Saturday, January 28, 2017
Intuitively, students understand how ridiculous this is. They conclude that while they could, if absolutely necessary, do these things, it is highly inefficient. The time and effort needed to undertake these actions means would require so much of their effort that they would have to give up engaging in other activities - such as washing their clothes, going to work, or studying for school. They understand quite easily that it makes far more sense to do what they do best - wait tables, work at a retail store, stock items in a warehouse - and then use the fruit of their labor to purchase those goods they do not or can not make as efficiently (such as a T-shirt, a can of coffee, or a piece of lumber.)
That, of course, is the basis of trade: nations do what they do best, and trade for those items that others produce more efficiently.
Mexico is the United States' third largest trading partners. In spite of the social media comments by those who insist they don't buy Mexican goods anyway, we import - quite cost-effectively - billions of dollars of goods from Mexico annually. Beer. Washing Machines. Chevy and Dodge Trucks. Medical Equipment. The United States imports a total of about $295 billion per year from Mexico, including $74 billion worth of vehicles, $63 billion of electrical machinery, $49 billion in machinery and $21 billion in agricultural products. Mexico is the second-largest supplier of agricultural imports to the United States: tomatoes, limes, lettuce, avocados, and more.
Trump's current proposal is to pay for his wall with a 20% import tariff on Mexican goods. Applying this 20% tax to $295 billion worth of imports would result in an increase in prices to the tune of almost 60 Billion dollars annually.
How would this affect Americans?
Well, once again, let's break this down into understandable personal transactions.
Let's say that I have $100 in my pocket. I go to the store to purchase a tricycle for my child, and it costs $50. I can buy this tricycle for $50, and still have another $50 left in my pocket to spend elsewhere - a pizza for the family for dinner, a bouquet of flowers for someone on their birthday, and one or two new pair of blue jeans.
Now let's say that tricycle was made in Mexico, and now there is a 20% tax on top of that price. Instead of $50, that tricycle now costs me $60, and I purchase it. But wait, now I only have $40 left in my pocket instead of $50 - in other words, i have $10 less in disposable income than I had before.
Who loses? I have to give up some other purchase: either the pizza, or the flowers, or one of the pair of jeans. Some American business must lose out, because I no longer have the ability to purchase the same number of goods I could before.
Now multiply this times all the consumers in the American economy. With the tax, $60 Billion dollars less is available for spending in American businesses.
But it gets worse.
Let's say that, due to this new tax and my lower disposable income as a result, that I decided to skip buying the flowers at the local florist. If I *had* purchased those flowers, the ten dollar bill would not have sat in a cash register: the Florist may have used some of that to buy ribbon from a ribbon manufacturer, or to buy some vases in which to display flowers, or to pay their delivery man. And of course, that delivery man would then have used that income to purchase something for himself - perhaps a new windshield wiper, or a baseball for his child, or a ticket to a local performance.
And since I couldn't buy those flowers, none of those transactions took place.
And now, multiply that by $60 billion dollars which will no longer multiply throughout the economy.
The 20% tariff may be a great way for the President to buy political capital and 'pretend' that Mexico is paying for his wall...but the reality is that Americans will pay - over and over - as the economy takes a hit it can not afford to take.
Thomas Simmons is a graduate of Hofstra University and Hofstra Law School, and has worked as an Economist for the last 30 years. He is the author of three college textbooks on Economics.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
It seems that every strong Clinton supporter, and every strong Trump supporter (or, perhaps more accurately, every Anti-Clinton Voter and every Anti-Trump Voter) has been working overtime in the mainstream media and on social media to convince people not to vote for a third party in 2016. "After all, they won't win...and that will only help Candidate X win," they say. They don't seem to understand that even if there were no third parties, I would not vote for either Clinton or Trump.
And to be honest, many of them try to give me constructive advice: "Please, this is a two-party nation, and only one of the two major party candidates can win. Why don't you work within one of the major parties to make effective change instead?," they plead.
Because history has shown that won't work.
There are only two factors that motivate party policy.
The first is money. And sorry, I don't have enough to influence either party in that respect.
The second is votes - and more important, winning elections.
When they win, they assume they touched on the right issues in the right way, and ran their ground games in an effective and successful way. If what you want is more of the exact same nonsense that both major parties have handed out, then by all means, vote for a major party. They will assume that their win means they did everything correctly, and you can expect more of the same in the years to come.
When they lose, they must admit that they did something wrong, and begin the process of looking at polls and votes and voter turnout rates to see where they lost ground.
