Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trump's nominees for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals are members of a Neoliberal, Koch Bros funded, organization - the Federalist Society
                                                                                                                      

Californian's face a judiciary which has been approved by
people who think a Californian is worth 3/20ths of a person.


We Americans live in a country in which not a majority of the nation's voters but a late-18th-Century-Constitutional system selected...
  • President Donald Trump, 
  • the Republican Congressional majority, and 
  • the right-wing Supreme Court majority.
Because of this selection system Americans have a government locked into Victorian 19th Century
  1. cultural values regarding regulating the personal behavior of the American people and 
  2. laissez-faire attitudes regarding regulating American individual business and corporate efforts to concentrate wealth.

The 18th Century, when our "elected" officials selection system was established, was a time when there was no electricity, no steam or combustion engines, no natural nor propane gas, no nuclear fission nor fusion; and therefore no telegraphs, telephones, radio, television, computers, electronic devices, internet, railroads, buses, cars, steamships, airplanes, space-travel rockets, nor nuclear weapons; and no tall buildings nor buildings of any height with heating, electric lights, treated water, or sewage disposal systems.

At that time up through the mid-19th Century the perilous transatlantic crossing from England to the former Colonies took at least six weeks and could take as long as two or three months. In the first half of the 19th Century it took six months to sail from New York to San Francisco and about the same length of time for a wagon train to go from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon or California. While using either method of transportation, there were no telegraphs, telephones, radios, or internet to communicate to people at your starting point or destination to, you know, tell them you ran out of food and couldn't find a McDonald's.

Aware of the reality of a changing world, at the end of the Constitutional Convention George Washington said, "I do not expect the Constitution to last for more than 20 years." Twenty-five years later in an 1816 letter Thomas Jefferson stated that a constitution should be revised every 19 to 20 years. Since a majority of adults at any point in time would likely be dead in approximately 19 years, he reasoned, a new generation should have the right to adapt its government to changing circumstances instead of being ruled by the past. On the other hand, in a letter written shortly before his death in 1824 Jefferson stated that the U.S. Constitution could last perpetually if it were regularly amended to reflect new developments in science and society.

Of course, Washington and Jefferson notwithstanding,our 1789 Constitution has not been revised every 20 years nor has it been regularly amended to reflect new developments in science and society. Apparently neither Washington nor Jefferson read it. as regarding amendments it provides:


It hasn't been revised because 12 states, which today could include as little as 4% of the population, can block any proposed amendment, something the largest 10 states with 54% of the population cannot do. Simply new developments in science and society, which generally are reflected in the culture of larger urban areas in the United States, can be suppressed by 18th ideas embraced by land in 12 states containing prairie voles and soybean plants.

Which leads us to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:


As indicated in a Sacramento Bee article:

    After months of negotiations and delays, the White House is moving to fill California’s three vacancies on the influential 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — over the strenuous objections of the state’s two Democratic senators.
    White House officials had been negotiating with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both of whom sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, earlier in the year about filling these and other federal court vacancies in the state. But that dialogue collapsed this past summer, Senate aides said.
    On Wednesday night, the Trump administration announced it was nominating three attorneys to the 9th Circuit, the largest and busiest federal appeals court in the country. Among the thorny issues the court has tackled or could decide on are the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program for undocumented young people brought to the country as children, the president’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries, and a lawsuit challenging the White House’s attempts to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.
    President Trump’s nominees for the appeals court — litigators Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee and Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Bumatay — are all based in Southern California, are prominent members of the conservative Federalist Society, and have worked for Republican administrations. None of the three were approved by Feinstein or Harris via a process known as a “blue slip,” the senators’ offices confirmed Thursday.

In other words, Trump found three attorneys in Southern California who are members of the Federalist Society. For those who have enjoyed the protection of the 9th Circuit, you may want to read Inside How the Federalist Society & Koch Brothers Are Pushing for Trump to Reshape Federal Judiciary. Or not.

The reality of the federal court system is that the Supreme Court typically only hears 100 to 150 each year. Per its annual report, new appeals filed with the Ninth Circuit numbered 11,096 in FY 2017. Of those 5,358 were Immigration Offenses.

The Koch Brothers Neoliberal network has had limited success in the Pacific states. Needless to say, Trump's impact on California and the other Pacific states will last the longest in the judicial system. It is the Neoliberal wedge to disrupt Progressive policy dominance.

Also needless to say California cannot thrive locked into a late-18th-Century-Constitutional system attempting to impose a Victorian 19th Century social system and a Gilded Age economic system.

Which raises the Calexit issue. When the problem was just Neoliberals in Congress, one could delude oneself into thinking hard work and time could bring about a change in the attitude of the electorate across the nation. The election of Trump made that a bit harder to maintain that delusion. But now its the federal courts. It could take many decades to restore the Progressive Ninth Circuit as well as the Supreme Court, assuming it is even possible.

Our problem is, of course, the Democracy Delusion.

Pictured at the beginning of this post is a fully descriptive 18th Century statement regarding the then newly created United States government - the Preamble to the Constitution. The meaning was a clear statement to the elite members of our 18th Century "Founding Fathers" who understood the terms of the Constitution that followed that Preamble. For those of us in the 21st Century, as well as the general population of 18th Century America, it might seem misleading without the following clarifications
  • We the People of the United States, referring to the citizens of the states who could vote who generally were white male property owners (about 10 to 16 percent of the nation's citizens);
  • in Order to form a more perfect Union, because the the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union of the United States of America,which came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 states, wasn't working out;
  • establish Justice, which referred to United States law and to the related court system in the Constitution;
  • insure domestic Tranquility, which meant to assure through force if necessary the absence of riots, rebellions, and similar symptoms of social disorder;
  • provide for the common defense, which meant as specified further therein provide for a military to defend all the states from external enemies;
  • promote the general Welfare, meaning as specified further therein creating a positive economic environment for interstate and international commerce; and
  • secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, which meant assuring free citizens - mostly white people - the continuation of individual liberty, free of national government interference;
  • do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America as soon as the legislatures of 10 states, not the voters, ratified the new constitution.
Day-to-day governing by government, if it impacted on you at all, was done by the states, which in the 18th Century - and in the 21st Century - were/are run by a relatively few elected officials, and the political subdivisions of the states such as cities and counties which in the 18th Century - and in the 21st Century - were/are also run by a relatively few elected officials (except for some "town meeting" towns in New England states).

And the thing is true Conservatives prefer we stick as close as we can to that model of government run, of course, by Conservatives. Progressives thought they wanted a strong national government run, of course, by Progressives.

But none of this is true direct democracy, except maybe in some New England towns. And even then, as explained in a March article in The Atlantic the town meeting form of government doesn't always work out too well.

Power in the United States lies in the legislatures of the states which create the legal framework for most of the laws that affect us on a daily basis and which, in most cases, draw the boundaries of Congressional Districts every 10 years, as they will in the year following the 2020 census. Suffice it to say, the most important elections this year and in 2020 will  be the elections of state legislators.

Generally speaking, the national press barely, if ever, covers those elections. But the very conservative Koch Brothers funded Neoliberal organizations focus mostly on those elections.

