Friday, July 06, 2018

When Donald Trump sinks the economy and puts his followers out of work, will they still cheer for him? Probably.

The “master race” masters the art of surrendering with its hands 
on its head in this 1945 photograph of captured German troops. 
Are the troops of MAGA next?

During the Second World War, one of my aunts joined the Red Cross and ended up just behind the front lines, mostly serving donuts and coffee to war-weary GIs as they came back from combat.

But she had a chance to see plenty more than just tired American dogfaces. Her sightseeing, if you can call it that, included the insides of field hospitals where the patients were not only American soldiers, but also some of the wounded Nazi troops. She wrote home about her experiences. Some of what she saw was on a disturbing spectrum that spans the space between harrowing and hilarious.

I recall one paragraph in particular. It’s impact was so ironic, and yet so horrendous, that I’ve committed it to memory. Permit me to reproduce a few lines. She was speaking about Nazi soldiers in an American field hospital.

“I saw one soldier who was blind from his burns. His arms and legs were blown off. He was still waving his stumps and raving, at the top of his lungs, that Germans were the master race and that they were going to conquer the world.”

A few months later, the war was over. Germany lay in ruins. Der Fuhrer of the “master race” put a bullet in his  own brain, immediately after similarly executing his girlfriend.

I bring this up because there’s something about Trump’s followers that brings to mind the armless, legless, battle-blinded nincompoop Nazi. They are insanely raving in support of an evil cause that was built on ridiculous assumptions and doomed not only to fail, but to create misery for themselves and countless others in the process. 

In this case I’m talking about the assumptions that the Trump Administration has made concerning the economy. The information has been out there for a while — along with a constant gush of news about strategic and tactical mistakes made by the White House and Trump’s cabinet — mistakes that are plainly becoming catastrophes, either in the making or already made.

The sheer number of in utero calamities staggers the mind. Like Trump’s projectile vomiting of tweets — unrelenting, sometimes mutually contradictory, often completely false, overwhelmingly outrageous and disgusting — there have been so many that it’s hard put them in some kind of meaningful order. Or is even thinking that Trump’s assumptions and pronouncements can be put in a meaningful order inherently an oxymoron?

At any rate, let me start with one of Trump’s earliest declarations about how he’d defend and build the economy, “Trade wars are easy to win.”

To see what that can mean for China, check this out.

And to see more ramifications of Trump’s “easy-to-win” war, check out this clip.

Then, for some of the excruciating details concerning Trump’s economic policies, see Paul Krugman’s recent article here, from which I quote just a few paragraphs to raise the hair on the back of your neck:
On Sunday, Canada — a country that, by the way, imports about as much from us as it exports in return — announced retaliatory tariffs against $12.6 billion of U.S. products.
     The European Union and China have also announced retaliatory tariffs. Mexico, with its new leftist president-elect, is hardly likely to be accommodating. And the E.U. has warned that it will go much bigger if Trump follows through on his threat to put tariffs on European cars, potentially imposing retaliatory tariffs on almost $300 billion of U.S. exports.
     The U.S. is now behaving in ways that could all too easily lead to a breakdown of the whole trading system and a drastic, disruptive reduction in world trade.
And then this:
[American] Exporters will be hurt, of course — and exports support around 10 million jobs. Some industries that compete with imports might end up adding jobs. But they wouldn’t be the same jobs, in the same places: A trade war would cause huge worker displacement.
     And what’s especially striking right now is that even industries Trump claims he wants to help are protesting his policies, urging him to reverse course. General Motors warns that proposed auto tariffs could lead to “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages for our employees.” 
     The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association has urged the administration to stand down, declaring that “counterproductive unilateral actions” will “erode U.S. jobs and growth” while doing nothing to protect national security.
But Trump isn’t budging. He won’t back back down because that’s simply not what he does. And doubling down instead will just double the misery — and the wave of unemployment to come — generated by his ridiculous notions.  The rest of the world retaliates by blowing our economy to smithereens with tariffs that have a nuclear impact. Moreover, we can’t say that Trump wasn’t asking for it.

And yet, as all this begins to unfold, Trump’s base remains firmly behind him.

He may get their jobs blown out from under them. His actions may render them essentially helpless and unemployed, perhaps even unemployable. But Trump’s die-hards are blinded. They’re waving their stumps and raving in the dark that they are conquering the world and making America great again. 

They shout ever more loudly as the world draws away from us and we turn our friends into enemies, leaving us isolated, economically disabled, and ready for conquest, perhaps by the Russians.

No comments: