I am suffering from a nightmare after two surprise wild moves by in Washington yesterday, an attack on the press by Bannon who called The New York Times part of the “opposition” and the Trump tweet that he will impose a 20% tax on Mexican imports to the USA to pay for the wall. My issue yesterday closed before we know of these rumblings from the new administration, which is driven by PR rather than by any government experience.
I am particularly worried about how the Trumpians are ignoring the lessons of from the past, starting with the 1930s but extending into later years.
With the Trump Mexico tax, we risk unrolling the whole global free trade consensus which fostered global markets and economic integration after World War II. Will it be back to Smoot-Hawley and the foreign reprisals which extended the Great Depression?
By attacking and blocking the American press our country risks slipping into government by Twitter without critical commentary. That leads to dictatorship, of the left or the right, as was also seen in the 1930s and to the McCarthyist Big Lies of the 1950s. We can live through 1984 all over again, complete with torture of dissidents.
Removing the safety nets of welfare, public education, public housing, and medical insurance from the poor will fill out country with poor, sick, homeless, addicted, and illiterate neo-Okies. There will be many more illegitimate babies because of restrictions on abortion and they will compose a criminal underclass such as terrorized our cities in the 1970s.
Deporting “wetbacks” and blocking legal fund transfers to Mexico will create illegal fund transfers, money laundering, and criminality among those denied a normal life here. We have seen this before.
Immigration rules targeting Muslims will trigger more not less Islamist terrorism. I am reminded of nothing so much as the Kafka-esque measures which made it so hard for my parents and one set of grandparents to emigrate here from Germany. (My other grandparents died in a concentration camp because they couldn't get an “affidavit of support”.)
Denying the risks of climate change will bring back the Silent Spring Rachel Carson wrote about.
More bad science on the causes of autism can lead to uncontrollable outbreaks of childhood diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough.
Rebuilding highways and airports, like making the Italian trains run on time, will not resolve real economic problems, to the extent that Washington even knows about them. But government spending does risk triggering inflation.
Fighting Mexico will lead to a new Pancho Villa. It will be Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
If relations with China deteriorate further, its military and nuclear capacity will be used against us. We may have to remove another Gen. Douglas MacArthur threatening nuclear war. Wrapping itself in an appealing ideology China can gain great influence among those who want clean air and global trade. Buddying up to Putin will not help any more than the Hitler-Stalin pact helped Europe in the 1930s.
Of course this is a nightmare scenario and none of these events necessarily will happen. It is likely that the 20% border tax on Mexican exports will be blocked by wiser heads (like companies whose supply chains run across the Rio Grande). Our future Secretary of State, once he had been briefed, will point out that the President's tax idea is a violation not only of NAFTA but also of the World Trade Organization and other existing treaties.
The attacks on the press and the support of torture are sufficient unAmerican that even a Republican Congress will push back against these proposals.
But I am still scared.
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