential candidate, write their platform of what the Party stands for the next four years, and choose the Vice Presidential candidate.

 

Donald J. Trump, their Presumptive Candidate, presumably is their choice for President of the United States.  If he doesn’t make any more stupid verbal mistakes or if new negative material on his background doesn’t become available to the general public he may become their actual candidate.  Right now one bookie in Las Vegas is giving 12 – 1 odds against Trump getting elected, another is giving odds of 25 to 1.  Still another Las Vegas bookie is taking bets that Donald Trump will be impeached at some point if he is elected.

 

Of all the people that the Republicans could have chosen as their nominee for president, Donald Trump is the worst possible choice.  On a 1 – 10 scale with 1 being the least satisfactory number, Donald Trump rates a 0 or less.  With the blatant fabricating, erratic behavior and the information coming out about him his rating keeps dropping.  He could conceivably end up at a minus ten or higher.

 

From examining his history he represents everything negative about human beings.  He treats most of his employees in the same fashion as a man who hates dogs would treat the animals, like slime.  In business abuses virtually all the people who work for him are potential victims.  He is a liar who apparently can’t tell the difference between a falsehood and truth.  He also sees everything in terms of himself and what he can get out of everyone.  Donald Trump is a sad example of a human being.

 

Interestingly Donald Trump has claimed to be a billionaire, stating publically that he has over 10 billion dollars.  Originally he said that he is really rich and that he is self-funding his campaign and is therefore beholden to nobody, but now that he is the presumptive Republican candidate he claims that he can no longer afford to finance himself.  It would seem that he exaggerated the extent of his wealth.  He has not released any income tax forms to show how much he did or didn’t pay in taxes.  I would suspect he paid 0 in income taxes and doesn’t want to admit that to his public,.

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Donald Trump, over the years, has used his name as a commodity, renting it out for a small percentage to innumerable products.  This has satisfied both his ego and his desire for additional money.

 

One of the items of which he was offered to add his mane was Trump University, an American, for profit, Education Company that would run a real estate training program.  A man named Michael Sexton created a business plan for a real estate training program and presented it to Donald Trump looking to pay Trump a flat fee for the use of his name.  Trump decided that he wanted to be the principle owner of this company.  He would own 93% of it after it was organized.

 

Trump University was incorporated in 2004 by Trump and two others as a New York limited liability company. It began operation on May 23, 2005.  It was a privately held, unaccredited school which did not give college credits, whose object was to make a profit for its owners.

 

Since it was unaccredited and did not offer college credit it was illegal under the laws of New York State which notified the business it was an illegal operation.  Trump was able to forestall changing its name for four years; after which the name was changed to the Trump Entrepreneur.  In 2011, the company became the subject of an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office for illegal business practices.  This resulted in a lawsuit filed in 2013, which remains ongoing.

 

rump University is also subject to two ongoing class action lawsuits in California Federal Court.  The lawsuits have centered on allegations that Trump University misled students into thinking that is was a real university whose instructors were hand picked by Donald Trump, when in fact they were not and it certainly wasn’t a real university.

 

In 2011 the office of the Texas Attorney General investigated Trump University.  After exchanging communications with investigators that included requests from the investigators for customer lists and internal documents, Trump University closed its operations in that state.  Once they went away the state dropped the investigation.

 

The focus of the seminar was real estate instruction.  Trump claimed in advertisements that he could turn anyone into a successful real estate investor.  The instruction began with an introductory seminar in rented space like a hotel ballroom.  The introductory seminar, which was free, urged students to sign up for additional classes, ranting from $1,495 to $35,000 for a “Gold Elite” program.  The records indicate that 7,000 tickets were sold to customers attending classes.  Approximately 6,000 of these tickets were for $15,000, for a three day course and 1,000 tickets were for silver, gold, or elite courses, ranging in price from $19,000 to $35,000.

 

The people who signed up were those desperate, for whatever reason, for money.  In order to get people to pay the so-called tuition the school had these people increase their debt limit on their credit cards to the maximum possible.  The excuse given was so that they could possibly jump into an immediate real estate deal of one became available.  The tuition was then charged to the credit card.  An interesting business plan to get those generally in debt to go into  greater debt to increase the profit for Trump’s company.

 

Trump said he “handpicked” the instructors but he testified in a 2012 deposition that he never selected the instructors for the program.  For a time in 2012, according to one of the other co-owners, Trump signed off on the school’s advertisements.  For a time in 2008 it used the name of “Trump Wealth Institute.”  The company ceased operating in 2010, after five years.

 

Three lawsuits have been file and are pending.  They assert the Trump University engaged in a variety of illegal business practices that range from false claims to racketeering.  Two are federal class-action lawsuits: one is against Trump University and its managers, including Donald Trump, and one it against Donald Trump personally.  These two lawsuits are in California.  There is a third case in New York, which has been in process since 2012 that is looking into criminal actions by Trump and his company.  Here Trump University is accused of being a “bait and switch” scheme and not a university.  Trump is accused of misleading over 5,000 people.

 

The first two cases will be heard in California by U.S. District Court by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel..

 

Trump has traditionally used the courts and the law as a weapon against his opponents.  To him it is a means of extending legal cases until they are out of the financial range of the people suing him or he is suing.  He will delay as endlessly as possible the cases and then, if he loses, continue this process by appealing and , if necessary, re-appealing the case.  The Courts and the law have been his tool against people he cheats or wants to punish for whatever reason.  Most legal cases can take a very long time to be resolved.

 

In 2005 the New York State Department of Education sent Trump University a letter stating that they were violating state law by using the word “university” when they were not actually chartered as one and did not have the required license to offer instruction.  The organization promised to stop instructing students.  The New York Attorney General alleged that such instruction continued; Trump University was stalling.  It was not until March of 2010 that they dropped the word “university” and became “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative/

On August 24, 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million Civil Suit against Trump University.  They alleged illegal business practices and false claims made by the company.  Trump denied the allegations and claimed a 98% approval rating.  He called New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “a political hack looking to get publicity.”  Trump filed a complaint alleging that the state Attorney General’s investigation was accompanied by a campaign donation shakedown; the complaint was investigated by a New York ethics committee and dismissed in August 2015.

 

On October 2014 the Court found Trump personally liable for operating the company without the required business license.  The case is still pending.

 

Taria Makaeff had paid nearly $60,000 to Trump University in 2008.  She brought a class action lawsuit against the university on April 30,2010, in the District Court for Southern California, seeking refunds for Makaeff and other former students of Trump University, as well as punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and bad faith.  The suit did not originally name Donald Trump as a defendant, but did so in a later amended complaint.

 

On May 26, 2010, Trump University filed a counterclaim that alleged Makaeff had made defamatory statements about Trump University, “including many completely spurious accusations of actual crimes,” that had caused the school losses of more than $1 million in los tuition.  On June 30, 2010, Makaeff countered that the defamation claim was an attempt to intimidate her.  Makaeff appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three judge panel ruled on April 17, 2013 that Trump University had to show malice on Makaeff’s part to establish defamation.  This returned the case to District Judge Gonzalo P, Curiel, who, on June 16, 2014, ruled in favor of Makaeff and dismissed the defamation claim.  Makaeff then, at the court’s invitation, presented evidence of her legal costs in connection with the defamation litigation.  She asked for $1.3 million.  Judge Curiel, on April 20, 2015, ordered Trump University to reimburse he $798,000 in legal fees and costs.

 

On March 21, 2016, over objections from Trump University attorneys, Judge Curiel allowed Tarla Makaeff to withdraw from the case as head plaintiff, and named Sonny Low to take her place.  The case is coming up in November 2016.

 

On October 18 2011, Art Cohen filed civil lawsuit, “Cohen b Trump,” in the U.S. District Court for Southern California, as a class action on behalf of consumers throughout the United States who purchased services known as “Live Events” from Trump University after January 1, 2007.  It alleged violations of the RICO Statue, being essentially a scheme to defraud.  The suit named Donald Trump as the sole defendant and sought damages, including punitive, and treble damages.  In an order dated October 24, 2014 U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P,. Curiel certified that Cohen had presented enough evidence to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

 

The general council for Trump University stated that the university would appeal the Curiel ruling.  He said it showed a “manifest disregard for the law.”  In October 2015 he stated that Trump would ask Curiel to recuse himself because of his “animosity toward Mr. Trump and his views.”  Trump’s lawyers have not filed any motion to bring this about.  According to legal experts such a motion would lack legal merit and probably be considered frivolous.  This could cause Trump’s lawyer to lose their licenses.

