Springtime for Sycophants

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Springtime for Sycophants

Post by jeanV » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:16 pm

Springtime for Sycophants

Donald Trump (..) trade ire seems increasingly focused on an unexpected target: the European Union, which he tweeted has “horrific barriers & tariffs on U.S. products going in.”

This is odd on several levels. To the (very large) extent to which Trumpism is based on racial enmity, picking a fight with Europe, of all places, seems strange. Furthermore, the U.S. has always looked favorably on the E.U., which is, for all its faults, a major force for peace and democracy. Why rush into a spitting match with our allies that only serves the interests of enemies of freedom like Vladimir Putin? Oh, wait.

Beyond all that, however, Trump is just wrong on the facts. “U.S. exports to the European Union enjoy an average tariff of just 3 percent,” says the U.S. government’s own guide to exporters.

Where is Trump getting his misinformation? Probably from Peter Navarro, his trade czar, whose star is clearly rising. And the story of Navarro’s rise tells you a lot about the nature of the Trump administration — a place that rewards sycophants who tell the boss what he wants to hear.

First, how was Navarro recruited? According to reporting in Vanity Fair by Sarah Ellison, now at The Washington Post, during the campaign Trump told Jared Kushner to find some research supporting his protectionist trade views. Kushner responded by going on Amazon, where he found a book titled “Death by China.” So he cold-called Navarro, one of the book’s authors, who became the campaign’s first economic adviser.

Navarro has an economics Ph.D. but holds views very much at odds with the mainstream. True, taking advice from a heterodox figure can sometimes work out well, since orthodoxy isn’t always right. But giving heterodox views a hearing only works if the people seeking advice are themselves open-minded thinkers, willing to put in the hard work of understanding opposing views and assessing the evidence. If this sounds to you like a description of Donald Trump, you might want to seek professional help.

In fact, Navarro’s nonmainstream views mainly seem to involve basic conceptual and factual errors. One of these errors, which bears directly on the Trump-Europe spat, is a complete misunderstanding of the trade effects of value-added taxes (VATs), which the U.S. doesn’t have but play a large role in most European countries’ revenue.

In Navarro’s version of the world, for example as expressed in a campaign white paper, VATs give European companies a huge, unfair trade advantage.
U.S. products sold in Europe have to pay VAT — for example, they must pay a 19 percent tax if sold in Germany. This, says the white paper, is just like an import tariff. Meanwhile, German producers pay no VAT on goods they sell in America; this, the paper says, is just like an export subsidy. I’m pretty sure that’s what Trump means when he talks about “horrific” tariffs.

But what this story misses is the fact that when German producers sell to German consumers, they also pay that 19 percent tax. And when U.S. producers sell to U.S. consumers, they, like German producers, don’t face any VAT. (..)

So how does someone who misunderstands such a basic, well-understood point about taxes and trade get to be a key economic adviser? As I said, it’s because he tells the boss what he wants to hear. More than that, he’s willing to abase himself in extraordinary ways.

Here’s what he told Bloomberg recently: “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.” Wow.

(..) Since when has it become acceptable to declare that Dear Leader is infallible?
(..) (Trump) expects the kind of treatment tin-pot dictators demand, free from any criticism inside or outside his government and greeted with constant hosannas of praise.

And everyone who isn’t willing to play the full game, who has tried to play by something resembling normal democratic rules, seems to be fleeing the administration. Soon only the shameless sycophants will be left. This will not end well.
Benedict Arnold Trump is a conceited idiot: Lock him up!!

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Re: Springtime for Sycophants

Post by Mikgof » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:40 am

"Here’s what he told Bloomberg recently: “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.” Wow."

My God! Wow is correct. Does he think that no Trump supporters know any history at all? And this is a supporter of Trump. Even if Trump is, as Navarro is suggesting, a Hitler wannabe, that is no excuse for feeding his "intuition" only with "facts" that you think will support the narrative. Give him real verifiable data instead.
Alternative facts: Ignorance is Strength.

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Re: Springtime for Sycophants

Post by John Frum » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:12 am

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The bugman has no internal life. Soul searching is a non-existent concept to them. Their "feelings" are only real when affirmed and re-broadcast by others in the hivemind.

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