Trump Isn’t Important   8 comments

I know there are a lot of people who believe that Trump is going to end the world as we know it, while there are also a lot of people who believe he’s going to make everything better.
Image result for image of a crisis tsunamiI don’t. Trump is irrelevant.
I said last year during the run up to the election that I didn’t think it would matter who won the election because we were headed for rough times regardless. Hillary couldn’t fix it. Trump can’t fix it. Gary Johnson couldn’t have fixed it. The United States is headed into a series of problems from which there is no avoidance.
The government is $20 trillion in debt, but the American people are also deeply in debt on a personal and corporate level. The population is aging. There are all sorts of stresses on the social contract. The political elite no longer represent the people.
Those are just a few examples of the stresses that are forming successive tidal waves aimed right at the country. It really doesn’t matter who the president is. We’re going to go through rough times because the structural deficits of our current society are starting to reach a critical point.
The government(s) at all level of American society made promises during economic good times, back when debt was modest, energy was cheap and abundant and the work force greatly outnumbered the dependent classes. Unfortunately, as the work force shrinks and the dependent class grows, those promises cannot no longer be sustained. Ronald Reagan warned us about this the year I turned 21. It’s now 36 years later and we’ve not really addressed that crisis. We’ve just added more to it.
For the last 10 years, the economy has been producing tepid growth, warning us that the underlying structure is become fragile. Timothy Geithner of all people conceded this in a recent Foreign Affairs article. The central banks and governments have employed all their resources toward propping up shaky markets, borrowing extraordinary sums to prop up government spending and have now stretched themselves to the point where they cannot address the next crisis.
You could have an actual miracle worker in the White House and he/she would be unable to forestall the next crisis with the resources left to them. They could try to lower expectations and prepare people for the inevitable crash while also trying to bolster hope that their sacrifices in this generation will be for the good of the future, which is what leaders in the past have done. Historically, great leaders who have dealt with successive crisis trains have not overcome the crises. They managed the edges of them and called upon citizens to make sacrifices for a better future.
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not lead the country out of Depression. Eight years into his presidency (11 years after it started), the country was still deeply mired in the Depression in 1940. It took the wartime rationing and government spending on an unimaginable level combined with a post-war economic boom to return the nation to prosperity.
So focusing on President Trump’s admirable qualities or his major deficits is really a distraction. The economic crises that are coming our way cannot be won like a war might be. All the policy tweaks and grand pronouncements in the world won’t avoid the inevitable. There’s a reckoning coming that no leader can reverse. No one president can extinguish $20 trillion in debt, exacerbated by imperial overreach and political disunity. He or she could make a dent, but the real “solution” is to let it play out and hope there are pieces to be salvaged when the meatgrinder gets done with us.
In the meantime, you can do a lot for yourselves by eliminating personal debt, stocking up on food and learning employment skills that don’t rely so much on a global market and government licensing. Maybe things will be better for our kids, but $20 trillion in debt means it’s more likely things will be better for our grandkids … if we and our children are willing to make the necessary sacrifices over the next several decades.
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8 responses to “Trump Isn’t Important

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  1. We need to realize that we live in a finite world with finite resources. We cannot hope to succeed when we base our economy and therefore our society on a growth model. At the same time I believe we live in a world of abundance. However, when we create waste through wanton abuse of our resources we compound the issues around us. We need to strive for sustainability, reach out to help others and abandon our acceptance of greed, corporate greed (which is at heart personal greed because corporations don’t have a soul) and personal greed. When there is a factor of 200 between the lowest and highest paid in a corporation or government jobs we have out of control greed, period. Unacceptable and unsustainable.

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    • We’re going to have to disagree on some things. A rising tide lifts all boats and when we release the entrepreneurial spirit by allowing people the human right to make their own choices and use their own resources and talents to better themselves, we improve the living standards of everyone eventually. We do so much harm economically and to individuals by trying to control people in the false name of “sustainability”. I’m not pro-corporation, but I am very much pro-individual freedom and as I look around our country right now, I see that most of our economic woes are caused by government regulation based on the false notion that the “pie” is limited, so we have to control who has access to it.

      Just one example – my husband is a journeyman electrician with an administrators license. He also has cross-training in heating system repair and refrigeration. He owns his own home maintenance business. It used to be a nice little business – about 30-40 hours a week – his profit was $40,000 after five years. Two years ago, the State of Alaska came out with new regulations requiring him to get a bond of $50,000 and liability insurance (which he already carried). The requirement drove liability insurance up by 4 times what it had been. Combined with the cost of the bond, his $40,000 profit (his income share for our family) is now $20,000. He doesn’t want to work more hours to make up for that loss, so we’re now poorer than we were two years ago.

      Because of the work I do, I have been able to ask why the State did that and not get the standard “hostile customer” answer. They speak in that rhetoric of sustainability and dividing the pie, assuring that large companies can compete against small companies. Several of the large construction companies locally have now come out with maintenance divisions. My husband can make $40,000 a year if he takes one of those jobs. Do you see where government interference is leading? Instead of an independent company run by a guy who cares (and gives away a lot of his time to the elderly and low-income home owners, btw), there will a drone working for a big company … and that change was caused by government interference in the name of “sustainability.”

