Maandelijks archief: januari 2017

A new era

While I listened to the inauguration speech of Donald Trump I tried to follow the body language of former presidents on the balcony of the white house. But they didn’t convey much information. The faces of the Obama’s, the Bush’s and the Clintons stayed blanc. Only every so often a polite applause from Obama was all I saw. The speech itself gave not much applause either. Not even from the ‘crowds’ in front of the White House.

And yet for them their was plenty of oral support: ‘Never again will the people of the United States be left out again. Together we will make America great again for all the people.’

To me it sounded like a policy of isolation of the US. The last time that really happened between 1920 and 1940 was explictily directed against Japan. Some writers say it resulted in the second world war. We are not as far as that yet. At this moment – 24 hours after the inauguration - I wonder what will happen. Let’s see:

1. Trumps promise to bring back jobs to the US maybe not so new as it sounds. Reshoring,  the proces that is meant to bring back production of a large number of companies is already underway for the last ten years. But the number of additional jobs created will stay relatively small, because robots will take over the work to be done. Robots nowadays are already cheaper than the cheap labour elsewhere in the world.

2. (Re)building bridges, tunnels highways, etc. to compensate for deferred maintenance will cost trillions of dollars. Though that may create lots of jobs the question remains: how will Trump finance the infrastructure? Higher taxes? For whom? If he doesn’t want the burden for ‘the Americans who will no longer be ignored’ grow? This becomes more interesting because Trump also wants restrictions in international trade. Will the GOP happily approve higher taxes for the rich?

3. Restrictions on international trade will almost certainly lead to a lower gross domestic product. So again what will be the benefits for all those forgotten Americans?

We will see. The first signs are that Trump is not running hard to repeal obamacare.

Transition

We (Anneke and I) arrived in Florida at an interesting moment. It was just five days before the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th president of the US. When we left the airport the first thing we noticed about this happening was the sticker on the car in front of us: Vote for one criminal and get one for free, combined with pictures of the Clintons, a clear statement.

As a matter of fact I had (in 2016) as well as possible followed the election campaigns. On Yahoo.com I looked every now and then at the column Answers and was stupified by the hate that rose from the reactions to the questions. But then: we know already how the internet gives a perfect outlet for anonymous frustrations. That is in the Netherlands not better than here.

The new president – today still president-elect – evokes mixed emotions and he wouldn’t have been my choice. But then many commentators have written about the division between Democrats and Republicans growing since about 1980. So for instance Paul Krugman. This has led to a stuation in which presidents have been trying to get their results by their executive power. Their decisions could, however, be revoked by any following president, sharpening the division in the country.

But now we have a president who is supported by the GOP but who has a program that places the GOP in a curious position. For instance the (in my perspective necessary and not especially controversial) investments in infrastructure that will lay a big claim on the budget.

How will the GOP react to that and other Trump plans?

Florida 2017

2017 Has just started. We are looking forward to a new holiday in Florida. Reservations are made. Our suitcases are ready. Only one week to go.

It will be – again – an interesting time with the inauguration of a new president. And a controversial one at that. The vote for Trump was something like a shock. It might be a sign of:

a. the wish of a big part of the population for change. Change anyway without considering the cost: people prefer a president without political or governing experience, a president who openly feeds nationalism, racism and sexism, who tries to rule with tweets before a president with proven capabilities and experience but who seems to represent the system and therefore the elite.

or

b. the possibilities of cyberattack, as it looks now as if Russia has tried to influence the outcome of the elections.

or

c. life has become to complex to understand the consequences or viability of decisions. If people vote for you when you say you will build a wall to prevent hispanics from entering the States then what should we think?

This morning we heard the news that someone had a gun in his luggage by entering Fort Lauderdale. And then you realize this coukd happen to you. Someone taking his gun for no obvious reason at all and pointing it at you.

So we are going to the States just feeling a little apprehensive. What will we see?

 

 

The Berlin Wall fell

After the Berlin Wall fell, Fukuyama thought  the western system of free trade, open markets and democratic governments had won the cold war. In the years that followed the two parts of Germany were united and the European Union with  the new Germany as strongest en richest partner grew  fast in importance. It became a very attractive union for many of the former Soviet Union States. Afterwards it seemed that many states took their membership of the Union to light. they couldn’t meet all the conditions in time, the most significant example being Greece. In the mean time several things happened:

The Sovjet Union was gone, Russia had to reinvent itself.

The European Union introduced a new currency: the Euro.

The number of members of the Europea Union exploded.

In 2008 there was the stockmarket crisis