 

On May 27, 2016, Judge Curiel granted a request by the Washington Post for public release of documents that had been filed in the case.  He noted that they were “routine” and many were publically available.  These documents included “playbooks” documenting instructions for employees to use a hard-sell approach, and depositions from former employees of Trump University that stated that the university had defrauded and lied to its students.  This case is scheduled for a hearing on July 22, 2016.  If the result is negative for Trump he will delay the results by appealing the verdict..

 

During campaign speeches, Trump has revealingly called Judge Curiel a “hater.”  He has described him as Mexican or Spanish, even though he was born in New York City just like Donald Trump.  His parents were of Mexican decent unlike Trump whose parents were of German and Scottish decent.  Apparently because of intense Republican criticism from people like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, Trump has been silent lately about Judge Curiel.

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According to an investigative article in USA Today hundreds of contractors and employees of Trump claim that he doesn’t pay his bills.  Generally with contractors he never makes the final payment claiming that the work is shoddy even though it has been approved by his general contractor.  With employees, like lawyers or ordinary workers, he just doesn’t pay them full for their services.  Interestingly he’s offered many of the contractors to whom he hadn’t given the final payment after the contract was completed, the opportunity to work for him again.  Employees, I suspect, that he’s finished with he sees no reason to pay fully.  In this fashion he has probably saved millions of dollars.  Lawsuits are expensive and take a lot of time; most people of companies can’t afford them; in many cases the lawsuit will cost more that these people or companies are owed by Trump.

 

In the early 1980s, when they were going through a surge of building casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey the Trump Organization constructed the Taj Mahal Resort Casino.  A Philadelphia cabinet maker bid and won a contract to produce the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars, and other cabinets in the Trump Plaza casino.

 

Bidding is a complicated process: a number companies compete for the contract which goes generally to the lowest bidder.  The contractors have to figure their labor and material costs and come up with a reasonable profit.  If the price is too high he will be outbid.  The only place he can be reasonable is in his profit margin.  The profit margin has to be as small as possible.  The contract won by Edward Friel, Jr. was for $400,000.  Apparently the bid was low, virtually every dollar was needed in payment to make the venture a success for the subcontractor.

There is usually an initial payment, a middle of the job payment, and a final one after the job is completed.  The final payment, in this case, was for $83,000.  It contained the profit and some of the costs of building the bases.  This payment was never made, presumably because of shoddy work, even after approval by the general contractor.  But later Friel was offered the opportunity to bid for additional contracts.  Friel’s lawyer informed him that it would cost over $83,000 to sue for the debt if Trump choose to string the case out.  The cabinet company eventually went under.

 

Atlantic City records indicate that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time.  This also included workers who installed walls, chandeliers, and plumbing.

 

A USA Today Network analysis found that Trump had been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits over the last 30 years.  At least 60 lawsuit, in addition to liens, judgements and other government fillings documents where people have accused him and his business of failing to pay them for their work.  Among these a dishwasher in Florida, a glass company in New Jersey, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, forty-eight waiters, dozens of bartenders, and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs coast to coast.  This includes real estate brokers and even law firms that had represented him in some of these suits and others.  Trump doesn’t discriminate, he stiffs everybody.

 

Trump’s companies have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, for failing to pay overtime or the minimum wage.  This includes 21 citations against the now defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the former Trump Mortgage LLC in New York.  Both cases were resolved with back wages being paid.

 

In addition to these cases the review found over 200 mechanics liens that were filed by contractors and employees since 1980, the last 36 years.  The liens ranged from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, New York air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm.  The number of companies and others alleging he hasn’t paid suggest the wither his companies hire inept workers and contractors, or that Trump businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt  to change payment terms after work is complete.  This is alleged in dozens of court cases.

 

Trump has asserted that the cases were a long time ago.  But even as he campaigns for the presidency new cases are continuing.  In May of 2016Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event.  The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and a $3,000 settlement for one, according to court records.

 

In California and New York, at Trump facilities, hourly workers, bartenders, and waiter staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers.  The California cade was settled, the New York one is still pending.

 

The owner of the Paint Spot in South Florida, has been waiting more than two years to get paid for work at Trump’s Doral golf resort.  In May 2016 Trump’s company refused to pay over $30,000 owed for work done.  In courtroom testimony, the manager of the general contractor for the Doral renovation admitted that a decision was made not to pay the Paint Spot because Trump “already paid enough.”  The judge ordered foreclosure of the resort and the proceeds of a sale of the facility be used to pay the money owed.  Trump’s attorneys have since filed a motion to delay the sale.  The Paint Spot still hasn’t been paid.

To be continued next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #157 – Taxes & the American Public & the Negative Income Tax

The United States of America is a Federal Republic with separate state and local governments.  In order to function each of these governments tax, in some or various fashions, the general public.  These include income, payroll, property, sales, excise taxes and capital gains, dividends and interest, import tariffs, estate taxes, and gifts, as well as various fees.  In 2010, for example, the amounts collected by federal, state, and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of the Gross National Product (GDP).

 

In the United States most taxes are regressive; that is, the less one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.  This would include those who earn too little to even pay an income tax.  There are a multitude of taxes: local, state, and federal that everyone pays equally regardless of their income level.  This means that most of these taxes are paid by virtually everyone from the homeless person to the multimillionaire or so-called billionaire like Donald Trump.

 

There are excise taxes on such items as gasoline or tobacco, sales taxes on most purchases, property taxes on homes and business buildings, social security and Medicare taxes that are deducted directly from the business and employees’ wages, unemployment insurance which is deducted from one’s income.  In addition license fees are a form of taxation that allows individuals to practice certain occupations.

 

Taxes fall more heavily on labor income than on capital income.  A larger percentage is taken out of every employees income that out of every employers profits or dividends.

 

If we ask ourselves what is the major economic problem in the United States today, besides the current 5% unemployment rate, the answer we get is the distribution of the National Income.  More and more money keeps going to the upper echelon and less and less of the National Income is being acquired by everyone else.

 

We are the richest country in the history of the world but the distribution of the National Income is such that an ever-growing, percentage of the population is having a harder and harder time surviving.

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If we consider the 2015 tax table for a married couple filing jointly:

 

0 – 18,450         10%

18,451 – 74,900         $1,845 plus 15% of amount over 18,450

74,901 – 151,200       $10,312.50 plus 25% of amount over 74,900

151,200 – 230,450       $29,387.50 plus 28% of amount over 151,200

230,451 – 411,500       $51,577.50 plus 33% of amount over 230,450

411,501 – 464,850       $111,324 plus 35% of amount over 411,500

464,851 – Or more       $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of amount over 464,850

For a single individual you can half the above table and for a head of household drop it down about a quarter.

 

There are, of course, numerous deductions for the number of people in the family and numerous other assorted items. The upper two categories, I suspect, will cover most American taxpayers.  Within the decade or less, as money become less valuable, a larger and larger number of people will slip into the third category.

 

The person earning $18,450 with a family of four is not going to pay any income taxes since the 2016 poverty level for that group is $24,300.  But everyone else with pay 10% of the first $18,450 they earn; then from $18,451 up to $74,900 they pay 15%, and from $74,901 to $151,200 they pay 25%.  This process continues until they reach $464,850, paying the amount in each category until that amount is reached.  Up to this point the income tax has been graduated, the more one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.

 

After the last category, $464,851 onwards into the multimillions the amount paid is $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of the income.  This is a regressive income tax favoring the upper percentage of the population. These people’s percentage of income decreases as their earnings increase above the $464,851 mark.  These people pay a far lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than the average citizen.

 

It should be noted that CEOs of fairly large to very large corporations and their leading executives do earn anything from one million dollars a year to one million dollars a month to even one million dollars a week.  The CEO of Hewlett Packer earns 15 million dollars a year.  The current                            CEO of Ford earned 50 million dollars in 2015.  The Bank of America has a CEO, who I imagine can be called the emperor and each section of this international organization has a president for that section of the company.  All of these executives and their leader’s salaries are in the millions of dollars.

