Things I’m Wondering about
I’m primarily wondering about what we don’t know: the child’s question of what’s beyond space, a question not answered by God and His/Her love for me. This question provokes awe for the mystery and beauty of life and not a little love for this planet, which we are progressively destroying, leaving a cinder (or swamp) for our great grandchildren.
I’m also and ironically thinking about monetary policy, a line of questioning that will eventually lead me to Trump. I might as well get to where I think I’m going—I’ll leave my current project of decoding my genetic and cultural programming for later.
I won’t rehearse the latest data on the economy. By most accounts, the economic statistics are good. People like me who have significant investments are making out like bandits. The more investments you have, somewhat carefully distributed, the more you are making out. The relationship is geometric, not arithmetic.
It looks as if the Trumpian economic policies are enhancing economic expansion, reducing unemployment, reining in inflation, doubling the good times for those of us who have money. I would like to see some respectable study of how economic conditions are improving for different social groups, professions, and geographical locations, but overall, I think it’s hard to argue against the current good-times rolling. I think Trump is a boil on America’s butt, but if I were voting on the basis of the economy alone, I would be inclined to at least consider voting him in for a second term.
Two key policies seem to have contributed to the good times: cutting taxes for the wealthy (with some bones thrown to the middle and working classes); and deregulating environmental and consumer protections, basically, loosening the flow of money.
There are two ways tax breaks could work. One, if the administration had loosened the flow of money to the more impoverished, recipients would use that money to buy more goods, thus, increasing demand and presumably, production, wages, and employment. This could be labeled the gusher-down theory of economics. Two, the administration’s gusher-up (Reagon’s trickle-down) policy. The wealthy now have more money. Rather than buy goods (those with assets over ten million or so presumably have everything they need or want), they use this flow of cash to buy more stocks, thus, geometrically increasing their wealth and concurrently, stock prices, creating a kind of feedback loop of wealth. So much to my pleasure, the stock market keeps climbing (yes, I’m expecting a hole in the bucket). Some of this money goes back into production, which in turn influences GNP and employment. It would be interesting, of course, to know what kinds of goods are currently experiencing an uptick. My guess is that expensive items are disproportionately in demand.
Reducing taxes for the wealthy has unsurprisingly (unless you are in the administration) increased our deficit at the rate of a projected 4.6% per GNP for 2019 and a projected 30% increase in the national debt by the end of Trump’s first term, leading to my questions about monetary policy.
First, with something I know. An increase in debt means that my tax dollar loses value in services rendered. Currently, for every dollar I give to the government, about 8 cents goes to interest on the debt. Ok, I can handle that, but at the end of 2016, it was 6 cents. By the end of Trump’s first term, it is projected to be 10 cents. Basically, the Trump administration’s policies are devaluing my tax dollar, charging me, you could say, 4% more for services. The more citizens spend on interest when they pay taxes, the less they get for their dollar (all else being equal—i.e., a constant value in corruption and presidential golf trips).
What I don’t know is how the devaluation of our tax dollars will affect our economy. At what point will the increasing deficit put a break on economic expansion—and consequently affect the stock market, i.e., the wealth of those who have heavy investments in stocks? Like when is it a good time to be satisfied with profits and stash the gain? In these ups and downs, I’ll bet people close to the President, and unshockingly, the President himself, have a much better idea of when to buy and sell than I do. If I had known on Friday (May 4th), for example, that the President this weekend was going to up the rhetoric on trade deals with China, I would have sold heavily on Friday (it is now Sunday when the threatened tariff hike was tweeted). Then I would probably buy again in a couple of weeks.
This post is getting overly long, but I want to switch from economic to environmental health. I have no doubt that by dismantling environmental and consumer regulations, the administration has stimulated economic growth. More will be spent on production and consumption than on bureaucratic labor. Protecting the environment and consumer does not come for free. But paying to preserve the environment for the generations that come after us and protecting consumers do not seem like bad priorities. I have a difficult time understanding how older people, perhaps as old as I am, could prefer current economic gain to future environmental health, putting their grandchildren at serious risk. Perhaps they are only selfish, but there must be more to their environmental myopia.
Putting all of this together, I have reason to vote for candidates other than Trump, although his economic policies are benefitting me. We have to pay attention to the environment. We can’t just throw the natural world aside like a rag after we’re done with it. And we have to pay attention to the material, psychological, and spiritual health of all of us, not just of the people in our social class.
My preference for other candidates is sharply influenced by Trump’s behavior. One really doesn’t need to describe it. The subject of collusion and obstruction are simply frosting on the cake. Trump is the ultimate realist—the John Galt guy who knows that wealth is power (how long does it take one to figure that out?). Trump thinks he can do what he wants, which includes linking his 2016 candidacy to his Moscow hotel project. In some sense, he is a prototypical globalist—he doesn’t care where his money comes from, as long as it comes. He seems to think he’s an oligarch, a couple of levels up from God’s Gift to Humanity. So of course he and his were (are) colluding with the Russians and obstructing for his/their economic and political profit. And he/they seem(s) to be getting away with it. Does anyone really not know why Trump appears unconcerned about future Russian interference in the 2020 election?
If it weren’t for his dismissive attitude toward the environment and others, I might give him a C for his economics (profitable, but myopic); I might overlook the corruption, a condition of power struggles. The economy seems healthy, and we have to give him that. But we have to take care of the earth and each other. It’s hard for me to understand people who think otherwise.
Don’t Care about Others