SCAMMED AGAIN?

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

Dear Readers,

I want your hearts to bleed for the American working class. The forgotten Americans who have been betrayed by their fellow Americans whose job titles range from CEO to COO, to CFO, to VP of Foreign Relations, to Factory Managers, to liaisons and supervisors of all stripes and functions.

Those are the people responsible for the mass shipment of American manufacturing jobs to China, Mexico, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Indonesia, but mainly to CHINA and MEXICO.

Add to those people, I’m afraid, one named Donald J. Trump.

The betrayal of the forgotten American working class continues, and it is now being perpetrated by no less than the president-elect of our great country, the United States.

The workers at Carrier Airconditioning (a subsidiary of United Technologies), U.S. Steel and Boeing are the first victims, and Donald J. Trump has not even been inaugurated. U.S. taxpayers are also victims because of financial incentives given to United Technologies for having 770 Carrier workers slated to remain in Indiana.

Read Joy-Ann Reid’s essay below and worry over the prospects of the American working class. If things continue the way they are going, and there’s a great risk that they will because of the record of the SCAMMER-in-Chief, Donald Trump – our next president – many of us will soon weep for the American working class, some of whom may be our children, our grandchildren and their friends, kids who grew up with our children and who learned to play video games with them.

I worry that our children’s generation will not be as affluent as ours, that the American Dream will continue to be elusive to them, because the high-paying jobs that we all were accustomed to are mainly gone, converted to coolie-wage jobs in China and to a lesser degree in Mexico. I worry that those Americans in their 40s, 50s and 60s who were laid off during the mass manufacturing exodus from America will never get jobs that approach the level of financial security that those lost jobs had assured them.

Here, below, is Joy-Ann Reid’s essay.

WAKE UP


Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over
The Carrier deal was a sham. Ivanka’s moving her shoe production out of China—and into Ethiopia. Wake up, people. You’ve been played.

JOY-ANN REID

12.09.16 1:05 AM ET
Dear Working-Class White Trump Voter,

You’re probably going to read this as sour grapes, and I certainly am sour about a family of kleptocrats moving into the White House because 80,000 of your votes in states that get more federal tax dollars than they put in trump 2.7 million of ours, even though we carry you financially, and California and New York could function just fine as our own countries, without you.

But the reality is, I do live in a blue state. My governor and mayor are Democrats. Undocumented immigrants are safe where I live. Two of my kids attend a private college, so they wouldn’t have gotten free tuition anyway, and the third goes to a really good public school, where they teach science. I have a job (actually, multiple jobs) that can’t be outsourced to Mexico. And I’ll probably get a tax cut. So I’ll be fine over the next four years, as long as I don’t encounter an angry cop who’s had a bad day. But allow me to be blunt, since I don’t have any desire to pander to you, and it wouldn’t work to pander to you anyway.

You voted for Donald Trump, thinking that he was on your side; that he will save your jobs and your way of life, whatever you imagine that is. Well, you got played.

Over the course of his decades in business, Donald Trump has never given a damn about people like you. When he tore down the old Bonwit Teller building—where my Jamaican godmother was one of the few black women allowed to work as a cashier in the 1960s (her big claim to fame was meeting Troy Donahue)—to build Trump Tower, Trump used undocumented white laborers, mostly Polish, to do it. When his company forced them to work in deplorable, dangerous conditions and even failed to pay them the meager wages they were promised and they complained, Trump threatened to have them deported.

Trump built Trump Tower using mob concrete, not Bethlehem steel. In fact, he has rarely used American steel in the few buildings he’s actually built; opting for Chinese steel instead. That includes two of his last three projects: the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Then again, Nevada and Illinois voted with us in the anti-Trump majority, so the joke wasn’t exactly on them.

I wish to God the Clinton campaign had spent every waking month telling you guys about this stuff, instead of allowing the moving and cinematic “Man of Steel” TV ad by a pro-Trump super PAC probably funded by the same billionaires to whom he’s about to give massive top-rate and corporate tax cuts, to stand. But they didn’t. And here we are.

Now, your supposed hero of the working class, the “blue collar billionaire” who you insisted both during the campaign and afterward heard you, understood you, spoke to you, and cared about you, is attacking one of you. Trump used his Twitter account this week to savage United Steelworkers 1999 of Indiana and its president, Chuck Jones, an ordinary working man who dared to tell the truth about the phony Carrier deal that the media shamefully allowed Trump to ride to glowing headlines and boosted poll numbers.

To review, Trump used his Twitter feed to credit himself for saving 1,100 jobs at Indiana furnace and air conditioning manufacturer Carrier. In fact, it was still-governor Mike Pence, Trump’s soon-to-be vice president, who cut the deal to hand over $7 million in state tax abatements to Carrier in exchange for delaying the movement of 770 jobs to the company’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. That move, over the next three years, and the shutdown of the Indianapolis plant, is still planned. Another 300 white collar jobs Trump claimed credit for, meaning researchers and administrators, not steel workers, were not being moved to Mexico in the first place. And an additional 600 jobs at that plant, plus 700 at a plant in nearby Huntington, Indiana, plus 350 more at a ball bearings factory owned by Rexnord Corp., are still being shipped south of the border.

Meanwhile, despite the willingness of the incoming Trump-Pence administration to bribe a company with your tax dollars, there’s no guarantee that the small number of jobs saved are more than temporary. For all you know, Carrier only agreed to delay moving those 770 jobs until Christmas, to get the good press. And unlike President Obama’s deal to save literally millions of auto industry jobs in 2009, there’s no agreement for Carrier to pay taxpayers back with interest.

When Jones pointed out that Trump used Carrier employees as props and “lied his ass off” about the jobs he was supposedly saving, Trump got mad. He tweeted at Jones, blaming him, and US1999, for driving jobs out of Indiana and out of the United States. Think about that for a moment—your next president doesn’t think corporate greed and the pursuit of low wages are driving jobs out; he thinks unions are. That means he thinks your health care benefits and retirement package are the problem, not your CEO and the singular goal of “enhancing shareholder value” at your expense. Sounds like a proper plutocrat to me. Well, Trump went after Mr. Jones, and now Mr. Jones is getting death threats.

You see, Trump is “for” you, as long as you’re quiet and obedient. The moment you step out of line and stop praising him, it’s on. He’ll treat you no differently from how he treated the Gold Star family, the Khans, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for criticizing him during the campaign. You didn’t care much about them, since they belonged to groups you were voting to sideline—the Muslims and the Hispanics you think are taking over “your” country. But you might want to give a damn about Mr. Jones. Because what Trump is doing to him is a sign of things to come for you.

Meanwhile, Trump torched the stock of another American manufacturing company, Boeing, in retaliation for its CEO criticizing him; first inflating the size of their new contract to upgrade the Air Force One fleet, and then threatening to cancel the deal altogether, which would cost American jobs and help Boeing’s only competitor: Airbus, of France.

Trump is a big businessman. He’s your boss or CEO, not one of your brothers on the line.

He is on record saying that in his view, wages in the U.S. are too high. Trump’s pick for labor secretary, fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, is against raising the federal minimum wage, too.

Trump the CEO manufactures his tacky suits and ties in Mexico and his daughter manufactures her clothes and shoes in China. But neither of them plan to set the example for their fellow tycoons by moving those jobs to the U.S.A. Ivanka is moving some of her production to Ethiopia. And she just struck a new production deal in Japan, while on the phone with her dad and the Japanese prime minister. The Trumps have spent exactly zero percent of their lives caring about anyone other than themselves. Don’t expect that to change now, especially since they can now enrich themselves on international bribes, courtesy of daddy’s new job.

Trump’s threat (again via Twitter) of a 35 percent tax on companies who ship jobs overseas is complete bull. It’s never going to happen, and he knows it. It’s Congress, not the president, that moves legislation. And this Congress, which you voted for, is controlled by Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who don’t want to take the country back to the 1950s, where you want to go, but rather to the 1920s. You might want to Google “Calvin Coolidge” or order the collected works of Aldous Huxley for Christmas if you need a primer.

Many of you voted based on the fiction that Hillary Clinton was going to take your guns—the way Barack Obama sent fleets of black helicopters to take them, right? Just pause for a moment to think about how ridiculous that sounds; sending who, the military, door to door to collect your silly firearms? Wake up, people. That idea is as foolish as the notion that before Nov. 9 you weren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas.”

So Merry Christmas, Trump voters. Your guns are safe. They always were. Instead, while Trump is entertaining you by hiring white generals named “Mad Dog” to make you feel powerful again, the Republicans in Congress fully intend to take away every program that saved your parents and grandparents from the Great Depression.

Sure, they’re coming for “Obamacare” first. And you’re happy about that because you think that’s just free insurance for black “Obama phone” users and so-called illegals. But it’s not. It’s the access to insurance covering 20 million people, including millions of people like you; including 400,000 of you in very-not-black Kentucky. It’s covering disabled kids and people with pre-existing conditions, many whom are too sick to get insurance without it. And Ryan and his friends want to cancel it, and then take three years to replace it, probably with Ryan’s favorite thing: vouchers.

But that’s not all. Ryan is also coming for Medicare. He wants to privatize that, too, and not for your mom and dad—they vote in midterms. He’s going to privatize it for you. So when you retire, working stiff in your forties or fifties, you’re going to get a handful of vouchers, instead of Medicare. And he’s also coming for Medicaid, to turn it into a block grant. That’s not a problem for me, since my blue state will keep caring for our poor. Your state—with its Republican governor and legislature? Not so much. Your emergency rooms are going to fill up with the sick, and your bankruptcy courts will fill up with their cases when they can’t pay the bills. And your rural hospitals are going to close.

You’ve turned your country over (to) the top tenth of 1 percent. Talk about “establishment.” Their interest is not in helping you. It’s in further enriching themselves, by privatizing every public program—Social Security can’t be far behind—dropping the corporate and top income tax brackets as close to zero as possible, and making you pay, for everything from privatized roads owned by multinational corporations to elementary school. They’re into taking land, including our public lands and parks, or using another Trump favorite—public domain—to drill and frack, endangering your water just as surely as they poisoned Flint’s. And when they can’t steal any more from the Native Americans—who have shown they still have some fight left—they’ll come for your farms.

In Michigan, Republicans have already gotten started. They voted to further gut unions’ ability to bargain for decent health care and retirement through the use of strikes, and congressional Republicans have already voted to strip the “buy American” clause out of a bill to repair the nation’s water infrastructure.

As for black Trump supporters, don’t be fooled. Remember when Trump said he didn’t want black people counting his money, only Jewish people? Well look at his appointments. He didn’t even respect neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson enough to insist that he take over Health and Human Services. Instead, he’s tossing the black guy in the “urban” chair.

So good luck, Trump voters. I hope at some point you realize what’s happening and fight back. Your choices, unfortunately, do affect us all, and they will until we wake up and junk the Electoral College, which puts rural states’ zeal for Christian rule ahead of blue states’ desire for good government.

Until then, all I can do is try to warn you, and then wish you good luck.

(You may email Cesar Fernando Lumba at lumbacesar@gmail.com.)

The Electoral College Did This

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

We have a president-elect.  And he shares our vision of manufacturing jobs returning to America.  But wait, he has his own strategy.  Unlike our strategy, his is to bully China, Mexico and other countries into complete surrender.

Mr. Trump is a danger.  We don’t want to expand the trade war with China.  (Yes, we are already in a trade war with China.)  We want to keep it at minimum and controllable.  No earth-shaking flare-ups, Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump wants to tariff goods coming from China and Mexico, and presumably from other countries a flat rate of 35 percent, or 45 percent, depending on which Trump statement is du jour.  That would be suicidal, because those countries would most certainly retaliate and our exports will be stuck at the piers, with nowhere to go.

Our approach, which is to serve notice to China and others that they must manufacture in the U.S. 51% of the products they sell in the U.S. market and giving them 5, 7 or 10 years to comply is the better approach.  It will also give us time to spread the 51% gospel to other countries and if other countries adopt the 51% solution, China, Mexico and others will not be able to retaliate against us, since they would have to retaliate against the whole industrialized world.

How did we end up with Mr. Trump as our president?  The magic of the Electoral College system.  His opponent, Hillary Clinton, leads Mr. Trump by more than one million votes nationwide and the final tally is projected at more than two million votes more for Hillary than for Donald.

Here’s an article that I sent to two major newspapers but was rejected.  Too controversial? The newspapers’ editors did not say.

 I  WANT  TO  LIVE  IN  A  DEMOCRATIC  COUNTRY

When I immigrated to the U.S. in 1967, I assumed that I was moving from one purely democratic country – the Philippines – to another that was as purely democratic.  The U.S., after all, was the author of the Philippine version of democracy – a democracy so pure that its press is arguably the most licentious in the world.

I had heard vaguely about the Electoral College system of electing the U.S. president and vice-president in schools I had attended in the Philippines, but the concept of the E.C. was so foreign to me I never really understood what it was.

When I finally gained my citizenship in 1974 and started voting in presidential elections, I learned that I was not really electing the president and vice-president.  The electors were the ones who elected our president.  I did not know then who the electors were.  I still don’t know who they are in Nevada, which is my home state.

Why do we have electors?  Isn’t the U.S. supposed to be a democratic country where the people vote for its president and the candidate who gets the most votes wins and becomes president?

Obviously not.  If that were the case, Al Gore would have become president and Hillary Clinton would now be the president-elect.  She, after all, leads Trump by more than 1 million votes and is projected to win by more than 2 million votes when all is said and done.

Why do we have a system that ignores the will of the people and goes instead with an artificially created “majority,” that is, the majority in an Electoral College?  I have learned over the years – in the course, The Legal Environment of Business, at Seattle University where I got my MBA, and from pundits on TV and newspapers – that the Electoral College is intentionally unfair and racist because long ago the southern states insisted in bias in their favor to level the playing field in their contest with the northern states for supremacy.  The southern states wanted the assurance that they would get to keep their slaves by making sure that they could elect southern slave-owners as president of the Union.

Apologists for the Electoral College system understandably have explained away the existence of the monster as a way to make sure that states’ rights were not completely annihilated by the sheer power of the Federal government.  It was also a way, according to the same apologists, to assure that smaller states would have a chance to elect their own.

There was another very important consideration at the time, advanced by the proponents of the Electoral College system and that was the widely held belief that the American people were not adequately prepared by either education or experience to make the right selections of their president and vice-president.  And, most important, many of the Founding Fathers believed that democracy was synonymous to mob rule.

Whatever the origins of the Electoral College system might have been, it quickly became a convenient way for the smaller states in the South to assure themselves of leadership at the highest levels that would favor the retention of slavery.

The southern states did this by overstating their populations and thereby assuring themselves of artificially high numbers of congressional districts.  The number of congressional districts was the basis for assigning electors to each of the states.

Though slaves were considered property and therefore should not have been counted as part of the populations of the southern states, the idea that they would be counted won the day in the young republic’s deliberations. The way the southern states pulled this off was brilliant.  First, the southern states insisted that properties should be counted as population, which meant that slaves could be counted, along with cattle, horses, houses, etc.  The northern delegates thought the southerners were joking.

After much deliberation, James Wilson from Pennsylvania came up with a compromise that would prove acceptable to everyone.  The slaves would be counted as population, but at a reduced value.  A slave would be worth 3/5 of a free person.

To further boost the chances of electing southern slave-owning presidents, the southern state delegates insisted on adding the two electors to each state’s slate to account for its two senators.

