“It’s a disaster. … We will either renegotiate it, or we will break it. Because, you know, every agreement has an end. … Every agreement has to be fair. Every agreement has a defraud clause. We’re being defrauded by all these countries.”

– Trump talking about NAFTA during an interview on 60 Minutes in 2015

So, here we are 4 years later and it seems Trump has indeed made good on his promise by renegotiating a deal, replacing the horrible NAFTA with a fantastic new agreement called USMCA. But for all it’s fanfare it doesn’t really seem like a very significant difference. USMCA is in fact a slightly edited revision of NAFTA. It should be called NAFTA 1.2. but I suppose that wouldn’t really serve the populist objective behind any mountainous molehill. The neon signs couldn’t be more blatant as all three nations put their own initials first in the acronym they recognize… Seriously, in Canada, the agreement is officially recognized as CUSMA and in Mexico, it’s called Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá… T-MEC. At least THAT one can be pronounced – lol.

Already NAFTA seems much simpler, and this is just the damned name. .

Now for the actual differences, the victories of the dragon slayer, starting with the difference that isn’t. A history of lawsuits under NAFTA that seemed to favor the Canadians was driving a lot of the Trump assault on NAFTA. It was the source of all that talk about being defrauded and it was most likely the dragon that Trump’s sponsors wanted him to slay.

The name of this dragon is the “dispute process”, the part of NAFTA that has by far been the biggest complaint south of the Canadian border. So what did Trump do for us there?

Apparently, nothing.

Of course Trump himself won’t mention it but it’s clear that he lost that negotiation to Trudeau. The dispute process remains in place exactly as it was under NAFTA. So really, this isn’t a difference at all, but I mention it for the same reason all the other reports do, because more than any other aspect of NAFTA, that WAS the dragon to slay.

But still, a few differences were made. I may as well list them all because it’s not much…

Dairy: Canada has agreed to ease restrictions on it’s dairy market and allow American farmers to export about $560 million worth of dairy.
So, I dunno… I’m guessing this is good for our dairy farmers, right? Anyone else? Should we just wait and see if anything happens?

Automotive: Companies can now qualify for zero tariffs if 75% of their vehicles’ components are manufactured in the US, Canada or Mexico. Under NAFTA that figure was 62%
OK, so an existing regulation get’s increased by 7%, the Mexican factories get 7% more work and the U.S. consumers get dick.

But wait, Trump had another card up his sleeve…
30% of vehicle production must be done by workers earning an average production wage of at least $16/hr.

OK, I see the angle here. Not a bad idea. In fact it gives credence to the previous point as well. It’s curious because I’ve been advocating this strategy for a while, but the response I keep getting back is that old rant about a one world government. Seriously… every time. So I’m surprised to see this come out of the Trump team.

To explain… Trump has written a heavy-weight regulation that will force all the factories on the continent to flatten their pay, so everyone gets the same… in all three countries. [ALERT: MARXIST IDEA] Yes, I know, and maybe it’s a slippery slope to communism… but let’s suspend that for the moment so I can explain how this idea can work.

If you lay a regulation on one company and not the other. The later will gain competitive advantage. This is what can make a regulation unfair. But if you put it on both companies the competition stays level, or at least – unaffected. This is what this regulation will do for all of the business that can be captured by the other regulation that was just increased by 7%.

So, yes it’s a step closer to a world government and it’s a step toward Marxism, but fire is another dangerous place and yet it’s good sometimes to step toward a fire to get warm.

In any case, I’m going to give Trump a nod for this one… as one would give to a barnyard pig that miraculously cooked and served a chicken dinner.

As for me personally, I’m not sure what impact all this will have. The cars and the truck I have are made from parts that mostly come from North America as per NAFTA, including the Honda Civic that I am leasing, much of which was assembled in Mexico. I’m guessing my next lease will be affected by the higher cost of labor in Mexico, which I expect will drive the price up.

Currently, the hourly wage in Mexico was $3.41 for parts and $7.34 for assembly. In the U.S. and in Canada the wage for both is $20.

So by setting everyone to $16 the USMCA will increase the cost of assembly in Mexico by 54% and for parts the cost will increase by 78%. so yeah, from my personal position as an American consumer, it’s probably not such a good deal, but I feel worse for the American (and Canadian) auto-worker who will now be exposed to a potential 10% drop in wages. For them, I’d say, not a good deal at all. Zooming way out to the pontifications of Marx, sure – it seems Americans and Canadians are taking a glancing hit for the benefit of pulling the Mexicans out of the mud. The global-humanist perspective wins on this deal.

