From the Publisher: Welcome to ‘The Donald’

Arnold G. York

I’m enormously relieved. The Republican presidential field, which was beginning to look like an old time Rotary Club meeting with a bunch of boring white guys, has suddenly come to life. “The Donald” has thrown his toupee into the ring and fearlessly announced he’s a very, very rich guy and doesn’t care who knows it, and intends to spend his own money to Brylcreem his way into the White House. Not to be outdone, I’ve heard that Hillary, who just repositioned herself as a fighter’s fighter and she doesn’t care who knows it, is considering challenging “the Donald” to a nine rounder, no holds barred. It’s all a pleasant relief from the battle that’s been going on between all of the Republican hopefuls who are so busy trying to establish their bona fides that they can’t agree who’s on our side and whom they want to bomb.

It looks to be a very interesting 2016 race now that our Supreme Court — in its infinite wisdom — has opined that in politics, money is speech. You can be absolutely certain that some of the weirdest billionaires are going to be coming out of the woodwork and start spending their money in ways that are going to make Justice Kennedy gag. I simply can’t believe that spending all of this money on campaigns is good for America, unless, of course, they start spending it on print advertising, in which case, I may reevaluate my position.

The President took a major hit in the head this week when his Pacific Free Trade Agreement went down in flames, primarily because many of the Democrats in the House refused to support it. All in all, it’s not terribly surprising because, in the sixth year of a presidential term, the stack of chips in front of the President is getting smaller and all of the polls are looking to the future. Also, the president’s popularity is in the 40s, which is truly not too bad for this late in a presidential term, but that kind of a standing doesn’t engender any great party loyalty. If Obama’s approval rating was in the high 50s, all of these same congressmembers would be talking about what a great guy he is. If you spend any time in politics, you quickly discover that most politicians are very pragmatic people and their primary concern, regardless of political party, is to keep their job, so of course they are always looking to the future and their next campaign.

I must confess that I’ve been trying to follow the debate about the Trade Bill and I haven’t got the slightest idea whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the country and for Americans, and maybe that’s the dilemma. What may be good for the country — say by increasing trade and raising the GNP — may not be good for the average American. If the last 35 years are any example, the country has boomed, the stock market has risen, real estate has increased in value and the average Americans are in somewhat worse shape then they were when it all began. It’s not irrational to ask, how come? The puzzling question is why an American president — a Democrat, termed out in 2016— would put all his political muscle behind this issue.

If the critics are correct — and there is a reasonable chance they may be — it will be good for American industry but, at the same time, it will increase economic inequality in this country. That doesn’t mean a deal can’t be made. What it does mean is that the deal has to be sweetened for the American worker, or the hell with it.

I’m going to narrow it down more specifically. Recently, Karen and I were in IKEA, buying something for our condo in Sacramento. I picked up a bathrobe sealed in plastic for $22 that would have actually been $16 if we belonged to their family plan. When we got back to the condo and opened it up, I was amazed. It wasn’t just a bathrobe; it was a beautiful, white, fluffy bathrobe, the kind that high-end hotels put their logo on and sell to you for $100. You would practically have to use slave labor to bring it in at that price. There is no way that an American worker could compete with that at that price point. If we don’t protect our workers aggressively, have some sort of a transition plan to retrain or put some teeth in our international trade agreements to accomplish that, the future of the middle class is going to get worse and worse.