Fast forward to the elections last November 8.  Nevada has 4 congressional districts but has 6 electors because it has two U.S. senators.

The addition of the two senators to Nevada’s congressional districts meant that the state’s electors increased by 1/3 or 33 percent.  For larger states, the addition of two senators to the number of congressional districts did not substantially increase the number of their electors.  New York, for example, increased its electors from 27 – the number of congressional districts – to 29 with the addition of the state’s U.S. senators. Percentage-wise, the effect of the two senators was only plus 7.4 percent (2/27).

Another way of looking at today’s Electoral College is by taking a sample of large states and comparing this sample to a sample of smaller states.  I combined populations of California, New York and New Jersey and came up with 65,570,545 (as of 2015).  Those three states have yielded a total of 98 electors.

Then I combined the populations of 20 smaller states (Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming) and came up with 40,247,406.  The 20 states have 97 electors.

The picture that emerges is stark and hugely disappointing.  The average elector in the California-New York-New Jersey tandem is supported by 669,087 residents.  The average elector in the 20 states is supported by 414,922.  Stated differently, it takes 1.6 persons in the California-New York-New Jersey tandem to equal the voting power of 1 person in the 20 smaller states.

What this ultimately means is that the voting power of an average person in California-New York-New Jersey is .62 of the voting power of an average person in the 20 smaller states.

Does .62 have a special meaning?  Well, yes.  It is about 3/5, the value of a slave in the founding days of our republic.  This is socially significant because of the relative racial compositions of the two groups of states.  California-New York-New Jersey has a lot of non-white minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Muslims and native Americans).  in contrast, most residents of the 20 smaller states are non-Hispanic whites, though states such as Alaska, Mississippi and South Carolina have significant non-white populations.

It is a well-kept secret that states with high non-white minority populations are being discriminated against by the Electoral College system. It is time for America to know this.

The Electoral College system may in fact be unconstitutional because it violates the principle of equal protection before the law.  Clearly, the residents of big states such as California and New York are not getting equal protection.

One may ask:  if it is in the Constitution, how can it be unconstitutional?  Well, for one thing some of the Founding Fathers might have been geniuses, but being a genius does not mean that one cannot make a mistake.  Just ask Thomas Edison when you pass on into the next world.  He famously made 999 mistakes before he found the one way to build an incandescent light bulb.

Clearly, the Electoral College system is an illustration of the Founding Fathers’ right hand not knowing what their left hand was doing.

To reform the Electoral College system, it will be necessary to make very complicated adjustments.  To force the fair distribution of electors across the country, the reformers will have to go through hoops and jump over loops.  The end product will be so complicated the new and improved Electoral College system would probably look like a Rube Goldberg contraption.  Rather than reform the Electoral College system, we should just scrap it.

The country cannot afford to continue using a racist and unfair Electoral College system.  It’s time to scrap it and replace it with direct voting.

I join my soul brothers in California and other western states in calling for the direct vote for president and vice-president.  Direct one-person, one-vote systems are the only truly democratic systems.

If we had the popular vote (democratic one-person, one-vote system) we would not have ended up with Mr. Trump as our president-elect.  And we would not be sitting on pins and needles, waiting for an out-of-control trade war to decimate the gains in manufacturing and exports that we have achieved in recent years despite the ill effects of an out-of-control globalization.

One might say, “but Trump did not really mean that he would unilaterally tariff imports from China, Mexico and other countries 35% or 45%.  Well, what else that he said in his campaign does he not mean?  And what has he not said in his campaign that he will end up doing?

(You may contact the author at lumbacesar@gmail.com.)

 

The Tide Has Turned, The Future Beckons

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

When I started this blog in 2012, I felt like the legendary lone wolf voice in the wilderness. There were many readers who did in fact agree with me and even thanked me for voicing my opinions, but they were a mere handful in comparison to the total population of this, the greatest country in the universe.

Today, Hillary Clinton is saying it, Donald Trump is saying it, Bernie Sanders has said it, even Green Party candidate Jill Stein has a TV commercial that says it.

Every responsible politician in America now swears that he or she is in favor of bringing manufacturing back to America.  Everyone still agrees with President Obama that the country must work to be competitive in the manufacture of high-tech and new industries being created as the world marches toward artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, the cities and products of tomorrow. No one disputes that America must lead in the manufacturing industries of the future.

But everyone is also now in agreement with the underlying premise of this blog:  that traditional manufacturing must be brought back to America.  From China.  From Mexico. From Bangladesh.  From third-world countries that have been the destination of factories that have fled America in recent decades.

Hillary Clinton’s approach is interesting. She will make sure that the rich people and corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes, insinuating that such people and corporations are not now paying their fair share, which generally means that they are not paying enough.  Which translates to higher taxes for the rich and the powerful corporations.

She will also impose an exit tax for corporations that leave America and transfer their factories to China, Mexico and other countries.

The tax money that is raised will finance job-creating projects like infrastructure repair and new factories that will employ millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans, especially those who saw their factories being closed in favor of cheap labor countries.

This approach is similar to what Bernie Sanders was advocating during his primary campaign for the presidency, signaling to the nation that Hillary has been Feeling the Bern.

Trump has no specifics in his promise to bring back manufacturing.  But he does claim that he will be the greatest job-creator ever and will bring back manufacturing from offshoring destinations China, Mexico and other countries. Because he has no specifics, we cannot take him seriously.

The Hillary Clinton plan does two things:  1) it does bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and 2) it tends to partially reverse the trend of more upward mobility for the rich and super-rich that started in the 1980s.  It reverses the wholesale transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1% of the American population.

The net result of the Hillary Clinton approach – if successfully passed in Congress – is that the American middle class will be rebuilt after years of neglect while our politicians coddled the rich and powerful.

How realistic are the chances of Hillary’s plan making it through Congress?  Right now, zero chance.  But, if Congress becomes Hillary-friendly, Hillary’s vision could become reality.  The U.S. Congress does not have to turn blue, meaning Democratic, for Hillary’s plan to succeed.  All that is required is for enough of the country’s lawmakers to be convinced that the Hillary solution is right for the country.

A tall order, considering how polarized the country is and that anything that comes out of a Hillary presidency is bound to be opposed by members of the opposite party.

Which brings us to the Trump campaign.  The Trump campaign is polarizing not only to the red-blue struggle in the country, it is polarizing within the Republican Party itself.  Out of the in-fighting and implosion in that political party can come – after the elections and assuming that Trump ultimately loses – a breakup of the Republican-Tea Party coalition, resulting in a smaller but tighter Republican Party that can actually work with a Democratic President.  A coalition of Democrats and enough Republicans who are willing to work with Hillary to put the country on a course correction can lead to legislation designed to bring manufacturing back from offshore and the creation of new high-tech industries that will manufacture the products of tomorrow.

Republicans and Democrats worked together in the past for the good of the country.  They can do so again if the Republican Party and the Tea Party obtain a divorce, albeit a rancorous one, and the remnant Republican Party sees the light and concentrates on helping the needy in the country instead of trying to torpedo a Hillary Clinton presidency.

What are the prospects of this happening?  Don’t bet your house on this.  But, as Obama says, there’s always the audacity of hope.  Let’s hope that Hillary Clinton becomes president and enough Republican members of Congress join with the Democrats for the good of the country and that the millions of American workers who saw their factories closed and manufacturing transferred abroad, mainly to China and Mexico, can look forward to working in the new, modernized factories that shall be built.

There is of course the alternative – one I’ve been advocating for years.  If Hillary can convince enough Republicans to work with Democrats, still assuming a Hillary victory in the Fall, they could adopt our proposal:  Congress and the President could forge a new doctrine that will guide all commerce and manufacturing in America not only today but down through the coming centuries.

The doctrine that says 51% of all manufactured products sold in the U.S. must be manufactured in the U.S.

