The Possible Good, but….

September 22, 2016

I’m disappointed with the US election results. I’m also disappointed with most of the announcements by the President-elect since the election. I fear we are in for worse times as a result of this election and the developments around the US and the world, leading up to the Populist revolts.

On the other hand, it is Christmas and I want to point out a few possible positives with the new administration, depending on how these unfold. I hope influences along these lines can move our new leader to a more rational position than he has taken to get elected.

Streamlining regulation: Carl Icahn will be leading a review of regulations. While there will certainly be legitimate disagreement over which ones to eliminate, there can be no dispute that we are over-regulated. I encourage an aggressive review of our regulations. If done thoughtfully, retaining appropriate protections which restrain the excesses of capitalism, this can be a big benefit–both to our daily lives and to the growth of our economy. See The Economist February, 2012. On the other hand, if we cavalierly jettison important democratic protections, we could be inviting chaos in our marketplace and citizens running wild.

Saving waste in government: I’m not persuaded that Donald Trump is a great businessman, when all is considered, but if he does use business skills and those of his Cabinet to reduce the costs of the F 35 and the F 18 fighter jets being built by Lockheed and Boeing, and aggressively to reduce other waste in military and elsewhere in government, I will praise him. Now, we may see whether a kind of personalized version of Singapore’s highly effective governmental management will work for us–where business leaders take periodic stints in government.

Talking and acting tough: If better “deals” can be made with our trading partners, I’m all for that. If we can persuade our allies to pay a larger share of the cost of global governance, that’s good. If we can reduce the impact of foreign trade in displacing US workers, that’s wonderful. One the other hand, there are two major risks if getting tough goes awry: (1) We can ignite trade wars and end up with higher US costs as well as fewer jobs, as our exporters lose business; and, (2) We also run the risk of making life better in the US at the expense of the rest of the world. That development will certainly come home to hurt us in the form of increased enmity, more illegal immigration, and more terrorism. From a moral standpoint, I oppose “America First.” How about “people of the world” first, (vs. business and capitalism)?

Friends and Foes:  Here, I remind that we all start with a bias: Do you believe the citizens of the world are mostly good, like we are, with a few bad leaders; or, do you believe we should fear all Russians, Chinese, or Iranians, because they happen to be dangerous and largely seek to hurt us? I am in the former camp. I’ve travelled in about 35 countries. Talking to people around the world generally leaves me thinking that at their essence, everywhere, they are like me. They are mostly honest, want opportunity, want best for their families, do not hate Americans. So, I distrust Putin, the Ayatollah, and a few other leaders, who, not unlike Donald Trump, have managed to persuade followers, with agendas which may not be in our best interests. Starting there, I “hope” that the outcome of a friendlier approach to Russia will result in increased cooperation there, reduced nuclear proliferation, a more peaceful world. I also hope our new President will soon approach Iran, China, and Mexico with the same friendly approach that he seems determined to extend only to Russia. BTW, I love Jews, but I don’t love Jews any more than Arabs. I regret our new administration’s seemingly favoring Russia and Israel at the expense of other peoples and other nations.

In the meantime, I would love to support our elected President, but I cannot. There is too much to fear at this time–from his speeches, his arrogance, his tweets, his positions on issues, and his choices for key government jobs.

I want to close with a key theme I have explained in a variety of ways in previous posts here. This issue is the absolute key to the possible success of the new administration: We must create more jobs, better jobs, and we must, must, MUST significantly reduce inequality. If he can do this, I will apologize for my misunderstanding and give him my full support.

I encourage efforts to increase our economic growth rate. But, if our President-elect is to succeed with his promise of jobs and wages and prosperity for all, he must come to understand that our growth rate will never reach the level to create much trickle down. The ultimate barriers include the maturity of our economy, global population growth rates declining, technology reducing need for human labor, and globalization. Creating jobs, wage growth and reducing inequality will require redistribution. It just won’t happen without the owners of capital being made to share some of the income and wealth with the lower economic classes. Donald Trump has offered no understanding whatsoever of that fundamental economic truth.

This is the ultimate “Possible good” that the new administration could deliver. At Christmas time, let us hope that this understanding will soon come to pass. If so, the Trump Presidency, which I have opposed, could become the most successful administration in my lifetime!

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