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In addition to all this there are two forms of income.  One is regular income which is the only one most people have.  It is taxed as shown above, after deductions are taken out of the total.  The other is passive income.  This is monies earned from investments or increases in value of property.  It could be an apartment house, a home, a piece of art; mostly anything that is owned and increases in value when sold.

 

In addition, specific properties that are rented for profit can legally be depreciated in value over a period of time and any money spent on maintenance of these properties can be deducted from passive income.  Donald Trump, in all probability, pays nothing in income taxes; all his maintenance costs for all his buildings would be deducted from his income leaving him legally and theoretically with no income.

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The major problem that exists today in terms of the distribution of the National Income or Gross National Product is that most people still think of money as they did in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  At that time the worker exchanged his labor for a precious metal, gold or silver coins.  The value of the labor equaled the value of the coins.  The laborer or a member of his family would then exchange the precious metal coins for the goods and services needed to live: housing, food, clothing, medicine when needed, whatever.

 

Today money is paper, printed by each government and coins are copper sandwiches, having token value.  Currency today has no intrinsic value.  It is used as a means of exchanging services for goods and services: housing, food, clothing, medical care when needed, etc.  Money has not been a precious metal since the early 1930s.

 

General thinking and emotions today about currency by most people, particularly the Republicans in Congress, goes back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  They still feel that money is basically gold.  Some Congressmen have even, from time to time, mentioned going back on the gold standard.  If this were to be attempted it would cause unbelievable economic disruptions because there isn’t enough gold available to back the amount of business being done either nationally or internationally.  Also gold is currently valued somewhere above $1,200 an ounce.  If the Federal Government were to start buying gold it would quickly shoot up to over $2,000 an ounce.  In 1929 that was a $20 gold one ounce coin.

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How could the distribution of the GDP be done more fairly?  Or can it be done more fairly?

 

About 25 to 30 years ago my wife and I took a vacation in Estes Park, Colorado.  We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park for a week.  While there, I met a gentleman from Holland who was also on vacation.  He and his family were also visiting this site.  Among other things we spoke about unemployment, both in the United States and in Holland, two different political systems, both democracies.  In the U.S. then and today the unemployed person received an inadequate stipend for a matter of 26 full weeks.  It used to be for a slightly shorter period of time.  This is supposed to hold the individual over financially until he/she finds a new job.  In Holland the unemployed person continued to maintain his/her regular standard of living.  The difference being that the unemployed individual could not afford vacations, but otherwise his standard of living would be the same as the other employed individuals.  Both the man I spoke to and his wife worked; it was expensive to come to the U.S. on vacation.

 

There were no negative connotations applied to the unemployed individuals like there often are in the United States.  The entire population of the country took on responsibility for one another.  Anyone, at some time or other, could be unemployed through no fault of their own and everyone was equally responsible for everyone else.

 

They pay heavier taxes than people in similar circumstances in the United States but they get far better coverage.  In addition to far more reasonable unemployment insurance the people of Holland get free medical care, free education through college if they prove capable of going there, plus numerous other services.

 

The difference between the two countries is that the Hollanders take a much more mature attitude than we do in the United States about the welfare of all their citizens.

 

As a footnote it should be noted that today just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election we see large sections in both political parties, demonstrating through their choices of candidates their revulsion at being taken for granted by the powers that be who have been wanting their votes, but have given a goodly percentage of the people very little in return.  This is particularly true of the Republican Party which now seems to be stuck with Donald J. Trump as their presumptive candidate.

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Is there a way to deal with this problem?  The answer is obvious, if Congress and the American people can come to a rational understanding of the function of money and group responsibility.

 

Traditionally the economic formula is:

Demand equals production of goods and services.

There are two factors that determine Demand.  They are the amount of money in the National Income or GDP that is distributed to the general population.  The more money that goes to the top few percent of the population the less there is available for everyone else.  Since most of these excess incomes are invested in old productivity like stocks and bonds they are removed from the general cash flow, decreasing the amount needed for demand, decreasing the level of productivity and consequently, sooner or later, bringing about a recession or even the possibility of a depression.

 

This behavior is a consequence of traditional beliefs and values.  All this, generally speaking, is how the Great Depression came about in 1929 and all the recessions and depressions before and since.  They are based upon the unreal myths about money that most people feel are absolute truths.

 

Is there a way to avoid this continual economic inequality?  A suggestion was first made in England during the 1940s by a British politician named Juliet Rhys-Williams and later also picked up in the U.S. by the free-market economist Milton Friedman.  This was for a negative income tax.

 

The negative income tax (NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying income taxes to the government; that is, every citizen living within the country is guaranteed a certain minimum standard of living.  Just as today there is a poverty level set for everyone living within the country in both rural and urban areas for individual living alone, married couples, married couples with children, and heads of households.

 

This poverty level or slightly above it would probably be the minimum level these individuals or group or families would be guaranteed as their minimu m standard of living.  It would probably be paid weekly.  Those earning more than this level would be paying income taxes according to their level of compensation.  The tax would be graduated so that the more earned the higher the rate of taxation would be.  There would be no cutoff point where the tax stopped being progressive.

 

It should be noted that the current income tax cutoff point of 39.6% of any amount over $$464,850 where the taxes stop being progressive and become regressive.  This limit was incorporated just a few years ago under President Barack Obama by a staunchly Republican majority in the House of Representatives and by a filibustering Republican minority in the U.S. Senate.

 

During World War II, 1944 – 1951 the cutoff point was set at 91%, from 1952 – 1953 it was 92%, during 1954 – 1963 it was 91% again, in 1964 it became 77%, and from 1965 – 1981 it was 70%.  During the Reagan years: 1981 – 1989, the tax rate dropped to 50%.  But during these same years Reagan raised taxes twelve times and took back 50% of his 1982 tax act.  In 1987, under George H.W. Bush they were 38.5%.  In 1991 – 92 they dropped to 31%.  In 1993 they were raised to 39.6%.  In 2001 under George W. Bush in stages the maximum income taxes were dropped to 35%.  Under President Obama they were raised to 39.6%.

 

It should also be noted that inflation raised most persons into tax brackets formerly reserved for the wealthy.  And that income taxes now applies to 2/3 of the nation.

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In a land of free opportunity for all, the income taxes should be high enough to include former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ current goals of free medical care for all, free education from pre-school through college for anyone capable of achieving a degree, and other social programs including eventually a dignified burial.

 

The effects of a negative income tax would create a single system that would fulfill the social goal of making sure that there is a minimum level of incomes for all.  With a NIT the need for a minimu  m wages, food stamps, welfare, possibly social security programs, Medicare, and other government programs could be eliminated.  This would reduce the administration costs to a fraction of what they are currently.  These costs and administration wages could be directly applied to the people receiving the funding.

 

In the 1972 Presidential Elections the Republican candidate, Richard Milhous Nixon ran for a second term.  His Democratic opponent was George McGovern who proposed a guaranteed minimum income for a family of four of $4,000 a year.  Nixon proposed a guaranteed minimum yearly income of $2,500.  While neither of these level was a significant amount they bought a lot more than they do today.

 

Nixon was reelected and his proposal came up in both the Houses of Congress.  What I remember about the debate in both Houses of Congress was the pain in the voices of the legislators.  It was the level of pain that a boor would make if a sow accidentally stepped on his scrotum.  It was, apparently, in the minds of the national lawmakers as though their own money was about to be forcibly taken from them.  The Negative Income Tax was virtually killed before it could be born.

 

But times have changed since the 1970s.  Money, to the government, is a tool that begets productivity.  It is printed by the Federal Government and can be and has been used by the Federal Government to enhance the economy.

 

If we reexamine the formula we considered earlier:

Demand equals production of goods and services or to restate it more simply:  Amount of money available in the economy equals the level of employment.

We can rewrite the formula to also read: Extent of Production of Goods (employment) equals extent of Demand (money available).

 

The amount of the National Income that goes to the majority of the people determines the amount they can spend on the purchase of goods and services.  The more they can spend fulfilling their basic needs and wants the higher the level of employment in the nation.

 

Currently the nation is geared to allow the rich to get richer and for everyone else to have less and less of the GDP or National Income.  The NIT would not only reverse the current process it should also satisfy all the voters who feel they are left out of the system and are supporters of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  This process could be a way of giving the country back to the general public.