Major manufacturers that make their products in foreign countries and sell those products in the U.S. will be given 5, 7 or 10 years to comply with that new doctrine, depending on the complexity of the production process. After such a system is installed in America, we will encourage other countries to adopt a variant of that system so that the wealth created by manufacturing will be shared by most industrialized countries in the world.

The net result will be the reawakening of Europe, Canada, Australia.  It will mean a more equitable distribution of wealth through manufacturing in Asia, especially Japan, South Korea and India.  It will mean the rise of many countries in Africa and South America as manufacturing centers in their regions of the world.

The Chinese, Mexican and Brazilian growth rates will slow down, but in their place will come a new world prosperity that will create wealth for most of the nearly 8 billion people in the world, including the Muslim world, which might succeed in reducing the number of Muslims who turn to radicalism because it beats being long-term unemployed and being disrespected because they are long-term unemployed.

The world will permanently bury the theory of comparative advantage, which the colonizers sold to their colonies to assure the perpetuation of colonial empires.

We do the manufacturing and mining, you plant the rice and bananas,” so said the colonial masters to their subjects.

And, “We do the manufacturing for the world, you take care of selling our cheap products to your people,” so say the Chinese to the rest of the world.

Both bold statements screamed into microphones at the altar of the principle of comparative advantage.

If the world ignores the theory of comparative advantage and adopts the policy of making sure that local populations have a hand in the manufacture of both traditional and futuristic products, every individual in the world will have a chance at a good life.

The dream of a truly United Nations shall be closer to reality.

(Cesar Fernando Lumba’s email is lumbacesar@gmail.com.  You may either post your comments in the comments section of this blog, or you may email me any of your concerns or questions.)

 

 

The Future is Now – Hooray for Norway

(This article was first titled Welcome to the 21st Century)

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

The young ‘uns are a lucky bunch. They can hear the drumbeat of Tomorrowland… but wait, tomorrow is in their grasp and they won’t let go. They see an America becoming more like Europe and less like, well, like their parents’ America.

Imagine free college, if not for themselves certainly for their younger siblings and their children. Universal health care. A Social Security system that provides real security. Might as well throw in another entitlement that Europe provides its citizens: a very liberal annual vacation program.

And jobs. “We’re going to get back the jobs that the greedy capitalists have offshored to China, Mexico and other countries.” Providing jobs to America’s youth will now trump cheap prices. “We’d rather have good jobs for our people than worship at the altar of cheap prices.” Wait. Did somebody just say that? Could it be that Corporate America is really going to bring our jobs back and abandon the religion of cheap prices?

Bernie says this is possible. But Bernie is not going to be president. It’s going to be Hillary. Hillary will have to embrace Bernie’s ideas if she’s to win in the Fall. So yes, Bernie will indirectly bring jobs back to America.

How is that possible? By renegotiating trade deals. One constant in the new trade deals: Corporate America does not have the permission of the American people to dismantle our factories piece by piece and ship the factories and the jobs to other countries. In fact, Corporate America is on notice to start bringing manufacturing back to America because the alternative is an all-out trade war with our trading partners. And a trade war is bad for business.  So Corporate America, in the end, complies.

The top 1% represents a tiny, infinitesimal sector of the American citizenry. In a democracy, the majority rules. And the overwhelming majority of Americans want the return of manufacturing to our shores. If you’re a businessman, ignore this American want and yearning at your own risk.

So our young people will get better jobs in the near future. Will there be enough jobs to go around?

Welcome to our brave new world. An experiment was recently conducted by some robotics scientists involving the use of tiny robots to do jobs that used to require the use of huge machines. Six tiny robots, each weighing a few ounces, working in tandem, were able to pull a car weighing 3,900 pounds!

Welcome to the age of robots. More and more, our factories will be run by robots. Robots will do most of the work in our factories, supervised by humans, but what’s to prevent future robots from supervising subordinates that are also robots?

Or robots supervising humans? Scary.

While America is bringing back some lost manufacturing jobs, the robots are also taking over our factories. Are our young people’s minor victories destined to be short-lived and ephemeral? The long view is yes, in some spots in the manufacturing sector it is.

But aha, welcome to the world of the UBI. Sociologists have advanced the concept of the Uniform Basic Income. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states provide their citizens with a minimum income from their oil earnings. Alaska provides its citizens with a share of the state’s income from oil.

Robotics will be treated by the U.S. same as oil. The income generated by the government through society’s use of robotics will finance the UBI, which will work like Social Security disability payments. The UBI will be determined by statistical analysis of what’s required to afford a decent standard of living for all those displaced by the use of robotics.

Those who want more income than the UBI provides would of course learn to build the robots. They could go into business, become entrepreneurs that will accelerate the process of taking America to science fiction territory. Flying cars, intelligent appliances, homes that produce their own energy, the Internet of Everything (squared).

Robots that teach students while the students are sleeping. Society will create many more geniuses. Geniuses will be required to figure out ways the human race can turn the Milky Way into our neighborhood.

“Cesar, Cesar…wake up. You’ve been dreaming.” Ah, Mildred, but it’s not a dream. It’s a vision of the future.Today’s robots will give birth to tomorrow’s robots with artificial intelligence. And those robots will take us farther than our limited imaginations can take us.

The signs are everywhere. Along with the philosophical and ideological paradigm shift (free college, universal health care, Norway in America), new scientific discoveries are changing our physical world.

The discovery of new materials used in the manufacture of solar panels has cut the cost of those panels by more than 90%. Anticipate the shift from oil to solar in the near future. Houses, glass panes, cars are on their way to becoming producers of energy through solar paint and solar windows. Saudi Arabia, which has the world’s biggest supply of sand, will shift from oil production to production of solar panels because the new panels use sand as one of its most important raw materials.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), exported by America to European states, will free Europe from the asphyxiating bear hug of the Russian Bear.

There will be more energy produced each year than the industrialized world needs so all the excess energy will accelerate Africa’s industrialization.  Africa and other parts of our world previously bypassed by the march of civilization will be awash with energy that will enable those countries to make quantum leaps in their development.

But for all that to happen and happen quickly in our children’s lifetime, there must be that philosophical and ideological paradigm shift. There must be that new beginning that Bernie Sanders talks about constantly, incessantly.  There must be a dramatic change in the nation’s priorities.  From creation of fantastic wealth for the 1% to distribution of new and existing wealth to the middle and lower classes.

Free college. Universal health care. Cradle-to-grave security. Reform of Wall Street. Throw in reform of the pharmaceutical companies. End Citizens United.

Make government work for the people and not the 1%.

Hillary must pursue the policies espoused by Bernie.  Better: make Bernie the VP running mate.  Assign Bernie the task of going around the country spreading the gospel of Norway. Make America like Norway.

What America does, other countries will do. So the whole world becomes like Norway.

Reform the greedy capitalists by turning them into benefactors of our youth. How? By taxing them high enough so America can finance free college, universal health care, etc. that the new generations – the x generation, the “me” generation, the millennial generation all want.

Make the top 1% pay for all these mind-blowing beneficial changes that society wants for its citizens. It’s about time they contributed to social revival, about time they pay back the country that allowed them to stink up the world with their ostentatious display of newly minted gold coins.  Palatial yachts. Corporate jets. The Donald Trumps bragging about their billions.

About time.

(The author may be reached at lumbacesar@gmail.com.)
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The Revolutions

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

Look closely. Observe the characters on stage. The current turmoil in our political landscape is not just the keystone cops in a Chinese fire drill on steroids.  Trump is shouting down the people he brands as the establishment. Cruz and Rubio are shouting back.  Bernie Sanders says he wants to sponsor and train people to become revolutionaries in a political revolution that America needs.  Trump and Sanders are forming armies of passionate warriors. Warriors for the cause of tearing down highly infected institutions. Beneath the hollering, cursing and stomping of feet, it’s really serious business.

