Letter: In response to ‘socialism,’ Trump, economy

October 19, 2019

Judge Wieland, at outset, (Madera Tribune, Aug. 31) defined “Socialism” to suit what appeared to be an ensuing megalothymic (to be seen as superior) purpose. At first, he seemed to declare ‘we’re all socialists’ more or less, while implying that a lot of people don’t recognize it (megalothymia showing), and also that if we don’t admit it and don’t follow his ideas of a socialist path, we’re hypocrites, “stupid” by association and ‘followers of Satan.’ 

 

In the process, he invents a mountain of charges against past Republican presidents, and then somewhat later writes: “Politicians use the word ‘socialism’ to serve their own purposes. They do so without defining it. Ambiguity can be a beautiful thing. The word fits on a bumper sticker for ignorant and lazy voters.” It sure does, read on.

 

• • •

 

What really ensued from his keyboard proved just as political and just as true of him as what he accused people who think like me and my friends as being.

 

As to the judge’s first definition, I could find no parallel — not in the encyclopedias Wikipedia, Britannica, or the Webster’s Dictionary, or even the open Internet — to the one he started with. That was the first troubling part. 

 

In fact, “socialism” is defined loosely in all sources, full of caveats, interjections and covering a broad spectrum of applications. It’s not that Judge Wieland’s definition is wrong, it isn’t; it’s just that so much of his letter was based on non-factual assertions, steeped in narrowness and rigidity. Being called “stupid” and a follower of an “anti-Christ” did not sit well with me, and I suspect it didn’t sit well with a lot of other Maderans either. 

 

• • •

 

The recent book “The Intelligence Trap,” by David Robson comes to mind. Reviewers say it is about how highly intelligent people often jump to some pretty off-base conclusions. I’ve heard it put other ways, such as when the locally esteemed vineyardist-turned-vintner Angelo Papagni once told me: “Stick with what you know;” — by experience, I might add, and not just from “book learn’n” or popular news sources.

 

In keeping with The Intelligence Trap’s findings, Judge Wieland makes one excellent political observation, when, of politicians, he sarcastically admonishes his politicians’ mantra: “Take care of who got you there. Or, at the very least, keep telling them that is what you are doing and hope that they are ignorant enough to keep believing you.”

 

So true!

 

And, as one reads Judge Wieland’s big list of accusations that follow, that particular Wieland advice is really good advice to keep in mind — while ignoring, of course the judge’s likely unintentional hypocrisy.

 

• • •

 

As for me, I long ago coined a different saying, that being: “Certainty is the first mask of spin.” And I sure read a lot of certainty in Judge Wieland’s letter.  

 

But first, he sort-of veils his soon-to-emerge sharp criticism of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products, by — instead of making a clear declaration — offering up as hypothetical what is an actual situation. He wrote, about our president’s recent actions:

 

“Communism is socialism on steroids. Communism requires a totalitarian government that makes the important decisions without regard for the workers although it pretends otherwise. It’s somewhat like a president in a free market, capitalist democracy ordering companies not to do business with another huge trading partner country (let’s say China) in order to double down on a tariff war that had already cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars. (That’s a bad example because no president would be that stupid. No Congress would be so cowardly to let that president get away with it. And patriots would not stand by quietly on the sidelines doing nothing. Right?).” 

 

Well, I won’t make the mistake of expressing absolute certainty, but that sure sounds exactly like what Trump has been doing for some time, is exactly what Trump did in the week before Judge Wieland wrote his letter, and is what Wieland calls Trump “stupid” about. So why veil it as a hypothetical by enclosing it in parentheses and saying nobody would do it?

 

I don’t get it. I really don’t get it, which makes me very suspicious and prone to ask myself, what do they teach in law schools about circumspection and the covering of rears? 

 

• • •

 

Getting back to his socialist theme, Judge Wieland issues several paragraphs of praise of past Democrat presidents’ claimed “wins” in the areas of employment and wealth redistribution. Then Judge Wieland declares:

 

“Democrats who were required to clean up Republican messes excelled at creating new jobs.” 

 

Again, I totally agree with Judge Wieland — it’s true in a world view but not an American view. Where were those jobs created? In which countries? Does he think it was a net gain here in the U.S.?

 

Economists base much of their work on the “Theory of Substitution.” The theory of substitution really works. But it only works within the confines of the system to which it is applied. So, on a world scale, when it’s let loose in what is too often called “Free Trade,” jobs are substituted toward or away from whole countries. 

 

It also really works at putting foreign laborers living in communist systems to work, puts formerly highly paid skilled workers in other countries out of work, and lowers general wages in the First World countries like the U.S., while raising them in Third World and emerging countries like China.

