Does the “Art of the Deal” include self-dealing?

As a libertarian, I don’t like tariffs, because they empower the government.  When a trade deal is negotiated, there are winners and losers in every country involved.  Farmers’ interests may be sacrificed to favor industry, or vice versa.  The special interest with the most political power prevails.

Libertarians are not in charge of our government, or any other, and the United States is required to live in the world as it is, so we’re going to have trade deals with President Trump  — lots of them.  Britain and the Anglosphere are at the head of the line, along with Japan.  As Benny Avni points out in the NY Post, a deal with Japan sets the stage for close military cooperation with Japan, which sets up the whole alliance of Asian nations concerned about Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.  Some kind of confrontation seems to loom, unless the Chinese pull in their horns.  The outcome is foreordained:  the Chinese Navy is no match for ours and our allies’.

By successfully countering Chinese aggression, we’ll get better terms in our trade deals.  Our trading partners owe their national security, in no small part, to the United States.  Trump and his team of negotiators will get a good deal for this country, I have no doubt of that.

But which specific industries will be protected, and which won’t?   A lot of money rides on that answer, and it’s basically Trump’s call.  You want to be a Trump-stock, as CNBC’s Jim Cramer calls them.  You don’t want to be not-a-Trump-stock.  Every time a CEO visits Trump, their share price gets a bounce.  I did it myself.  When the Sprint CEO met with Trump, and promised to bring home 5,000 jobs, I bought the stock immediately. Sprint may want to combine with T-Mobile, and if they do my shares will do well.  A deal like that needs the government’s approval.  Since Sprint is now a Trump-stock, it’s more likely to happen.

This is too much power to have in one man’s hands, and it makes me uncomfortable. The Congressional Republicans may need to show some spine if it looks like Trump is somehow abusing his power.  But they won’t.  Because he wouldn’t abuse it for personal gain, but for political gain, and the Republicans will share in the winnings.  This is corporatism, a few rungs above fascism on the ladder into hell.

Add to this the executive power abuse by Obama, a precedent for Trump, and it’s something to be concerned about.

One of my favorite writers, Walter Russell Mead, along with Sean Keeley, are out with their rankings of the world’s great powers.  To the traditional Big Five they’ve added #6 India, #7 Iran, and #8, Israel.  I don’t count Iran or Israel as a great power, but they’re probably right about adding India, a natural ally of the United States.  But, who isn’t?

Maybe China, and they’re rated at a tie for #2 with Japan, followed  by Russia and Germany.  I rate the Japanese very highly, but I didn’t think they were as strong as China.  I hope they’re right.  Japan is a natural ally of the United States.  But, who isn’t?

#1 and #2 are natural rivals.  As #1, we watch #2’s carefully, and try to ensure that they don’t ally themselves with #3, #4, and #5.   In our case, Japan, Russia and Germany.  The Japanese are with us, as are the Germans.  If we have a close and mutually beneficial with Russia, and keep them from allying themselves with China, we’ll be in the catbird’s seat.  This is balance of power politics, and it’s not hard for us to do, because we have no natural enemies.  Our former enemies, Germany and Japan, are our friends.   Bring in Russia and India, and we’re all one big happy family.

This is how you get a good trade deal with China.

It’s time for me to admit it.  Trump looks like he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s doing it right.  I knew, in October of 2013, that the political tide had turned, and a conservative revival was at hand.  Liberal progressivism was a spent force with the collapse of Obamacare, and our day would soon arrive, a fulfillment of what Barry Goldwater campaigned on in 1964.

Up there in heaven in the place for American heroes sits Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and I’ll be he’s smiling now.  And I’ll bet he’s as surprised as I am.

 

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