But no, Trump.  And no, Bernie. The revolutions you are both talking about are not in the distant future. The revolutions are here. Now.

Will the revolutions succeed? Let us examine the Trumpian version. He wants to make a mockery of the First Amendment. He’s targeting Muslims because he knows that if there are people who will succeed in burning down America and blasting their way into our homes, schools and public places, it will be Muslims. This is not the America of our Founding Fathers, say Trump critics. Trump doesn’t care about our Founding Fathers. He only listens to the voice in his head and the echoes in his heart’s chambers. He wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country, round up 11 million illegals and ship them on cattle trains back to Mexico, just like the Nazis did to the Jews who had been tagged for concentration camps. He wants to bring back factories to America (everyone in America wants this to happen) by erecting un-scaleable tariffs. Right goal, Trumpy, but not the right solution.  Will go back to this.

Millions of Americans are applauding Trump’s every word. Millions more are forgiving his excesses and his words that drip with hatred.

People want to listen to those with conviction and who are telling the truth, even if the truth hurts for a lot of people.

On the other side, Bernie Sanders wants to stand the capitalist system on its head. Free college tuition in public universities and colleges. Medicare for all. A Robin Hood-style taxing of the rich and giving the money to the poor and the middle class. Asking the rich to finance the remaking of America.

Young people, parents of children suffocating under the weight of student loans. Older people who are concerned for the new generations of Americans whose standard of living is destined to be below that of their parents. For the first time, young Americans are no longer confident that they will do better than their parents. For the first time in our history this is happening.

Young people and their allies want two revolutions that will compete for prominence. They are not aware that the revolutions have begun.

Will the revolutions succeed?

It depends on one’s time line. The Bernie Sanders revolution will eventually be successful. His ideas are what people want in this country. Eventually we will have free tuition in public colleges and universities, Medicare for all and a strengthened Social Security system; a country that takes care of its citizens from cradle to grave. Just as a billionaire family takes care of all the children and close relatives, this country – worth trillions upon trillions – will take care of all its family members – U.S. citizens and nationals. It’s natural. It’s bound to happen. It will happen.

Eventually.

On the Trump side, will we ever build that wall? I don’t think so. Will we deport 11 million illegals? No, nyet. Will we ban Muslims from coming to America? We can’t and we won’t.

What about bringing jobs back to America? This will happen. It will be the cornerstone of the rebuilding of our factories, of giving good jobs to our young people. Good jobs for the 50-year-old Americans whose jobs have been shipped to China and who have been told, harshly in my opinion, by opinion makers like Tom Friedman that they have to go back to school, learn new tricks, so they can qualify for the new kinds of jobs that American industry is creating. Really? We’re asking fifty-year-old people to go back to school so they can find work again?

Not gonna happen. What will happen is the gradual, phased-in return of some manufacturing to America so that our young people and our fifty-year-olds who are being forced to retire early because no one will hire them, not even McDonalds, will get decent jobs again.

When we give the new generations good jobs, they will not have to boomerang back to their parents’ houses because rent is too expensive for them. A government led by Sanders would be able to come up with a plan to help our young people buy condos under very favorable, easy terms. There will be a boom in condos. In cheap and moderately-priced condos. There will be schools in the midst of the high-rise buildings that will mushroom all over the American landscape. Along with flying cars and intelligent home appliances, a society that encourages city living as opposed to suburban sprawl will sprout thousands of urban centers. Gone will be the McMansions of the billionaire class, because there will be a premium on lifting all boats as opposed to the triumph of a few actors who have cornered most of the wealth of America. Wealth will be spread out more fairly in an economy that is un-rigged.

Sounds like the future? Yes, this is our future. And the seeds of this new world are being planted today. Changes made by Sanders’ revolutionary army.  But not by Sanders.

Sanders is not our next president.  Unfortunately for many young ‘uns, no. Not by a long shot. For the youth of America, Sanders is the man of the hour. The man with the ideas whose time has come. But for most Americans, it’s way too early for his ideas. And he strikes a lot of grown-ups as a dangerous man.  Socialist?  Our president a socialist?

Not gonna happen.

America wants a transitional phase, a getting-used-to-the-idea-of-socialism transitional period.. Alongside the revolution that has already started but will fizzle temporarily after the November elections this year, there is a quiet evolution that must go on.

This evolution is being led by a woman who appears to be destined for the presidency. Hillary Clinton is always the adult in the room.  Everywhere she goes. She too wants what Sanders wants for America’s youth. She too wants jobs back from China as much as Trump wants those jobs. But her response is not to seize our institutions and stand them on their head, not to hold the billionaires by their ankles over a balcony and watch the gold coins drop out of the billionaire’s pockets in a monumental shakedown. She wants to do things gradually, evolutionarily. Will her approach work? Well, consider this: most changes occur through evolution. Rarely do we see major overnight changes in society like the French Revolution, or the American Revolution.

But evolution takes a long time.  Glacial speed.  So Hillary must blow the whistle in an accelerated cadence.  Double time.  Changes must come quickly, or the fire in the youth’s belly will be gone.

And if the speeded-up evolution is not enough, then Hillary must take out the feather duster and resuscitate the Sanders revolution that is happening now but will be shelved after Sanders’ defeat in November.

Free college tuition in state colleges and universities.  Medicare for all.  A living wage for all that work for a living.  The return of manufacturing.  Redistribution of income away from the billionaire and multimillionaire class to the middle classes.  The breakup of too-big-to-fail banks.

There will be cries to go slowly.  We evolve, plants evolve, animals evolve – the argument goes.

But are we going to evolve fast enough and are we going to evolve into a society according to Sanders’ and Trump’s visions?  If recent history is our guide, I don’t think so.

And there’s the Reagan evolution that is going on as we speak. We’re in the midst of an evolution that is transferring most of America’s wealth to the coffers of America’s billionaires. We are creating tens of thousands of millionaires each year and a few dozen billionaires to boot.

The only way to stop this process is not by a counter-evolution. It is by revolution.

Hillary will win this year’s election because there are more people in this country who want evolution and not a revolution. Realistically, however, there is no way to stop the massive transfer of wealth from the middle classes to the billionaire and multi-millionaire class, except by revolution.

Stop the damned process on its tracks. Force the gears to go into reverse!

Hillary.  Who is also a revolutionary in the sense that she wants the ultimate female empowerment on her watch, with her becoming the first woman president and the most qualified and the most obviously knowledgeable about the issues that everyday Americans face. She knows in her heart that only a revolution will do the trick. So that’s in the back of her mind.

Hillary campaigns this year as the Evolution president, but in 2020 – when she runs for re-election – she will be the Revolution president.

I look for her to start adopting the goals set by Sanders and by Trump. When she becomes president. Not IF. When.

Reagan said that with his entry into the presidential race in 1980, it was morning in America. The truth? Reagan’s policies were the opening salvo for the nightmarish transfer of wealth from the middle classes to the billionaire and multi-millionaire class. Now Marco Rubio is using the same line – Morning in America – to signify that he will give the billionaire class more tax breaks, accelerating the process of the continuing transfer of wealth.

But the true morning in America will happen when a woman becomes our president and the woman adopts the goals and policies of the man that she will have defeated because that man’s policies, vision and dreams make a lot of sense for today’s young generations and generations still to be born.  Not just make sense for them – it’s their only hope.

Hillary will probably win the presidency, but the true winner will be Sanders’ ideas and one Trump vision – the return of manufacturing to America.

Incidentally, that last part – the return of manufacturing – can best be accomplished through the adoption of my Proposed American Doctrine: 51% of all goods manufactured by major manufacturers that are intended for the American market must be made in America. Unscaleable tariffs, Trump’s plan, must be the last resort.

My email address is lumbacesar@gmail.com.