Want to send a message to the major parties to make them seriously examine what they have done this election cycle? FORCE THEM TO RE-EVALUATE WHAT THEY'VE DONE.
It is a Media cliché at this point to speak of 'blue states' and 'red states' and 'battleground states.' But the number of states on the edge is far bigger than anyone could imagine this year.
This year, in 36 states, polls show that the combined support for Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Green exceeds the margin of difference between the Republicans and Democrats. These states represent 358 Electoral votes: far more than the 270 needed to win.
The table below indicates the margin of difference between Clinton and Trump, and the combined 3rd Party support, as published by the Washington Post 50-state poll on September 6:
And, to further drive home the point, here is a map (courtesy of 270towin.com). Red states are runaway Trump, Blue states are runaway Clinton, and the Grey states represent those states where the 3rd Party support now exceeds the difference between them:
So there you have it.
Are the chances slim that a 3rd Party candidate will win the election outright? Yes.
Are the chances large that the 3rd Party vote might tip an election in some of these state one way or another? Yes.
Are the chances even larger that a party that loses a state - or even comes close to losing - will need to examine what they're doing wrong? ENORMOUS.
No, your vote for a Third Party is not a wasted vote; rather, it is the most significant way you have demanding change in the system.
Thursday, March 03, 2016
Both parties deserve blame for creating the rise of what amounts to a Fascist candidate for President.
For years, Republicans have promoted and courted – usually with a wink and a knowing glance – racial and xenophobic politics. Mean-spirited attacks on the poor, demanding drug-testing for those on financial assistance and efforts to cut food stamp benefits – have been laced with an effort to generate warfare against a tiny portion of the population, even while slavishly throwing trillions of dollars at industry and runaway military spending. The purposeful intention has been to create an “us-versus-them” philosophy, blaming the poor, immigrants, and every “easy target” as the enemy. Beginning with Nixon’s “southern strategy” in the late 1960s, the GOP has actively courted a base that sees enemies all around. “Family Values” has become a buzzword in campaign literature for blaming gays and single mothers for the nation’s ills. Memes designed to justify the Police State and marginalize minorities have been carefully constructed to tap the darkest feelings of fear in every working-class, blue-collar white man in America. YOU, Republicans, created this monster: by courting this phenomenon, you always believed you could rely on those votes, without ever thinking that the voting block you created would ever rise, pitchforks in hand, to turn against you. Well, my friends, the chickens are coming home to roost. Trump has seized on this fear, and launched a classic fascist campaign, blaming immigrants and the poor for the economic mess we are in, cheering physical confrontation at campaign rallies, and openly showing disdain for the First and Fourth Amendments. Your subtle – and not-so-subtle – history of using racial and ethnic warfare as a standard campaign tool has created a populace that is actually acting on their fears.
But Democrats, please do not think you have had no role in this. The GOP has courted these people, but you have enraged them. One only needs to peruse the facebook postings and newspaper Op Ed pages to see how your response has to take this group of the electorate and further marginalize them. Examples of elitist, nasty, and disdainful comments directed against southerners, poor whites, evangelicals, and those who have jumped on the Trump bandwagon are plenty. By viewing – and branding - this group of the electorate as stupid, uneducated yokels, and pick-up driving redneck gun-toters with small penises - you have done what the GOP could never do: you marginalized a group that already feels fear and marginalization, and added to their anger and feelings of isolation. You don’t win hearts and minds by telling people they are stupid. Rather than build bridges and show how your policies might actually benefit these people, you have chosen, in your words and actions, to treat them like sub-Americans.
In other words, the GOP has convinced these people that there are un-American enemies out there who want to destroy their ways of life. You have answered the call by confirming that you despise these people, and that you need to legislate against their wishes “for their own good.”
Sociologically, the two major parties have created a disaffected group of low-income and middle-income Americans who are reeling under economic pressures and feel alienated, taken advantage of, and ignored by government leaders. A powerless sub-class. And they have now found their voice in Trump.
Meanwhile, both parties ignore their fears and anger: Both parties have spent us into unending debt, both parties have propped up a corrupt Banking Regime, both parties have refused to fix a broken immigration system, and both parties have acted in the interests of Big Pharma, Monsanto, and crony capitalism. Even as I write, even the Democratic National Committee is moving to eviscerate the Financial Consumer Protection Agency.
The prospect of a Trump Presidency is scary. But more scary is the situation that both Democrats and Republicans have created by pandering for votes, by playing divide and conquer with racial and class politics.
The Trump phenomenon is the result of a classic failure of career politicians to lead. He is your creation.