Many folks have had enough of the anger, condescension, dishonesty, hate, bitterness, aggression, etc. that are so plentiful these days. So, despite my inclination to answer so much of it (and it needs to be answered), I write today about some reasons to be grateful for the world we inhabit — and hopeful about the future.
Our family recently traveled back to the Midwest for the biennial coast-to-coast extended family reunion on my mother’s side. The fact that many folks can travel economically such long distances for brief stays is something to appreciate, because it wasn’t possible in the past and still isn’t in most parts of the world today.
Mom’s the oldest surviving member of the family, while our daughter Karyn’s the youngest of her generation of cousins. So Karyn has had a great opportunity to learn first-hand some real and important history others get only in passing in school.
Her grandmother, until she turned eight, was a barefoot, dust-bowl, depression era Kansas farm girl. My grandparents (Mom’s parents) did well as young farmers in the Kansas farm boom of the 1920s, but as the water table sank, their well went dry and they lost the farm.
Having been diligent and productive farmers and paid their loan to the end, the bank asked them to take over a farm that still had water but had been abandoned by folks who went to California. When the well at the second farm also went dry, the bank asked them to try once more.
When the third farm went dry too, as the water table continued downward, they gave up farming and moved into Wichita. From my grandfather’s funeral many years later, the salient thing I remember is he continued to deliver eggs to neighbors even when they couldn’t pay.
Mom vividly remembers that the only time she ever saw her parents cry was after they moved into town and the pastor came to tell them he had found Grandpa a job. They cried at the family table because they knew their seven (soon to be ten) children would not go hungry. Those were really hard times.
Karyn also has such a story on her mother’s side from the same period. Kathy’s dad’s family owned a restaurant (25-cent full meals!) and then a general store in Lily, South Dakota, population 33. As things went downhill for everyone, they had to accept barter from folks at the store because no one had cash.
Ultimately, they couldn’t make the last payment on the family car and lost it, while the store closed. They packed everything they could into their suitcases, including the family silverware, and boarded a train for the west coast. Eventually they landed in California, where Dad and his father worked in the Marin shipyards in World War II (and Dad caught asbestos fibers in his lung that killed him half a century later).
As I told Karyn when we watched Ken Burns’ documentary, The Dust Bowl, that was something of a family history for her. But both families worked hard and prospered after the war. Kathy and I have been more fortunate than most, and so today Karyn will be able to go to college wherever she can get in.
Not everyone has been so fortunate, but a very large percentage of the population lives much better today than their forebears.
For example, in the last century, the portion of the average family budget that goes for food has declined from 25 percent to less than 10 percent. And over half of today’s food dollar is spent eating out, with much greater selection than at home and no dish-washing. A couple of years ago Karyn ordered Australian lobster at an Elko restaurant in February – something completely unheard of when I was her age. (Yeah, I really said that.)
Clothes, furniture, tools and all kinds of material things are plentiful and inexpensive today. So, much of our spending now goes to services only the very wealthy could afford in previous decades.
Yes, economic growth has slowed, and we may not see such rapid progress going forward. But next time I’ll give some reasons to be hopeful and optimistic for the future.
Gee, the Chinese seem to want a trade war.
That should raise the blood pressure of the Chicago School of Economics students.
Why should you care?
The truth is that the Democrats want you to care only because they sense a vulnerability they might be able to exploit in the 2020 election. Of course, what they know about business you could stuff in a thimble and still have room for the 20 mental midgets who want a chance to get the losing party’s nomination. Elizabeth Warren indeed.
If you were to add the IQ of the 20 candidates for the Democrat nomination together, it would not equal one American steelworker—and it is not my intention to insult steelworkers.
The other reason one might care is that your really cheap flat screen TVs will have to be made in Korea or Viet Nam in the future.
Here’s the fact.
China has been ripping us off since President Nixon went to China. We’re the bank they have been robbing. If we catch a cold, they get pneumonia.
They tax the hell out of our manufacturers one way or another, they keep their markets essentially closed to us and they steal our intellectual property. And we’re supposed to allow them to continue? Their next step is to try and replace the dollar as a primary currency.
The truth is that a little pain—slightly more expensive cheap Chinese crap, as an example—probably won’t hurt us.
In case you haven’t seen past the Shepard Smiths and Rachel Maddows of the world, things are pretty good right now for the middle class. However, economic hucksters on cable tv would like you to think we’re headed to 2008 all over again. Remember, when the market drops 700 points in one day, they get more viewers.
Of course, in 2008, crooks on Wall Street and crooks on Main Street had been deliberately making crappy home loans, packaging them up as securities, selling those securities to each other and betting against them.
When it all blew up, they turned to us, the taxpayers, for a bailout and got it. That solved Wall Street’s problem.
But on Main Street, the credit markets seized and millions of people found themselves with mortgages worth more than their houses because the market values of those houses crashed. Those with incomes could power through. Those who got loans which nobody in their right minds would have made, got evicted. And it represented a great buying opportunity for those who got bailed out.
Fast forward to today.
We have a real businessman in the White House—not a community organizer.
If Goldman Sachs and their buddies came to Donald Trump for a bail-out, they might get it but the terms would be much more onerous than the days when Barack Obama was there. Think of our President as negotiating for US in such a situation. We’ve never been in such good hands.
Now is not a good time for Wall Street to come begging.
So, they won’t. They will keep things under control.
There will be no securitization of NINJA (no income, no job or assets) loans like lenders were encouraged to make before 2008.
When you see the amateur economists—like the people responsible for the last crash—predicting another economic crash, remember two things.
One is that we can develop new markets for our exports.
Second, Chinas’ biggest market is us.
As far as China goes, how can they replace us? Especially if we stick with the President in keeping the pressure on.