Red Wing Boots and the Disappearing White Working-Class Male

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

A fashion statement? Red Wing Boots are now a fashion statement?

To understand how this metamorphosis has come to pass, we are again shunted towards the sorry state of American manufacturing. Once upon a time in America, the lunch-pail crowd parked their recent-model cars and pickup trucks in company parking lots all over the industrial Midwest at the break of dawn and trudged on Red Wing boots to the muscular factories that dotted America’s rust belt like giant smokestacks humming with beehive noise to produce everything that America and even many foreign countries needed – from paper clips to International Harvester backhoes.

Now the prairies are reclaiming the abandoned factories and the white working-class males who used to punch their time cards in those factories are sitting at home, idled by the furious flight of factories to the Sirens’ shores of China.

People still wear Red Wing Boots, because they are of exceptional quality, but no longer mainly for use on factory floors. They have become fashion statements of choice of well-heeled technology-savvy workers. An average work boot that is really not used as a boot now costs $250 and up.

Americans love the Red Wing. And this love affair with the Red Wing promises to grow.

Back to the white working-class males who used to work in the factories but are now sitting at home, forced into early retirement: what’s so unusual about them? They are dying. Dying younger and younger. The white working-class male’s life expectancy is now comparable to that of blacks in the 1960s.

While black, Hispanic and minority life expectancies are rising, white working class male life expectancy is declining. The sociologists who discovered this phenomenon are alarmed.  Certainly because of the decline, but also because of the known reasons for the decline.

Since the 1990s, when the current trend first came on the scene as a mere hint or whisper, white working-class males have been dying younger and younger. Lately, the problem has become an epidemic. Researchers have found that the main cause of this epidemic is the loss of status of white-working class males. Ripped away from factory jobs that they thought they could retire from, jobs that were mainly shipped to China, many white working-class males could not find jobs that would allow them to maintain their middle class lifestyles. Often they were relegated to second-class status in their own houses, where their wives became, by necessity, the main breadwinners because women are generally better suited for many of the service jobs that were being created by the U.S. economy to replace the lost manufacturing jobs.

The Cadillac health insurance policies were gone – health insurance policies won through muscular union-management negotiations. The men could no longer count on the usual doctor visits and periodic checkups. Their health took a nosedive. Many turned to drugs and alcohol. Many became irritable and quick-tempered, leading to elevated blood pressures. And to diabetes and other chronic diseases. A significant number turned to the ultimate solution – they committed suicide.

The life expectancy decline among white working-class males has been so huge that the overall life expectancy of the white middle class – including both women and men – has been falling.

Thus goes the tale of the Red Wing boots becoming a fashion statement. Fewer people need them as work boots, so the company has tapped a new market: the tech savvy yuppies who wear the boots as a statement of their income and virility.

Meanwhile, our white middle-class neighbors are dying off, falling like flies sprayed with a made-in-China can of Raid.

If we don’t bring manufacturing back to the U.S. – at the very least 51% of all manufactured products that we consume – the browning of America will not happen in the 2050s. It will happen a lot sooner, as white working-class males continue to descend to desperate straits while the minorities take over as the new majority coalition.

No wonder there’s a Tea Party. Their methods are abhorrent in the extreme, intolerable on most days. They want to fight the government, which they accuse of doing it to them. They should actually be fighting Big Business, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Bigs, etc. Instead they are allied with the richest corporations and individuals who are pulling the marionette strings.

The white working-class males should be screaming for a return of their jobs while they are still alive and not while at their deathbeds, because that would mean that the ones who shall reap the benefit of manufacturing’s return shall be the minority males.

They should cut the marionette strings that the Big Bigs are using to dominate their thoughts and manage their actions.  It’s a matter of life and death.

(You may reach the author at lumbacesar@gmail.com. If you email the author he will provide you with a phone number you may wish to call.)

Feel the Bern

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

This journey that you, American consumers, and I have taken realistically cannot be completed without the help of our elected politicians. Without their help, we are merely shadow boxing.  We cannot hope to bring manufacturing back to America without the help and active participation of our politician class.

That is why the upcoming elections are extremely important to our cause. All elections are important, but 2016 is much more important than all the recent presidential elections we’ve held.

Here’s why: for the first time since 1964, and before that for the first time since 1932, the elections of 2016 are fast becoming a potential game changer that will determine the fate of our capitalist system that rewards the top 1% of our population with breathtaking levels of wealth gains while the bottom 99% struggle to make ends meet.

It is a sign of our times that one of the leading contenders for the presidency is an avowed socialist. Bernie Sanders, the 75-year-old Independent senator from Vermont, who is running for the nomination in the Democratic Party, is leading Hillary Clinton in the two earliest primary states – Iowa and New Hampshire – and is fast gaining on Mrs. Clinton in other states, such as Oregon and California.

This is an earth-shaking development. A socialist is close to becoming the standard-bearer for a major political party, the oldest political party that dates back to the Founders’ days.

Who would have thunk?

You can’t comprehend what is happening in this great country of ours, the bastion of democracy in our great world, unless you understand what Bernie Sanders, the Socialist, represents.

These are what Bernie is for: 1) Redistribution of income so that the bottom 99% of Americans get a bigger slice of the benefits of the fully-functioning American economy, which today rewards the top 1% of Americans and says “sorry” to everyone else.

2) Health care for all. Bernie, like many Americans, are wondering why America – the richest country in the history of man – does not have Medicare for all when all the advanced countries in the world have it. He suggests that it is because the power brokers in this country cater to the greedy rich, who resist any new initiatives that will result in those super-rich individuals and families paying more in taxes.

3. He favors increasing Social Security benefits and raising the minimum wage.

4. He champions huge investments in infrastructure repair and improvement.

5. He is for Federal legalization of marijuana, gay rights and preservation of women’s health programs.

6. He is at the forefront of the fight against global warming.

7. He is for a free college education for everyone who wants to go to college.

Many observers of Sanders’ career have pigeonholed him as an admirer of the Scandinavian countries’ cradle-to-grave security for their citizens. Bernie Sanders has frequently pointed out that the Scandinavian countries have some of the highest per-capita income in the world in economic systems that are sometimes described as socialistic. But the reality is that Scandinavian countries are big on capitalism, which means that in the truest sense of the word, the economies of the Scandinavian countries are not “socialistic.”  They are instead welfare states with a passionate embrace of the capitalist economic system.

Lately, Sanders has taken to describing himself as a progressive, and not a true socialist, because he does not favor government ownership of businesses.

Surprisingly, Sanders has not advocated the return of manufacturing to America. That line of attack on the status quo is for Mr. Trump to champion.

From our vantage point here in us-consumer.com – The American Consumer – Sanders’ plan for America is incomplete because he does not champion the return of manufacturing to America. But to an increasing number of Americans, he is the real deal. Sanders is now being mobbed everywhere he goes – like a rock star.

The phenomenon of Sanders and Trump being mobbed on both sides of the political spectrum must be an indication that America has changed. We do not feel secure in the feeling that our government is taking care of us. We feel, instead, that the government takes care of the billionaire class and has neglected to take care of our families’ needs. We are questioning why of all the rich countries in the world we are the only ones who do not have guaranteed health care for all citizens. Perhaps because we Americans are aging – more and more baby boomers are retiring and living longer than ever before – health care has become one of the most important issues of the day, if not the most important.

Our young people want a clean world, a future that is not wrecked by monstrous storms and the melting of polar ice caps. To the young people of America, global warming is a very serious issue. Another reason for the young people’s embrace of Bernie Sanders: his proposal for free college education at public universities.

There is much to like about Bernie Sanders’ political agenda and people are ignoring the fact that the man is an announced socialist, as if to say, “If Sanders’ philosophy is socialistic, then we are all socialists, because we like all these things that Sanders is talking about.”

