If the topic of Trump’s trade policy interests you, this PBS/NPR documentary provides some insight, when criticized for its blatant distortions and ignorance.
Trump’s “Binary” View of the World
The people interviewed were ignorant of a great many things. One biographer of Trump accused him of having a “binary” view of the world.
Careful analysts look at nuanced lifetime events and patterns of decisions to understand the person, and juxtapose observations to anthropological, psychological, and ideological standards.
A person with a binary view of the world would not hire opposing consultants to present multiple perspectives to him. Trump uses brainstorming techniques and then takes the synthesis from opposing sides. If he was a “binary thinker” he would not employ such management tactics.
Marc Fisher, and The Washington Post, spent untold money, rushing to put out their “biography” within three months of writing, two months prior to the 2016 election. Do you think they had an agenda to get Hillary Clinton elected?
They even mischaracterized Trump’s correct statements about illegal immigrants contributing multiples of their population’s share to violent crime, as “[all] Mexicans are rapists.” Even a moron who couldn’t make the inference as to what Trump was referring to, could read his speech in plain terms and understand that he never even implied what Marc Fisher accused.
PBS put themselves in the dirt with liars, when they chose to use Marc Fisher as their authority on Trump’s personal life.
Trump’s economic advisors split between “globalists” and “nationalists”
At the weekly trade meetings in the Trump admin, so they say, Goldman Sachs (Gary Cohn) and Wall Street gurus represented the “globalist” sect. Bannon and the producer of “Death by China” represented the “nationalist” sect. The film apparently caught Trump’s attention.
I’ve owned “Death by China” for years. While many of the facts asserted are true, the implied solutions are not wise, and omissions are a-plenty. They culminate their advice with the union mantra “the best thing you can do is buy American and support growth of US manufacturing.”
The implications they present amount to a gigantic advertisement for the US labor unions. They even featured Trumpka from the AFL-CIO. Syndicalism is the form of socialism advanced by trade unions. They believe that workers should own the means of production instead of the state-dominated systems (dirigisme and communism). When the unions get special relationships with government, policy influence, lobbyists, and favorable case law, they become part of dirigisme (zwangswirtschaft in the Nazi implementation).
While the right to association makes union activity American, union and state collusion is un-American because it tramples on the rights of association of others. Even FDR warned about government service unions.
The K-street political consultants are calling this economic nationalism? The lines aren’t so cut-and-dry, are they? Syndicalist nonprofits, political surrogates, and trade unions pursue international reach in many of their policy agendas.
On the other side, the “globalist” sect speaks of American national interests – businesses that are hurt by the tariffs, workers that are hurt by the tariffs, and consumers that are hurt by the tariffs. Does that sound like they are neglecting US national interests?
If I could describe the groups, I’d have called them the free market sect (Gary Cohn) and the syndicalist sect (Bannon & Navarro).
We have improperly titled “nationalists” on the side of labor unions, which dump mountains of cash into democratic political campaigns. Are you starting to see how convoluted this issue has become?
The Facts Are 100% Ignored
There is no other way to put it – the PBS documentary and Death by China keep their audiences 100% ignorant as to the most relevant facts. For those with consummate knowledge of economics, they give useful tidbits. For those with cursory understanding, they misinform the audience beyond redemption.
America is uncompetitive in global manufacturing for many valid reasons that Peter Navarro reveals. China has been playing dirty for a long time. Unfortunately, he withholds the most relevant facts:
- Labor is too expensive in the USA
- Cost of living is too expensive in the USA
- Civics is too expensive in the USA ($6T state, local, federal, taxes $2T nonprofit, $2T regulatory cost in EconSov)
- The American labor unions he facilitates have contributed significantly to those problems
- Cheaper Chinese labor has mitigated at least one of those problems (cost of living)
Purchase Power Parity and labor statistics indicate:
- Chinese food costs half as much as American food
- Life expectancy of a Chinese laborer is five years less (they save on end-of-life medical care, for which American unions pay)
- Monthly rent for the Chinese laborer is only 40% the cost of American rent
- Chinese workers are almost four-times as likely to die on the job from an accident
- Chinese workers get paid $6 for every $100 an American worker is paid
- China has five-times as many workers as the US, so they can enjoy greater economies of scale in manufacturing labor
- Chinese workers retire fourteen years earlier but they work twelve-hour days instead of 8.5 hour days (they utilize youthful energy rather than making status-based unproductive token jobs for older union workers as American labor has done)
A pile of rubbish was published on CNN by two mistaken economists who claim that “when adjusted for productivity, Chinese labor isn’t much cheaper than American labor.”