 

There is, after all, just so far a populace can be pushed against its own interests.  Donald Trump has emerged as the floored hero of the exploited blue collar Republicans.  His existence, as the hero or potential candidate of the Republican Party is a national disgrace.  He will not solve the national problems, and were he elected could disrupt the balance of power or safety that now exists in the world by his presumptuous erratic actions and basic beliefs..

 

Bernie Sanders is the Democratic side of the current voter rebellion.  While most people agree with his goals, his methods of achieving them are totally unrealistic.  He wants to make the rich pay for his program by having taxes placed on Wall Street profits.  The term “Wall Street” is an abstraction.  Taxing Wall Street would be taxing all purchases or sales made on the stock market, plus all profits made on capital gains.  It would be an easy way to cause an instant recession or possible depression that would negatively affect everyone in the nation.

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Another factor affecting the money supply in the country is the population.  Every ten years the population of the United States is counted.  The number of the population in each state is needed to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.  The number of members in the House is fixed at 435, but seats are reallocated to each state on the basis of changes in the states’ population.

 

The last official census was taken in 2010, the next one will occur in 2020.  In 2016 the population was estimated at 322,762,018 people.  The country has added 2.4 million people or .77% to the overall population in this year 2016.  It does so every year.

 

In the introduction of virtually every census that is taken the then head of the Census Bureau apologizes for the people who he estimates were not counted.  In 2010 a goodly percent of the homeless in the U.S. were missed, leaving the estimate of the population low.  The probability is that the overall population then was over 350 million people.  Add 246 million people to that number and you’re probably close to today’s population.

 

According to the Census Bureau’s population clock one person is born every 8 seconds; there is one death every 13 seconds; and one immigrant enters the U.S. every 29 seconds.  This gives the population a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.  It’s from these figures that we get an increase of 2½ million people a year or a .77% increase in the general population.  That, incidentally, is higher than the current population of 27 of the 50 states.

 

The issue or problem here is that the money supply in order to stay even has to keep up with the ever growing population.  The FED is the agency that is supposed to deal with this issue by adding currency to the Nation Cash Flow as needed.  The FED can easily do this by using the National Debt and buying back more bonds than it sells.  After all the Federal Government through the FED owns over 50% of its own debt.

 

But banks can also create currency by their lending policy and the banking houses like J.P Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, to name just a few, did this through their purchase and sale of home mortgages from the Reagan Administration on to 2008 when their excesses brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  The FED, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, was either not paying attention or was overly conservative in its actions.  Instead from the Reagan Era on to the crash, everything was left to the Free Market.  The Free Market, by the actions of the banks, made all the decisions at that time.  The FED kept its hands off everything until the Federal Government had to step in to avoid a massive depression greater than that of 1929 during the last year of the George W. Bush administration.

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A solution for many of our current economic problems would be the incorporation of the negative income tax into our system.  It probably will take a while for it to become fully incorporated and functioning but it would solve many of the problems that now exist in the United States.  It is time we all took positive responsibility for one another.

 

[BW1]

[BW2] Wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs, M

[BW3]

The Weiner Component #156 – Fear & the Economic Situation

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting slowly, probably around the 1970s, the process of splitting real estate loans into a few parts began, and then, with the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1981, the concept took off on a refined bases, with each real estate mortgage being broken into innumerable parts and having each piece put into a different hedge fund and sold as a safe investment. It was considered safe because any single or few losses on any one of these hedge funds would be so small that it wouldn’t be noticeable and would not really affect the amount of the dividend.

 

Two things occurred from the 1980s on: one was the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency of the United States and the imposition of a total Free Market Economy and the other was an incessant need in the general society for a much greater cash flow.  We were in a period where there was not enough money available to serve the overall needs of the population.  More cash was needed for the economy to function.

 

The agency of Federal Government that was supposed to be keeping track of this problem and monetarily serving the needs of the nation was the Federal Reserve.  It’s Chairman from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan, like the President believed in a totally Free Market that would automatically adjust itself.  Consequently he and the FED did nothing to alleviate the problem. 

 

This in turn left the need prevalent and either purposefully or inadvertently it was picked up by the banks which were also deregulated by the Reagan administration.  They, at first, gradually and then, with ever increasing speed, using real estate as their base, picked up the speed of creating new value or money throughout the society.  This was to continue through late 2008 when the banks had far     exceeded the amount of money needed for the society to properly function and the Great Real Estate Crash occurred.

 

What happened was that the banks, by their lending policies from the 1980s until late 2008, over 28 years, created trillions of dollars of additional value based upon the public housing industry within the United States.  In addition deregulation also allowed them to freely invest their deposits into the agencies or funds that directly serviced this expansion.

 

By 2007 most bankers were aware that property values had far exceeded a sane level and that a crash was probable.  But by 2007 most of the bankers had been making high commissions on the property market for most, if not all, of their banking careers; they were in denial that conditions could ever change. 

 

The Real Estate Market crashed or the Real Estate Bubble burst in late 2008 under President George W. Bush.  Virtually overnight the economy of the United States went into an instant depression.  There was suddenly mass unemployment, many people owed more on their homes than they were then worth.  Some people just walked away from their homes, others stayed, the hedge funds, which many or the deregulated banks had also invested in, collapsed from non-payment on mortgages.  Bush and his Treasury Secretary bailed out some of the banks; then his term ended and Barack Obama became the next President of the United States.

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Barack Obama would spend his eight years in office dealing with this mess.  For his first two years he had a Democratic Congress and their full support.  From 2011 on the House of Representatives gained a Republican majority and thereafter passed no legislation that dealt with the economic emergency.  In fact they passed economizing laws that actually increased the disaster.  President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, using Creative Monetary Policy were able to change the depression into a recession.  The country is still dealing with this problem that the House of Representatives refused to deal with.

 

Conditions have improved.  Unemployment is now at about 5%, a long way from the initial 12½%  The Republicans still have done nothing to improve conditions, instead they have actually worsened them.  They are a great political party for complaining and blaming.  But what they are blaming President Obama for, is mainly for what they, themselves, have not done, passing fiscal laws creating jobs and upgrading the infrastructure.

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In 2008, the year of the Real Estate Crash, the Gross Domestic Product   was at 800 trillion dollars.  In 2009 it dropped to 700 trillion dollars.  By 2010 it was slightly above where it had been the year before.  By 2015 it was in the area of 17.95 trillion dollars.

 

Keep in mind that the GDP refers to the market value of all goods and services produced within the country during the fiscal year.  Interestingly the United States is now ranking first in the world’s GDP level.  That makes it, even now with 5% unemployment, the world’s richest nation.

 

If, as we’ve seen in the GDP, the overall wealth within the United States was continually increasing by 2010 above the 2008 Real Estate Crash level then why was the U.S. up to 12 ½% unemployment?  The answer, of course, comes into the area of spending priorities mostly by the United States Government and the overall population.

 

Congress, from 2011 on, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, was on an economizing bilge. The country underwent and is continuing to undergo Sequestration, spending cuts across the board in virtually every area.  The President, on the other hand, particularly in 2009 and 2010 underwent expansive spending programs to avoid a depression greater than that of 1929.  Basically what started from 2011 on was a redistribution of income, with gradually more and more money going to the upper echelon of society and less and less being available for the middle and lower classes, these amounts increasing yearly.

 

In 2009 and 2010 the Obama Administration spent inordinate amounts of money extending unemployment benefits, saving the American banking and auto industries, among other things.  From 2011 on gradually most of these programs ended and government began a struggle between the House of Representatives and the President.  In 2013 we had both Sequestration and a shutdown of the Federal Government from October 1 through October 16, 2013, for 15 days.  The shutdown was over the issue of government funding for Planned Parenthood in the 2014 funding bill.  The Republican House of Representatives attempted to force its will upon the President and the Democratic led Senate.  The President and Democratic Senate would not cooperate with the Republican led House of Representatives.  In many cases Congress has refused, or through different Republican disagreements, has been unable to act.

 

The positive movement that had occurred in the economy, turning a potential Great Depression into a Great slow-moving Recession came about through Creative Monetary Policy, government spending policy, by the Federal Reserve with the compliance of the President.  In essence it’s been a battle between the President and the Republican House of Representatives, with the administration slowly winning since national unemployment is today in the area of 5%.

