Category Archives: Free Trade

“Trade Wars are Easy to Win”…Iowa farmers….

… are desperately hoping Donald Trump is right!

I always come back from my wife’s Iowa reunions with new insights. Her cousin who farms a lot of her farm inheritance is free with his views and has a perspective worth listening too even though my politics are not his.

I’ve read much about how farmers, whose products help feed China, are in the process of turning against Trump. This may be true but some have a legitimate reason to fear his defeat. More on that in a moment.

Corn and soybean growers are particularly vulnerable and so too pork producers who raise a commodity much prized on Chinese tables. Other nations can clear land to compete with us particularly countries in South America. Up to a point many American Farmers have bought Trump’s argument that they have a duty to put some restraints on a rogue Chinese economy. And my wife’s cousin appreciates Trump’s actions to compensate farmers for some of their trade war losses.

He is skeptical that other nations can step in soon to fill the void left by China’s refusal to buy our farm goods. We have the infrastructure and mechanics in place as well as the food. And American pork producers may be saved by some really bad news for Chinese pork producers. A swine flu is wreaking havoc on Chinese pig farms necessitating the slaughter of diseased populations to prevent further outbreaks.

Official government sources report that this has affected about 12 percent of the swine. But a lot of American experts are tromping around China and something of a consensus is emerging from them that slaughtered swine may be nearing four times that figure perhaps forty percent of Chinese pork production has evaporated.

This is not Mao’s China. It is a China nipping at the heels of the United States with prosperous people who have come to expect food on the table not shortages. It will he hard for Premier Xi to deny them pork. That would be a boon to American pork producers and the American corn and soybean growers who are fattening up American pork for the Chinese market.

I am in no position to second guess my canny and business savvy friend about any of this analysis.

But there is one item that sticks in some corn grower’s craws. Trump has gutted the ethanol industry. Almost 40 major ethanol plants that turn corn into fuel for cars have been closed at the behest of the Oil Industry. This is despite Trump’s campaign promises to protect ethanol.

These farmers are on a knife’s edge and Trump’s China policies will make or break them. So, they are sticking with Trump because having started a trade war with China many feel that only a reelected Trump will keep up the pressure and force China to back down. They are worried that a Democratic president will cave in to China and cede the upper hand to China forever. This would render their current sacrifice meaningless as well as painful.

So that, along with a lot of calories from roast pork and pot luck desserts was one of my takeaways from Iowa.

Dear Denmark,

Dear Denmark,

Please reconsider your hasty refusal to sell Greenland to the United States. Remember, our President is a genius, a very smart businessman and leader of the free world. But expect him to dicker with you (and no that is not a sexual reference. Dicker means to bargain.)

You should make a counter offer. Offer to trade Greenland for the Blue States. It’s probably about the same land mass and the Blue States are not covered with ice. Sure, when Trump melts Greenland you will lose Maralago along with a third of your purchase but this North American land has lots of productive people who are a lot like the Danes. Not so many guns. They are from blue states after all. Most of them would really prefer your Prime Minister to our President.

When you’ve sealed the deal consider trading Faroe island with Lesser Britain for Scotland. I hear that Boris Johnson is a Trump clone. He’ll be eager to off-load the Scots now that Brexit is breathing down his neck. I think they would like you better too.

Have no doubt. A lot of us would take the deal in a heartbeat. And Minnesota (a blue state if ever there was one) has bragging rights for being discovered by your Viking ancestors. We even named our football team after them.

Sincerely,

Harry Welty
Duluth, Minnesota, USA (for now but it could be…….)
Duluth, Minnesota, DENMARK (Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?)

And here’s a shameless plug to all you Danes who speak better English than we Americans.
I’m selling a book…

Abood today

I got a question from WDIO today on the case which guts public employee unions. I returned one email reaction. Then I returned a second email with additional comments.

Email from WDIO:

Hey, Harry!

Just checking if you want to weigh in with your thoughts on the Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME ruling. I’m trying to get all the CD08 candidates in our story on the Web.

Let me know if you can pass along a statement.

Thanks,

MY FIRST RESPONSE:

This decision threatens to eviscerate public employee unions by treating even legitimate negotiation expenses as speech. It violates fair play and past compromises and demonstrates that the Republican Party has succeeded in making the Supreme Court a partisan branch of the federal government. 

MY SECOND RESPONSE:

BTW my father was the president of the Mankato State college faculty union and taught contract negotiation in their business school. I wrote about it once in the Reader. It has a pretty accurate prediction in it.

http://snowbizz.com/Diogenes/NotEudora06/CollectiveBargain.htm

AND ONE MORE THING I FORGOT TO TELL WDIO:

My Dad was a life long Republican.

At Hibbing last night

My computer just died so I am composing this on my cell phone. I hate doing this.

I attended a fascinating debate in Hibbing last night at which all the congressional candidates sans one appeared. Trump’s toadie.

From what people told me afterward I made an impression…a good one.

Two people caught my attention. One was a former union man who spent 3 years taking his corrupt union to court in a court system weighted heavily Democrat and pro union. We both patted each other on the back for our valiant if fruitless battles.

