August, 2018

Donald Trump Style

It has been a very long time since I have heard anyone use the term: Brinksmanship.  It is so old that my spell-check does not even recognize it.  It first came to the fore in the 1950's when a company used a style of negotiating for a union contract which was later named after the company negotiator: Brinksmann.  The style angered the unions, and literally brought them to their knees.

The "Brinksmanship" ship style of negotiation has since been tagged on to international politics, foreign policy negotiations, as well as labor relations.  Brinksmanship is defined as "the practice of trying to achieve an advantageous outcome by pushing dangerous events to the brink of active conflict; thereby forcing the opponant to back down and make consessions.

The first time I know of, in which American Brinksmanship was used to a beneficial end was under the Kennedy Administration in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  President Kennedy pushed the Russians right to the brink of nuclear war before they backed down and returned home with their tails between their legs, so to speak.  The public was in an uproar because we were sure that the President was going to start a nuclear war.

Since that time, our policy has been to try to buy friends, and buy our way out of tough situations.  We spend hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money in foreign aid to countries who love our money, but hate our guts.

With that having been said, let's check in on modern day Brinksmanship.  Let me begin by saying that the current President doesn't know when to keep quiet; and worse yet, everything that comes into his mind seems to come out of his mouth.  His tweets and off-the-cuff remarks have created all sorts of mayhem.  But, having said that; we must remember that during his campaign he advertised himself as a master of the art of negotiating contracts.  And that is exactly what he has been doing on the worldwide stage.  Has it worked?  

For more than a generation North Korea has snubbed its nose at all of our presidents regardless of party.  We tried to be polite and nice; and it got us no where.  Brinksmanship forced North Korea to the negotiating table.  What will come of that is still to be seen.  More Brinksmanship may still be necessary.  At the time of this writing, North Korea seems to be backing away from some of the commitments they made.

I have written all of this to get to the point of the tariffs the President has placed on certain products, from some countries, with which we have a severe imbalance of trade.  One of my pet peeves is that our politicians in Washington make statements; but never explain anything.  They all say that buying from China twice as much as they buy from us is a bad thing.  But why is it bad?  I doubt that you have ever heard anything from anyone in the know like that which you are about the read.

What do you think happens to the profits foreign countries make in America by selling us more than they buy?  If they were to withdraw that money from the United States, and take it home our nation would go bankrupt immediately.  That's why we have laws forbidding these countries from withdrawing their profits.  Countries with huge sums of money in the United States have been very good over the years to purchase our debt.  When our government spends more than it takes in (which is virtually all of the time) these countries buy our bonds; which, of course, makes them more money in the form of the interest we have to pay them.  And that money does leave the country.

However, the big problem is that some of these countries have been using their profits to buy up our country - China being the biggest offender.  Many countries use their profits here to build manufacturing plants and hire American workers; but China has been buying up American owned companies and property.  This was brought to mind once again last week when China bought American Tubing, with a plant just 20 miles from where I live.  How severe is this?  What is more American that Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  China owns it!
We could go through a long list of companies, apartments, event venues and more all owned by China.  They also now own millions of acres of American farm land.

The reason for the current Brinkmanship is to halt China's buying up of America.  You never hear any politicians talking about this.  They all seem happy that China is creating more jobs in America.  Yes!  But at what cost?

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