Now if you think our Founding Fathers had the right view as explained in that Atlantic article...

    To some degree, of course, the unresponsiveness of America’s political system is by design. The United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy. As Alexander Hamilton and James Madison made clear in the Federalist Papers, the essence of this republic would consist—their emphasis—“IN THE TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE PEOPLE, IN THEIR COLLECTIVE CAPACITY, from any share” in the government. Instead, popular views would be translated into public policy through the election of representatives “whose wisdom may,” in Madison’s words, “best discern the true interest of their country.” That this radically curtailed the degree to which the people could directly influence the government was no accident.

...then you're really not uncomfortable with the reality of American government at all levels.

Which then should make informed people puzzle at the cover of this month's Atlantic. No, "democracy" is not dying. Nothing "dies" that never existed. That is simply the biggest of the American lies - that we have a democracy that could be in trouble.

We really need to reconsider our core American fantasy about government. Now I don't want to repeat what I wrote here in the May 1, 2016, post What uninformed person told you the United States is a democracy? It has never been one. It is a union while each of the states is a republic or in the June 17, 2018, post Why factually these United States is a more perfect Union, not a country, nation, or state but it is worth exploring how in our daily language we have reduced our expectations.

Let's begin by considering an attempt to provide the modern definition of the term:
By this definition the idea begins to fall apart in the first line with "by the whole population or all eligible members of a state." At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, the "eligible members" were mostly white male property owners. Now, even back then there were already grumbles about the eligibility requirements. But suffice it to say that democracy in America has always meant participation by only those folks the currently eligible participants are willing to accept. And that is also fundamentally true around the world.

In other words, "democracy" doesn't mean "government of the people by the people" but rather "government rule over the people by the eligible people."

Then we run into "typically through elected representatives." In the United States, we have the United States Senate, half of the legislative branch, made up of 100 Senators each of whom casts one vote on any legislative matters and casts one vote on confirming both:
  1. high level executive branch officials and 
  2. all judges in the U.S. Judiciary nominated by the President.
A U.S. Senator from Wyoming represents a state with a population of 580,000± and the last Senator elected, Mike Enzi, received 121,554 votes out of 164,242 votes cast.

A U.S. Senator from California represents a state with a population of 39,780,000± and the last Senator elected, Kamala Harris, received 7,542,753 votes out of 12,244,170 votes cast.

This is "a system of government...by all the eligible members of a state...through elected representatives" and therefore meets the commonly accepted definition of "democracy." But it does not mean equality for even the eligible members.

In the United States elected representative system of government, an eligible member (voter) in California has 1.3% of the ability to affect legislation or appointments through the U.S. Senate as an eligible member (voter) in Wyoming.

Or to put it another way, for representation in American democratic government it is acceptable that a person in California is equal to 3/20ths of a person in Wyoming which ironically is less than a slave in 1789 which in the Constitution was assigned a representation value of 3/5ths or 12/20ths of a free person.

Keep in mind that if you object to comparing Wyoming to California, Vermont is next smallest state to Wyoming and a person in Vermont is worth half a Wyoming person in terms of representation.

Now one has to acknowledge that in 1789 a person in Virginia was worth only 2/20ths of a person in Delaware in terms of representation in the U.S. Senate, so perhaps we Californians shouldn't find it objectionable.

But in this writer's confused mind as a child, "democracy" began in the United States with "equality" - either in a direct democracy or a representative democracy. And the United States doesn't even resemble that. Perhaps we need to stop teaching our kids that biggest of lies.

And California is going to have to do something about facing a judiciary which has been approved by people who think it is right that a Californian is worth 3/20ths of a person.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

"We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal" to save the word of Jesus, Pence warns China and the world at the Koch funded Dr. Strangelove institute

In a speech on Thursday at the right-wing Hudson Institute Vice-President Mike Pence said:

    Last month, Beijing shut down one of China’s largest underground churches. Across the country, authorities are tearing down crosses, burning bibles, and imprisoning believers. And Beijing has now reached a deal with the Vatican that gives the avowedly atheist Communist Party a direct role in appointing Catholic bishops. For China’s Christians, these are desperate times.
    We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal. We’re fielding and developing new cutting-edge fighters and bombers....

Now, of course, that isn't all he said. Regarding his remarks as pointed out by a progressive institute Who was Mike Pence really addressing in his speech on China?:

    In the case of Vice President Mike Pence’s October 4, 2018 speech, the key audience was a domestic American one, and the clear objectives were to lay the basis for an adversarial posture toward China and to justify President Trump’s accusation that China is interfering in America’s electoral process.
    ...He also sent a stark warning to American companies, urging them not to abet Beijing’s oppression. On the subject of election meddling, the vice president attempted to shift public scrutiny from Russia to China.
    ...Since the administration has little to show thus far for how its escalatory instincts on China will deliver material benefits for the American people, the vice president chose instead to highlight how U.S.-China tensions are hurting China....
    While there appears to be support among President Trump’s base for a tougher approach toward China, it remains an open question whether the American public will come to support a policy of unvarnished rivalry.

Of course, most Americans don't know that the Hudson Institute was founded by Herman Kahn, the physicist, nuclear-war strategist, and Cold War “scenario planner” who inspired Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb as explained in Fat Man: Herman Kahn and the nuclear age:

    Herman Kahn was the heavyweight of the Megadeath Intellectuals, the men who, in the early years of the Cold War, made it their business to think about the unthinkable, and to design the game plan for nuclear war—how to prevent it, or, if it could not be prevented, how to win it, or, if it could not be won, how to survive it. The collective combat experience of these men was close to nil; their diplomatic experience was smaller. Their training was in physics, engineering, political science, mathematics, and logic, and they worked with the latest in assessment technologies: operational research, computer science, systems analysis, and game theory. The type of war they contemplated was, of course, never waged, but whether this was because of their work or in spite of it has always been a matter of dispute. Exhibit A in the case against them is a book by Kahn, published in 1960, “On Thermonuclear War.”
    Kahn was a creature of the rand Corporation, and rand was a creature of the Air Force. In 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs nicknamed Little Boy and Fat Man on Japan, the Air Force was still a branch of the Army. The bomb changed that. An independent Department of the Air Force was created in 1947; the nation’s nuclear arsenal was put under its command; and the Air Force displaced the Army as the prima donna of national defense. Whatever it wanted, it mostly got. One of the things it wanted was a research arm, and rand was the result. (rand stands for research and development.) rand was a line item in the Air Force budget; its offices were on a beach in Santa Monica. Kahn joined in 1947.

The Hudson Institute is among the many such organizations receiving funding from the Koch Family Foundations (David H. Koch Foundation) which is part of the broader Neoliberal network explained in this blog in the post The critical civics lesson America & Trump needed - 21st Century Ideologies in America & the Government$ of the United States.

No doubt exists that the Trump Administration is aggressively engaged in an ideological conflict with China. That was explored in the previous series of posts. But in Why you should fear Trumpism's Steve Bannon: war with China within 8 years and other reasons it was noted here that in March 2016 Bannon said on his radio show in a discussion with Neoliberal Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation: "We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years. There’s no doubt about that."

