We can no longer afford China

This writer summarizes what needs to change as a result of current events:

We tried making China rich to make the Chinese people free. The globalists’ theory was that trade would make prosperous people who would then demand their freedom, and the Chinese Communist Party would either grant it or die. It hasn’t worked. China has become more prosperous but less free. Its people live under a digital dictatorship fed by social media algorithms and always-on video surveillance. Their future is cradle-to-grave monitoring for thoughtcrime. The paranoid communists are as brutal and ruthless as ever, shuttering churches with hammer and sickle and using Uighurs and dissenters as slave labor. China uses its wealth to buy hearts and minds in Africa and positive propaganda press everywhere. China uses its wealth to fracture our own bedrock rights, as when it turned the NBA into its red, white, and blue thought-police right here on American soil. This cannot stand.

The world cannot get into this situation again. We can’t just pretend this did not happen, resume normal trade relations, go on with our lives, and keep allowing the communists to rob us blind and make us vulnerable. We can’t let China’s criminal caste of communists brutalize their own people, threaten their peaceful neighbors and menace the world. We can’t.

We depend on China for cheap labor and cheap goods. But we cannot afford China any longer. The price is too high. We must divest. We must redirect. Some of our manufacturing in China must come back home. Some must go elsewhere, to India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, to other free republics with open societies. We must favor free peoples everywhere, shun tyrants everywhere, and do business with friends of liberty everywhere.

For our own good. (emphasis added)

A pivotal pathogen?

COVID-19 is now the topic du jour across the planet.  Perhaps nothing exemplifies the interconnectivity of our world than a novel virus that appears in China, then spreads to every continent but Antarctica.  As such, it’s causing humanity to rethink a number of trends.  We may look back on this time as a pivotal one.

The reaction to the excesses of globalism had already begun with the election of Donald Trump, who appealed in 2016 to those most left behind by the paradigm.  For the first time since Ross Perot warned in 1992 of the “giant sucking sound” of industry that would be pulled out of America through the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar arrangements, a president openly questioned whether the status quo was truly beneficial to America.  Long-ignored trade deficits with potential rivals such as China came under scrutiny, as did the practice of obtaining essential goods through such sources.

Today’s coronavirus scare will accelerate that trend, regardless how mild or deadly the virus is in the end, because for the first time, the vulnerabilities inherent in globalism are easy to understand:

While many are rightfully concerned about stopping the virus, few are focused on the fact that the more it spreads, the more the U.S. ability to treat any Americans who are stricken is vulnerable to the tender mercies of the Chinese Communist Party because of a strategic shift in health care that occurred without debate or decision in Washington.

Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China. The basic building blocks of U.S. health care are now under Xi’s control.

The list doesn’t stop at medical commodities, either.  The Trump administration has recognized how dependent the U.S. had become on China as a source of rare earth minerals, a strategic category of raw materials upon which many modern devices depend.  The U.S. has deposits of such minerals, but largely lacks the capacity to mine and process them — after all, everything is done more cheaply in China, right?

We are beginning to realize the multifaceted hidden costs of offshoring — costs that were never publicly factored into the promotion of globalism.  Over time, the public has come to appreciate how many manufacturing jobs were lost — jobs that provided useful work and a “living wage.”  Most criticism of the emerging global economy has been predicated on that aspect.  But what was good for the corporate bottom line devastated families both in the U.S. (unemployment and despair as skills became irrelevant) and in China (sweatshop hours, bad working conditions and little pay).  In fact, one of the revelations of the current crisis is just how bad China’s industrial and urban pollution has become.  In short, it’s cheaper to make things in China because labor can be underpaid or even conscripted, there are no Occupational Safety and Health Administration-type standards to worry about, and none of the manufacturers there have to worry about mitigating pollution (at least, until it embarrasses the government).  Those tacky inflatable holiday lawn figures (sorry, personal pet peeve) and other assorted non-essential trinkets cost far more than what WalMart charged the consumer who purchased them.