It doesn’t matter that America’s tiny labor market (1/5 of China) has higher revenues per worker. They are building airplanes and expensive equipment.
All manufacturing labor cannot expect to make airplanes. Some labor has to make shoes, clothes, decorations, and furnishings. Would those unions accept the Chinese conditions of more accidental deaths? $94 per $100 wage and benefit cuts? Twelve hour work days for earlier retirements? Shorter lives? Pollution? More humble living conditions?
Chinese labor is infinitely more competitive than American labor in all but big-ticket items like airplanes. PBS and Death by China obfuscate that fact, which is the crux of the entire conflict.
In the book Economic Sovereignty, the path to efficiency, reduced taxation, reduced cost of living, and justified wages is laid out. I would suspect that only the Wall Street and Goldman Sachs “globalist” sect even has an inkling of the incontrovertible facts presented in EconSov. What a tragic comedy of errors, in abject ignorance, that all of these PBS journalists and “experts” interviewed lack the most basic understanding of the problem they are hired to address.
Wang Shouwen, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce
I don’t tolerate a fool very well. But I tolerate lying scumbags even worse. Shouwen opens his interview:
“We think the Pacific Ocean [is] big enough to accommodate two economies. We do not want to have a war, or a trade war with any country in the world, and we do not have the secret strategy to replace the United States as the global superpower.”
Shouwen is the reason I am not anxious about Chinese military or businessmen. China promotes men like Shouwen to powerful positions in their totalitarian government. He can’t even lie well. His eyes darted from left to right, as he uttered every word of deception in that statement. Even presuming that a person:
- Has no experience in interrogation
- Has never been exposed to the US national security reports of Chinese activity
- Has never seen the CHICOM government’s own reports
- Has never heard of assassin’s mace
They could look at his facial expressions and understand that he was lying.
PBS Uses Semantic Deception
When referring to their hit-job on Trump, PBS says Trump is “determined to start a fight [with China] that he thinks is his.” They insinuate that because Trump has always addressed foreign economic hostilities, that he is creating this conflict.
Explicitly, they said Trump is “starting a trade war.” But when they interviewed the Chinese officials, they called it a “trade dispute.” These journalists know how to change their language to accommodate different audiences.
Essentially, Trump cannot start a trade war with China. China started that a long time ago with:
- Currency manipulation
- Totalitarian labor laws which disrespect the humanity of their own citizens
- Criminalizing labor unions (as socialists who understand that totalitarian labor policy is impossible alongside syndicalist socialism)
- Coercion of technology theft from American businesses
- Cyberwar against American corporations
- Piracy and intellectual property violations
- Violations of human rights with severe pollution
- Overall disrespect for private property
Trump is the first President to even relent upon the Faustian Bargain that every other President before him has chosen. Trump’s action to address China’s hostile commerce cannot “start a war” that China started years ago.
Would PBS also similarly accuse a rape victim of “starting the rape” by punching her assailant in the face to defend herself? Trump is punching China in the face after years of their economic rape. How PBS can possibly frame it otherwise is nearly incomprehensible.
PBS Gives Da Wei The Last Word
Hailing from a Maoist university established in 1949 to indoctrinate communist diplomats, Da Wei, the University’s current assistant president and Director of International Strategy and Security (war policy and diplomacy), gets featured prominently by the PBS Trump-smear.
He says, “The question is, is the American complaint about the way China handles its economy, or is [it] about China’s legitimacy to become a prosperous and powerful country? Our population is four times bigger than the US…so China’s economy should be four times higher than the US economy.”
The PBS journalist nods her head and interjects, “This is difficult for people in the United States to accept.”
He replies, “Yeah I know, this is difficult to accept…we do have the right to be at least as powerful as the US, and even one day much [more] powerful than the US.”