One could always dismiss that as Alt-Right campaign rhetoric. But five months later Bannon was named the chief executive officer of Trump's 2016 presidential bid. It was recently noted in a news story:

    In his very first meeting with Trump in 2015 to prepare for the presidential campaign, China was among the topics they discussed, Bannon said.
    “I told him China has been engaging in an economic war against us for the past 20 or 25 years,” he said, adding that Trump agreed with him.

Again, one might wish to dismiss those comments as some kind of effort by Bannon to make himself important. But on Thursday the Vice-President of the United States said:

    China now spends as much on its military as the rest of Asia combined, and Beijing has prioritized capabilities to erode America’s military advantages on land, at sea, in the air, and in space. China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies. But they will fail.
    Beijing is also using its power like never before. Chinese ships routinely patrol around the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan. And while China’s leader stood in the Rose Garden at the White House in 2015 and said that his country had, and I quote, “no intention to militarize” the South China Sea, today, Beijing has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles atop an archipelago of military bases constructed on artificial islands.
    China’s aggression was on display this week, when a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision. Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated and we will not stand down. (Applause.)
    America had hoped that economic liberalization would bring China into a greater partnership with us and with the world. Instead, China has chosen economic aggression, which has in turn emboldened its growing military.

Again, this speech was given at an organization which at its founding had a focus dictated by Herman Kahn's own interests such as military uses of nuclear power.

There is an old half-joke "I may be paranoid, but that doesn't mean they aren't out to get me." Pence's speech made the leadership of China feel that way. And it most certainly should worry everyone who lives in the Progressive Pacific states which definitely are an ideological target of the Neoliberals, have the closest economic ties to Asia, and are the physically closest to China, as can be seen on this map (click on the map to see a larger version):

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The lack of comprehensive political economy goals will create concurrent pecuniary and environmental disasters for U.S. Gen X and all future generations



 



The posts linked above offer thoughts on two related concerns about the future well-being of our grandchildren and the American generations that follow.

The first concern is that the Trump Administration's use of assertive political economics against China will result in, at best, severe damage to the economic future of both countries because one cannot use assertive political economics without taking into account all the political economy subsystems in each country and in the international economy.

The second is a concern based upon the caution attributed to Sun Tzu:

    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
    If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
    If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

We have seen little evidence that those driving the trade war against China know the history, culture, government, and political economy of the country and understand its long-term economic goals. And we cannot engage effectively in assertive political economics because America has no long-term economic goals.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The lack of comprehensive political economy goals will create concurrent pecuniary and environmental disasters for the U.S. Gen X and later generations
                                                                                                                      

Part 1 - Introduction


In Christopher Nolan’s science fiction film, Interstellar, set in the year 2067, the first few minutes of the film consists of interviews by survivors of an apocalyptic dust bowl. Those scenes are in fact are from a Ken Burn's documentary, real interview clips of actual survivors from the Dust Bowl which nearly destroyed the middle "Red States" of the United States in the 1930s. The Dust Bowl was the result of decades of individuals acting with full encouragement of the government in a time when we had no "climate scientists." Today Americans, particularly those living in the same "Dust Bowl" states, continue to behave in a similar fashion ignoring climate science, even to the point of assuring their government abandons their grandchildren to a disastrous future.

As noted by Wikipedia, a deal is a financial transaction which is defined as follows: "A financial transaction is an agreement, or communication, carried out between a buyer and a seller to exchange an asset for payment."

Every "deal" is made within a system we call a "political economy" which results in the distribution of income and wealth,  which system includes...
  • legal,
  • economic,
  • political,
  • social,
  • cultural,
  • environmental, and
  • technological
...subsystems that within each country exist and operate uniquely, and within the international community exist and operate pursuant to other rules.

Thus when a deal is made in the auto industry, for instance Fiat acquiring Chrysler on Janury 21, 2014, there were interactions with, and impacts on, all subsystems of the political economy -  legal, economic, political, social, cultural, environmental and technological - and frequently impacting both the national and international political economies, all resulting in alterations to the distribution of income and wealth.

 That was a "deal" by definition.

On the other hand, the United States, Canada and Mexico reaching an agreement in September to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is not a financial transaction and therefore not a "deal" by definition.

The USMCA, like NAFTA before it, is a restructuring by governments of a political economy system internationally and within all three nations, formally altering the legal, economic, environmental, and technological subsystems likely resulting in future transformation of the political, social, and cultural subsystems. Inevitably it will require within the private sector renegotiation of many existing "deals" and the negotiation of new "deals."

For instance, as explained in a news article:

    Big changes for cars. The goal of the new deal is to have more cars and truck parts made in North America. Starting in 2020, to qualify for zero tariffs, a car or truck must have 75 percent of its components manufactured in Canada, Mexico or the United States, a substantial boost from the current 62.5 percent requirement.
    There’s also a new rule that a significant percentage of the work done on the car must be completed by workers earning at least $16 an hour, or about three times what the typical Mexican autoworker makes. Starting in 2020, cars and trucks should have at least 30 percent of the work on the vehicle done by workers earning $16 an hour. That gradually moves up to 40 percent for cars by 2023.
    While many economists think these new rules will help some North American workers, they also warn that car prices might rise and some small cars may no longer be made in North America because they would be too expensive under the new requirements. There are also concerns that automakers might not make as many cars in North America to export to China and elsewhere overseas because costs would be higher in the USMCA region than making the vehicles in Asia.

If the U.S. goals in the USMCA actually are achieved - and that's a big if considering all the subsystems involved - the required wage increases in Mexico come with the provision that Mexico must make it easier for workers to form unions. The Trump Administration approved this just as a lefty populist took office as President of Mexico (October 1) making the USMCA a pre-midterm elections gift from Trump to the AFL-CIO.

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently unveiled a 500-page environmental impact statement to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020 which should keep the cost of those vehicles down.  This is a significant current concern for people living in most Red Congressional Districts.

But for those who living in most Blue Congressional Districts, the issue is a different one.

Regarding Climate Change the document assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed by projecting the planet will warm nearly 4° Celsius (7° Fahrenheit) above the average temperature between 1986 and 2005 regardless of whether Obama-era tailpipe standards take effect or are put on hold for six years.

The document assumes that that the Paris Agreement/Kyoto Protocol international framework with a goal of limiting the temperature change to well below 2° Celsius won't happen stating it “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

This reversal of fuel-efficiency standards, of course, also is not a "deal." It is the use of political economics ostensibly on behalf of an industry at the likely expense of our grandchildren. Not for one minute should anyone think that President Trump is blundering along doing stupid things. In this case, Trump's policy is consistent with a view that the Chinese government's Made in China 2025 plan was based upon the Industrie 4.0 high-tech strategy of the German government initiated and funded by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Trump Administration does not see the EU nations, including Germany, as an economic leadership threat to the U.S. But plans to address the Global Warming problem is seen as something of a benefit to China in the economic leadership competition with the United States. It is known that China's President Xi Jinping as long ago as 2005 in support of environmental goals uttered the phrase: "Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver." That commitment represents short and long term costs which will slow Chinese economic growth in the 2020's.

