Let’s speak plainly

After watching a few newscasts with politicians using words that sound nice, but lack substance, I am in the need of some plain spoken comments. Here are a few to start the conversation. Please let me hear some of yours.

The US President and Congress are speaking of Tax Reform, but what I am hearing are tax cuts. We have a debt of $20 Trillion and an annual budget deficit. There is no way in hell to reduce either with lower tax revenue. We need spending cuts and tax increases, but no politician has the stomach to do what is needed.

Steve Bannon is the latest White House departure to say the President likes for his direct reports to compete for his attention and favor. People say this is how he likes to run his businesses. Two comments. First, I have witnessed this model as an employee, manager and consultant and it is a highly unproductive model. Second, biographers and financial reporters have all said Trump’s business record is spotty. He is a great salesman, but the word great is rarely used to describe his management style. It shows in the level of chaos and incompetence in the White House. General Kelly has helped, but it is a tall hill to climb.

While I understand the reasons for Brexit, I have been very concerned by the consideration and vote to exit the EU. From the outset, financial experts forewarned of the British leaving the EU. They spoke of EU headquarter movement, less investment, and less collaboration. This is already occurring in plans of the exit. I understand Former PM Tony Blair has an idea to govern immigration better without leaving – my strong suggestion is to hear him out.

Along these lines, those who want to retrench from global markets need to know a truism – it is very hard to shrink to greatness. I understand middle income workers in flourishing economies feel the brunt of globalization, but a large part of that is due to and will continue to result from technology gains. Retraining is a must. Shoring up wages is a must. But, we need to be careful about retrenching from global markets, that also add jobs here.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with these comments? If you do not, let me know why?



17 thoughts on “Let’s speak plainly

  1. The word of the day is “isolationism” and the fundamental cause is fear. Those who want to “go it alone” are simply afraid of the unknown and these days there are a great many unknowns.

    • Hugh, you are dead on accurate about fear being the fuel to promote isolationism. Isolationism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. By the way, our isolationism seems to be a goal of Putin’s. He looks to and is filling this void. Keith

  2. Keith, I respect your view about our former New Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, but as a Brit, have to disagree in his involvement with Brexit. It is many of his former policies on our membership of the EU that has put us in a messy relationship necessitating a Brexit. Blair is a ‘U’ turn expert, a war criminal (Iraq debacle), and a charismatic yarn teller when it comes to his own ‘power.’

    Brexit is a bit bigger an issue than an unacceptable immigration issue which the media like to trot out at every opportunity.

    I guess you could read my full rant about the EU on Jill’s ‘Would You, Could You,’ post, so I’ll suffice it to say that the EU is about to become a world power that doesn’t sit well with Britain. The politics of the day in the EU have some ominous undertones.

    For the British public, the youth are being courted with communistic ideals of ‘ togetherness.’ The more mature Brits are split…hard working but politically illiterate people who simply want a fair chance in their own country and middle class people who are willing to give up some aspects of a cheap economy, in order to regain the collective right to make laws that suit the British way of life, including a right to determine what money is spent on governance.

    Britain has never truly sat in a comfortable seat in the EU. As soon as we stood up to go, the knives have not stopped their assault on our back.

    • Colette, I truly value your opinion and it is far more important than mine on Brexit. Also, please do interpret my suggestion about Blair to be an endorsement of the man in his entirety. He went along with the Bush story on the rationale for invading Iraq. As for Brexit, my opinions of concern relate to financial and other enterprises already bailing on the UK and planning to do so. London’s loss will be to the gain of Dublin, Frankfurt, etc. I cannot purport to understand all of the underlying issues and reasons, but from a purely financial point, per the analysts, Brexit will be dilutive to the British economy. Many, many thanks for your thoughts and opinions. I greatly respect what you have to say. Keith

      • As you say, the EU purports that Britain must cough up a mega Euro exit fee. I think this will by challenged as the legalities on this seem to fall into a very grey area.
        As for our trade…and the media reports of catastrophic disaster looming…I think much of that is hysteric reporting. Most hyperbole on this will soften. Britain will take a hit, much like New Zealand did after we dumped trade with them after EU rules forbade the former economic ties we had always enjoyed. But, tie yourself into an economic treaty at your peril. The EU is not a free trade agreement, it is a Juggernaut of political constraints to give itself power above all individual countries. It will be like old Rome with the Caesar of the day tossing out favours but also withdrawing freedoms to those who obey, and those who do not. It has very little to do with race relations, cultural equality, or wealth for all and everything to do with control of the masses.

