Monday, December 12, 2016

What if Trump Knows What He is Doing?

Donald Trump has started out his presidency with a bit of crony capitalism, saving jobs at United Technologies Carrier division before he is even inaugurated. Oh no, cry conservatives.

Donald Trump has proposed to nominate three generals to the cabinet. Oh no, cry peacenik liberals.

Donald Trump has nominated a fast-food executive to be Secretary of Labor. Oh no, cry the unions.

Donald Trump has nominated an oil-state attorney general to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh no, cry environmentalists.

Donald Trump is said to be nominating the CEO of Exxon-Mobil as Secretary of State. Oh no, say the striped-pants set.

Is Donald Trump crazy, or crazy like a fox? Let's take a look.

First of all Carrier. The question is, which is the real Trump? Is he the Trump that is proposing to lower corporate income tax rates and encourage corporations to repatriate their profits to the US? Or is he the candidate throwing protectionist red meat to the white working class? I'd say that the Carrier stuff is there to encourage his new supporters, whereas the tax and regulation cuts are the real red meat that will put muscle on the bones of the US economy.

Then the generals. The problem here is that liberals have, as with many things, a cartoon view of military brass. They have in mind the flat-faced, ribbon-bedecked thugs of the political cartoon. In fact, of course, generals are highly educated, not just in the arts of war but the whole question of politics, strategy, the use of force. As with many things, this all started with the Germans and their General Staff. To me, the money quote from a general is the dictum of Gen. Hans von Seeckt. His idea, after World War I, was
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier.
Why was this? Because in the lethal battlefield where soldiers are hiding in holes, armies needed to push responsibility down as far as possible. Armies needed People of the Responsible Self just like nation states needed responsible workers.

Then the fast-food executive. Really, what better choice could Trump make? Fast-food restaurants are the front and center of the labor market, and I am sure that their managers and executives know workers far better than the foolish activists that think the way to solve stagnant wages is with increases in the minimum wage.

How about an oil-state attorney to the EPA! The EPA is really the center of the foolish liberal effort to turn the economy upside down in their cruel effort to stop economic growth and fossil fuel use and save the planet -- for people like them. It is high time that the regulatory administrative state get a blow to the solar plexus, and that environmental policy become subordinate to the will of the people, not the religious dogma of the bishops of climate.

How about the CEO of Exxon-Mobil as Secretary of State? It is, of course, a shocking idea. That's because of decades of demonization by liberals of executives and of oil companies. And, it turns out, that Rex Tillerson is a pal of Vladimir Putin. Oh no! But of course! The oil biz is everywhere, and everywhere has to get cozy with government. So Tillerson doubtless knows everybody that is anybody, all over the world. And, whatever liberals may think, I'm sure that non-US politicians have a lot of respect for the big marquee US energy corporations.

It looks like Donald Trump represents a new departure for a Republican president. In my lifetime Republicans have always felt they needed to accommodate liberal views when setting up an administration and devising policy. But you can argue that this strategy tends to backfire, because liberals take what Republicans give and then demand more. Trump of The Art of the Deal believes that you start with an offer that knocks the other guys off their feet, and only later compromise to close the deal. It is pretty clear that the Trump administration is starting with a pedal-to-the-metal attitude that is going to send liberals round the bend. Until they decide that compromise is the better part of valor.

No comments:

Post a Comment