By having the U.S. officially accept a disastrous climate change scenario, the Trump Administration is sacrificing the well-being of Gen X and later generations of Americans in the 21st Century and after.

American citizens live in a country in which a late-18th Century Constitutional system, not a majority of the nation's voters, selected
  • President Donald Trump, 
  • the Republican Congressional majority, and 
  • the right-wing Supreme Court majority.
Because of this selection system Americans have a government locked into Victorian 19th Century
  1. cultural values regarding regulating the personal behavior of the American people and 
  2. laissez-faire attitude regarding regulating American individual business and corporate efforts to concentrate wealth.

Leading up to his primary campaign on Wednesday, July 1, 2015, now-President Trump made the following comment on CNN to explain his qualifications for high political office:

    I write a book called The Art of the Deal, the No. 1 selling business book of all time, at least I think, but I’m pretty sure it is. And certainly a big monster, the No. 1 bestseller.

From that point on, we have seen Trump regularly refer to himself as the best negotiator of the best deals. His core supporters believe that and believe it is relevant to his current job. They determine what is good or bad based upon their own personal gains and losses last week, similarly to stock market analysts looking at the performance of a corporation. It is the pain-suppression mentality that created the opioid crisis.

In the end, thinking like this will result in imposing on that portion of the population currently under age 40 severe environmental stress at a generalized level never experienced by prior generations.

Nonetheless as explained in this blog in detail, that NHTSA report probably will be correct because of failures of over-age-55-under-age-90 Americans, the generation that likely will become known as the Trump Generation because of its unwillingness in adulthood to sacrifice income and wealth for the greater good when compared to the Greatest Generation which, among other things, approved high gas taxes to build the interstate highway system.

When considering the latest round of deplorable tariffs on Chinese goods, "round " meaning...
(a) Trump announces additional tariffs on Chinese goods,
(b) China responds with tariffs on American goods
  ...it is important to remember that in the context  of all the political economy policies of the deplorable Trump Administration,  this action is:

  • an attack by the Trump Administration on U.S. consumers because a "tariff" is a tax on what you buy - not a war against China, Mexico, Canada, the European Union, and other countries - a tax offsetting the revenue loss from the recent Republican tax reduction on the wealthy and corporations;1
     
  • an attack by the Trump Administration on some U.S. and Chinese companies while favoring others ostensibly with the goal of reducing the interdependence of the two economies resulting from U.S./China commerce, despite the fact that in the fall of 2017 Trump made a trip to China bringing with him 29 representatives of U.S. companies to encourage them to make billions of dollars in investments in the economy of the People's Republic of China and grant the U.S. government's approval of People's Republic of China government-affiliated companies and banks making (a) investments in a natural gas project in Alaska, (b) investments in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia, and (c) investments to be managed by Goldman Sachs in American manufacturing, industrial, consumer and healthcare industries;2
     
  • an attack by the Trump Administration on the 21st Century economies of the Pacific States continuing the 2016 attack by both parties pitting the citizens of the states that are home to Amazon, Microsoft, Nike, Google, Tesla, etc., against the citizens of the states that mine coal and manufacture steel, supported by the population East of the Transcontinental Divide;3
     
  • an attack by the Trump Administration on the children and grandchildren of current U.S. adults because placing a wedge between all the other nations of the world and the U.S. is an attack on their future within a collapsing environment.4

This is dangerous political economics being conducted either by
  1. someone seeking the appearance of "war status" before the 2020 Presidential election or 
  2. unwise amateurs who primarily seek to bolster America's economic dominance in the world at the expense of other nations, particularly China. 
One could assume that "a." is true as noted in the February 2017 post Why you should fear Trumpism's Steve Bannon: war with China within 8 years and other reasons.

However, in this post it is assumed that "b." is what underlies the actions. Americans who care must learn just how unwise the people engaging in these dangerous political economics are.

Political economy is a complex subject. Nothing informative about it can be offered in a tweet, the President's habits notwithstanding. And in this post we cannot repeat everything that has been written in this blog related to the subject of political economy.

China also is a complex subject. Nothing informative about it can be offered in a tweet, the President's habits notwithstanding. This post cannot repeat everything that has been written in this blog related to the subject of China. Economic competition with the Chinese people in the 21st Century also is not simple.

For their country to be competitively effective in a 21st Century aggressive political economics contest:
  1. Americans must
    1. understand what is meant by the terms "political economy" and "political economics";
    2. understand how the lack of national long-term goals to benefit the generations born in the 21st Century is a major risk in a political economic contest between nations.
  2. Americans must
    1. have some knowledge of the history, culture, government, and political economy of China;
    2. have a realistic awareness of the differences between 21st Century China versus 21st Century U.S. in terms of the mixed socialist-capitalist political economies and autocratic governments of both countries; and
    3. be aware of the Chinese commitment to their grandchildren to use an adaptive, evolving national strategy to achieve their goals for 2020, 2035, and 2049, including the evolving Chinese strategic plans for climate change adaptation to assure that future generations of Chinese will survive and thrive.
These subjects will be explored in two posts in this series that follow Part 2. About Assertive Political Economics and Part 3. About China's most recent 4000 years.


                                                   
FOOTNOTES:

The lack of comprehensive political economy goals will create concurrent pecuniary and environmental disasters for the U.S. Gen X and later generations
                                                                                                                      

Part 2. About Assertive Political Economics


In the introductory post the knowledge system of the academic discipline political economy is reviewed. In this post we turn to the assertive use of "political economics" how the lack of national long-term goals to benefit the generations born in the 21st Century is a major risk in a political economic contest between nations.

As will be used here "political economics" means the assertive use of that knowledge system as it is outlined by the web page descriptions of the PhD program at Stanford University Graduate School of Business and as reviewed in the 2002 definitive textbook Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy.

The assertive use of political economics involves the continuous dynamic use of government and business resources to manipulate...
  • political behavior and public opinion
  • interest groups
  • election outcomes
  • legislative behavior and organization
  • judicial institutions and
  • bureaucratic politics
...in order to influence production and trade behavior, plus the distribution of national income and wealth, by altering..
  1. regulatory, tax, legal, and constitutional choices
  2. customary business practices
  3. consumer preferences and
  4. investor choices.
Trump, of course, has used the federal government to establish and/or increase tariffs. As noted here in Tariffs: Trump's excise tax to be collected soon from his deplorably unknowing fans, the tariffs are a tax to be collected from one American institution - consumers - to competitively favor certain corporations which are other American institutions. And under the guise of national security, Trump has created regulations to limit foreign companies acquisition of real estate within the U.S., regulations which limit Chinese companies that compete with Trump's business interests for urban commercial real estate.

"Consumers" are an institution? Collectively, yes. In this context, as indicated in Wikipedia:

"Institutions" are stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior. As structures or mechanisms of social order, they govern the behavior of a set of individuals within
a given community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose, transcending individuals and intentions by mediating the rules that govern living behavior. The term "institution" commonly applies to both informal institutions such as customs, or behavior patterns important to a society, and to particular formal institutions created by entities such as the government and public services. Primary or meta-institutions are institutions such as the family that are broad enough to encompass other institutions.