Even so… there is one other perspective I want to mention here… By pulling the Mexicans out of the mud we could be lessening their reasons for migrating to the U.S. which I personally think is a good approach to that particular issue, though in this case, I don’t think the difference will be all that significant since Mexicans working at Honda are probably not the ones making a run for the U.S. I dunno… one step at a time? More communism maybe?

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

The third and the ONLY other difference the USMCA makes is a deal on intellectual property… The regulation of ideas. So corporations that own patents can monopolize the market for longer, law enforcement officers in any of the three countries can stop “suspected” counterfeit (I’m not sure yet to what extent or if this infringes upon our 4th amendment rights as Americans) And of course there will be harsher punishments for pirated movies and satellite/cabel signal theft.

How does this affect me? I’m not sure yet. One thing I can say is that I’m approaching that age where I’m going to need medicine for whatever ailments are around the corner. I have always kept an eye on supply-chains outside the jurisdiction of U.S. commercial law because out there, you can get therapeutics at near cost. Typically an OTC therapeutic will cost 300% more in the U.S. because that’s the markup over the cost that we are forced to pay for. Now with the USMCA we can expect the market in Mexico and Canada to also be forced to pay homage to big-pharma or suffer. NOW where am I going to go to get my medicine without getting shafted for it?

Oh and before anyone gets into that “big-pharma needs to pay for innovation” argument – just… don’t. I’ve already been through the whole analysis on this. In fact, don’t listen to me – just have a look for yourself at the stock indices for big-parma… You will not find evidence of starving innovators. At the very least we can certainly say they don’t NEED more time than they already have to monopolize and gouge.

So these are the changes… the rest of the 300+ pages of agreements and regulations that make up NAFTA are left unscathed.

So let’s tally those changes up…

  • dispute process – No change. Trudeau and Canada wins.
  • dairy exports – US dairy farmers can export more milk to Canada where the consumers probably won’t buy it anyway. US wins (sort of maybe IF your a dairy farmer).
  • automotive – global communist strategy for labor. Auto workers in Mexico win. US consumers take a hit, US auto workers take a bigger hit.
  • intellectual property – big-pharma wins… Trump learns that his IQ is not based on the intellectual property he owns.
  • name change – Trump wins big with his base. If he can just rename everything he can probably convince his base that he’s changed everything.

In summary it looks like Trump gave Americans a worse deal than NAFTA. But it’s probably not a big deal for Trump since his static 30% base probably won’t be paying any attention to the details like I just did and any such concerns such as mine can easily be out-gunned by a simple tweet from the king to his loyal subjects saying something like “I just slayed the dragon. hooray for me!” But I write anyway because there’s the other 60% that might actually be interested in reality.

14. May 2013 · Categories: attitude, Politics

Now I’ve heard everything. The latest ruckus amid the ruffled feathers of the dumbest birds in the developed world is that the IRS is targeting conservatives for audits. So far nothing substantial has come out of this and although Obama during his trip to the UK addressed the issue publicly, saying that every effort will be made to insure there is no such profiling going on I’m sure he and British PM Cameron got a good chuckle out of it.

Here’s the deal. If you cheat on your taxes and the IRS finds out. They will put you on a list and you will be more likely to be audited again. This is based on behavior, not political affiliation. If it turns out that most of the people who cheat on their taxes are conservative, then a pattern will develop. But of course many conservatives will turn it into yet another example of how they are always victimized.

And so, what does it matter if you ARE targeted? If you pay your taxes you have nothing to worry about. So what is this boo-hoo story really about? Is it a complaint that maybe they get less chance to cheat than other’s do? OR is it just another stupid thing like that idiot 53% number, which they say is the percentage of people who pay taxes, but really it’s the percentage of people who didn’t pay enough during the year to get a refund.

Whaa, whaa, whaa.

14. June 2010 · Categories: Environment, incomplete · Tags: ,

So here we are watching oil leak from the bottom of the gulf, BP stocks falling through the floor and blame-bullets flying all over the place. First thing we need to to is take the blame guns out of the hands of people who insist on using the spill as an excuse to blame people they don’t like. Here, give me the damned gun – I only need two bullets because there are only two problems.

#1 – The stock investors that judge companies not by what they do but by how much money they can make. While BP was pumping oil to the market you guys were all in and 39% of BP stock was owned by American investors so don’t give me that British company crap. I could almost hear the chant… “Make money, make money…” and a few words to anyone pointing out the dangers of deep sea drilling… “Get lost!”  But now that the dangers have turned into disaster you want to pull out (BP stock down 52% according in 50 days).  There’s no way you don’t look like slimy snakes. Your demand for profit drove everything necessary to create the problem and now your ditching before the cleanup bill comes. Talk about dine and ditch! I think anytime a disaster like this happens the SEC should immediately freeze all shares of the company involved. This way the same investments that drive these risky operations to start with will be held accountable for the disasters they cause. It brings a sense of responsibility to the world of investment which so far has been allowed to run around creating havoc in any way possible without any responsibility for what they do. BOOM! okay, stocks are leveled out and money invested in BP can be used to clean up the mess.

#2 – Those who voted for the free-market politicians that downplayed the environmental dangers and allowed BP to drill without sufficient precaution. How much can be blamed on Obama is debatable, there were studies done during his administration that were ignored by the MMS but this has been going on for years, in 2007 alone there were three seperate stud

So now Bush is pushing schools to teach Intelligent Design, another battle in the Christian fundamentalist campaign to bring America back to church. I say this because I think if the evolution vs. creationism debate was isolated from the rest of the religious-political crusade there would be far less heat.

The way creationists ignore the simple fact that many evolutionists actually do believe in God and even suggest that evolution is God’s creative process is evidence that this argument is a mere component in the larger struggle between religion and secularism which has nothing to do with God and everything to do with politics. Obviously, evolution does not negate the existence of God. This argument is all about the creationists negating the theory of evolution, a theory that makes God an option.

Intelligent Design is focused on discrediting evolution; this much can be said without argument. But what can be argued is that they are claiming to be “scientifically” disproving evolution. This is where I see the danger. Although the presentations of Intelligent Design come loaded with all the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights that we associate with science, they have yet according to the science community, to prove or disprove anything. Indeed, this isn’t your typically obscure group of lab technicians tucked away in some campus, working toward a whitepaper to be submitted to the scientific community, this is a widely broadcasted effort stocked with lay publications, television shows and even a U.S. president stating that it should be taught in schools… all this aimed at the lay public with the side-note that the scientific community simply doesn’t want to accept it. So it seems to be more than discrediting Darwin, it’s discrediting the science community itself, and secularism in general.

Perhaps, Intelligent Design is really about amazing the gullible public with the bubbling test tubes, dials and flashing lights. This would be an obvious next step for religion which has always made adjustments in their presentation in order to appeal to the people of the time, the image of Jesus, who was a native of the middle east, as a young man of Germanic physique is a great example. Certainly in this modern era where our very society is built on the proven models of science, it would make sense for religion to morph into the image of science.

But what convinces me even more that Intelligent Design is not about science but about religion is the odd way in which the advocates pair religious dogma, always concerned with the absolute truth, with science which has never made claims to absolute truth. Science is merely a language of understanding by which theorists bring their ideas into communal acceptance. Newton and Einstein both did this, presenting their theories as mortal understandings while maintaining a belief that there is still a larger truth yet unknown and perhaps never to be mortally understood. The advocates of Intelligent Design on the other hand, have not yet managed to bring their anti-theories into communal acceptance, which in the simplest terms, means that they have not yet achieved the scientific goal. The fact that they proceed to flood the public forum with claims that they have already scientifically disproved evolution to me only proves that the scientific goal is not as important as simply convincing everyday people that evolution is wrong.

All bubbling test tubes aside, the ID community has completely missed the mark when considering the intention and foundation of science and falls completely in line with the forms and methods of manipulating public opinion, the true forum of organized religion.

Assuming that I’m right, it would be hard to measure the success of the Intelligent Design efforts. Science not really being the issue, Intelligent Design is nevertheless a popular anti-theory, but has it really converted anyone? It seems to me that most people who supported evolution still do and most people who support Intelligent Design were creationists to begin with. Again, this argument seems to be an extension of the religious war waged on secularism. I don’t see any reason to suspect that this will ever change, even if Bush and his allies do succeed in forcing Intelligent Design into public schools.

But I think public schools are going to have an awkward task of trying to teach scientific principles while also suggesting that Intelligent Design qualifies as science. It’s one thing to present alternatives to Darwinism or even to secularism but it’s another thing entirely to dissolve the structure of science itself. Personally, I would prefer that schools simply start teaching creationism as what it is, an alternate theory extracted from scripture despite science.