Globalism isn’t the only paradigm that will be questioned in the weeks ahead. Ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age, work increasingly has been performed outside the home, concentrated first in factories and then offices.  This drove a reorganization of society.  Families spent more time apart, as fathers, then mothers, increasingly found their sustenance by working for others.  This led to children learning more from schools and other institutions than from growing and learning within a family economy.  People left the countryside for the cities to find work.  The rise of suburbia cemented the necessity of automobiles and led to the invention of the traffic jam as infrastructure failed to keep pace.  Only since the creation of the internet has there been a serious attempt to change this equation by finding ways to work from home.

While it isn’t practical for every type of work, telecommuting may be about to get a huge turbocharge:

In the past week, companies across the U.S. have started canceling major conferences, halting most business travel and urging employees to work from home in response to the growing viral outbreak in the country. Few will require telecom operations as vast and complicated as ICANN’s, but as companies such as Twitter and Microsoft start shifting to virtual work en masse, the vision of a decentralized work world long promised by telecommuting evangelists is starting to materialize.

Even if businesses intend for their policies to be a temporary response to COVID-19, once it’s discovered that desk-based workers can be productive — possibly more so — without being corralled into cubicles, the public may seriously question a return to the old ways, with its long commutes, office squabbles and occasional control freaks.

Higher education has been gravitating toward more online learning for some time now.  As a result, many universities and colleges are somewhat prepared to continue their activity remotely by scaling up what they’re already doing in some areas.  The same cannot be said of most public elementary and secondary schools.

What if this pandemic led to decentralization, more time with family instead of traffic, increasing interest in homeschooling options, a desire for national self-sufficiency and security, and a return of well-paying industrial jobs to the U.S.?  There is a possibility the blight of COVID-19 may contain the seeds of long-term benefits.  The city of Enterprise, Alabama, has a monument to the boll weevil, an insect that devastated the cotton economy of the southern U.S. in the early 1900s.  Despite the infestation, farmers were reluctant to abandon cotton, due to its profit and ability to grow on land few other cash crops could tolerate.

Enter the lowly peanut.  An Enterprise (and enterprising) man convinced some farmers to switch to peanuts, and those who did found their fortunes rising.  By 1919, as the boll weevil continued its destruction, the county around Enterprise, Alabama, was the largest producer of peanuts in the country, and shortly began to produce peanut oil.  Local farmers continued to diversify their crops, adding sugar cane, potatoes and others, and the area found renewed prosperity.  All because of necessity brought on by a bug.

What lasting changes will today’s “bug” bring?

Running the numbers

Too many people today still have the idea that those who have a “prepper” mindset are on the looney fringe of society.  In truth, those who make prudent preparations for hard times are merely acknowledging that hard times are a recurring part of the human experience:

We don’t buy houses in the floodplain if we can help it, because we are risk averse, even though the chance of it flooding in any given year is only 1%. Why? We will live in the house longer than one year. Over the 30-year life of a mortgage, the chance of the house flooding at least once vastly exceeds 1%, because every year is another roll of the dice…

There’s a common misconception in the media about the eventuality for which the preppers are exactly prepping. That’s because they’re a diverse group, and prep for many different things. No, they aren’t planning for a revolution to overthrow the government. (Most of them, anyway.) Mostly they’re planning to keep themselves and their families safe while someone else tries to overthrow the government. That, or zombies. (More on zombies below.)

While we don’t have any good sources of data on how often zombies take over the world, we definitely have good sources of data on when the group of people on the piece of dirt we currently call the USA attempt to overthrow the ruling government. It’s happened twice since colonization. The first one, the American Revolution, succeeded. The second one, the Civil War, failed.

Stepping through this, the average year for colony establishment is 1678, which is 340 years ago. Two qualifying events in 340 years is a 0.5882% annual chance of nationwide violent revolution against the ruling government. Do the same math as we did above with the floodplains, in precisely the same way, and we see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.