Consider this - property owners and business owners, each as a collective class, are also institutions. In other words, when he was negotiating business or real estate deals, Trump was functioning as just one of many in one of many members of institutions that are studied to gain an understanding formal models of rational choice, behavioral economics, and marketplace structure.

He was a minor piece of the American political economy. Now he uses the Presidency to influence international production and trade behavior, plus the distribution of American national income and wealth.

Even prior to the 2016 election, the Peoples Republic of China was competing with the other nations to become a leader of the world's economy by the middle of the 21st Century. But Trump has moved to turn economic competition into an international conflict using the weapons of political economics. It is likely that the economies of both countries will end up suffering unnecessary delays.

While the economies of the two countries are dependent upon and constrained by international "institutions" be they cooperative governmental creations or corporations, those international "institutions" cannot protect either country from itself.

And the social, cultural, and governmental institutions supporting the respective economies of the two countries could not be more different. The institutions are so different that they make China's economy difficult to analyze, much less project what the impact of aggressive political economic tactics will be. And what people in the Trump Administration don't know can hurt us.

The United States has no long-term economic goals. We depend upon the combined goals of individuals and corporations to achieve an outcome that will be beneficial to our grandchildren.

China has national long-term economic goals. The Chinese are planning for economic success through 2049. Most American companies are arguing over yesterday's P&L results. China's goals have been embraced by Warren Buffett who makes a point of studying such things.

Currently, China is America's only serious competition for 21st Century world economic leadership. Xi is the head of the Chinese government. How he sees the world matters. His opinions matter.

On February 11, 2009, while visiting Mexico, then Vice President Xi Jinping spoke in front of a group of overseas Chinese and explained China's contributions to the financial crisis, saying that it was "the greatest contribution towards the whole of human race, made by China, to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger".

Xi went on to remark: "There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?"

Americans should be getting nightly news reports on Xi. Instead we get a steady diet of reports on Meghan Markle and Teresa May. Americans concerned about competing with China should be familiar with writers such as Robert Lawrence Kuhn  who in 2009 wrote How China's Leaders Think: The Inside Story of China's Reform and What This Means for the Future .

Unfortunately for the Trump Administration leadership, xenophobia can get in the way of knowing their "enemy" in the international political economy "war" that Trump started. And it will not be easy for that U.S. leadership to gain much strategic insight into that "enemy" in the future.

Don't think for a moment that Xi and his nation will not do everything they can to make their political economy vibrant in a 21st Century collapsing world environment.

Of course, as the 3,518,020 Trump voters in the Carolinas drying themselves off would tell him, Climate Change is a hoax. Apparently they are unaware that, as explained in the introductory post of this series the Trump Administration formally and officially has declared no Climate Change mitigation actions are needed because the planet’s fate is already sealed, imposing on that portion of the population currently under age 40 severe environmental stress at a generalized level never experienced by prior generations.

That attitude is why Xi has the advantage on that element of the political economics conflict with the United States because it is that portion of the population currently under age 40 for whom the goals are established.

In 2005 as Zhejiang Province Communist Party Secretary Xi famously said in support of establishing environmental "green" goals: "Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver." At that time Xi Jinping was not even on any pundits radar. His environmental statement was far from pandering to the popular thinking.  Zhejiang has pioneered an "eco-compensation" system, which enables regions to both preserve the environment and develop eco-friendly industries.

In a country struggling to pull 30 million people out of poverty, it might seem easy to lose sight of the need for adaptation to Climate Change. But for the Chinese, the use of political economics to evolve a way of life has an 8,000 year history.

As noted in the introductory post, Americans must
  1. have some knowledge of the history, culture, government, and political economy of China;
  2. have a realistic awareness of the differences between 21st Century China versus 21st Century U.S. in terms of the mixed socialist-capitalist political economies and autocratic governments of both countries; and
  3. be aware of the Chinese commitment to their grandchildren to use an adaptive, evolving national strategy to achieve their goals for 2020, 2035, and 2049, including the evolving Chinese strategic plans for climate change adaptation to assure that future generations of Chinese will survive and thrive.
We will now turn to the subject of China in Part 3. About China's most recent 4000 years.

The lack of comprehensive political economy goals will create concurrent pecuniary and environmental disasters for the U.S. Gen X and later generations
                                                                                                                      

Part 3. About China's most recent 4000 years

The "illusion of knowledge" regarding the three quotes above is that
  1. The Art of War (孫子兵法) is traditionally attributed to Sun Tzu from the late 6th century BC even though its earliest parts probably date to at least 100 years later;
  2. The closest expression to the "knowledge is power" quote in Bacon's works is "knowledge is His power" as the context of the latin sentence refers to the qualities of God and is embedded in a discussion of heresies that deny the power of God; and
  3. the third quote is routinely misattributed to Stephen Hawking and Daniel J. Boorstin.
However, one can learn from the fact that the Chinese philosopher general Sun Tzu was born about
  • 1600 years after the establishment of the Xia dynasty, China's first reported dynasty;
  • 2000 years before the English philosopher Francis Bacon (at the time of the Celtic immigration to the British Isles);  and
  • 2400 years before the American physicist Stephen Hawking (at the time the Pre-Columbian Native American Adena culture thrived in an area including parts of present-day Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland). 
Those timespans should offer a comparative sense of perspective about the maturity of the continuous Chinese, British, and U.S. 21st Century cultures during the time of Brexit and of Trump.

The three quotes offer considerable wisdom, particularly when our nation's leader says his aggressive political economics policies are not a war...


...but says trade wars are good and easy to win...


As noted in the introductory post in this series, to be able to assure that our grandchildren will survive and thrive we Americans must
  1. have some knowledge of the history, culture, government, and political economy of China;
  2. have a realistic awareness of the differences between 21st Century China versus 21st Century U.S. in terms of the mixed socialist-capitalist political economies and autocratic governments of both countries; and
  3. be aware of the Chinese commitment to their grandchildren to use an adaptive, evolving national strategy to achieve their goals for 2020, 2035, and 2049, including the evolving Chinese strategic plans for climate change adaptation to assure that future generations of Chinese will survive and thrive.
It must be noted that this post cannot repeat everything written in the two-dozen-plus posts in this blog related to the subject of China but this post necessarily will be long.


China's History, Language, Culture and Government are not European

It would be fair to say that the Chinese have never viewed the world with a European bias which makes gaining an understanding harder for non-Asians.

To begin with, the native language spoken by Chinese President Xi Jinping and most of China's 1.4 billion people is not an Indo-European language. No influence from Abrahamic religions permeates Chinese history and culture, unlike American history and culture.

Think about that.

