Big Bother

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In a move that surprised no one, the U.S. has sent the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Group and a wing of B52 bombers to the Persian Gulf — a move designed to show the world they mean business, and prove to the government of Iran there are serious consequences for signing the agreement to not develop nuclear weapons (and abiding by the agreement even after the U.S. walked away). Which seems a little odd, but with this administration nothing should surprise anyone anymore. Or maybe it is a move to show public support for the Israelis in Gaza. Either way it is a bold move guaranteed to attract attention and probably end in disaster. 

One real attractive benefit of trying to strangle Iran and destabilize the entire region is the way it drives up gasoline prices — and profits for the oil companies — and the awful implications that has on everything. It isn’t only drivers who suffer from inflated fuel prices; everything becomes more expensive. Fuel is the single most important thread running through the entire fabric of American life. Everything starts somewhere, is loaded on a truck, train or plane and moved somewhere else. It might be moved several times, farm to warehouse to distribution center, to fulfillment facility to the market. If it is packaged it probably has some plastic, made from petroleum. Petroleum is the opiate of modern society. It is the worst addiction, a silent deadly drain on the economy, and a fix is getting more expensive all the time, thanks to our commander-in-chief.

In an effort to counter the rising cost of fuel, plastic and everything petroleum provides, the U.S. government decided to slap obscene tariffs on aluminum from almost everywhere (except, now, Canada and Mexico) and almost everything from China — a one-two punch that is almost guaranteed to drive the middle class further into poverty.

Sure, there is all the pointless garbage about China paying the tariffs, but nobody believes that. Even Trump sales person and humble apologist Larry Kudlow admits tariffs are paid by consumers. Trump called him into the Oval Office (which has often been referred to as the Awful Office) and denied Kudlow’s obvious truth; and then denied they had any difficulties. Afterwards Trump almost assuredly denied that he ever denied the fact that they had words —such is the news cycle under this president.

Of course, Trump has the answer: make your product in America. (Remember his MAGA statement? Here is where he was going with that.) But, products will have to be made entirely in America, with no imported parts, and you will have to find a way to build it without using inexpensive immigrant labor, which may have the added bonus of putting even more people into low paying positions with limited benefits. 

Which circles us to the report from Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard, stating in terms anybody can understand that the middle class has still not recovered from the Great Recession. In fact, she says many middle class families could not afford a relatively minor emergency expense of $400. They would, the report indicates, have to borrow the money, let a few bills gather a little dust, or just ignore the cost of the emergency — all of which signals a terrible slide from the humble beginnings of post-WWII America, when the American Dream was born.

So, our government is doing everything in its power to drive up the cost of almost everything, all while ignoring the realities of years of economic research, and against the advice and concerns of (probably erstwhile) allies around the world. The middle class isn’t disappearing; they are just moving downstairs, and Congress is asleep at the switches. We are left to face the sad reality that Big Brother isn’t watching over us; he is too busy making money.


Featured image: Oil on asphalt (Andy Rogers/Flickr)

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