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The question that arises: if the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) today is greater than it was in the period prior to the 2008 Real Estate Crash then why is the middle class in the United States continually shrinking and why are more and more people continually having a harder and harder time economically surviving?  The answer to that questions is that the National Income is like a balloon filled with helium, slowly and continually rising and becoming part of the incomes of the top few percentile, the upper 5 or so percent of the population.

 

In essence the rich are getting richer and everyone else has less money.  It would seem that the society is geared so that the rich pay a lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than everyone else does.  For example: Donald J. Trump, who is running for the presidency in 2016 as the Republican candidate, has refused to show his tax returns for any prior year.  Trump claims to have over ten billion dollars.  The probability is that he is not showing his income taxes because he doesn’t pay any of these taxes.  Being in real estate he would have endless write-offs and building depreciations.

 

But it isn’t just people in real estate who have these tax advantages, it’s anyone who earns over $464,850.  The income tax system is graduated up to that point; that is the more one earns, the higher a percentage of his/her income he/she pays in taxes.  Anyone earning over $464,850 pays the same rate as those earning that amount.  A person earning a million dollars or 25 million a year pay the same percentage of the incomes as the person earning the above figure.

 

While the number of individuals is not large compared to the overall population of 350 million people, yet the taxation system is rigged in favor of the very rich.  The more they earn over $464,850 the smaller a percentage of their income do they pay in taxes.

 

This change or decrease in taxes was brought about during the last five years of the Obama administration.  The Republicans actually lowered taxes for the very rich.  The Democrats were forced to go along with this in order to pass other similar required legislation.

 

The Republican argument for this action is that the rich need more money because they are the ones who invest in new industry.  Without them there would be no growth in the economy.

 

This argument that has been endlessly repeated over the years sounds wonderful.  But it is a myth.  It has never happened.  The rich invest their surplus incomes in old established industries that pay a set reasonable income or they, like Mitt Romney, bank some of it overseas where somehow they pay no taxes on the interest received.

 

Taxes are geared so the less an individual earns the higher a percentage of his/her income is paid in taxes.

 

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.  Yet its unequal taxation system taxes the poor and middle class far more than the wealthy, they pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.  It also has an underclass that is so poor they live in the streets and even though these people pay no income tax they also pay a higher percentage of their incomes in other taxes than the rich.  The national distribution of income is today a farce.  Someone like Warren Buffet has remarked that it’s a strange situation where he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary.

                            ****************************

In 2016, the year of the next Presidential Election, this created a strange phenomenon within both political parties within the nation.  Currently there is a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress.  Very little if any needed legislation is being passed.  This situation has existed since 2011 when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.  In both major political parties there are large numbers of people who are totally frustrated with their Federal Government.  Many of whom are not overly well educated or generally too busy with their lives to follow what is actually happening in Washington D.C.  Their knowledge of the government is what they’re told by the news media, which can be tilted to the right or the left by which channel they are watching.  This doesn’t really answer their questions or needs. 

 

What exists today are large segments of the population which are looking for easy answers to what seems impossible questions or problems.  They want a simplistic solution which, in essence, is a return to a past which never existed.  They want a simplistic solution to their economic problems, to bring the manufacturing jobs back to the United States and allow people to earn more money so they will no longer be economically stressed out.  Whether this is real or not is beside the point; there is a strong desire among many for a simplistic change within the society.

 

For the Republicans the person who will do this is Donald J. Trump.  He claims that he will force the companies that have moved their manufacturing overseas or to Mexico to bring these jobs back to the U.S.  In addition he will get rid of all illegal foreigners in the U.S. and lessen competition so that there will be jobs available for everyone who wants to work.  He will also make the U.S. safer by not allowing alien radicals to migrate to the U.S. and keep Mexicans out of the country by building a wall between the United States and Mexico.  And so on.  He will bring us to a golden age that never existed in the U.S.

 

In essence Trump is feeding on all the basic prejudices and fears that seem to still exist in this country.  He is opposed to Mexicans, Hispanics, Muslims, Syrians, Blacks, Women having a right to deal with their own bodies, and the list goes on.  Trump has promised to take us all to-never-never land if he becomes president.  He seems to open up all the hidden prejudices in a large percentage of his followers.  He has also increased bullying among the children of his followers.

 

For the Democrats there is Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist.  Over a year ago he changed his party registration from an Independent Socialist who always caucused with the Democratic Party to a Democrat.  Sanders now calls himself a Democratic Socialist.  This has enabled him to run as a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016.

 

I strongly suspect that Bernie Sanders initially expected to run as a protest candidate with no chance of winning.  However he inadvertently tapped into the younger generation of voter; those who had been too young to vote in prior Presidential Elections.  To these people and the others who have joined them he offers a utopian future. Free education from pre-school through college and free medical coverage for everyone.  He supports abortion rights and a more liberal drug policy.  He believes in gun control, immigration reform, LGBT rights, expanding social security, and tax reform.  Among other things he has stated: “We need to get big money out of politics and restore our democracy,” and “Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity.”

 

He has also brought large numbers of Independents and some older Democrats to his cause.  His campaign took off like a rocket shooting upward and Bernie could almost taste victory.  But he never quite caught up with his competition, Hillary Clinton. 

 

He is promising a new society with benefits for everyone.  And all this will be paid for by the rich who have up to this point exploited their position in society.  The image is wonderful but the reality doesn’t exist.

 

I suspect that the majority of the population agrees with most of if not all of Senator Bernie Sander’s goals.  But they would have to be paid for if they were to be put into laws.  And his solution to this is rather naïve.  He says he would put a tax on Wall Street’s excess profits.  Traditionally in United States history, going as far back as the Revolutionary War from 1776 on the practice has been to make someone else pay for what you want.  The Southern planters owed millions to English merchants which they never paid after the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards Daniel Shay, a Revolutionary War veteran, led Shay’s Rebellion where the inland farmers refused to pay taxes that were brought into being by the Tidewater merchants in the coastal cities.  In recent years there was an attempt on the California side of Lake Tahoe to tax the Time Share facilities to pay for the public schools in the region; it failed.  It’s always nice to get someone else to pay for what is needed or wanted but generally it doesn’t work.

 

The term Wall Street is an abstraction; it has no specific meaning.  Are they talking about the banks or the large commercial corporations, or any company that sells stock?  An excess tax on the sale or purchase of stock or company profits would bring about economic disaster.  A tax on profits already exists, increasing it could destroy incentive.  Senator Bernie Sanders funding solution sounds just but it is nonsense.

 

Hillary Clinton is much more pragmatic.  The very existence of Senator Bernie Sanders has pushed her farther to the left in her own position.  She may be able to achieve many of Bernie’s goals which he should be able to get into the 2016 Democratic Platform. 

 

Sanders, on the other hand, as President would face endless frustration, even if he were to get Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, which is a low probability.  In all likelihood the House of Representatives will retain its Republican majority.  And even if Senator Bernie Sanders were to get an all Democratic Congress he would still have trouble both passing and funding his program.

                             ******************************

In the early 1800s England began the Industrial Revolution in the cotton industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which allowed the cotton plant to be quickly separated from it many seeds.  Machinery was developed for spinning the cotton plant into thread and machinery was also invented for weaving the thread into cotton cloth.  Overnight spinners and weavers became obsolete, their occupation ceased to exist.  Some became luddites, breaking into factories and destroying the new machines in an attempt to bring back the past when they had a functioning occupation.

  

 Even if Trump, by some strange miracle, were to get elected the probability is that the results of the 2016 Presidential Election would leave a number of people totally dissatisfied  with the changes that don’t seem to be happening,  You can’t bring back the past, real or otherwise. 

 

Can conditions be improved?  Jobs are available in the United States.  The problem is that they require training and mobility.  It now requires a trained skilled employee for the jobs that pay a decent wage.  For those who refuse to undergo any training or move to where these jobs exist there are public sector occupations that do not pay much but that take almost no skills to do.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Seal of the President of the United States Español: Escudo del Presidente de los Estados Unidos Македонски: Печат на Претседателот на Соединетите Американски Држави. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

.

The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency?  An interesting question, with a current high probability.  He now considers himself the presumptive nominee.  Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race.  There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

 

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president.  In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did.  In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption.  And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump.  Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

 

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald.  Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking.  Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

 

Will he remain with that point of view?  Another good question.  In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes.  It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

 

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily.  Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states?  Still another good question.  The answer is most likely negative.  Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy.  And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.