Progressive, my friends. Sanders is calling his program progressive, not socialist. He is a socialist, but his platform is progressive.

The reality is that America has become progressive. And America has become very impatient with the traditional politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties. That is why we are witness to the spectacle of the leaders of both parties being outmaneuvered by insurgent campaigns. Trump, Dr. Carson and Fiorina account for more than half of the Republican voters’ preferences, while Sanders is beating Hillary in the first two primary states.

We voters have no truck for the traditional politicians in this country. All they do is raise money so they can win in the next election. They don’t legislate. They just put a monkey wrench in the opposite party’s governing plans. The result is stalemate. The result is government shutdowns. The result is more than 300 million Americans waiting for something good to happen in America. And it’s like waiting for Godot, the man who will never come because he is either dead or has no intention of honoring a commitment to come.

We Americans are tired of it all. Next year, 2016, we will go to the polls and show to the world that we – not the 1% billionaire class, not the politicians, not the businessmen and women who have shipped jobs to China because they are unwilling to pay American workers a living wage, not the foreigners who routinely goad America to go to war on their behalf – we the frustrated Americans, the inheritors of the grand union forged centuries ago by Jefferson, Madison, Adams and other Founding Fathers, are the true bosses in this country.

We are disgusted by, we are impatient with, we are resentful of the greedy politicians and billionaire class who refuse to either legislate much-needed taxes or pay their fair share of taxes and who have employed geniuses whose sole raison d’etre is how to figure out ways for the billionaire class to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Feel the Bern, we say. Hold your noses, because Trump has good intentions. Embrace the laconic Dr. Carson, forgive his obvious faults – because he is not a traditional politician.

In the Philippines, traditional politicians are called “trapos” for short. In the Philippine language (Tagalog), trapo means a dirty rag.

Traditional politicians are despised in that country. It could be that in America we are starting to despise our traditional politicians.

What does this all mean? Will we have Sanders or Trump or Carson as our next president? Not necessarily. The elections of 2016 are still fourteen months away.

Some of the traditional politicians in both parties, Hillary Clinton foremost among them, could make a sharp turn to the left.  Hillary has the shortest distance to travel from her left-of-center position.  She is after all close to Sanders on many issues – and with her huge advantage in money and organization she could still upend the Sanders train, overtaking him in the bigger, more industrialized states than Iowa and New Hampshire.

On the Republican side, Mr. Trump may be hard to stop.  His rivals don’t seem to get it. They think that the way to the nomination is pleasing the billionaires who finance their campaigns.

Anyone who doesn’t think that America has changed is in denial. We Americans are sick and tired of our traditional politicians.

We are mad as hell. We won’t take it anymore.

(The writer’s contact email address is: lumbacesar@gmail.com.  If you wish to contact the administrator of this blog, call 702-891-5442 and ask for Cesar.)

Trump Gets It

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

I never dreamed that I would ever agree with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The man is just plain extreme in his views. He is a boor, a narcissist and a bigot.

At the gut level, however, many Americans – still a growing number – do agree with him.

I particularly like his pugnacity when pointing out that the Chinese have stolen from us not only our technology, they have stolen the lifeblood of our economy, which is our manufacturing base. When I read and hear his comments about why we must get our manufacturing back, I can’t help but wonder if he or his advisers are regular readers of my blog posts. Trump has never mentioned how exactly he is going to take some of our manufacturing back from China but if he ever mentions my 51% solution, or its variant, in his speeches, it becomes unmistakably clear that he or his advisers have been reading my posts here in us-consumer.com.

I like his idea of taxing the rich more. When the top tax rate in America was 91%, the country was the strongest country in the world, the strongest and richest in history. There was nothing we could not do when we put our mind to it. Kennedy reduced the top rate to 70%, a huge reduction, but the country remained strong, strong enough to take on Russia and demolish it.

When Reagan reduced the top tax rate to 35%, he unwittingly sent the country spiraling downward. Suddenly the country could no longer afford the huge ambitious projects that would have allowed us to keep pace with Japan and other countries that were modernizing. Suddenly, our sovereign debts ballooned and everyone was talking of how to make government smaller, less robust, less powerful because we could no longer afford to be an even greater country that in the 20th century we felt we were destined to become.

Because of much lower taxes, the rich and super rich get to keep more and more of their earnings. They keep getting fantastically richer by the minute. The rest of the country? The 98% of Americans? The rest of the country has stood still. Many have slipped backwards and are now part of the huge poverty-stricken underclass.

Trump, who is one of the super-rich individuals, wants to tax himself and others in that super-rich class a whole lot more. He wants a strong America and he knows America cannot regain her former glory unless there is money to spend on infrastructure repair and the creation of a 21st century infrastructure. Bullet trains. A nationwide network of filling stations for electric cars. New carport-airports for cars that fly. New space exploration projects. New innovative ways to desalinate water. Super WiFi and broadband.  The Internet of Everything.  Artificial Intelligence.

The government needs money to do all these things, and it won’t have money unless the super-rich who have amassed fantastic fortunes because of the low tax rates movement in this country start to pay more in taxes.

And then there’s the single-payer health care system. Trump is in favor of Medicare for All. Like most progressives in this country, I dream of an America that takes care of every citizen from cradle to grave. We Americans will continue to work hard, we will fight for our country and offer our lives, our limbs, our eyesight, but in return, I want our country to take care of us and our children.  That’s the Grand Bargain.

I want an America that makes it its number one priority to make sure that our young people have good jobs and a good secure future. I want an America that is great again, with its people achieving greatness not only in the field of battles in foreign countries, but also in the fields of science, math, literature, the arts.

Trump seems to share this vision. He hasn’t actually articulated it the same way, but the underlying philosophy of his new vision for America seems to be congruent with mine and with that of most Americans who love this country.

Unfortunately, Trump is also Mr. Hyde. He wants to round up 15 million undocumented aliens in this country and ship them all back to their home countries. It’s an impossible task, bordering on the cuckoo. He wants to build a wall to extend from Texas to California – all paid for by the Mexican government. That’s definitely cuckoo. Never going to happen.

He says most undocumented Mexican immigrants who cross the border are criminals and rapists. Shades of Hitler blaming the Jews for everything going wrong in Europe.

I will never vote for Trump because of his extreme views. But if he backtracks on his extreme comments about undocumented aliens, if he admits that he is wrong to adopt the position that all undocumented aliens must be rounded up and deported back to their home countries, if he becomes more rational on the issue of border enforcement of U.S. laws, if he apologizes to all the women he has insulted, then I might consider supporting him. Despite the fact that he is a Republican while I’m an unabashed liberal and Democrat.

I would prefer that the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton starts sounding like Donald Trump because I, after all, am a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party. I like the ideas of Bernie Sanders, but I can’t support him because I think in the general election he will spontaneously combust and what will be left of him is a small heap of dust and a distant memory.

I’ve been blogging about the need to bring manufacturing back to America since 2012. I would be foolish not to support someone who shares my views, especially someone who passionately shares my views. There’s a strong chance that Trump will come to adopt my 51% solution if he becomes personally aware of that solution. He is for single-payer health insurance. He wants to tax the rich to solve the budget shortfall problems in this country. He hasn’t actually come around to supporting the idea of asking the rich to pay more into the Social Security system to further bolster it; in fact, he like most Republicans tends to think that the solution is to delay Social Security entitlement for most Americans. This “solution” is a bummer because, as Paul Krugman has time and again pointed out, a lot of Americans are tired and sickly (diabetes, heart disease, cancer) because of the high obesity rates in America and because manual labor really exacts a heavy toll on people’s bodies by the time they hit 65.

But the basic thrust of Trump’s candidacy is positive news for most Americans, especially those who feel that they’ve long been getting the short end of the stick in this country.

(The writer may be reached by email: lumbacesar@gmail.com.)

