I’ve brought up the issue of trade war relief for farmers recently, and I’ve even gone the full distance today to post the links. The Reuters stories about both aid tranches totaling about $24B are here and here.
Note that in July, just as the aid was becoming available, a Reuters story quotes Trump as lying through omission at a campaign rally for Rick Scott in Florida:
“China and others have targeted our farmers. Not good. Not nice. And you know what our farmers are saying? ‘It’s OK. We can take it,’” Trump said.
The Trump administration announced a $12 billion farm aid package last week, prompting some farmers and farm-state lawmakers, including Trump’s fellow Republicans, to criticize the move, saying they would rather trade with no tariffs than receive government help.
“I want to thank our farmers,” Trump said. “Our farmers are true patriots.”
I wonder why he didn’t tell the folks at the rally that he would be paying off the farmers he was injuring with his tariff policy first and would perhaps get to the wall later – or, by looks of it, never.
Or really, I suppose I could be making a huge deal out of $24B pissed into the wind on a bad trade policy choice, the tragedy he persistently foists upon all of us mostly unwilling deplorables who get no relief at all, where there isn’t one. But I don’t think so. It’s an even bigger deal, to me anyway, that he just can’t seem to tell the truth about the consequences of his signature policy failure as he doubles down on it, and then decides to pick winners and losers by doling out exceptions in his latest episode of Crony Capitalists Gone Wild – and people go absolutely mad for this stuff. I think that perhaps the tyrannical screwing we get just isn’t worth the screwing we get.
I picked on Tucker Carlson for ranting up a storm and offer nothing constructive the other day, and to avoid hypocrisy here, it’s time to write down my suggestions for the border issue (and no, I don’t buy the idea of a crisis.)
I was disappointed in Trump’s prime time address last week. He had an opportunity to show that he isn’t one of those monsters who don’t they’re a monster and missed it, and then he capped off his PR campaign with a trip to a border town and gave a speech about his issues on the border against the backdrop of a pile of drugs and a bunch of cops standing about, while I think that most people get that crime is a people problem, not a peoples problem, and even if the southern border were completely sealed off tomorrow, violent crime and drugs would still be a problem.
I think that people also get that most of the people coming to the US via the southern border are coming here for lofty purposes rather malicious ones, and they truly sympathize with them. The problem for some, however, is that there are only so many resources here. Then top it off with parts and pieces of public policy colliding with each other and produce a rather perverse form of political correctness among elites that is repeated ad nauseum by central bankers in Washington, D.C – there are too many employed people and we really need to do something about that.
A few years back, I wrote about what it was like to have a severe case of negative cash flow with no end in sight, having to spend all of time figuring out how to stretch every penny I had just that much farther, then going grocery shopping with a very lean looking cart while the imported farm workers stopped by and filled theirs to overflowing. Just imagine what it is like to be on the hungrier side of hungry and witnessing that spectacle. Nobody offered me a job picking fruit, and I felt completely alone with my personal version of the Great Recession tragedy that was playing out across the nation. It’s really not that difficult to understand why an immigration problem that has existed virtually unchanged since I was knee-high to grasshopper growing up in Southern California (and I am no young thing by any means) is, all of a sudden, the irritant that simply can go on no longer.
It’s all about economic insecurity and that feeling of being completely alone with the weight of the world on one’s shoulders, not know where the next round of coffee and cakes are coming from.
The wall is just the easy button, warm fuzzy that will do nothing to solve any problem, like gun control won’t stop gun violence. IANA, as is, is an unenforceable and inhumane law. We don’t have enough resources to enforce it and trying to do so creates a huge and embarrassing humanitarian crisis that nobody wants to look at, hear about or have anything to do with. Even if unicorns existed and this law could somehow be enforced, and even under the unimaginable circumstances the wall would be effective, we would still have a problem with immigration because the source of economic insecurity isn’t being addressed and is perhaps made even worse by the damned tariff policy that the President insists upon (or maybe farmers produce enough to feed themselves and don’t really care about grocery store spectacles involving immigrants – *wink*).
So, if I were to try to solve the problem, I think I would use a two-pronged approach: address the untenable fallacy of IANA by creating immigration centers sprinkled across the north of Mexico that have facilities for people waiting to come into the country – not prison camp-like, but not fancy either – where they can be screened for background and be checked out medically. These would be hooked into some sort of national job bank that matches people looking for jobs to jobs available on the job bank (the characteristics of which I will get into in a moment). I’d invite NGO’s like the Red Cross in to provide medic facilities and include provisions for charities to support the immigration centers.
The second part of this is the job bank. If you want to have a way for people waiting to come into the country to be able feed, clothe, and house themselves so that don’t become a financial burden on society, you need away to be able to match them up with available jobs. But it can’t be a job bank just for immigrants. Oh, no, no.
While I was thinking about this, I remembered that when I was laid off, my former employer provided the services of an employment agency. But the agency got paid in bulk per head, and not for results. So, there was little incentive to do anything that helped anyone. It was, I think, another one of those politically correct warm fuzzy things people do to make them feel better even if it really was of little consequence. Then, I turned to the state labor department for help, and bombed out there too, not even getting an interview. There was a certain something missing there, and I felt like I was being subtly patted on the head and told I didn’t belong there. Perhaps it was my idea of business casual attire?? I mean, after all of the hefty taxes I paid over the years, it seemed like I should have had some kind of lead – even if I had to pack cans and drive a forklift so that my family could eat!
My point is that government aid to the unemployed is scandalously ineffective. Given that we are supposedly a capitalist society that values personal responsibility and the dignity of work, it’s a rather shocking state of affairs that we can’t seem to manage to help willing people find work who really need help to find work no matter how successful they may have been in the past. The government has a messed up set of priorities. And this, I think is getting close to the root of the problem. If I’m going to have a job bank to match immigrants up with a means of survival, I can’t have that being perceived as extra special help for them while continuing doing next to nothing for people with a right to be here. It has to be a national solution that prioritizes citizens over non-citizens, and it has to have the right mix of incentives and sticks so that it is effective, people get something out of it, and could never be used as a means to channel cheap labor into the country. The number of people allowed into the country in any given month or year could be based on excess job availability in real time, and it could scratch a lot of itches at the same time in a sort of Jeffersonian/Lockeian way.
We have the technology, we just need the will.