      • PS…I don’t really have political allegiance to parties. They all have good and bad policies. Most Brits see Blair as a left wing, come right wing, Maggie Thatcher. His political views swung wherever the power took him. In truth, the Labour party keeps redefining itself. Its current leader ‘Jeremy Corbin,’ is a ‘communistic backbencher

      • …communistic backbencher, that rose to power on a wave of indecisive squabbling by Ed and David Milliband, militant unions, and power hungry underlings in the party. Corbin’s position as leader is cringe worthy as he (a bit like Trump) has taken power of the party through the adulation by young college grads with noble ideas of a change in the world that works in an equitable manner. Communism has never given that to its masses. They do not have the insights of the past.

      • Colette, thanks for the added comments. The folks saying that Brexit will be dilutive that I am paying attention are financial analyst, not the media. So, I view this less as hype. It does jive with my view, which can be summed up by the Nash Equilibrium. If we look to make everyone profit, overall profits will increase. I am not saying the EU is perfect, far from it, but I believe the whole is greater than the parts.

        I try to look at the issues here without a party lens. Here, our politicians overlook solutions, as they are governing off rhetoric. I am sure the US is not alone in that regard. I hope what ever happens with Brexit, it is amicable and causes the least amount of pain. Keith

      • Yes, I’m sure you are right Keith and we Brits have enjoyed mostly good economic times. I do remember the horrors of rolling power cuts, worker strikes and even sugar shortages (amongst others ) in Britain. A free trade pact is a wonderful cooperation and would do well world wide. But we never seem to stick to ‘free trade.’ The political circus always wants more control and it just ‘sticks in the craw,’ when we try to swallow that particular ‘pill.’

      • Colette, free trade is the goal, but nationalistic interests usually intervene. China likes their version of free trade, which tilts to their favor. Trump approaches most things in a zero sum fashion, meaning he must win and the other party lose. Yet, this focus breaks down with multiple parties. Keith

  3. I’m late to this party! I took a much-needed break from it all yesterday, so I’m just now seeing this. Yes, I think some plain-spoken conversation would be a breath of fresh air.

    To your first point, Trump’s only hope to get the tax cuts through (cuts which, by the way, are to benefit corporations and the already-wealthy more than the average Joe) is to have a zero-sum budget. To do so, he is proposing to cut areas like the EPA, FEMA, HUD, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coast Guard. How much sense does that make in light of Harvey and Irma?

    As to Trump’s management style. Yes, he may be an effective salesman, just as he sold his line of bs to enough of the American voters to get elected (well, not really, but … he worked it), but now he is unable to deliver. Part of the reason is the chaos that he creates within and outside his administration, but precisely the tactics you mention. In 70+ years, he has still not learned how to relate to people. Sad.

    I’ll leave Brexit alone this time. I tackled it a few times and found that it is such a multi-faceted issue, with valid points on all sides, that I cannot possibly understand all the complexities without more studying than I have time for. But yes, to the strictly financial/economic point, I am concerned for the UK.

    As to my own thoughts … my biggest concern at the moment is the increasing divide in this country, evidenced in part by the bigotry, racism and hatred among various groups of people. This must be scaled back and I think the only way to make a start is conversation … the kind that means everybody actually stops and listens to others. Everybody speaks calmly, not with cruel words, raised voices and threats. How this happens, I do not know, but we must find a way, else the people won’t notice what the government does, for they will be too busy finding ways to hurt one another. Just my pet peeve of the day. 😉

    This was a good post … a good way to get some dialog started! Let’s do it more often!

    • Thanks Jill. I think it will take the citizens to show the politicians the way. Businesses also have tended to drive the some of the social change. But, we need the President role to do better at this than its incumbent is doing. Plus, he cannot fuel the flames.

      • I agree. We The People need to be the movers and shakers, so to speak. If we move far enough and shake hard enough, our voices will be heard. You are, indeed, on the right track.

  4. That Trump «likes for his direct reports to compete for his attention and favor» is a sad comment on the difference between being an adviser to a president and a courtier to an autocrat.  Maybe “teamwork” is too big a word for him to spell.

    • In the book “Built to Last,” it showed how the competitive model and leadership disdain for bad ideas killed a very promising company in Texas Instruments. What happened was infighting, ridicule of ideas, etc. Trump has had several business bankruptcies and almost personally went bankrupt on top of some bad business failures.

  5. I agree with your comments on retraining/retooling the middle class work force. The tax game. Trump. I can’t take anything that comes from his mouth seriously. He has flip flopped like a cat on a hot tin roof on every topic that falls out of his round little mouth. What he says is not necessarily what he does. Sometimes I wonder if he exaggerates his outrageousness in the hopes of switch and baiting his own alliances, thin though they are. But really, that’s probably giving him more credit than he’s due.

    • Linda, thanks. I think the White House incumbent is a tactical commenter. I think he reacts without much thought other than this – if the subject is bad, change the subject. I also think he forgets much of what he says. This is one factor in his track record of lying. I have an old friend who used to say, “Always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much.” Keith

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