 

Economists frequently fail to mention the confines or scale of the system being discussed and simply justify “free trade” by saying the wealth (or savings) generated by the substitution of cheaper goods for expensive ones energizes the U.S. economy. But that argument doesn’t fly when the trade balance is negative and growing more negative every year (the first derivative, for the mathematically inclined). So trade must be managed.

 

And that appears to be where Judge Wieland and Trump (and I) are 180 degrees apart.

 

• • •

 

Free Trade is not necessarily Fair Trade. Almost every federal politician who has walked on Washington, D.C., soil has said so, and then not acted as though they believed it.

 

People almost always oppose new ideas until those ideas gel in the public (see below). Some take longer than others. To be objective, Democrats like to say that about Republicans, but Democrat ideas tend to be have less complexity (as distinct from intricacy). The president’s idea of using tariffs to end American economic give-aways of it’s markets and its security is no longer as shocking as it once was. But Judge Wieland left out all of them; every single one of them: 

 

No mention by Judge Wieland of non-communist nations’ workers and industries put out of work, substituted by Chinese government-subsidized corporations for the sake of building military strength with U.S. dollars; no mention of low environmental compliance and high carbon footprints behind Chinese exports; no mention of Chinese non-negotiable insistence on patented technology sharing from companies doing business there.

 

No mention of Chinese human rights violations; no mention of outright and rampant Chinese intellectual property theft; no mention of Chinese manufactured currency manipulations; no mention of China’s cunning support of North Korea; no mention of construction and militarization of South China Sea islands; no mention of Hong Kong — one nation two systems incorporated in treaty; no mention of Tibet’s lost independence, and on and on.

 

Just listing the incursions sounds worse than a 21st century repeat of the 1930’s Germany — but no mention of that either, no parallel; Just a not-so-veiled criticism of a hypothetical/real Trump — and those of us who support his actions — in isolated context. I just don’t get it. 

 

Maybe this is a good place to interject a very important observation: It seems that people from both impoverished and advanced nations attempt to emigrate to the U.S. from their home nations. That’s a big problem, because we can’t fix the world by importing everybody, but we could fix the world by exporting democracy. But the central powers in centrally powered nations don’t like that idea.

 

• • •

 

Another interjection I’d like to make, specifically with no particular target in mind is this: To some, and certainly to the hate-inclined, President Trump seems simple, or is at least is said to be for show and tell. Others of us admire his complexity, including his willingness to jump down into gutter fights when they are started by gutter people — being those who lie and support lies to deceive voters in order to achieve political dominance, and there are a lot of them; and by people absurdly accusing Republicans and Trump as being fascist while burning books and rioting to prevent intelligent debate on campuses. Trump often presents new ideas with shocking clarity. But new ideas take time to gel. 

 

After the trade subject, Judge Wieland’s letter moves to the Great Depression [1929-1933] and prior and subsequent recessions, in an apparent attempt at comparative analysis. He starts with: “Three consecutive Republicans (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover) teamed up to give us the Great Depression.” Never mind little economic externalities like a couple of world wars and other extended ‘military actions’ started mostly under Democrat presidents. Hmmm. 

 

I might attempt a Wieland-ish twist, to the Judge’s defamation by association of us “stupid” Republicans, as found in his quick wash-overs of nine years of three presidencies and the other follow-ups on WWI mentioned above. 

 

Given Judge Wieland’s criticism of President Coolidge’s administration, and given Coolidge’s years long history of opposition to the then Congress’s immigration bill’s exclusion of Japanese immigrants, then, using Wieland logic, we could easily channel with similar illogical political fodder by asking a fully contrived, politically inspired and insulting question:

 

Does Judge Wieland carry animosity toward Japanese immigrants? I’ll quickly add, of course not. What I did there was to use a frequently used Democrat political tactic, but used in reverse. The proposition is as equally presumptuous and false as some of Judge Wieland’s cryptic leaps to conclusion and commensurate defamatory accusations of what drives Republicans. There’s even an un-doctored video floating around the Internet of Pelosi explaining how it works, with her concluding “it’s a tactic,” with a smirk.

 

Putting complex history in little incomplete boxes for the sake of selling a few also incomplete boxes of ideas, is not itself a good idea.

 

• • •

 

Another of Judge Wieland’s particularly egregious assaults on Republicans included the often-repeated blame of the 2008 financial crises and subsequent recession on Republican President Bush 43. He even called it the Bush Recession.

 

Make no mistake, the 2008 financial crisis was clearly the result of years of neo-liberal incursions into financial law — beginning in the 1970s and before; laws compelling banks to make sub-standard loans to people known as highly unlikely to maintain payments had very predictable negative consequences. 

 

I’ll never forget Sen. Barney Frank, Democrat chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, on television, berating bankers and admonishing banks to lend more to the disadvantaged — a noble cause but not the way to get the job done. Oh, how the news anchors and pundits cheered. 

AIG was and still is the insurer of choice for banks. Over time, banks and other lending institutions were increasingly bound by law to make increasingly lousy loans.

 

A landmark point leading to the financial wreck largely began with the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act and, subsequently, as reinforced with monies diverted from government retirement funds — all with the strong support of President Bill Clinton. That is actually what caused the 2008 wreck! 

 

EVERYBODY looked the other way in the preceding years, as AIG, which insured the insurers, accumulated absurd and ignored levels of layered risk. OF COURSE AIG was unable to fund all the insured banks and retirement funds. Then the housing market crashed due to politically pushed over-lending, and retirement funds and banks were suddenly about to go under.

 

Whether good or bad nobody seems to know, but the Bush 43 Federal Reserve saved it with “created” money — but also with great amounts of hindsight criticism.

 

For liberals, allowing the wreck to happen would have resulted in exposure of the years of insanity behind previous liberal actions. For Republicans, allowing the wreck to happen would have damaged the economy in the short term; and whether or not for the long term, nobody knows that either. 

 

So the entire mess of the 2008 financial wreck was caused by well intentioned, high IQ people who couldn’t see, or refused to see the inevitable. And it was all sold on the neo-liberal platform, and codified into laws over the years by liberal legislators while being opposed by conservatives. But that’s all too complicated for today’s hate groups.

 

For them, its: ‘It happened under Bush 43, so it was Bush 43’s fault,’ complex history be damned; reminds me of a child in a shopping basket reaching for candy. It also reminds me that earlier I pointed out that there’s a difference between “complexity” and “intricacy.”

 

Judge Wieland made not one mention of political distortions imposed on the lending industry by years of and layers of politically inspired lending laws. Kid in a shopping basket.

 

If Congress thinks the impoverished and down-trodden need subsidized home loans, they should be up front about it and just vote it in. Deceiving the public and making policemen out of bankers, with unfunded mandates, is bad policy and ends up hurting everybody, especially young, responsible, want-to-be homeowners.

 

• • •

 

You see similar unfunded socialist mandates in lots of places, like on your phone and electric bills, and property tax statement. On the whole, this form of socialism is wasteful and unfair. No wonder there are so many crooks; the examples government provides about being up-front and honest is lacking and is just plain crooked due to being so full of Democrat-sponsored deceit codified into law. 

 

Judge Wieland blames Trump for a few big corporations paying no taxes, but forgets that more often than not that either or both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives is dominated by Democrats and that tax law is perpetually amended by a well lobbied Congress. I have personally heard Democrats say — I’ll vote your way unless “they” drag me kicking and screaming,” the “they” being the leaders of the Democrat party. Works the same for Republicans too, I might add. 

 

And, for his complaints about big corporations not paying taxes because of Republicans — and I’m no fan of huge, monopolistic corporations that Democrats typically complain about but never do anything about — it is a reality that when corporations don’t pay corporate taxes on earnings, either the earnings are re-invested to be taxed later, or paid to shareholders and taxed at the higher rate for passive income. Yes, keep fooling them with simplistic fodder, Judge Wieland noted. 

 

• • •

 

Judge Wieland blames, and complains about Trumpsters for increasing poverty due to low wages, but forgets both Democrats and Republicans usually defend open-border desires with justifications such as: “in order to do work nobody else will do,” apparently having little or no comprehension of how supply and demand work (supply of workers goes down, wages go up, adjustments take time). 

 

Judge Wieland blames and complains about poverty but forgets the countless laws, AND JUDICIAL RENDERINGS that were built upon sound-bite vilification of employers that subsequently result in the wall of employment law and regulations that seems almost insurmountable. A small business cannot afford an HR department. Raising the bar may help those who end up being employed in HR, but there is no statistic on who didn’t get a job because of imposed regulatory resistance and what the demand for new employees would be if the process — and it is a cumbersome process — were simpler and held less risk. If that’s not believable, just look around. 

 

The economy by popular measures is doing well (which makes it all the more curious what it is Judge Wieland is complaining about), but empty store-fronts can be seen everywhere in Fresno and here, too. There are too many regulations, so there are too few small or new employers, and so we get consolidation — into giant corporations that everybody patronizes and nobody likes. By the way: The administration of Judge Wieland’s nemesis, Trump, is doing as well or better on anti-trust than the previous three presidents; noting Obama quickly fired his then recently appointed GIPSA administrator, J. Dudley Butler for going after the big meat packers.

 

Judge Wieland says productivity increased but employees didn’t gain.

 

“Productivity” is a lousy measure for his ongoing defamation. When productivity goes up, the remaining employees gain. Productivity gains can actually result in fewer workers. “Productivity includes how fast a corporate rep or government employee can get rid of your phone call, or pass the work of listening to your blather onto an Indian citizen or a computer.

 

I remember when live people answered the phone at the county court house.