This is a bigger chance than your floodplain-bound home flooding during your mortgage.  It’s noticeably bigger…

Two instances in 340 years is not a great data pool to work with, I will grant, but if you take a grab sample of other countries around the world you’ll see this could be much worse. Since our 1678 benchmark, Russia has had a two world wars, a civil war, a revolution, and at least half a dozen uprisings, depending on how you want to count them. Depending on when you start the clock, France had a 30-year war, a seven-year war, a particularly nasty revolution, a counter-revolution, that Napoleon thing, and a couple of world wars tacked on the end. China, North Korea, Vietnam, and basically most of the Pacific Rim has had some flavor of violent revolution in the last 100 years, sometimes more than one. With Africa, it’s hard to even conceive where to start and end the data points.

The entire piece is worth your time and consideration.  As the author noted, not every “prepper” is necessarily thinking about the complete collapse of society into civil war or anarchy (although these are not completely unreasonable considerations lately).  Hurricanes, floods, riots and funky new viruses each contain within them the seeds to upset the existing order, however temporarily.

We’re a highly integrated society, dependent on others for many basic things.  How long could you sustain yourself and your family if left solely to your own resources at hand?  The question can be overwhelming.  Start small.  Think of your daily necessities: food, water, shelter, personal care items, etc.  Put some of those aside for the proverbial “rainy day.”  Rotate your perishables (“eat what you store, store what you eat”).  Increase your “rainy day” supply over time as you are able to fund and/or store it.  Build a community, whether based on your extended family or well-known, like-minded people.  There are no “perfect” preparations, but investing the time it takes to binge watch a series on Netflix to think these sorts of issues through can lead to some obvious courses of action you can begin to take for your particular situation.

Because sooner or later, things will change.  Things will happen.  And that’s not the time to start thinking about what to do.  That’s the time to do.

All or nothing

The Democrats insist on dragging out the impeachment circus as long as possible by calling for witnesses that should have been heard by the House if they were so important to the case.  Naturally, the RINOs* (Sen. Romney, Sen. Collins, and Sen. Murkowski) are only too happy to help the “stupid party” prove once again it rarely knows how to use majority status to effect its goals:

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine claimed credit Wednesday morning for shaping the initial impeachment procedures resolution to require a vote adding witnesses and additional evidence. A Senate vote on whether to consider calling witnesses and allowing other new evidence is expected as early as Friday.

“I am pleased that I along with Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and others worked very hard to get into the resolution a guaranteed vote on whether or not to call witnesses at this point in the trial,” Collins said Wednesday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to ensure that if witnesses are called, it’s not a selective assortment designed solely to try to make the president look bad.  No, if we’re going to call witnesses, let’s hear from those whose activity the president was concerned about in the first place:

Even Mitt Romney, the first link to break, has said that he thinks calling witnesses should be reciprocal. That means Joe and Hunter Biden, at minimum. But calling the Bidens in exchange for calling John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney has been rejected by Democrats.

So McConnell’s way out it to force Democrats to reject a witness deal. That way, Democrats are the ones responsible for no new witnesses. It provides cover to people like Susan Collins who may be concerned how voting against witnesses my impact their reelection chances.

McConnell needs to go nuclear. Mutually Assured Destruction nuclear on witnesses — the Bidens or bust.

The GOP has become more politically assertive and aggressive with Trump in the White House, and that’s been a pleasure to see.  I’ve said before that if he does nothing else, Trump’s at least showing the Right how to fight.  That said, there are still plenty of “Republicans” who’d be happy to see the president fail.  McConnell must insure that if the investigation is going to be rehashed in the Senate, that it’s done in full, so that all the truth comes out.

Otherwise, there will be a lot of people like me who will wonder what point there is in handing the Republicans political power at all.  If they fail here, they should expect alternative political organizations to challenge for their place.  And they’ll deserve their irrelevance.

* RINO = “Republicans in Name Only,” for those unaware.  And no, it’s not a compliment.