****************************

Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President.  But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth.  He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements.  For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States.  His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

 

This is a recurrent theme with him.  In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway.  A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist.  The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward.  The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

 

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing.  Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones?  Who are they calling?  Where do they get the cell phones?  Who’s paying their monthly bills?  How come they have cell phones?  Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

 

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S.  Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point.  It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.

*******************************

While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections.  In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead.  He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party.  There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

 

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates.  Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016.  That will be one of the first orders of business.  The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

 

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries.  Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count.  This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were.  Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?

*****************************

Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates.  Take your pick.  He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just  to their tone and attitude toward himself.  He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas.  He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics.  His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

 

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S.  In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small.  Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark.  The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.

***************************

What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.”  There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party.  They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections.  They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

 

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups.  Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism.  Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP.  Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo.  These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

 

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party.  Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

 

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

 

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals.  Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party.  They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core.  Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

 

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government.  They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

 

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message.  Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem.  It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants.  The party failed to do any of these things.  Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness.  Will another defeat bring about party reform?  It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.

************************************

Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign.  He will present himself as a really nice guy.  His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being.  A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

 

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate.  It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women.  In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski.  The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability.  “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said.  “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

 

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.”  Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances.  He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions.  Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.

*********************************

Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality.  He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote.  It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

 

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations.  It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee.  In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.”  He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.

******************************

Could Donald Trump become President of the United States?  It is within the realm of possibility.  What would happen if it were to come about?

 

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

 

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

 

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue.  It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about.  That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is.  That’s not challenging political correctness.  That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

 

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy.  He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

 

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding.  He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

 

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.  “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”

****************************

The Republicans face a massive dilemma.  If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it.  They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

 

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs.  On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress.  If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

 

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected.  These plans went nowhere.

 

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency? An interesting question, with a current high probability. He now considers himself the presumptive nominee. Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race. There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president. In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did. In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption. And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump. Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald. Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking. Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

Will he remain with that point of view? Another good question. In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes. It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily. Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states? Still another good question. The answer is most likely negative. Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy. And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.
****************************
Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President. But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth. He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements. For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States. His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

This is a recurrent theme with him. In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway. A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist. The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward. The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing. Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones? Who are they calling? Where do they get the cell phones? Who’s paying their monthly bills? How come they have cell phones? Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S. Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point. It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.
*******************************
While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections. In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead. He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party. There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates. Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016. That will be one of the first orders of business. The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries. Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count. This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were. Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?
*****************************
Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates. Take your pick. He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just to their tone and attitude toward himself. He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas. He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics. His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S. In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small. Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark. The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.
***************************
What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.” There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party. They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections. They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups. Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism. Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP. Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo. These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party. Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals. Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party. They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core. Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government. They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message. Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem. It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants. The party failed to do any of these things. Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness. Will another defeat bring about party reform? It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.
************************************
Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign. He will present himself as a really nice guy. His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being. A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate. It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women. In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski. The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability. “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said. “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.” Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances. He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions. Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.
*********************************
Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality. He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote. It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations. It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee. In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.” He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.
******************************
Could Donald Trump become President of the United States? It is within the realm of possibility. What would happen if it were to come about?

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue. It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy. He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding. He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”
****************************
The Republicans face a massive dilemma. If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it. They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs. On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress. If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected. These plans went nowhere.

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #154 – President Obama & the Republican Party

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Traditionally the Republicans stand for smaller government and the Democrats for a system responsible for the welfare of it citizens.  This means that the Republicans want more individual freedom and choice for the citizens, including the right to starve or go without proper medical care through a lack of funds.  The Democrats are more socially responsible and feel a need to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

 

Perhaps one of the most ardent Republicans was President Ronald Reagan who continually talked about “government being the problem.”  He voiced a desire for less government but left Washington at the end of his two terms in office with a far larger government than that with which he had begun eight years earlier.

 

In line with their desire to lower federal costs and weaken or do away with Obamacare, which was based upon a Republican model, the Republicans have recently won a pyrrhic victory against the 2010 law, Affordable Health Care.  Around May 12, 2016 a Federal Judge, initially appointed by a Republican President, found the practice of the Federal Government of helping to subsidize premium payments for those who cannot afford to make them, illegal since it was not specifically mentioned in the law.  The 38 page decision by the judge who reasoned that since the law did not specifically state this practice, the act of doing so was illegal.  The judge, however, did not put her decision into immediate operation.  Instead she allowed the practice to continue until after her decision is appealed.  Way to go Republicans, attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the poor who may lose their medical coverage!

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Watching the progress of Congress by both the Republicans and the Democrats one gets the impression that nothing ever gets done.  No necessary laws ever get passed.  The House of Representatives has given itself a 110 day legislating year; they are working a three day week, not including holidays.  The Senate will meet for a somewhat longer period.

 

The two political parties began the preliminary process of choosing their presidential candidates early in 2016.  In the Republican state preliminary elections and caucuses the initial debate between the possible candidates dealt with how bad the present administration is and how a Republican president would make the country great again.  It’s as though nothing has happened since 2009 when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency.  It would seem, according to the Republican candidates that there is no history behind the present campaign.  This, of course, is not true.  The history has been ignored or edited, particularly by the Republican Party.

 

The Great Recession, which could easily have been the Greatest Depression in our history, began under the reign of the Republican President, George W. Bush toward the end of 2008, his last year as president.  He took some action but mainly left the problem for the next President, Barack Obama.

 

During his first two years in office, 2009 and 2010, President Obama changed a potential massive depression into a recession, restored the major banking houses in the United States and the automobile industry from bankruptcy by massive government loans and signed the Affordable Health Care Bill into law.

 

At the time both the House of Representatives and the Senate had Democratic majorities.  In the 2010 Midterm Election a large number of Democrats did not bother to vote and the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, actually killing any chance for further reform since the Republican philosophy of government tends to be the opposite of that of the Democrats .  In addition since 2010 was a Census Year, the Republicans gerrymandered the states where they controlled the governorships and the legislatures making it easier for them to keep control of the House of Representatives.  In the 2012 Presidential Election the Democrats cast a million-and-a-quarter more votes were cast for Democratic candidates than for the Republican members of the House of Representatives but the Republicans still retained control of the House.  The same thing is likely to happen in the 2016 Presidential Election.

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In the 2016 Primary Elections the Republicans are quite vociferous in stating what President Obama didn’t do.  What they don’t state is that most of the things he is blamed for not doing are functions of Congress.  Congress passes the laws in the United States.  The President can sign or veto a law.  If he vetoes a law Congress can still pass it with a 2/3 majority in both Houses.

 

Basically the current Congress, which has a Republican majority in both Houses, has done virtually nothing since they achieved a Republican majority in 2014 or since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2011.  Today we have the Tea Party which is an extremely conservative section of the conservative Republican Party that is totally against Big Government and sees all economics as Micro, small economics.  Unfortunately they represent a number of seats in the House and Senate.

 

Economists today understand depressions and recessions and how to properly deal with them.  Economics exists upon two major levels: one is called Microeconomics, which deals with household finances, city, state, and business funding.  The other is Macroeconomics which deals with the Federal Government, which owns the printing presses that print and issue money.  They are two totally different entities.  Except the Republicans do not understand or accept the concept of Macroeconomics.

 

Money today has nothing behind it except the word of the government that printed it.  There is no gold or other precious metal that today stands behind any currency.  The amount in circulation is supposed to be regulated so that there is enough to easily carry out all the business functions within the nation and between nations.  Unfortunately this does not always happen and inflation or deflation can occur.  In the United States the Federal Reserve controls the amount of cash in circulation.  In most other nations there is generally a National Bank that does this.  This process is Macroeconomics.

 

The National Debt, of which the Federal Government owns over 50% of its own debt and will, at times, use it to control the amount of currency in circulation.  This was done recently by the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, for over a two year period adding 85 billion dollars a month to the National Cash Flow.  It was gradually ended by the current Chairperson, Janet Yellen.

 

The members of the Republican Party do not appreciate or understand any of this.  From statements made by various Congressional members of the Tea Party and other Republicans their understanding of economics is based upon raising a family, Microeconomics.  They see everything in those terms.  One has an income, taxes, and one can spend it.  If an individual or country wants to spend more he has to borrow money which, in turn, has to be paid back with interest.