Words in the basic spoken Chinese are not derived from Latin or Germanic sources. For someone whose native language is English, to master communications and thought patterns in Chinese requires absorbing a new pronunciation system, a new writing system and a totally different approach to grammar. And more recently brain scientists have discovered that learning Chinese involves a different brain development as explained (emphasis added):

    One group of researchers identified three areas in the left hemisphere (or side) of the brain that are used when reading in all orthographies studied. These researchers combined the results of 43 different fMRI and PET studies of reading in several different languages, including English, French, Italian, German, Danish, Chinese, Japanese Kana, and Japanese Kanji. The three brain regions used in all orthographies were a region at the top of the left temporal lobe toward the back of the brain called the temporal–parietal area, which may be involved in phonological decoding, a region along the bottom of the left frontal lobe called the inferior frontal gyrus....
    The same group of researchers also identified several areas of the brain that are used only when a specific orthography was being read. For example, the fusiform gyrus in the right hemisphere (side) of the brain was active when reading Chinese, but not the other languages. This pattern of brain activity means that, when reading Chinese, the fusiform gyrus in both the left and right hemispheres is used, but when reading any of the alphabetic orthographies, only the left hemisphere fusiform area, the VWFA, is used.

Further, our culture is permeated with thinking based upon the 31,102± verses of the bible. When you "escape by the skin of your teeth" you are quoting Job 19:20. To make matters more confusing, our days of the week are named for old European gods. Which brings us to something seemingly as simple as having a common history for the calendar - you  know, birthdays, holidays, etc. Well, maybe not holidays because many holidays are religious, or associated with important people, or some other such nonsense. In any event, you likely don't look forward to the Shangyuan Festival (上元节, 上元節) (Lantern Festival) each year.

The traditional Chinese calendar still governs traditional activities in China and in overseas Chinese communities though China's political economy now officially uses the Gregorian calendar. You know all about the Gregorian Calendar that you depend on for, you  know, birthdays, holidays, etc., plus paying your bills on time, right? Sure.

As you must know as an American who knows your culture, the Gregorian Calendar was adopted to replace the Julian Calendar, the previous predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, a calendar proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

Pope Gregory XIII (you know all about him being familiar with Catholic history) introduced the Gregorian Calendar in October 1582 which was adopted initially by the Catholic countries of Europe and their overseas possessions. Over the next three centuries, the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox countries also moved to what they called the Improved calendar though the Julian calendar is still used in parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church, in parts of Oriental Orthodoxy, and by the Berbers.

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hindu and Hebrew calendars which reckons years, months and days according to detailed astronomical phenomena.  But to simplify, sort of:
  • Days begin and end at midnight although, colloquially, people refer to days beginning at dawn. We won't even get into how over thousands of years how they changed breaking the day into parts like hours or minutes.
  • Weeks consist of nine- or ten-day weeks, called xún (旬). Months were divided into 3 xún. The first 10 days was the early xún (上旬), the middle 10 days was the mid xún (中旬), and the last 9 or 10 days is the late xún (下旬). During the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), officials of the empire were legally required to rest every fifth day (沐; mù, from 休沐; xiūmù; "wash rest"), a day of rest, sort of a weekend though one of the days is a "weekmid."
  • Months are defined by the time between new moons, which averages to 29 ​17⁄32 days. Instead of using half-days to balance the months with the lunar cycle, every other month of the year has 29 days (short month, 小月) and the rest have 30 (long month, 大月).  Dateq, when a day occurs within the month, are numbered in sequence from 1 – 29 or 1 – 30. Years start on a long month and alternate short-long-short-long until the year ends.
  • Years come in two types. The lunisolar year starts from the first spring month, called Zhēngyuè (正月; "capital month") and ends at the last winter month, called Làyuè (臘月; 腊月; "sacrificial month"). All other months are named for their number in the month order. The solar year (歲; 岁; Suì) is the time between winter solstices. In general, there are 11 or 12 complete months—plus 2 incomplete months which border the winter solstice—in a solar year. The complete months are numbered from 0 to 10, and the incomplete months together are considered to be the 11th month. The first month without a mid-climate is the leap month or intercalary month which is too confusing to explain here except to say that leap months are somewhat like our leap years. In 2017, the intercalary month after month 6 was called Rùn Liùyuè, or "intercalary sixth month" (閏六月). When writing or using shorthand, it was referred to as 6i or 6+. The next intercalary month occurs in 2020 after month 4, so it will be called Rùn Sìyuè (閏四月) and 4i or 4+ will be used as shorthand.
We won't take up subjects such as 7 Luminaries, Great Bea, 3 Enclosures, 28 Mansions, nor heavenly stems and earthly branches which match together and form 60 stem-branches. Let's just say that unless you spent your first 30 years in China, it is unlikely you're going to even be familiar with what traditions, information and lore about just the calendar a Chinese person learned growing up.

Think about it.

For the first 18,000 years or so, beginning with the Neolithic age, no significant European interaction with Chinese culture is evidenced, until 166 AD when the-mostly-indirect Sino-Roman relations began to be recorded. It really wasn't until the 13th century Silk Road trade reached its height that one could say true cross-cultural influences affected China.

In China's 4000± year history of empires a different civil perspective exists than in the United States, a country that has existed less than 250 years. Evidence indicates that in China a form of writing began around 7000 BCE, the first empire dynasty emerged around 2100 BCE, and the Shang Dynasty from the 17th to the 11th century BCE created oracle bone script which is a direct ancestor of modern Chinese characters.

To make a long story short, around 220 BCE the state of Qin established the first unified Chinese state. Its King Zheng enacted legalist reforms throughout China, notably the forced standardization of Chinese characters, measurements, road widths (i.e., cart axles' length), and currency. His dynasty also conquered the Yue tribes in Guangxi, Guangdong, and Vietnam.

The Han dynasty emerged to rule China between 206 BCE and CE 220, creating a cultural identity among its populace still remembered in the ethnonym of the Han Chinese. The Han expanded the empire's territory considerably, with military campaigns reaching Central Asia, Mongolia, South Korea, and Yunnan, and the recovery of Guangdong and northern Vietnam from Nanyue. Han involvement in Central Asia and Sogdia helped establish the land route of the Silk Road, replacing the earlier path over the Himalayas to India. Han China gradually became the largest economy of the ancient world.

In 1644, at about the time of the first European settlements on the American Continent, peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng conquered the Ming dynasty capital, Beijing, leading to the establishment of the Qing dynasty (/tʃɪŋ/). Subsequently, China continued to be an oligarchy led by a Qing emperor until 1912 after nearly a century of interference by the British Empire and other western countries plus invasion by Japan left the country in turmoil until 1949 when peasant rebels established a Communist Party oligarchy led by a paramount leader selected by the Party (instead of a dynastic emperor).

In other words, the traditional Chinese form of national government has been an oligarchy with a touch (sometimes a heavy hand) of autocracy led by an emperor or a paramount leader.

With regard to government, it would be fair to say that China not only does not view the world with a European bias, but also views the idea of government through the lens of 4000+ years of experience with variations on a form of power structure in which power rests with a relatively small number (actually thousands) of people not ostensibly democratically elected, led by a paramount leader who is currently Xi Jinping.

And it is this subject which leads to the misunderstanding that represents the greatest danger to Trump's "easy-to-win" approach to a trade war with China.