The Wise Men and Women of China

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

They’re all dead.  Yes, all the wise men and women in China are dead. Killed. Eliminated a long time ago by the communists.  Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions even – wiped out by the communists.

There were a few remaining in the late 1980s.  In the late 1980s Chinese spring happened – similar to the People Power revolution in the Philippines, after which the Chinese spring had been patterned.  The stark image of one Chinese man, demanding democracy from the communist overlords, fought a standoff with muscular tanks on Tiananmen Square as the world watched on television screens. .

The man was arrested, never heard from again.  Not a peep from democracy advocates since.  The Chinese spring – long forgotten.

The real China, emboldened, went to work.  The country attracted manufacturing from all over the world, exploiting its enormous advantage of coolie wages, and now the world sees the real reason China was willing to sacrifice the health and sanity of its people in its pursuit of manufacturing preeminence: China is in a long-term push toward world domination.

It’s all about China becoming the greatest power in the universe, replacing the United States.

It has started.  Through island and resource-grabbing in the South China Sea, China is building fortifications in seized islands and atolls in the Spratlys that are clearly intended for use as a base in further conquests in that sea that China claims it owns.  90% of the sea it claims it owns.

Having shown their true colors, the Chinese are repulsing former trade partners Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.  So far the Japanese are the most willing to transfer their manufacturing plants to friendly countries, their new allies Vietnam and the Philippines.  Taiwan is doing the same to a limited extent.

The world is waiting for American companies to start dismantling their factories in China and transferring manufacturing operations back to the U.S., or Mexico, or Vietnam, or the Philippines, or Bangladesh, or Indonesia, or Malaysia, or Singapore – any country except China.

Even the greedy American industrialists who long ago abandoned American workers in favor of the coolie workers in China have sat up and taken notice.  The Chinese do not just want America’s manufacturing industries, they also want to strip America of its power because America is standing in the way of Chinese world domination.  In commerce as well as in military terms.

That is the ultimate Chinese goal.  Every GE TV, every Apple i-phone, every Shimano motor, every Boeing airplane part, every Caterpillar tractor made in China brings the Chinese closer to its ultimate goal, which is to overtake the U.S. economically and to defeat the U.S. in a cold war, and if necessary, in a real (hot) war.

If the war were fought today, China would lose.  If the war were fought twenty years from now, China would lose.

Every Chinese wise man would know this.  But the Chinese wise men – and women – are long gone.  Dead.  Murdered.  Tortured by the communists.

Now imbeciles and reality deniers rule China.  Already these not-so-funny clowns have miscalculated.  They never imagined that the whole world would respond with apocalyptic negativity to their island building in the Spratlys.  They never imagined that the whole world would be united in condemning Chinese island and atoll-grabbing in the Spratlys.

They never imagined the world’s reaction because there are no longer any wise men (and women) in China.  They’re all dead.  Mudered.  Tortured by the communists.

China is a rogue country.  The world has started to treat it as such.  And because there are no longer any wise men (and women) in China, it will not understand that it has brought this pariah status to itself.  And so it will indignantly insist that it is right and that justice is on its side.

It will think that having Russia as an ally will give it strength.  The truth? China;s military is no match against the South China Sea natural allies: the U.S., Japan, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea.  The NATO powers (Germany, France, Britain, Italy, etc.) can neutralize Russia.

China will be all alone trying to defend its so-called islands in the Spratlys. After witnessing the sinking of its lone aircraft carrier, China will retreat back behind its Great Wall, daring any power to come and invade it and engage in street fighting against its teeming masses, that will scatter willy-nilly when they see squadrons upon squadrons of drones that are unleashing a fury on military targets.

(You may contact the author by email – lumbacesar@gmail.com.)

 

 

 

 

The Trade War with China

By Cesar Fernando Lumba

We Americans, especially our government officials, have our heads in the sand when it comes to the raging trade war with China. How could we be at war with China, we ask, when China is one of our biggest trading partners, if not already the biggest?

Yes, the trade war doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. If we look deeper, however, we realize that the trade war is in fact ongoing and intensifying.

First, look at what happened to our manufacturing. Before China awoke from its deep 500-year slumber, the U.S. was the acknowledged premier manufacturing country in the world – the biggest since the beginning of time.

Now, with hundreds of thousands of our factories having closed down and our manufacturing transferred to China over the past two to three decades, we have slipped to second place. China is the premier manufacturing country.  What Japan and South Korea could not do, China has done.  China has managed to destroy our manufacturing base and rebuild its own – at our expense, and at the expense of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.

Strategically, the single most important sector of the American economy just happens to be manufacturing. Recall that in the Second World War, our superiority in manufacturing over Germany and Japan was decisive in winning that war. Now, because China has a bigger manufacturing base, it will have a distinct advantage over us should a military conflict break out between our two countries.

Second, China is dictating the terms of trade between them and us. They tell us what we can and cannot do in their country, and they tell us what they can do in our country.  That is because they have a hybrid economy. On the export side, China is a free economy.  On the import side, it is a managed economy, managed by a communist regime that is wily, cunning and focused on eventual world domination.  Sorry if my plain speak offends anyone, but that is the truth. Because of their hybrid nature, they have a huge advantage over us in the trade war.  And this shows every year and has shown every year for more than two decades now, in our balance of trade..

The balance of trade is the indicator of who is winning the trade war – the war that decides who exports more and who exports less.  And that balance of trade has been won by China for many, many years.

In 2012, the balance of trade was 315 billion dollars in favor of China; the following year it was up at 319 billion.  A trade imbalance as large as that is not trade, it is a war with a spectacular winner and a spectacular loser.  Just focus on the winner, friends, don’t even look at the loser.

Third, China has laid claim to 90% of the South China Sea, which on the face of it is a direct challenge to the United States’ ability to navigate the waters in that region of the world.  China is on pace to be able to declare no-fly zones over the South China Sea and demand that all foreign ships must get permission from China in order to sail in that sea, which is becoming the single, most important body of water in the world.  If China wins – and it’s winning – the U.S. will be on the outside looking in in that region of the world.

China is preparing to build a base in the Spratly islands by enlarging the islands that it controls through land reclamation. Pretty soon there will be an airbase that can be militarized. The Spratlys just happen to be close to the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan. The potential military threat against those countries is growing, threatening to pull the U.S. into a major confrontation with China in the near future, a confrontation that the U.S. can easily lose because of an overwhelming Chinese presence in the area.

With China dictating to the U.S. in trade, it is also seeking to dictate to us militarily in that part of the world.

We all know that the U.S. owes more than $1 trillion to China through China’s ownership of our treasuries. All that China has to do is call the treasuries and the U.S. economy would go into a tailspin.  China, therefore, has a sword of Damocles over our heads.

Is all lost?  Are we destined to be China’s punching bag in the future?  Are we destined to become the old punch-drunk has-been that China will beat up on?

We cannot and should not think that all is lost. We can fight back by reversing the process that has allowed China to surpass us in manufacturing and which has resulted in the U.S. losing the trade war, which in turn has caused us to lose the financial war, which in turn has caused us to be at a huge disadvantage in the looming military conflict in the Asian-Pacific region.

We must start by bringing some of our manufacturing back to America. Let us build things again.  So what if the products will be more expensive than the Chinese ones?  We know that the quality will be better than the quality of Chinese goods, which break down easily.  Remember the refrigerators, the stereos, the TVs in our bygone era, when those things were built in the U.S.?  Those things lasted a long time.  Nowadays, because they are built in China we have to buy extended warranty contracts because the Chinese products break down so easily.

Finally, let us not be afraid of higher prices.  With Americans working in factories again, more Americans will be making more money and they will be able to afford higher prices.  Recall that in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, most of our American-made products were expensive yet we were able to afford them.  Why?  Because we had good, solid manufacturing jobs, jobs that paid us decent wages, not WalMart and McDonalds type jobs.