That seems to contradict Shouwen’s assertion that there is not strategy to replace the United States as the global superpower, doesn’t it? Of course, the PBS journalists did not spell that contradiction out, in their own documentary, between two of their “experts.” I suppose the editors missed that in their final cut as well? It reminds us that journalists have the kind of education in which they barely passed Calculus-for-dummies.
The trouble with Da Wei’s assertion is that it presupposes a socialist’s hostility towards private property. It is 100% false that because China has more people, that its productivity should match another nation with fewer people.
This kind of massively low-IQ, banal, and pseudo-intellectual socialist axiomatic mantra is the kind of thing that ruins nations. We should be alert to the fact that he is speaking to an English audience, with a kowtowing PBS journalist whose agenda is to sully Trump.
Buying into Da Wei’s nonsense will not ruin China, but it will ruin America. Like complacent little equality-obsessed sheep, the American will just shrug and say, “Oh well, I suppose it’s ok for China to keep using cyberwar, theft, and policy to rip off America…they have the right to grow their productivity to four times ours, no matter what kind of criminally-minded scams they employ.”
I shouldn’t have to educate Mr. Wei, but here I go:
Productivity and consumption undulate in any economy. They are nuanced features. Does the citizen produce services? Goods? What kind of goods? What kind of services? What are they consuming? How much? At what cost? Is it sustainable? Are they selling natural resources? How much of their productivity is bolstered by commodities? Is that sustainable? How much of their productivity is financialized? What is the gross capital formation (the US has only beat the world at that in five years since 1968)?
To say that China “has a right” to be more productive per citizen than the USA is exactly what I would expect out of the mouth of a tyrannical socialist. Never mind, that Chinese laborers can get by on $6 to the American worker’s $100. Never mind, that Chinese laborers retire fourteen years earlier.
Let’s ignore every last nuanced aspect of production and consumption (of which I analyzed hundreds in my research for Economic Sovereignty), and assert that some socialist axiom mandates that every citizen of every nation has the right to be as productive as every other foreign citizen.
I suppose that because many Islamic nations constitute their main productivity with sales of oil, I am entitled to wealth from oil as an American. I suppose that because the Palestinians enjoy 30% of their productivity from foreign donations, I am entitled to 30% of my production coming from foreign gifts as well.
As a rational human being, who refuses to whitewash, bury, censor, or otherwise neglect the horrors of totalitarian government – I will viscerally oppose the smile-toothed deceptions of men like Da Wei.
In the case that he is so ignorant and unintelligent that he does not understand these very basic concepts in economics, why does he occupy such a powerful position in a legacy communist indoctrination center? I believe he knows exactly what he is doing. And the PBS journalist, in her quest to smear Trump, played the role of willing accomplice to Chinese influence operations. We call those journalists useful idiots.
She gave Da Wei the last word in her documentary. Wouldn’t it be impressive if she dignified her own President with such a simple honor?
Who Pays the Tariffs
Of course, since PBS screwed up the story so badly, neglecting the most basic facts and methodology of analysis – they could offer nothing but misinformation as to the debate on tariffs.
Every tariff is nothing more than a tax on the consumer. The costs get passed on to them when they buy things. It’s an example of a horrific tax that EconSov advocates against! The less transparency, the worse the tax. It may achieve short-term macroeconomic objectives, but it is not guaranteed to do so. They always benefit some at the expense of others.
Will Trump’s tariffs force the Chinese hand to relent on their decades-old trade war? Will Trump’s tariffs harm fewer Americans than they benefit? Will they do anything to decrease the cost of living for American blue collar labor? Will they do anything to decrease the cost of American labor, to make it competitive with foreign labor?
Search for the answers to those questions. You will get an array of opinions. The scope of this article is finished, but as you can see, “hard news” is not so straightforward. And there are significant economic dark waters ahead of us, which Trump did not create, and that the office of the POTUS, no matter who occupies it, may not have the wherewithal to confront. Like asking the Captain of a ship to save the ship from the deckhands who broke the bilge pump, there might be mitigating actions that can be chosen, but the options are limited.
I am at least thankful that Trump has relented on the Faustian Bargain that Clinton, Bush, and Obama were willing to take. I fear it’s too little, too late.
PBS doesn’t understand much of anything, and neither does their audience after this documentary. They will have more unmerited respect for Chinese interests than they do for their own President, if they acquiesced to the dilettante PBS narrative: