Are tax cuts and tariffs working?

Are tax cuts and tariffs working?

According to Matthew A. Winkler, no.

Tariffs are as complicated as trying to model and predict the weather. The unintended consequences that can arise from the infinitely complex interconnections of supply chains are beyond any president’s comprehension. If you create a tariff war over in one market, without realizing it you create a slow-moving disaster in another market. The launching of tariffs is like flipping a coin with one side good and the other side disaster, simply on the arrogant, misinformed, and wrong-side-of-history whim of one man.

Trade Works. Tariffs Don’t.

Trump likes to make deals, so here’s the deal: if we allow him to launch a tariff war, we agree to pay him 1% of 1% of the net reduction in our trade deficit; but, he must agree to reimburse the country for any damage he causes if it doesn’t work out so well. Would Trump take that deal? Of course he wouldn’t! He only does deals with other peoples’ money (taxpayers, banks, suppliers, employees, investors), and history shows, it generally ends up in loan defaults and bankruptcy.

Great businessman and leader? The majority of the American people don’t think so.


You’re a Mean One, Mr. Trump

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Trump

How did we let him get this far?

You’re a mean one, Mr. Trump …
You really are a snark.
You’re as cuddly as an onion,
You’re as charming as a shark,
Mr. Trump!
You’re a bad boy,
With a sleazy dark heart!

You’re a blowhard, Mr. Trump!
Your heart’s a heartless hole.
Your brain is full of conspiracies.
You’re soul is fouled with greed,
Mr. Trump!
A good mouth-scrubbing with soap
is what you need!

You’re a despicable, Mr. Trump!
You have eyes that are full of lies.
You are a shameless braggadocio
Bragging all day and in your sleep,
Mr. Trump!
Given the choice between you and anyone else,
I’d take any one of anyone else!

You’re a gangster, Mr. Trump!
You’re a bratty, wannabe rogue!
Your buf- is full of -foon.
Your face is bald- and two-,
Mr. Trump!
The three words that best describe you
Are as follows, and I quote,
“Cheat’n, Tweet’n, Liar!”

You’re a charlatan, Mr. Trump!
You’re the artful dodger of sketchy deals!
Your spoon is shiny silver
Your cannon is loosey-goosey,
Mr. Trump!
Your soul is a vacant lot,
Out to lunch
Missing in action,
Dead on arrival!

You disappoint us, Mr. Trump!
How did you ever become El Presidente?
You’re a cheesy fraud from the get-go,
A goofy huckster on the lam,
Mr. Trump!
You’re the fourth president to face impeachment,


When Is It Time to Retreat from Climate Change?

When Is It Time to Retreat from Climate Change?

Has the climate change apocalypse arrived?

Are citizens and scientists and politicians underestimating climate change’s potential existential threat?

From the very first time we become aware of the concept of surviving and playing to win, parents and mentors coach us to “never underestimate the competition,” and become seduced by overconfidence and complacency. As we gain experience, we learn (sometimes the hard way) this simple maxim is true. We know that:

  • smart business professionals never underestimate their competition
  • smart military leaders never underestimate their enemies
  • smart coaches never underestimate the other team
  • smart politicians never underestimate the other candidate

So, a smart scientist should never underestimate the randomness and power of planet earth and the potential existential threats that can arise, such as climate change. History shows, we do so at our peril!

So the BIG QUESTION is, when is it time to retreat from climate change?


  • climate change is getting too big and complicated to reliably model and solve
  • climate change is going to create a cumulative disaster recovery bill that we cannot realistically afford
  • only a few Americans believe nations can solve the problem together in time, and
  • most Americans are unwilling to change their behavior in any event; then,

Are we better off to focus our support, energies, and money on a long-term strategy to adapt to the inevitable warming of Planet Earth and its consequences, while not abandoning (completely) our efforts to stop it?


The Geography of Risk by Gilbert Gaul
Propaganda Machine

Propaganda Machine

Social media’s business model is not advertising, but it is changing behavior, and they gladly sell that massively powerful service to everyone including all the bad actors of the world… more

Social Parasites

Social Parasites

Religion, sports, corporations, police, and the military are massive global communities that attract people who want to do good to make a difference in the world. But because they are so huge and complex, they also attract a percentage of impostors with bad intentions who infiltrate and hide within these professions to silently and secretly pursue evil and wreak havoc… more

Star on the Boulevard

Star on the Boulevard

Friends and family tell me to stop climbing the tree, but if I don’t climb, who will?

In 2002, I did something that I had never done before and have not done since, which is to take a full two weeks of vacation at the end of the year. It was a use it or lose it situation for me and I wasn’t about to waste those precious vacation days. The first week of this vacation my wife was still teaching and my kids were still in school and not yet out for holiday break, so I was home alone. I asked myself, what should I do?

We didn’t have HBO back in that day but my young-adult son (just graduated from college) had become a fan of the Sopranos, so he sent me a box set of the entire first season. On my first day of vacation right after my wife and kids had left for school, I settled in with the first DVD and as you might expect, I didn’t come up for air until I heard my wife driving up the driveway coming home from school. When she walked in the door I said, “I’ve done something very bad,” and informed her that I hadn’t gotten off the couch since she left that morning. Now that’s not the worst thing in the world but for me it was extremely slug-like and I don’t think I’ve ever done that since. But of course, binge-watching TV episodes is now the new normal, so I guess I was ahead of my time.

To atone for my extreme laziness, I decided I’d do something constructive the next day and I thought maybe I would get started on the outdoor Christmas lights. But then a thought popped into my head and I don’t know where this came from, but as I looked up at our big pine tree at the southwest corner of our house, I thought maybe I’d put a star on top of that tree. It was to be a big surprise for my wife and kids that evening.

I had climbed on buildings and train bridges and water towers and up tall trees since I was five years old, so I had no problem with heights. I just thought I’d start climbing the tree and if I ran into a problem such as an irritated squirrel, I’d abandon the idea. No big deal.

So I made the rounds of the big-box stores and found my first star at Lowe’s. I came home, laid out 200 feet of electrical extension cord, and set up a ladder so I could make it up to the first branch about 20 feet off the ground. I fashioned a harness so that I could carry the star around my neck and attached the electrical cord to my belt so I could pull it up with me as I climbed the tree.

It was a very cold day and a little snowy as I started to climb the tree, branch by branch, very slowly and carefully, until I got as high as I could go (close to 80 feet), swaying in the breeze and afraid I might snap the top of the tree trunk. I secured the star to the trunk of the tree, plugged in the extension cord and slowly descended. I got down safely and ran the extension cord around the house and plugged it into an outlet in the garage. I walked around the house and looked up and saw the star glowing. It worked!

I unplugged the star and waited until my wife and kids came home and then when it got dark, I asked them to come outside so I could do the big reveal. They were flabbergasted! My wife looked at me and said, “How did you get that up there?” I said nothing but just looked at her and then she looked at me and said, “You climbed that tree, didn’t you?” I nodded and smiled and I have been smiling about that ever since.

So every year now since 2002, people have been asking me how I got that star up there. They all seemed to think I rented a cherry picker (boom lift). I would just say, “Oh, it’s a really easy tree to climb….. lots of limbs.” But most of them were skeptical that I actually climbed up the tree. The most recent skeptic asked, “Did you use a drone?” Nope, no drones in my air space, just me and the squirrels.  I made a little video of me replacing the star one year called Star on the Boulevard.

Star on the Boulevard

I decided to keep the star on until January 6 (epiphany) which is when we would typically take down our Christmas tree. But I didn’t climb back up the tree to take the star down. I left it up there with the cord running down the trunk and then I tied it off to a limb about 20 feet in the air, ready to be plugged in the next year. But it didn’t quite work out that way. You see, squirrels will chew on anything from a gutter to a garbage can to an electrical cord to a star. So about every 3-4 years I’ve had to climb back up there and replace a squirrel-mangled star with a new star. But each time I got a better, bigger, brighter star!

The holiday star has become a much-loved feature of our neighborhood at holiday time for all these years, and gives me a great source of pleasure. Every year our neighbors look forward to seeing the star go on the first weekend after Thanksgiving, and they are sad to see it go off on January 6.

I appreciate that this is a very small accomplishment in the big scheme of things. I didn’t scale K2 or bring peace to the Middle East. But it is these simple traditions that make life so pleasurable and meaningful in a neighborhood such as we have on Elm Boulevard. We’ve been in our house for over three decades and plan on being here three more. I don’t know how long I will keep climbing up that tree for the inevitable star replacement. My kids remind me that I shouldn’t be doing this anymore. But how could I not?

This simple story has no best-practice takeaways for the busy professional except to say I hope you can follow your star during the holidays while enjoying the fellowship and love of your family and friends.


Further reading: apps: SeeClickFix | Walking is man’s best medicine: americawalks, Walkable City Speck | The Abundant Community McKnight

The Abundant Community
Beware of False Prophets

Beware of False Prophets

Swamp Rat: Drain the swamp and refill it with cronies and family.

Like it or not, successful leaders can come in all stripes: good, bad, and ugly. Some teachers are cruel to their students, while some teachers change students’ lives. Some coaches are jerks, while some coaches inspire greatness in their athletes. Some CEOs are flat out assholes, while some CEOs are fair, honest, and visionary. Some presidents are philandering, bullying, big-mouth blowhard’s, while some presidents are soft-spoken, strong, inspirational leaders of a nation.

This is the way of the world. It is frustrating to the average civil person who plays by the rules when a CEO or a politician or any person in a position of leadership and power can be as successful as they are mean, conniving, unprincipled, and dysfunctional.

As to our newly-elected President Donald Trump, beware of false prophets. We have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt because that is what we do as Americans. But as to his character and performance going forward, time will tell, the ball is in his court.

But, does character even matter with Trump’s true believers?


Further reading: liar, liar: pathological liar?, Catch-22 Heller | list of dismissals and resignations: Trump Administration | mind of the fanatic (trump’s base): The True Believer Hoffer

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
Is fascism sneaking up on us one tweet at a time?

Is fascism sneaking up on us one tweet at a time?

Fascism creeps up on society like a slowly-leaking faucet that eventually overflows the sink: drip, drip, drip…

Reporters have been disclosing that the Trump administration has ordered the suppression and redaction of any mention of climate change in government reports, policies, and procedures. This kind of covert action is representative of the kind of message control classically employed by fascist and totalitarian regimes.

Dystrumpia might dismiss this as either fake news and/or of no significance, but they might consider the hypothetical 2020 scenario with the election of a new non-Trumpian secular administration that might not want any mention of Christianity, the Bible, Jesus, God, or prayer in government documents; and following Trump’s strategy, have these words secretly and systematically redacted from all government documents and policies. I doubt Dystrumpia would be happy with that!

Reasonable and lawful content should not be secretly and arbitrarily redacted from government documents just to suit an administration’s bias. If a report has been properly researched, vetted, and produced by a government agency, let that report be made public. American citizens have a right to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions and decisions without being deceived and manipulated by insider zealots who say they are called by God. Surely their better angels are not at work here.

Just as likely, the devil made them do it.


Further reading: art imitates life: The Captain and the Glory Eggers | bad news: Everything Trump Touches Dies Wilson | base: American Hate Sethi | enough is enough: 44 senators | insider: A Warning Anonymous | obstruction of justice: The Mueller Report | putin & trump: Russian Roulette Isikoff & Corn | son-in-law: Kushner, Inc. Ward | temperament: Fire and Fury Wolff | truth/trust: The Death of Truth Kakutani | whitehouse: Siege Wolff

The Captain & The Glory