More Opinion by The Springboard
THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."
Monday, March 27, 2017
While some may see this move by Iran as a "brazen and bold" move by the country, I happen to think it amounts to little if nothing at all. It's basically just a show. None of these companies do an extensive amount of business in Iran, and even if they did, Iran is so small that it would pale in comparison to any business dealings these companies may have elsewhere abroad.
It's a virtual drop in the pan.
It is a sign of growing tensions between the two countries. And some might add that what the sanctions imposed by Iran really have to do with is the threat by the Trump administration to rip up the Obama and U.N. struck deal with Iran to bar them from making nuclear defense ballistic missiles. A deal that, for all intents and purposes, was an awful deal for the United States without a doubt. And rightly so, the Trump administration has stated that Iran has already defaulted on the deal by conducting ballistic missile testing.
The fact is that we are not dealing with a country who can be dealt with on fair terms. I think even the Obama administration knew this, but they struck the deal anyway, and sent a hefty cash payment along with it to help to seal the deal.
Monies, by the way, according to most legal experts, the United States was never obligated to pay. But that's for another day.
Is it alarming that Iran/U.S. tensions are on the rise? Of course it is. Especially when you couple this with the fact that tensions are also on the rise with North Korea and even Russia. What should be more alarming is the eight-year long disarming of the U.S. military during the Obama administration, and the aging state of our military defense equipment which makes us less prepared to defend ourselves in multiple arenas.
Still, I feel that our military forces are quite a bit more prepared and able than anything the Iranians might throw at us, even if they happen to join forces with a larger, more equipped adversary. It would be tougher, but I also believe that the pace at which the Trump administration will re-equip our U.S. military and add troops will be much faster than anything we have seen in recent years, and by the time we get to the end of Trump's first four years in office our military might well be quite a lot stronger than it has been perhaps since the Reagan years.
We have the ability, more than any other country, to beef up our military force faster than anyone else can, and you can bet that is exactly what the Trump administration aims to do. I happen to think Iran is all too well aware of this as well.
I also think that while countries like Iran are not the brightest bulbs in the pack, I think they are wise enough to know that Trump, and this country, will go to great lengths to defend itself. I don't know what the Iranians know of history, but I am certain they recall the words of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who after the attack on Pearl Harbor said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
The Iranians must also know that part of the reason that the American people elected Donald Trump to the presidency is due to a great fear by many Americans that the former administration was not doing enough to protect its citizens from harm especially abroad, and that the American people knew all too well that Hillary Clinton would have continued to do nothing.
Some fear that war will come with a Trump administration ultimately. I think the opposite is true. War would have come certainly from a Clinton administration. These other countries have to know that a Trump administration is not an Obama administration, and if Trump declares a "red line," you can bet he will follow through if is crossed.
The sanctions imposed by Iran against U.S. companies will do nothing to harm the United States, will do nothing to harm our economy or the companies sanctioned, and it will do nothing to make the United States change its current position regarding the Iran deal brought forth by the Obama administration, nor our resolve against radical Islamic terrorism, countries who harbor terrorists or support terrorism, or our ability to defend against any of these things.
The sanctions are essentially no big deal.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
But driving still appeals to me. And I never enjoy being a passenger.
So in just that respect alone the idea of self driving cars really does not appeal to me. But there is another aspect to the whole idea that actually quite frightens me. And the latest crash of an Uber car in Arizona, which according to Uber's policy, also had "safety" drivers in the driver's seat and the car still crashed when another car failed to yield to it, is precisely a good part of the reason I just don't want cars to be driving themselves.
The self driving cars are not able to foresee trouble it appears. And while I am sure the "brains" can work faster than a human brain can, and while the cars won't be distracted by smoking, eating, hairstyling, shaving, or turning the dial on the radio...
And certainly the car won't be texting or talking on a cell phone either...
It still seems to me that nothing can and nothing should replace an attentive driver in the driver's seat calculating and making split second decisions. One could argue, of course, that it is not the self driving car that is the problem, but human driven cars getting in the way.
Still, the whole idea just seems problematic, and I can't help but think there will be many more crashes reported in the future the more common these cars become. And I suspect the death toll will begin to ramp us as well.