Slandering America

An estimated 22,000 people, many of them armed, descended on Richmond Monday to demonstrate their support of the Second Amendment in the face of efforts by Virginia Democrats to curtail constitutional rights.  Only one arrest was made (most likely Antifa-related), and the peaceful, if loud, crowds were even seen picking up their trash, reminescent of the Tea Party rallies of a few years ago.

Many on the left and in the media (but I repeat myself) are visibly disappointed that their hype of a violent “white nationalist” threat was dashed against the reality of a gathering of responsible Americans from all walks of life.  They certainly had tried to fan the flames.

Here’s one of those “white nationalists” speaking for himself today (click here for video):

2A

The powers that be will do anything, say anything, to undermine America and all it stands for. Ignore the mainstream media. Dig for the ground truth.

How do we honor our dead?

Today – Memorial Day – is supposed to be a remembrance of all those who perished while serving in uniform, defending this nation.  It’s fitting that we have such a day.

But do we really honor our fallen?  This picture captures well the fact that today’s peace is underpinned by yesterday’s carnage:

holding up society

Would you be incensed if the young man in jeans was wearing a swastika armband?  I’d venture most Americans would.  It would show an appalling lack of appreciation how many of the dead represented in the image died to destroy Hitler’s regime.  But what if the young lady were wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt?  Or if the child were dressed in the uniform of the Soviet-era Young Pioneers, complete with a badge picturing Lenin?

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That which can’t continue, doesn’t

The fiscal day of reckoning may be close at hand for the United States:

According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Debt Management, the U.S. government is just five years away from the point where every new dollar it borrows from the public will go toward funding interest payments on the national debt.

That is the main takeaway from the Debt Management Office’s Fiscal Year 2019 Q1 Report, which featured the Office of Management and Budget’s latest projection of the U.S. government’s borrowing from the public…

Net interest on the national debt has become one of the fastest growing segments of federal spending. When the national debt reaches the point where all newly borrowed dollars must be used to pay this mandatory expenditure, the U.S. government will have passed the event horizon that marks the boundary of the national debt death spiral.

Cities and territories in the United States that have crossed that crisis point have either gone through bankruptcy proceedings or their equivalent, or they have implemented major fiscal reforms that reversed their fiscal deterioration, wherein the best-case scenarios, they acted to restrain the growth of their previously out-of-control spending to restore their fiscal health.

Interest on the national debt is going up quickly for two reasons.  Obviously, the government continues to spend waaaaaaaaay more than they squeeze out of the economy (us) through taxation, adding to the total amount it owes.  More importantly, however, the many record deficits recorded over the past 10 years were done so at historically low interest rates (engineered by the Federal Reserve, which in the process robbed productive citizens of some of the proceeds they would normally have earned through their savings).  Inevitably, those rates have begun to climb again.  It may seem incremental on a chart, but keep in mind that just one percent of $22 trillion is $220 billion.

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Tariffs and national self-interest

Patrick Buchanan provides a succinct summary of why Trump’s emphasis on tariffs in the relationship with China is hardly unprecedented.  In fact, one could say it’s a return to the policies that once made a young nation great:

A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax. If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.
China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China’s economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom.
Tariffs were the taxes that made America great. They were the taxes relied upon by the first and greatest of our early statesmen, before the coming of the globalists Woodrow Wilson and FDR.
Tariffs, to protect manufacturers and jobs, were the Republican Party’s path to power and prosperity in the 19th and 20th centuries, before the rise of the Rockefeller Eastern liberal establishment and its embrace of the British-bred heresy of unfettered free trade.
The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, “the encouragement and protection of manufactures.” It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington.

As Buchanan mentions, tariffs were once an integral part of an economic policy that became known as “The American System” — a policy so successful that other nations emulated it.  It’s worth noting the Federal government undertook its first infrastructure projects with almost no other source of funding other than tariffs (land sales being the main exception).  I’ll admit: I’m not a fan of the Federal government doing public works projects.  But the limited revenue stream tariffs provided kept such activity modest in the early republic, and for the most part it’s easy to see the wisdom of such projects as lighthouses, postal routes and the Cumberland Road.

Still, public works projects were controversial, even then.  Many in the South believed tariffs disproportionally benefitted northern industrial interests through protectionism and infrastructure.  Tariffs sparked the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina, and was cited as one source of discontent as States left the Union after Lincoln’s election in 1860.  Sectionalism aside, the nature of tariffs as a voluntary tax that promotes national self-reliance and internal growth recommends it as one of the best ways to fund a limited government.  Certainly, the explosive growth of Uncle Sam after institution of the Income Tax is evidence of that.  I’ve said before that a national sales tax would be preferable to an income tax (provided it didn’t result in both being in effect).  Many of the same reasons apply to tariffs.

Buchanan rightfully points out that abandoning so-called “free trade” for a tariff system that enforces fair trade will be painful in the short term, much like a junkie getting over their addiction.  American wages have been stagnant in inflation-adjusted terms since the 1970s.  The only reason we appear to have a higher material standard of living is the influx of overseas goods that appear cheap on the price tag, but which in reality take a heavy toll on the nation in terms of lost industries, disappearing jobs and a growing economic dependency on outsiders.  That doesn’t even take into account that many of the reasons goods made in places such as China are ‘cheaper’ is that they lack protections for workers and the local environment — impacts we considered so important here that we willingly added them to the economic burden of production.  In short, “free trade” as it’s currently practiced is an apples-to-oranges comparison that hides or downplays the negative aspects of globalism.

Boo-frickin’-hoo

Democrats, who profess such love for illegal immigrants, are now upset that Trump wants to give them more of what they love:

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” the president wrote in a post on Twitter.

“….The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” the president wrote in a second tweet.

It appears not:

“This reflects how much policymakers at the highest level of a government don’t understand what they’re dealing with,” [Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.)] said before Trump’s tweet. “When they say they’re going to punish sanctuary states, don’t they understand these workers are needed in this economy?”

If they’re so necessary, then what’s the problem, Congressman Correa?  Why would any Democrat have a problem with the administration placing illegal immigrants in their precious sanctuaries?

We’ve been told for years by these people that illegal immigrants are a net positive. They supposedly commit less crime (they don’t), do the jobs Americans won’t do, and provide valued diversity. The Democratic party believes that so much that they refuse to do anything to stem the tide. The media believes it so much that they run cover 24 hours a day for lax immigration efforts. CNN’s Jim Acosta once quoted the poem on the statue of liberty asserting that it was our duty to allow illegal immigration.

Given that, how is it consistent to now complain that the President wanted to send them exactly what they claim they want? I also think it’s silly for The Washington Post to describe this as “targeting foes,” as Democrats constantly proclaim illegal immigration is a general good. If I give you a something you say is good, no one would say I’m “targeting” you.

Something is off here.

No, we’re on to something here.  It’s the ultimate “NIMBY” (Not In My Backyard): Democrats virtue-signal about bringing in a limitless number of “tired, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” — so long as they don’t have to deal with them.  That’s for all the rubes in flyover country.

If they were consistent, they’d be begging the President to send buses of illegals to their sanctuary cities. That’s what they exist for right? Why have sanctuary cities at all if not? They aren’t supportive of the President doing that though because they don’t actually want to help these people. They just want to use them as political pawns.

Trump needs to press this issue hard.  Democrats are proving they don’t believe their own bull about the value of illegal immigration invasion.  Time to tear them up about it.

I love having a President who’s capable of hoisting the Left on their own petard!  For all his faults, I look at Trump the way Abraham Lincoln looked at recovering alcoholic Ulysses S. Grant: “I can’t spare this man; he fights!”

Speaking of the Civil War, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note today is the anniversary of the firing on Ft. Sumter.  I frequently wonder these days when and where the next spark will ignite.  The powder is awfully dry.