The other was a Hibbing teacher who had taken my father’s contract law class and who told me my Dad was beloved in the business school. If it wasn’t for my dead computer I would write more. HOWEVER. Check out my next post. It’s about Abood…….

The PBS Vietnam Series gets me thinking

I watched all the Stanley Karnow episodes in the 1990’s about Vietnam but I think Kevin Burns will bring a little more nuance at a time when it can be digested by the folks who weren’t born and didn’t live through the war. I agree with Burns that our actions during this war divided America. However, I also believe that the entire Civil Rights Era was an equal partner in this division having predated it by 200 years.

My eight loyal readers know that I put a disproportionate blame on the GOP for all our woes. That war became a sort of substitute for Civil Rights because it simply became impossible to be an avowed racist after Martin Luther King. But being a patriot – that was different. Many folks could use “America First” or “Better Red than Dead” or the “Domino Theory” in place of race baiting to hang their political hats on. Ditto the Pro-life movement. For years northerners thumbed their noses at “racist” southerners, never mind their own urban red lining and segregation, and “saving babies” gave southern Baptist types the same sense of moral superiority to throw back at northern baby killing sophisticates.

Over time the GOP, which had beat the Democrats up over catering to special interests – blacks, latinos, women’s libbers and unions, became their own assortment of special interests, patriots, pro-lifers, pro-NRA, and “small government” (code for don’t make us integrate.)

In time the GOP got so virulent about removing RINO’s like me that they perfected “primarying” by which they defeated “liberal” Republican office holders and purged a formerly pro-civil rights party of moderates. Of course, the Democrats did something similar if less rigorously.

As much as I bemoan the “demagogue” Trump I can see his allure to folks who feel neglected and I can even see that the promise of turning politics on its head might just improve our politics. His base has not yet rebelled when he’s worked out deals with Democrats. In an odd way his manner and his supporter’s devotion are acting as a rebuke to Republican stuffed shirts……the same folks who went along with the purge of liberal Republicans like me because it kept working to keep the Congress in their hands.

All those moderate Republican Presidential candidates Trump whipped for the nomination……they were the same folks who stood by as the Republican Party got more white, more angry and more self righteous. They were also the great exponents of free trade which blue collar converts to Republicanism are so fed up with.

But back to Burns and Vietnam.

I hope his ten part series can put some of the ghosts of that era to rest. My story during that Era can be summed up this way:

My family raised me to revere my Grandfather who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was both for staying out of foreign wars, which he blamed on Democrats, and for supporting our troops no matter how stupid the war was once we were stuck in one.

As a college student in the 1970’s I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions that this dual policy required. I was embarrassed for not being a part of the war as I objected to it. But the WW II generation fixed it so that future wars, like Vietnam, would be fought by poor kids while college students were exempted. Even then I saw that as grossly unfair while I was going to college with a draft number of 41, low enough to insure I’d go into the service if I quit college.

And what a hideous war it was making America complicit in evil doings that turned the stomach and the mind. Thus it always is with war. As Robert E. Lee said: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”

If America can survive Donald Trump without succumbing to his call of “America First” maybe he will succeed in answering the hopes of his most ardent supporters to break out of the gridlock that has made our politics so lamentable in recent years. He may do it by killing the “Party of Lincoln.” That is, if the Republicans themselves haven’t already accomplished it.

China’s US Treasuries put in perspective

Every week or so I have to confess to borrowing heavily from Andrew Sullivan’s posts and links. This post on the myth that China is America’s Banker is yet another case of that:

China is America’s banker. America cannot anger its banker. In fact, China is more like a depositor. It deposits money in U.S. Treasurys because its economy does not allow investors to put money elsewhere. There is nothing else it can do with its surpluses unless it changes its financial system radically … It makes a pittance on its deposits. If the United States starts to bring down its debts and deficits, China will have even fewer options. China is desperate for U.S. investment, U.S. Treasurys, and the U.S. market. The balance of leverage leans toward the United States

My Great Grandfather was legal

But he wasn’t a very good farmer.

I’ve been doing a little digging into family history on the eve of a family reunion. Here’s my Great-Grandfather Thomas Robb’s second home.

His first home was a “bank house” dug into a Kansas hillside.

Here’s a Forbe’s story on all the illegals America (and native America) dealt with before Abe Lincoln got things sorted out with the Homestead Act of 1962. It was OK though. These illegals were all white people.

Walmart’s Free enterprise/lunch

I recently heard the author of the book Free Lunch give a speech in which he said that the Sam Walton descendents had earned a large portion of their fortune, if not most of it, from taxpayers rather than consumers. He claimed they did it by extorting huge tax advantages out of the communities that they wanted to build a Walmart store in.

I wouldn’t have commented on it except that I just opened this page unrelated to the book’s author. It is an animation of Walmart openings since the store was started in Arkansas by Sam. I imagined every town giving millions to the Walton family to get their own Walmart and beat out the other poor schmuck communities nearby which were too cheep to pay the extortion.