 

Just who gained wages and who lost their jobs when the switchboard was closed and replaced with yet another infernal website and password, Judge Wieland? I don’t see that the county’s “increased efficiencies” ever trickled toward the taxpayer, and neither does Judge Wieland, but for different reasons. 

 

• • •

 

Judge Wieland seems to get ever more wound up as he continues, writing that “... if it’s appropriate to put farmers on welfare, then why is it not appropriate to help people who are actually poor? Why do self-proclaimed “good Christian” Republicans support the economic policies of the anti-Christ against the sick and the poor?

 

But, as he draws these two somewhat disparate and complex subjects into the same, accusatory sentence, he forgets that a large proportion of the homeless refuse care due to conditions related to drug use.

 

He also seems not to put into perspective that our and other First World nations’ farm programs were planned or patterned after four-term elected Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s disgusting plans for his own re-election — later to be spurned by many farmers. 

 

Finally, to complicate matters more, farm programs were, and still are, tailored to guarantee cheap and abundant food for the food security of our nation. That has been a mantra of government since the foundation of the U.S.: to insure cheap and abundant food for the poor and the masses many times over (not that I agree with the extent of it, and as a conservative rancher I have a long and provable history of opposition to farm subsidies, including not taking them). 

 

• • •

 

More recently, subsidies have been used to counter the gross trade distortions caused by our World Trade Organization “friends.” But those “friends” abandoned their WTO signatory trade commitments on day one of the 1994 agreement. That agreement kicked in under the then-new administration of Democrat Bill Clinton. 

 

The Japanese, Canadians and Europeans, have all at various times, thumbed their noses at the 1994 trade agreement. And during the 24 years of presidents, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama, we saw next to nothing done about it.

 

Those three presidents had the same powers Trump has, but didn’t exercise them, preferring instead to acquiesce to the international ag oligopsonies. Trump is trying to do something toward fixing those 26-year-old and outdated trade agreements and is thanked for the effort by that inference that he’s acting like a communist or fascist dictator. That’s really low.

 

Perhaps Judge Wieland, who writes with amazing in-eloquence in his prejudicial paragraph on trade policy, is unfamiliar with the term, “Quota Rent.” 

 

• • •

 

Very often trade deals have “snap-back” provisions along with direct tariffs. That means that after some pre-set, arbitrarily set quantity of product from an exporting country reaches that point, then additional tariffs kick in. hose are called Tariff Rate Quotas, or TRQs, and they are very effective at maintaining big differentials of commodity prices between two countries — almost as effective as the plain vanilla quotas they replaced.

 

For instance, for the last 25 years and until Trump stepped in, the differences between beef that sold in the U.S. for $10.00 per pound sold in Japan for about $100.00 per pound. The difference, after freight charges, is called Quota Rent. Guess who gets that 1,000 percent markup?

 

Often it’s not the big meat packers. Often there are “trading companies involved, one on each side of the Pacific or Atlantic. Guess who owns the trading companies. Special people; well connected people. Guess who vociferously supports existing trade agreements over more open trade. Yes, Judge Wieland, you wrote that too: “It’s all about money.”

 

President Trump has long said they were lousy deals — but not for the owners of TRQ commodity trading companies. They thrive on TRQs. Who are they? Well, they are often not public companies, so its really hard to find that out.

 

Here, I’m reminded of Judge Wieland’s prescient one-liner: “... keep telling them that that is what you are doing and hope that they are ignorant enough to keep believing you.” 

 

But, of course, one should know what one is doing before trying it, else one might soon notice the taste of shoe leather. vDon’t we all need to ask ourselves: “Does free trade enable our future enemies and potential enslavers? — those socialist nations gone communist?”

 

China is no democracy, is militarily expansionist, steals things, pollutes and abuses its citizens. Don’t those problems trump (unavoidable pun noticed) the importance of slightly cheaper solar panels and flat screens?

 

I’d invite Judge Wieland for lunch at the Raymond General Store for some lively banter, and where he might meet some real people who aren’t fighting each other or in trouble, in a real-world setting. But for a high IQ megalothyme, it might be too big of a step down to lunch with a “stupid,” “traitorist,” “anti-Christ believer.” 

 

I have read a lot of effusions from trained attorneys, some I paid for and many as products of government agencies. I know from experience that attorneys just can’t help themselves, they have a learned compulsion to scribe what is simple into circuitous form so as to be guaranteed a future either opposing or supporting re-interpretations in the courts. But I diverge from the critique at hand — and will remain so.

 

— H. Clay Daulton,

 

(Not a genius; just a post hole digger; cowboy; plumber; lay veterinarian; machinery operator; slave to the regulatory state [mostly]; and former trade committee chairman and lead trade negotiator to the GATT, National Cattlemen’s Association, 1991-1994),

 

Raymond

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