What was the reason for invading Iraq..? Oh, yeah – they were developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction – well, we haven’t found any yet, but we are pretty sure they hid them somewhere and it’s better to be safe than sorry, after all, just because there has never been a single incident during the 24 years that Hussein was in power where Iraqi WMD was used against Americans, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen… Especially if Hussein is willing to put these weapons in the hands of international terrorists, such as the type that killed 3,000 people on American soil on the morning of 9/11/01… Not that we have any proof that he did, or even that he had the intention to do so, but again, better safe than sorry. It seems then that with all these precautions and pre-emptive strikes, that Bush is doing a great job at keeping us safe from the danger of such weapons.

Doesn’t it seem ironic then how Bush is intentionally unleashing tons of toxic chemicals directly on Americans at home? Yes, this is an environmental appeal, but that doesn’t change the bottom line. Unnecessary toxins, approved by the Bush administration, is killing many more Americans every year than terrorism has ever killed in our entire history.

Power plants are emitting tens of thousands of tons of toxic air pollution like arsenic and lead, and will be allowed to keep doing so thanks to a giveaway buried in the fine print of the controversial Bush administration “mercury rule” under the Clean Air Act. In addition to weakened and delayed limits on mercury, the rule is written specifically to ignore more than 60 other power plant air toxics that threaten public health. The EPA estimates that 8,000 Americans will die every year as a direct result of this rule, which is only a small fraction of the 70,000 Americans that die every year from air pollution in general. But what makes the 8,000 significant is that this number comes directly from Bush’s command decision to allow these avoidable deaths to occur. That’s like allowing terrorists two-and-a-half 9/11’s every year. Here are just a few of the chemicals that the Bush administration is creating a release valve for and what they can do to us besides killing us.

Arsenic. Can result in nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain, central and peripheral nervous system disorders, irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, lung cancer, skin cancer, cancer of the bladder, cancer of the liver, anemia, and kidney damage.

Dioxins. Chlorinated chemicals that cause toxic effects at very low levels causing damage to the immune system, learning behavior, and the reproductive system. Dioxins can also cause certain types of cancer. A well-known effect of dioxin is chloracne, a severe acne-like condition that develops within months of an exposure to high levels of dioxin. Dioxin-like compounds are one of the most well-known endocrine disruptors, potentially lowering human and animal fertility.

Acid Gases. Such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and hydrofluoric acid can cause damage to the respiratory tract. They are corrosive and can cause acute respiratory problems, as well as aggravate chronic respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema.

Lead. A very toxic element, causing a variety of effects even at low doses including brain damage, kidney damage, gastrointestinal distress reproductive effects, such as decreased sperm count in men and spontaneous abortions in women, effects on the blood, central nervous system, blood pressure, and kidneys. Children are particularly sensitive to the chronic effects of lead, with slowed cognitive development, reduced growth and other effects reported. The developing fetus is at particular risk from maternal lead exposure, with low birth weight and slowed postnatal neurobehavioral development noted.

Chromium. Certain forms of chromium can be very toxic to the respiratory tract. resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing, perforations and ulcerations of the septum, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function and pneumonia and lung cancer.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can damage the immune system and cause developmental and reproductive effects; many are known carcinogens in animals, and studies indicate a risk for people as well.

n-Hexane can cause polyneuropathy with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed.

Formaldehyde can result in respiratory symptoms and eye, nose, and throat irritation; limited human studies have reported an association with lung and nasopharyngeal cancer.

trimethylbenzene can affect the blood’s clotting ability and may cause bronchitis.

The Bush administration’s mercury plan was first leaked to the press in early December 2003 and formally released by EPA later that month. It became clear that the EPA had ignored its own stringent findings and also scuttled the recommendations of a years-long expert task force comprised of industry, environmentalists, and state officials. Then reports surfaced that utility industry lawyers had literally written portions of the rule that would affect their own clients.

How is it that we can be so stupid? To allow our government to take our money and our children to fight a war against a threat that has claimed roughly 3,000 souls on American soil over the last 250 years while actually approving the deaths of 8,000 on American soil every single year?

“Child’s Play” is the name of the latest ad that CBS is refusing to air. The ad suggests that today’s children will be the ones paying for Bush’s trillion dollar deficit. I think the ad is brief, straight to the point without being abrasive. It doesn’t seem to be as much a “bash Bush” ad as much as a simple “we need to ask questions” ad. I don’t understand why CBS refuses to air it – CBS doesn’t seem to have problems with beer and tobacco and ads from the white house…

Anyway check out the ad…