China's Government is Imperfect Like Ours

One of the problems with amateurs in American politics is they come with a what might be called a prejudiced view based on false ideological concepts.

Consider the simplest of definitions governmental structures at the right.

While there might be a few towns in New England that have town meeting forms of government that meet the definition of democracy, the United States - the More-Perfect-Union government - is not a democracy. It's an oligarchy that offers some democratic elements in its structure. And since 2016 it seems to have an autocratic element.

Also, despite what many Americans want to believe, China's government is not an autocracy, but rather also an oligarchy with an autocratic element and a touch of a democratic element or two.

Americans want to argue that China is not free - that freedom of speech, assembly, and religion in particular are absent. Of particular current concern are the tight government controls on the internet within China and the "re-education camps" for Muslims in Xinjiang. These two are interesting.

The internet is a curious example. Many Americans, including members of Congress, are concerned about the evident harm lack of any control of the internet has permitted, harm which has not come to China.

And Xinjang Uyĝur Aptonom Rayoni 新疆维吾尔自治区 is
  1. a provincial-level autonomous region of China in the northwest of the country bordering the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, and Russia;
  2. the largest Chinese administrative division and the eighth largest country subdivision in the world and home to about 24 million people , including 14 million Muslims; and
  3. larger in land area than the largest U.S. state Alaska, more populous than any U.S. state except California and Texas, and home to a Muslim population that is larger in total than any U.S. state total population except California, Texas, Florida, and New York - more people than 14 least populous U.S. states combined.
Exactly how would the U.S., a "Christian" country that refuses to take Muslim refugee children, handle a Muslim population that size which includes terrorists? If it were a state in the United States, Xinjang would be the third largest state with a 60% Muslim population which, if only ½ of 1 percent were terrorists, would include 70,000 active terrorists living among a generally sympathetic state population.

How well has the United States dealt with the post-Civil War population differences? How well have we dealt with our indigenous population?

The world frequently points out to the United States that it has the highest rate of incarceration, making it the nation with the least free population. What exactly do Trump's Deplorables and urban liberals think are the benefits of freedom of speech, assembly, and religion to an imprisoned population???

As with economics, government and politics are not simple despite what some in both countries want people to believe. But Americans really don't know their society well enough to understand the truth of their own governments.

Some American's get hung up on the issue of freedom. The goal of these posts is to discuss cultures and economies, but if myths like "truth, justice, and the American way of freedom" are going to get in the way....

Pretend for a moment that you are among the Han Chinese population which is about 92% of China's population and about 18% of the global population (compared to 16% of the global population that is white), a citizen of China who has received a decent education, perhaps even having spent some time in the United States. And you are fluent in reading English. You know that Xi Jinping is the President of China, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Perhaps you think that at a minimum Americans should know that President Xi is the first General Secretary to have been born after the Second World War, was exiled to rural Yanchuan County as a teenager following his father's purge during the Mao's Cultural Revolution, and lived in a cave in the village of Liangjiahe, where he organized communal laborers. At best, you know Xi's respect for Mao has more to do with such events as The Long March and less with Mao's governing skills.

Recently the term limit on the Chinese President was removed. Instantly, much of the popular U.S. news media erroneously declared that President Xi had appointed himself President for life grossly misleading the American public.

The real political power in China is the Communist Party’s General Secretary and Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission, neither of which have term limits.  President Xi holds both those positions and derives his political power from them. But even that is not a clear indication of China's power structure.

The man who led China after the death of Mao, from 1978-89, was Deng Xiaoping. He never held office as the head of state, head of government or General Secretary. His official state positions were Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (essentially analogous to an advisory legislative upper house such as the British House of Lords) from 1978–1983 and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China from 1983–1990, while his official party positions were Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1977–1982 and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China from 1981–1989. Despite being the head of state, head of government or General Secretary, Deng nonetheless led his country through far-reaching market-economy (Capitalist!) reforms including opening China to the global economy.

China's political structure is deliberately complicated or, to use a stereotypical trope, seemingly inscrutable to Americans:
  • The President of the People's Republic of China, held by Xi Jinping is the head of state of the People's Republic of China; under the country's constitution, the presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers.
  • The Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, a position currently held by Li Keqiang, is the highest administrative position in the Government of the People's Republic of China. 
Perhaps 1-in-15 Americans would recognize the name Xi Jinping. The name Li Keqiang would be unrecognizable to 98% of Americans; if you do a Google News search you will find many articles on him except in U.S. news sources, of course.

If you are that Chinese person, from your perspective any ongoing American news coverage of China caters to a knee-jerk reaction in too many Westerners, as we shall see. Perhaps Americans start writing about the horrors of Marxist ideology because "proper" American thinking about freedom begins and ends with getting rich, with a side thought of being able to criticize others without retribution.

The American idea of a "big picture view" is a 72-inch TV screen. They freely express concerns about authoritarian rule in China while being ignorant of their own country which was built on the pain of native Americans - the largest population in world history to be subjected to government-sponsored genocide.

And it is as if Americans don't understand that Capitalism, which has an "-ism" at the end of the word. It is an economic ideology every bit as much as is Socialism and the evils of both ideologies when rigidly applied are real.

In much American writing, a government implementation of Socialism is an attack on freedom while the impacts of the U..S. government's implementation of Capitalism is not even acknowledged.

Most certainly most white Americans do not acknowledge what "authoritarian" means or how it has been carefully implemented by governments at the federal and state levels in the U.S. to support Capitalism.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary authoritarian means "favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom."

As noted the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The reason for this policy Americans understand clearly. The United States has a set of government implemented laws that are based on a very subjective morality that has deliberately selective racial and religious bigotry components that would have been unacceptable in all other countries of the West during the Clinton Administration.

The "Black Lives Matter" movement didn't arise because the United States offers the least authoritarian government possible to its people.

If you're a black American, you live in a fearful world created by a police state not unlike Nazi Germany. If you read that as an overstatement, you are an "in-denial, probably-white American" or participant in the police state culture.

If the enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom is what defines "authoritarian", then the United States is the most authoritarian country in the world. The People's Republic of China (PRC) doesn't even come close with an incarceration rate somewhere between Canada and Luxembourg.

Of course, in China the expression of opinion regarding political, economic, and social issues is subject to government restriction. And that includes a lack of freedom of the press. Whether within the United States today that is considered good or bad depends on
  1. whether people think that the press is an obstacle to their objectives and
  2. whether people believe the myth that entertainment can be defined as the press.
But one has to wonder about a people...
  1. who know their country has the highest incarceration rate in the world,
  2. who know that most of the incarcerated are black and brown males,
  3. who know that "a." and "b." were the result of a deliberate choice by the white majority who elected government officials at all levels, and
  4. who, without acting to stop it, know that their police are killing people (mostly black and brown males) at a rate not seen in any other "first world" country but frequently is seen in the most backward of countries engaging in genocide,
...but who still think that the United States does not have an authoritarian-element in its governments at all levels. Although they are worried about government infringement on the internet....