 

That seems to be the limit of their understanding.  It can lead to recessions and depressions.  Donald Trump has added another level to this misunderstanding.  He seems to think the government can renege on part of its debt as he has done in business with three bankruptcies.   Statements like that can destroy the value of the dollar, particularly if he were to be elected president.

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To say that the Republicans have done nothing is to give them positive credit.  Instead they were able to get through the Budget Control Act of 2011 which began on March 1, 2013.  This was the sequester, automatic cuts across the board on all government programs with the exception of Social Security, Medicaid, federal pensions, and veteran’s benefits.  These would cover all other military and discretionary programs every year until the year 2021.  Medicare rates were reduced 2%.  Sequestration also resulted in unpaid time off to many federal government workers, this was known as furloughs.

 

These cuts during a recession tended to shrink the economy and slow recovery.  Interestingly by 2015 the military was complaining that with the sequester cuts their effectiveness was significantly decreasing.  From that time on Congress tended to pass yearly bills ignoring the effects of sequestration upon the military.

 

Also in 2013 the House of Representatives, with hefty leadership by Senator Ted Cruz who is not even a member of the House, shut down the Federal Government from October 1st through the 16th.  Government operations resumed on October 17, 2013.  800,000 government employees were indefinitely furloughed.  1.3 million other government employees were required to report for work without a known payment date.  The Republican led House wanted to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  They attached this to the Government Funding Bill.  The Democratic led Senate removed it from their version of the Bill before they passed it.  The Conference Committee, which consisted of representatives from both Houses of Congress, reached an impasse.  The cost of this shutdown is estimated at $20 billion.  So much for Republican frugalness!

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It should be noted that our understanding of economics has come a long way since 1929 and the Great Depression.  We understand the root causes for the economic waves that bring about these changes and we understand how to deal with them when they occur to lessen or mitigate their effects upon society.  But in order to do this we need both the President and Congress acting together as a cooperating unit.  This we have not had since 2011.

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By 2008 the Real Estate Hedge Fund industry crashed in the United States.  Properties like individual homes dropped almost overnight to a fraction of their inflated values.  Millions of people, who had been encouraged by the financial institutions to use their homes like bank accounts by continually remortgaging them, were suddenly underwater on their loans, owing more on the property than it was then worth.  Employment also phenomenally decreased.  Most banking houses were over-extended and on the point of bankruptcy.  The Bush Administration in its last year in office lent public funds to some of the banks to keep them afloat.

 

In 2009 and 2010 there were both a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.  The massive depression that would have been greater than that of 1929 was avoided by further public loans to the banking industry.  Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care or Obamacare, which incidentally was based upon a Republican plan, came into existence.  It was passed strictly on a party basis; no Republican voted for it in either House of Congress.  The American auto industry was also saved from bankruptcy by public loans.  Incidentally it should be noted that all these loans were eventually repaid with interest.

 

From 2011 on the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives.  Thereafter no bill was passed by the House that would lessen what was then the Great Recession.  In fact the bills passed by the House tended to exacerbate the unemployment by not only shrinking the Federal Government but also curtailing the amounts of monies that went to the individual states, forcing them to reduce            some of their programs and lessoning their levels of employment.

 

Mitch McConnell, the then minority leader in the Senate, stated that the Republican goal was to make Barack Obama a one term president.  The Republican attitude from that time on was to support absolutely nothing that President Obama supported.  Economic conditions in the country became secondary next to this goal.  The House Republicans did nothing that might reflect positively upon President Obama.  When he proposed a bill to create jobs by improving the outdated infrastructure of the U.S. the bill never even came to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration; it was totally ignored.

 

President Obama continued to attempt to work with the Republicans for the next two years with no success.  By 2012, when he ran for a second term, it would seem that he understood that there was no cooperating with the Republicans.

 

President Obama and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, were able to use Creative Monetary Policy to improve economic conditions in the country.  The Federal Reserve added $85 billion a month for over two years to the National Cash Flow.  They did this by spending $45 billion a month buying up mortgage paper and also by purchasing back $40 billion in government bonds monthly for over two years.  The program was finally reduced by 10 billion a month until it was completely withdrawn.

 

The effect of this action was to buy back millions of pieces of mortgages in all fifty states, each one of which had been split into hundreds of pieces.  In essence these properties belonged to no one, as no one owned over 50% of the mortgages.  Without this action by the Federal Reserve these properties would have been lingering throughout the economy for the next decade or more before they were sold for back property taxes by the local governments.  This act gave the people who had not walked away from their underwater properties and still lived in these homes the ability to continue living in them without the possibility of foreclosure.  There was no way the government could have matched up all the pieces of all the properties in all 50 states to claim ownership of any of them.  Generally the money that would have been used in paying off the loans was spent in the overall economy creating more employment.  It was a giveaway by the Federal Government which was probably more than returned in local, state, and federal taxes.

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With the upcoming Presidential Election the Republicans are blaming President Obama and the Democrats for not doing anything to run the country properly.  They seem to have forgotten the Real Estate Crash of 2008 which took off during the Reagan Administration and continued from there until the 2008 crash.  They seem to have forgotten President George W. Bush’s unnecessary war with Iraq which destabilized the Middle East and began the situation which exists there at present.  Actually they have forgotten everything negative that can be attributed to them.  And all of these things have been blamed upon President Obama and the Democrats.

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The actual Presidential Election should be interesting.  If Donald Trump is elected president he has practically promised to get rid of ISIS quickly and make America Great Again.  He seems to feel that he can solve all major international problems, whether he understands them or not, within the first 100 days or less.

 

If Hillary Clinton is elected and she has a Democratic Congress she can be expected to move successfully in the direction of solving many of America’s domestic and international problems.  If, however, the House of Representatives retains its Republican majority then the country will probably experience the same gridlock it has under President Barack Obama.

The Weiner Component #153 – International Trade Agreements

It is generally argued today, and it has been for a number of years, that companies are moving overseas and taking American jobs with them.  Donald Trump has promised that when he becomes President of the United States he will bring these companies and their jobs back to the U.S.A.  It all sounds simplistic, naïve, or just plain stupid.

 

Individuals or groups go into business in order to make a profit.  If they do not make a profit they soon go out of business.  They hire employees, when these employees add to their business profit.  If the employee becomes a cost factor then they fire them.  The employee is useful only when he/she is adding to the company’s profit.  The employer will pay the employee the smallest amount they can get away with and the employee will sell their labor for the highest amount they can.  Since the advantage is with the employer, workers generally form unions where they have group representation, that limits the employer’s advantages and some form of equilibrium is met between the employers and the employees.  There is nothing patriotic about running a business.

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If we think back from the 1960s on it was then argued that companies, usually in base industries, were moving overseas and that we (the government) should keep those jobs in the U.S. for our own people.  The problem then was that the cost of moving industries considerably cut the costs of production of goods and kept these companies competitive.  The cost, at that time, in keeping one of these companies in the U.S. was in the thousands of dollars per worker in terms of the cost of the product or service.  The basic issue was being competitive, not patriotic.

 

Initially the movement of companies was within the United States.  Companies went from highly industrial and unionized areas like the North East to low industrial non-union areas like Puerto Rico or the Southern states.  Gradually as these sections became unionized and industrialized and the companies began moving to Third World Nations where regulation and unionization did not exist.

 

The Federal Government added regulations with agencies such as the E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency).  Prior to the existence of this agency the states defined or did not bother to define what constituted pollution.  In the latter case it was left to the companies to control their own pollution.  This generally meant that there was no pollution control.  Of course, this government regulation is also a cost factor in the production of goods.  And for health purposes there has to be a balance between levels of pollution and production.

 

It is important to remember that there are social costs related to pollution.  Even today there are areas in cities like Los Angeles, where the ground for several miles around where a battery plant formally existed for a very long period of time, is inundated with lead poisoning.  It will cost hundreds of millions to clean that area.  Pollutants released into the air are breathed in and tend to increase people’s medical bills.  The same is true of contaminates released into drinking water.  All of these are social costs that are paid by the individuals affected.  The E.P.A. attempts to change these social costs into production costs.

 

This, incidentally, is the agency that the Republican Party would do- away with in order to increase employment in the United States.  There has to be a trade-off between health and pollution.  I would vie in favor of public health.

