We know it. There are many signs of this. President Donald Trump is not well. We know it. The things he has done and said are crazy. And in any normal world, he would be facing a mental health check. Some of them could very well be signs of Alzheimer’s, which his father died from.
However, some of these are cold calculations to capture the news cycle and distract from his obvious failures. So far he is accelerating our descent into a recession, or worse. While the actions of a president are not as consequential, generally speaking, as we all would like to think, they can be. Trade wars are not good for the American (or global) economy, if you do not believe me, ask all those farmers who have lost markets they will not see again in their lifetimes.
You and I are already paying more for goods, ranging from electronics to cars, to houses, to even tomatoes. This alone will slow the economy since people will not have as much money to spend in discretionary items, or will not be able to buy durable goods. We are also told that the inflation rate is not higher than it has been, however, that is is barely credible.
Altogether, the president’s tariffs could increase nationwide consumer costs by nearly $100 billion annually. This estimate includes the president’s latest tariff action –ordering new 10 percent tariffs on the remainder of all U.S. imports from China. This levy will occur in two waves; tariffs on list 4A will go into effect on September 1, 2019, and tariffs on list 4B will go into effect on December 15, 2019. This latest tariff action can be expected to increase nationwide consumer costs by $27 billion annually.
You can find an excellent table at the American Action Forum that details all tariffs and individual cost to the economy. And that table is already obsolete. The costs are higher already.
So when the President blames Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell (who he appointed) for this, he is plain wrong. He is not taking responsibility for his own actions. His best asset for his re-election is the economy. If that goes, he loses that. The global economy is slowing.
What we know is that the trade war is only intensifying. Nor is the American Action Forum a liberal think tank. It is a center-right institution. So it is not a place full of pushy liberals who hate the president before anybody screams fake news.
What should concern us though is that the president is doing all he can, and succeeding, in controlling the news cycle. Reportedly, which he already called fake news as is his style, he considered ordering the use of nuclear weapons to stop hurricanes. This is not a good thing. It either betrays incredible ignorance, or something bordering clinical insanity. Though I believe he is crazy…like a fox, and knows exactly what he is doing.
Why? I understand that while there may very well be a mental health issue, thinking that helps excuse it. So until he leaves the office and we learn if, or what ails him, we must assume each of his statements, he is serious as a heart attack. We must also assume that he wants to do these crazy things, for whatever reason, or lack of understanding. Trump is proof that money does not buy understanding or education.
And the news cycle bends to his will.
Trumpism as Ideology
”God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
His ideology, and it is an ideology, around tariffs, is as old as the 1980s, at least. He is fixated on the trade deficit and does not understand how any of that works. You would think that attending Wharton’s would mean he would, but Trump was the scion of a multimillionaire, and those children get many times gentleman degrees. What is clear is that Trump does not get any modern theory of economics. I have written in the past that his ideas would be right at home in the 19th century.
It is as if the Great Depression, which partly got much worse due to a global trade war, never happened.
His beliefs around science are distant from actual knowledge as you can get. His concept of exploitation of nature is a subset of American economic and religious ideology going back to the 19th century. It is called Dominion of man over nature. It has led to the far-right Christian ideology of dominionism that pushes the ideology that the US is a Christian nation. Trump is hardly religious though. However, ideology considers somebody like Trump. He is King Cyrus.
This is why POTUS Shield prayed over Trump in 2017. They believe that:
Trump’s election has given the church in America an opportunity to spark a spiritual Great Awakening that will engulf the nation and world. And they believe that a triumphant church establishing the kingdom of God on earth will set the stage for Christ’s return. Amedia says that the “POTUS” in the group’s name does not refer only to the president of the United States, but also to a new “prophetic order of the United States” that God is establishing.
It is not that Trump is one of the Church. He was chosen by the Lord to carry on their designs, including preparing the way for the end of days.
Dominionism is partly an economic ideology that states that God gave man the planet to do as he will with it, and enjoy its fruits. Even if man wrecks the planet, all this will be fixed in the final days. So there is a great profit to be made. It this apocalyptic? Absolutely. But once you understand this, the fixation with exploiting resources, no matter the attack on the biosphere, makes sense.
Of course, this is illogical, and dangerous, in a world where life systems are collapsing. It requires a serious case of cognitive dissonance to not understand the effects. Or a serious case of bringing forth the apocalypse. This ideology was also central to the 19th-century manifest destiny, which remains in the background of American foreign policy. It is also central to our modern form of capitalism, where profits do come ahead of people.
However, when all that matters are very short term profits, the longer view of an economy that works for all makes no sense. Neither does the climate emergency or growing up the deficit. For that matter neither does doing anything on economic inequality. It is part and parcel of social Darwinism as well, and the idea that God shows his favor with great wealth.
This is the most far-right government in recent memory. Whether the President is a tool of Dominionists, or not, you can argue. What is clear is that this is a marriage of convenience. They both are using each other to fulfill their goals.