Today’s readings

Two related readings I highly recommend today.  The first one is a bit long (including helpful infographics), but is an excellent summary of all we know to date regarding the efforts by bureaucrats to protect Her Hillariness, and later, attempt to overturn a duly elected administration.  The second reading places this knowledge in the light of broader trends that show the rule of law is, at best, on life support in this country.

Spygate: The Inside Story Behind the Alleged Plot to Take Down Trump.”  Excerpts:

This article builds on dozens of congressional testimonies, court documents, and other research to provide an inside look at the actions of Obama administration officials in the scandal that’s become known as Spygate.

To understand this abuse of power, it helps to go back to July 2011, when DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was appointed.  From the very start, Horowitz found his duties throttled by Attorney General Eric Holder, who placed limitations on the inspector general’s right to have unobstructed access to information…

It is against this backdrop of minimal oversight that Spygate took place.

Starting in October 2015 and continuing into early 2016, FBI Director James Comey made a series of high-profile reassignments that resulted in the complete turnover of the upper-echelon of the FBI team working on the Clinton email investigation… Comey is the only known senior FBI leadership official who remained involved throughout the entire Clinton email investigation. McCabe had the second-longest tenure…

In order for Clinton to be prosecuted, the DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent—even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this…

As the Clinton investigation wound down, interest from the intelligence community in the Trump campaign was ramping up. Sometime in 2015, it appears former CIA Director John Brennan established himself as the point man to push for an investigation into the Trump campaign…

During this time, Brennan appeared to have employed the use of reverse targeting, which refers to the targeting of a foreign individual with the intent of capturing data on a U.S. citizen…

Meanwhile, another less official effort began. Information paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign targeting Trump made its way to the highest levels of the FBI and the State Department, with a sophisticated strategy relying on the personal connections of hired operatives…

Most definitely, read the entire piece.  Next, Kurt Schlichter places this labyrinthine conspiracy in a broader context of a two-tiered system of injustice:

The media hacks failed for two years-plus, nonstop and without equivocation, but are they ever going to be held to account? No, they’re just going to gather in a big circle and Pulitzer each other…

Imagine you committed a racial hate crime where you falsely accused people who didn’t look or think like you of a horrible atrocity… Now, what are the chances the DA is going to transform your 16 felony counts into a $10K fine and a couple days community servicing? Your chances of said outcome are poor. They are poor because your pals are neither Mrs. Obama or Willie Brown’s gal pal.

Now imagine that you studied really hard while the rich kids partied and smoked dope… Now imagine how you feel when Durwood Richguy IV gets admitted to Harvard when he can’t count past 10 with his Gucci loafers on and you get slotted on a waiting list for Gumbo State…

Imagine you handled classified information and you took it home and put it on your iPad. Do you think the FBI would be super-concerned with your feels about it and give you a pass, like Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit got from Jim Comey…?

Our elite is not elite. Instead, it’s a bunch of bums who somehow got a little money and took the reins of power and are now shaking-down our great nation for every penny they can wring out of it. We owe them nothing – not respect, not gratitude and certainly not obedience.

If you still wonder how we got Trump, just look around you. He’s a cry for help, a scream against the injustice we’re surrounded by. This injustice is poison to our country. (emphasis added) This injustice is what makes republics fall apart, when the worthless ruling class pushes its contempt in the people’s collective face so hard and for so long that the population finally screams “The hell with this!”

It can’t continue. It won’t continue.

I hope Schlichter’s correct, and that The Reckoning is about to happen.  A friend of mine used to say “nobody is completely useless; they can always serve as a bad example.”  The underhanded, scheming fifth columnists in government who facilitated the abuses included on the list above, can still serve their country well — if we make a proper example out of them.  Where we find evidence of wrongdoing, we need to be sure to respect judicial process and the presumption of innocence (something that should distinguish us from the modern Left).  But if found guilty, Lock Them Up!