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March 8th

Tariff A New One

« March 2018 »

Memo to the post-tariff-world: THAT’S NOT GOOD.

I freely admit I don’t necessarily understand tariffs. I mean, I understand them at least as well as Donald Trump does. I know what they are and what they do and that most economists don’t like them. What I don’t know is enough about tariffs to understand if the economists can be trusted.

In much the same way that what’s good for Wall Street isn’t necessarily what’s good for the economy, what’s “good” for the economy isn’t necessarily what’s good for society. The fundamentally exploitative nature of capitalism comes through strongest in the areas of deregulation and free trade, and the whole tariffs thing is all about free trade.

What I do know, however, is patterns. And, in large part, the Trump administration has operated in some fairly consistent ways. One of those ways is that Donald Trump has a tantrum and announces he’s going to do one of the overly-simplistic, bugfuck, base-rallying thing he shouted at white mobs during the campaign. Everyone would freak out, advisors would gradually walk it back over the course of a few weeks, and the thing either wouldn’t happen at all or would happen in a much less drastic form.

This started after the first implementation of the Muslim Ban, when everyone suddenly realized that letting Trump hastily enact one of the crazy-ass things he shouted during the campaign would backfire horribly on them all. A lot of bad policy and general bad shit is still happening, because watered-down Trumpism is still a shitshow, and the people areound him are also enacting dangerous policies on a regular basis in a less public, less tantrum-y way, but for the most part, a bunch of incrementally saner people with a slightly better grasp of public relations have kept Trump’s worst impulses at bay.

We have to assume it’s due to the thinning pool of Trump Whisperers in the White House staff, the initially large group of people who, either through different ideology or pure political self-preservation, tried to keep Orange Julius Caesar coloring, if not inside the lines, at least inside the coloring book and not all over the walls. And at least using crayons instead of his own shit. I mean, sure, Gary Cohn is an awful human being, but you can be very bad and very dumb and still be wiser than Trump.

Which means, in many ways, we’re in the middle of a race. A race between the closing circle of corruption and wrongness, from Mueller to Stormy Daniels to literally everything else, and Trump’s increasing ability to cause real, permanent damage unhampered by his staff. And it’s a marathon, when we want it to be a sprint.