I am all for technology, and I get that the car makers and others surrounding the whole of our nation's roadways are wanting to opt for something to take the driver out of the equation thereby somehow reducing traffic accidents...
But I still think there is no replacement for a human driver in the cabin.
Besides, I am also an investor in the auto industry, and something tells me that if you take away the driving aspect from the car experience, the whole industry becomes boring and there is no reason to market power, performance, or even design. The whole industry goes kaput.
In any event, I just don't see this technology as being all that appealing to the average car buyer. So what's the point anyway? If you don't want to drive, why not take the bus?
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Something the Trump administration aims to make better.
The thing has always been, for me, that what America lacks is productivity—stagnated in large part by more and more good paying, family supporting wage jobs being lost to cheaper foreign labor, bad trade deals, and higher and higher taxation and regulations imposed upon corporations. We shifted to more of a service economy, and more and more Americans have fallen into the rut of lower paying service jobs, particularly in the sectors of retail and fast food.
With lower wages across the board, not only are less taxes collected from the workers. But more and more of these workers make so little that they burden the middle class and the rich since more and more entitlements get doled out to a larger swath of the population.
This has long been a recipe for disaster, and in many ways this slow and ugly cancer led us to suffer through a Great Recession, and due to bad policy by the Obama administration, and almost non-existent path to recovery.
It can be a tough spot to be in at times depending on who you talk to. When you say to someone, "I am not a protectionist, I am for free trade, but I want to see more things made in America," you get more than a few furled brows. It seems to be a way of speaking out of both sides of the mouth. But what I have always felt is that what we actually need in order to have free trade is fair trade. In other words, it is of no benefit to America to have major imbalances in the goods we make and the goods we get from abroad. What's more, even those cheaper foreign goods are becoming less and less affordable since the wages for the average American worker have really not made any progress over the last few decades. In fact, in many cases, wages have actually fallen.
And of course there are the taxes which slow down every aspect of the economy. From extra taxes added to fuel, to the umpteen million special "fees" imposed upon us on our utility bills and cable bills, and added onto other things—these are essentially hidden taxes. Call it a fee if you want, but any money that you pay that goes to the government is a tax no matter what other moniker you may attach to it.
I think we will be getting a break from this very, very soon. A Trump tax plan should be introduced by August of this year.
Already we have seen major improvements in at least the jobs side of the coin. Many more companies have either decided to stay here, or are coming here to provide jobs. The most recent is a German candy maker, Haribo, who is famous for its gummy bear candies. Apple has said it will make more iPhones here. Ford has announced more jobs here. GM will keep more workers here. And both Ford and GM have plans to expand production here meaning more jobs. And the list goes on from Carrier to a long and growing list of both American and foreign companies either looking to expand operations within our borders, or bring new operations here.
If there is one thing that can put this economy into super high gear it is to increase median wages and lower the taxes. Americans are super consumers, and the more money they have in their pockets to consume goods and services, the more money will be flowing into the real economy, the more taxes that will be collected, and everybody wins. I think we all are well aware of the fact that when there is more money to spend, and more confidence in where the money is coming from to spend, we will inevitably spend more.
It won't happen overnight of course. There is still a lot of work to be done. But one thing I am uber confident in is the ability of the Trump administration to do the right things to work out and undue decades of economic policy that have all but siphoned off trillions, if not hundreds of trillions of dollars of wealth America could have enjoyed had we stuck to the idea that wealth in America stems largely from making things in America. We were a country built on productivity, innovation, invention, and then somewhere along the line it was decided that we could survive without all of that. The proof is in the pudding that we cannot. The proof is in the here and now that we thought wrong.
We've seen massive gains in the stock market since Trump took office. Now we will get to see the same thing happen to the entire economy. We're in for a ride the likes of which we have not seen since the Reagan years, and while the economy did do well under Clinton, we all know where that growth came from—the Internet boom. And unfortunately much of that money was simply smoke and mirrors, and when that bubble burst, we still didn't get it that we need those bricks and mortar manufacturing jobs to create a real and strong foundation for the American economy.
We're getting it now. Finally. And luckily our current president gets it too.