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      • We need to make personal decisions that encourage sustainability. However, that said, we are not going to achieve a sustainable economy through government regulations, no more than companies who claim to be ‘green’ just because they use certain key words in promoting themselves. Most of that is what is known as ‘green washing’. For example, the 4 gallon green single use water jugs sold in most grocery stores with the line “a clean and new bottle with every purchase, simply recycle the bottle after use. That is ridiculous because the local municipalities end up putting hundreds of these into landfill because there is no proper market for recycled plastic.
        More recently a change in legislation now no longer allows a person to tap their own maple trees and share the syrup with friends and families. One is restricted to personal consumption only unless one register at least 800 maple trees. No “farm gate” sales allowed. This now makes personal hobby like boiling maple sap a restricted activity.
        Sustainability must happen but it’s going to happen through less government interference and more educating of the public as to what is actually in their best interest. Too often government interference in the name of safety or some other wording that makes it look palatable to the public.

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      • The issue I have with “sustainability” is that it is used to bludgeon people into living a certain lifestyle that may not suit them and may actually stifle innovation that could improve “sustainability”. Had sustainability rhetoric been around in past generations, we’d still be seeding fields by broadcasting, mowing them with scythes and threshing with flails … and be stuck with paltry crop yields because we have to be “sustainable.”

        It’s funny you mention the maple trees. My husband just tapped 20 birch here in our suburban yard. This is an experiment to learn the ropes and then he plans to take the operation to our out-of-town land and tap a hundred or more next year. He’s joined a cooperative that is partnered with the University to actually promote a birch syrup industry here in the interior. Most people will use it as a hobby for family use, but will have access to a commercial kitchen so the processing will not risk giving people fungal infections. His eventual 3-year goal is to be able to sell birch syrup, but sustainability comes into it because it costs a lot of fuel to boil down 100-gallons of birch sap into 1-gallon of syrup. He can’t sell the syrup if he uses our wood stove as a cooker. Anything for sale has to be processed in a commercial kitchen. Which is totally not sustainable. The wood stove would be because we have to heat the cabin or die, even in April. Cooking syrup would be a byproduct of home heating, except for health regulations that require a commercial kitchen, which drives up the cost of processing, likely making the birch syrup prohibitively expensive and therefore not of commercial value.

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      • Doing things in the name of sustainability, and in the process take away people’s choice is not helpful. The means by which sustainability is encouraged or mandated lies in the underlying world view people operate from. One example of sustainability that encourages less waste is a measure that Sweden introduced. They have dropped the tax on businesses that encourage repairs rather than having the appliance or other product end up in landfill. For me that would have meant getting a good pair of shoes repaired rather than throwing them away. Now I don’t know whether the tax free season would extend to automobile repair but at least it a measure that is not draconian yet it signals what would be a good start.
        You mention birch sap. For two years I have been meaning to experiment with birch sap, but by the time I am finished with the maple syrup I’ve run out of time. It would be great to hear from you what some of the finer points your husband will have learned from the experiment.
        What your husband is doing is what my son would label as co-generation. Using the energy from one source to achieve a second purpose while incurring minimal additional expense. I know that where I live, I can boil maple syrup and sell it from a ‘sugar shack’ as long as I’m using certified equipment which means all surfaces that the sap comes in contact with after entering the boiling process much be stainless steel. It’s fine to use food grade plastic for collecting, hauling and storing the sap.
        If you are boiling the sap in your house don’t you have an issue with too much humidity in the house.
        Fortunately I don’t need to heat the house that late into the season. I have solar hot water and am working on getting my home compost heater for provide half of my home heating requirements. That is still at the experiment stage, using wood ships and some manure. .

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      • Interior Alaska is very dry in the winter, so we actually keep a huge pot of water on the wood stove all the time. It’s still well-below normal humidity anywhere but the desert.

        A commercial kitchen in Alaska must meet certain specifications. My husband made an acquaintance at the cooperative who used to work for a local birch syrup company. They used a sugar shack, but about 10 years ago, the State slapped them with fines for not using a certified commercial kitchen and they went out of business. My husband is hoping to learn some cost-saving measures through the cooperative. If he wants to move his operation out to our land, he’s going to need to find a way to process the syrup on site because it’s a 100-mile round-trip and the sap must be collected and processed daily or it grows fungus, which is not good eats..

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      • With the regulations being imposed on syrup making it’s a shame. A friend who does some sap boiling with me was dismayed. He asked the question, “How many people have died because of ‘farm gate’ sales of maple syrup. Probably zero. There are plenty of other areas of the economy where people have died but no changes are made.
        Concerning processing sap, yes the shelf life of sap is very short. But a 100 mile trip is definitely not economical.
        This is where being ‘regulated to death’ is very concerning and counter productive on so many levels. Definitely not regulations to make a venture like this sustainable when it otherwise could be, even if it’s just being done on a hobby level.

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      • I forget where you’re located. My husband grew up in New Hampshire.

        I think the syrup regulations are similar to the whole raw milk nonsense. I’ve drank both raw cow’s and goat’s milk and not died or even gotten sick. My mother grew up drinking it when the only refrigeration they had on a farm with no electricity was a spring house. All of her siblings lived past middle-aged. But the regs are so stiff on that, our friend who “sells” us raw milk pretends not to sell it. We bring our own jug and “accidentally” drop money on his kitchen table. If we’re ever interrogated, we promise to say we have no idea where the milk came from. Since there’s no law against consuming raw milk, only selling it, we plan to invoke our right to remain silent.

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