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There are environmental costs in the production of goods, equipment costs and labor costs.  Most companies compete both nationally and internationally with their products.  Prices have to be kept as low as possible in order to be competitive.  The company has to produce its product(s) as inexpensively as possible.  In many cases the cost of producing its wares could decrease by more than 50% by moving overseas.  What are its options if it wants to stay in the United States?  In many cases the answer would be eventual bankruptcy.  No company can stay in business constantly taking loses.

 

There is an exception to this principal.  Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, was what the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, called a “vulture capitalist” company.  Under Romney’s leadership they took over functioning American companies by buying up the majority of their stock, then sold the stock back to the company which they now controlled, and generally sold off the company in pieces for enormous profits.  After Romney had left the company as CEO, and was running for the presidency in 2012, but still had money invested in some of its projects, Bain Capital took over a successful company, brought in workers from China to learn how the machinery worked, then packed up all the machinery and shipped it and the Chinese workers to China, where the factory was set up.  All the American workers had been fired by then.  Apparently Bain Capital and Romney made millions on this deal.  This is one example of vulture capitalism, there are numerous others.

 

Unlike Donald Trump’s heavy rantings about putting a heavy tariff on goods from American companies that have moved overseas the issue tends to be fairly complicated.  Apparently Donald never heard of “due process,” the fact that the law has to be evenly applied.  Basically that company is already paying a tariff on their goods being shipped to the United States.  Donald has threatened to raise their tariff rate to about 40 or 45% of the cost of the product.  The rate of the tariff depends upon the agreements that particular foreign country has with the United States.  Trump simplifies everything to an absurd degree.  I believe he doesn’t understand the whole process of trade between nations and believes he will have absolute power as President.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ***************************************

Historically the tariff, a tax on all goods coming from foreign countries, was used primarily to raise revenue for the central government; but it has also been used as a protective device, to keep certain specific goods out of the country or to allow them in on a limited basis.  This is the protective tariff.

 

During the Great Depression the industrial nations all used heavy protective tariffs to try to protect employment within their boundaries.  In the 1950s and 60s the United States had high protective tariffs on European and latter Asian automobiles imported into the United States in order to protect the U.S. auto industry and keep the cost of foreign cars essentially equal with American autos.  Eventually the foreign car manufacturers got around this by setting up auto factories in the U.S. and building their cars here.  They became American foreign cars.  This also became true of other products.  In essence many corporations became multinational, which they are today.

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From the time of Theodore Roosevelt the United States became a major player in international trade.  After all, companies want to spend the least they can on products and sell at the highest price they can.  International trade allows this.

 

Free Trade Agreements have been one of the best ways to increase productivity.  They open up foreign markets to American exports.  Trade Agreements have increased U.S. exports and have protected U.S. interests overseas.  The reduction of trade barriers has created a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment making it easier and less expensive for U.S. companies to export their products and services.  There has actually been a significant increase in the amount of goods exported because of these agreements.

 

The problem that arises with these FTA’s is that there is a certain amount of job displacement in the United States.  But on an overall basis more new jobs are created than are lost.  Do the same people who lost their jobs, get new jobs?  That seems to be the problem.

 

Generally the displaced jobs move overseas but new jobs open up in other areas.  These are usually a little more sophisticated but pay more.  The problem seems to be moving to the areas where the jobs exist and getting some retraining.  It seems that many if not most of the people who lost their jobs want those jobs back; they don’t want to move with the times.

 

In the early 1960s I taught school in upstate New York in a city called Nyack on the West side of the Hudson River.  The area had been an industrial center in the 1920s and earlier but it died even before the Great Depression and with the development of new technology.  The people living there who worked in the ice plants and factories all lost their jobs.  Did these people pack-up and move to other areas where there were jobs?  No, they hung on and waited for industry to come back, which it did in the 1960s, forty years later.

 

Interestingly, since I was middle class I moved to the area to get a teaching job.  But since the mentality of those people who lost their jobs tended to be lower class they had stayed in the region for a couple of generations until new industry came to them.

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For the United States the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the first of a large number of trade agreements that the U.S. signed with other countries.  This one completed in 1994 was with Canada and Mexico.  The populations of all three countries have gained significantly with lower costs for goods and actually a gradual increase in employment after some initial displacement from this agreement.

 

It should be noted that the Free Trade Agreement was also a reaction to the European Common Market which did the same thing for all the European member nations.  We were actually following a pattern begun in Europe.

 

The erstwhile Republican Presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump has complained vociferously that NAFTA has “emptied our states” of our manufacturing and our jobs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the month before NAFTA took effect there were 16.8 manufacturing jobs.  By March and April 1998 there were 17.6 manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  This was a peak period.  Overall jobs have gone up 28% since December 1993, from 112.3 million to 143.8 million.  The labor force has increased by 23% or 29.3 million people.  Many factors, in addition to the 1994 agreement, impact jobs and the economy but overall economists have found that the major effect upon jobs from NAFTA has been small.  The benefits from it have been large with many food products costing less and being available all year round.  The agreement has raised the GDP in all three countries allowing the majority of people to have a higher standard of living with some initial displacement of employment opportunities.

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Today we have numerous trade agreements in operation.

NAFTA 1994.  We have Free Trade Agreements with Jordan (2001), Australia (2004), Chile (2004), Singapore (2004), Bahrain (2006), Morocco (2006), Oman (2006), Peru (2007), Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic (2005), Panama (2012), Columbia (2012), and South Korea (2012).

 

The United States is negotiating free trade agreements with the following countries and blocks: All countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, most countries in the Middle East, the European Union, Thailand, New Zealand, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, South African Customs Union: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia, Ecuador, and Qatar.  These agreements do not end tariffs; the lower them, generally, significantly.

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement that was drafted after seven years of negotiation and signed of February 3, 2016.  It is currently not in force.  Its goals are to “promote economic growth, support the creation and retention of jobs, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”  The U.S. government considers TPP a companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a similar agreement between the U.S., and the European Union.

 

There are twelve members to the TTP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  The agreement is to be brought into force within the next two years.

 

Within the United States there are people who both agree and oppose it.  Bernie Sanders is against it as a job killer.  Barack Obama, who has signed it, and Hillary Clinton support it.  Obviously what will happen is unknown.

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In the early 1800s the Industrial Revolution began in England with the emergence of the cotton cloth industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which could clean the seeds out of the cotton plant in minutes where before it took hours for a man picking them out one at a time.  Cotton suddenly became a very inexpensive plant to process.  With the development of power-run tools it became even less expensive.  Spinning machines, the spinning jenny, were developed.  Instead of one spool of thread a small number of threads could be spun at one time; then water power was applied and a much larger number of threads were quickly spun.  Along with this power driven weaving machines were invented and cloth was quickly and easily produced.

 

This innovation made the hand spinners and weavers obsolete and introduced inexpensive cotton cloth to the marketplace.  Suddenly there was a segment of the population that no longer had a functioning occupation.,  Groups called luddites developed who attempted to destroy the new factories.  They wanted to turn the clock back to the preindustrial times.  Obviously they did not succeed.

 

When I was a college student during the 1950s a large number of engineering students worked their way through college as part time draftsmen for engineering firms.  This occupation disappeared with the arrival of the computer which has numerous draftsmen programs.

 

Basically as time moves forward conditions change, new occupations come into existence and some occupations change or disappear.  Usually, for the overall society, conditions get better.  The are more products available and they are less expensive than they used to be.  Most people adapt to the changes.  The general public ends up with a higher quality of life.

 

In a sense the world is getting smaller.  I can make a phone call about a problem with my computer or a piece of machinery I’ve purchased and find I am connected to someone in India or the Philippine Islands.  If they can’t solve my problem they’ll connect me with someone in the United States.  From what I understand Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats have a “made in China” sticker on them.

 

The Trade Agreements do displace some jobs.  It cost management a lot more to have their company in the United States than, in many cases, overseas.  But in the long run these trade agreements actually increase employment in the U,.S. and raise standards of living.

 

Do we set up tariff barriers between nations and keep various goods and foods more expensive or do we set up facilities to retrain workers.  The United States is an advanced industrial nation that requires skilled labor.  We can easily expand our educational facilities to teach the necessary skills, new or otherwise.  Jobs are available, in most cases, if the labor is mobile.  Economically these trade agreements are positive for the overall population of all the countries involved,.

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