Pretend for a moment that you are that Chinese person who has received a decent education, perhaps even having spent some time in the United States.
  • Would you think a system built on Capitalist ideology that imprisons many thousands of people - the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world - is much better than your own country, which imprisons a relative handful of people for being outspoken against government policy?
  • Would you think a system built on Capitalist ideology that has uniformed police killing more people in the street than any country in the world because of their race is much better than one built on Socialist ideology that kills people who actively engage in and advocate revolution?

If you are any well-educated Chinese citizen, you know that your current government structure is about the same as it was for the past 4000 years, except of course for the peculiar interruption of Western intervention that occurred between 19112-1949 (see timeline above).

Of course the socialism/capitalism ideological argument between ideologues always becomes extreme as indicated in the graphic at the right.

And the U.S. myth is that it is a capitalist state while the Chinese myth is that it is a socialist state.

But you know that the reality is neither the U.S. or China is capitalist or socialist enough for an ideologue. You know that for a Capitalist ideologue the discussion of freedom involves the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual through institutions. For a Socialist that discussion of freedom requires the addition of the subject of equitable economic conditions that make freedom possible. And you know that these issues regularly are taken up within the political institutions of both countries.

The question for an American becomes one of what are the economic goals of each country at this point in the 21st Century? And the problem is the U.S. has no national long-term economic goals while China does.

In the face of Trump's aggressive political economics in the context of Climate Change, that is a problem which we will explore next. Make no mistake about it. It is a problem and we may be condemning our grandchildren to a far less fulfilling life than enjoyed by Trump's generation.


China's Long Term Political Economy Goals

It is important to lay out a simplified explanation of China's long term goals, generally known as the Chinese Dream, a term likely derived from the idea of "The American Dream" and promoted by President Xi Jinping beginning after becoming the Party General Secretary in 2012. Expanded upon by Xi when the Five-Year Plan for 2016-2020 was announced, the Dream is to completely transform China from a feudal economy to a modern economy.

In summary, after an economic period of relying on low-cost exports and transforming the peasantry into a modern work force in manufacturing and service industries, the goals were the Two 100s:
  • the poverty-elimination goal of China becoming a “moderately well-off society” by about 2020, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, and 
  • the modernization goal of China becoming a fully developed nation by about 2049, the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
The Chinese Dream has four parts:
  1. a Strong China (economically, politically, diplomatically, scientifically, militarily); 
  2. a Civilized China (equity and fairness, rich culture, high morals); 
  3. a Harmonious China (amity among social classes); 
  4. a Beautiful China (healthy environment, low pollution).
The curious question is what kind of American would find this threatening enough to start a trade war with China? And does such an American think the team led by Trump understands the American, as well as the Chinese, political economy thoroughly enough to win such a war? And what is it they think they are going to win? Will not the likely outcome leave both economies poorer with fewer jobs for the non-tech working class?

Of course, the devil is in the details. Literally dozens of plans exist to support the broader Chinese goals.

Many believe that the Made in China 2025 (中国制造) strategic plan announced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May 2015 is the core of the trade war between the U.S. and China. In China Donald Trump’s bluster about the trade deficit is considered propaganda since the issue could have been resolved by accepting China’s offer in early June 2018 to buy $70 billion in additional American goods in a year.

Trump Administration officials and many foreign companies see the initiative as predatory because of long-standing grievances against the Chinese government for past intellectual property theft, coerced (or nearly coerced) technology transfer, and China’s stubbornly protectionist market.

The problem with this narrow view is that from its beginning the Made in China 2025 plan was based upon Industry 4.0 which, as explained in Wikipedia, originates from the Industrie 4.0 high-tech strategy of the German government. The German economic development agency Germany Trade and Invest describes it as a “strategic initiative to establish Germany as a lead market and provider of advanced manufacturing solutions. Industrie 4.0 represents a paradigm shift from centralized to decentralized smart manufacturing and production. Smart production becomes the norm in a world where intelligent ICT-based machines, systems and networks are capable of independently exchanging and responding to information to manage industrial production processes.”

The German government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Industrie 4.0-related activities including academic research and industrial trials.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told attendees to the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “We must…deal quickly with the fusion of the online world and the world of industrial production. In Germany, we call it Industrie 4.0. Because otherwise, those who are the leaders in the digital domain will take the lead in industrial production. We enter this race with great confidence. But it’s a race we have not yet won.”

In 2016 during a speech at the Hannover Messe industrial exposition, Merkel said, “We have reached a critical moment, a point where the digital agenda is fusing with industrial production. This period will determine the future strength of the world’s leading industrial centers.”

You, unlike Trump and his Deplorables, now have a critical piece of political economy information which, though it dates back to 2015, is important in the competition with China and Germany. It likely underlies all of the objections to the Trump actions filed in September by tech companies such as Apple and Intel. In its documents Intel said:

    U.S. ICT (information, communication and technology) industries… are heavily dependent on global supply chains to produce goods and deliver services cost effectively and according to local needs. We are puzzled as to why the Administration may be using tariffs in part to re-engineer global ICT supply chains that have served U.S. companies so well.

The problem with the United States is while Germany and China have government funded plans for their 21st Century political economy, the U.S. does not even have broad goals. Now maybe it seemed ok to leave the long-term planning to the private sector, such as Apple and Intel which have plans.

But when The Deplorables govern and screw around with international markets using assertive political economics, Americans and maybe the world, will lose.

Keep in mind that China's Xi Jinping in 2009 when he defined China's greatest accomplishment was "to prevent its 1.3 billion people from hunger." Currently his goal is to end poverty in China as explained in Why Xi Jinping cares so much about ending poverty in China: the political significance behind the campaign. Whether China's Rural Vitalization Strategy (2018-22) will succeed is unknown, but this official explanation is more heartening than a trade war:

    ...Farmers will be given more sense of gain, happiness and security as the rural vitalization strategy is carried out. Giving the people more sense of gain will also be the priority as the country seeks to lift 30 million people still mired in poverty during the next three years.
    To make the development of rural areas and agriculture a priority, the country will accelerate the modernization of the rural governance system and capacities and take a path of rural vitalization with Chinese characteristics.
    The goal is to make agriculture a promising sector, farming an appealing profession and rural areas a beautiful home where people can live in peace and contentment, the statement said.
    Different methods should be adopted for different areas to better adapt to village conditions and farmers' wills. The government, society and market must make concerted efforts, and farmers should be encouraged to play the principal role.
    The meeting also highlighted challenges the country faces in its battle against poverty, and called for an enhanced sense of responsibility and urgency. Ensuring that poor people and poor areas enter a moderately prosperous society together with the rest of the country will lay the foundation for the rural vitalization strategy, the statement said.

Americans, of course, understand this as well as their own government's farm policy. Uh, no they don't. It is doubtful that even all members of Congress understand either country's farm policy. 

Sun Tzu's observation "if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle" raises serious questions. Does the U.S. know itself and does it know China?

One thing is certain. China as a nation has been tested for 4000 years and now has 1.4 billion people. The U.S., the more-perfect-Union, has existed for only 6% of that time and has 25% of that population. Both countries occupy about the same area on the surface of the globe. And the U.S. President is engaging in a trade war with China.