Trump’s trade wars trash America

August 20, 2018

Cartoon on trade wars by Mike Beeler.

Cartoon on trade wars by Mike Beeler.

My fear is too few people carefully track U.S. economic policy amy more. My fears increase when I come across Tweets like this:

Here is the entire, short thread, extracted from Tweets from “BumbleBee.” I hope to come back and add links; please feel fee to offer links to confirmation, in comments. Or, if you know of other effects not lusted here, please show those links.

[President Trump’s] tariffs are having a real impact on U.S. businesses, for example:

  • CaseLogic – closing

  • Element Electronics – closing

  • Harley Davidson – going overseas

  • Mid-Continental Nail – laid off 60 employees, lost 50% of orders, may close by Labor Day

  • REC Silicon – cut production by 25%

  • Trans-matic – cut production by 25%

  • Toyota – added $3k to cost of each car

Multiple companies are also asking for exemptions from the 25% tariffs. Here are just two examples: Batesville Tool & Die, or will shift manufacturing to Mexico as well as Qualtek Mfg, because tariffs have driven annual costs up by $300k. They couldn’t hire add’l 14 employees, [have] delayed shipments, and customers have diverted orders to others suppliers. Says tariffs have “cut us off at the knees.”

It is also affecting U.S. farmers drastically. One farmer in Illinois says he is losing $8 a head on pork, and he is losing money on everything he grows. Says that 95% of everything he produces was shipped outside U.S. borders.

The Senior Director of Commodities says there will be long term indications because of the tariffs. Says that it took 20 years to get the markets back to normal after the last trade wars, and farmers will be relying heavily on the government for a long time.

Anyone who supports Trump’s idiotic tariffs and believes “trade wars are easy to win” have no idea what they are talking about, and no clue how they affect people down the line. I have friends trying to sell their farms in both Kansas and Nebraska.

Trump, you’re an idiot.

And what’s your mileage on the trade wars?

Annals of Hoaxes: American Enterprise Institute sends out hoax backgrounder on DDT and trade barriers

January 25, 2011

How do hoaxes get started?

The self-proclaimed august American Enterprise Institute issued a “backgrounder” today on foreign trade.  Backgrounder #2509, written by James Roberts.

The first paragraph is complete fiction:

Decades ago, the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was banned worldwide for what were generally seen as noble and unassailable environmental and public health reasons. Today, ample evidence shows that the ban on DDT spraying has been a tragic mistake. In developing countries, it is linked to millions of preventable deaths from malaria. Worse, some protectionist European business sectors and activist groups continue to exploit the fears of DDT in ways that increase the suffering of the poor around the world.

Here are the errors of fact:

  1. DDT has never been banned worldwide, so there could never be a decades-old worldwide ban. A nearly-world-wide ban was agreed upon by treaty  in late 2001, less than one decade ago.  However, any nation may ignore the ban, legally, by simply writing a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) saying the nation will be using DDT.  DDT manufacturing continues in a few nations today, including North Korea and India.  India is far and away the largest user of DDT now, using more than all other nations combined.  No worldwide ban on DDT ever existed, and DDT use has been continuous since 1946.
  2. Earlier bans on DDT were assailed in court as unreasonable infringements on commerce. The U.S. banned DDT use on agricultural crops in 1972, but only after two federal district courts had ruled the substance essentially uncontrollable in the wild, and after a lengthy administrative law hearing at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) covering most of 1971 and more than 9,000 pages of testimony.  EPA’s rule left DDT available in the U.S. for emergency use, or for health use.  EPA’s rule left manufacturing alone so the U.S. could export DDT to any other nation who wanted to use it.  Still, DDT manufacturers fought hard in court to overturn the ruling.  Manufacturers argued that the science was thin to back the ban, and that the ban was too much regulation for small gain.  Appeals courts ruled that the science backing the ban was ample.
  3. 39 years after the U.S. ban on crop spraying with DDT, benefits are enormous — history and science show the recovery of dozens of beneficial species, ranging from mosquito-eating Mexican free-tail bats in Texas, through fish in Oklahoma, to osprey, peregrine falcons, brown pelicans and bald eagles in the rest of the U.S. Unknown at the time EPA acted, DDT has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor of the sort that scrambles the sex organs of fish and amphibians in the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers in the U.S.  Also unknown in 1972, EPA now is listed by the American Cancer Society as a “probable human carcinogen,” though it is thought to be a weak carcinogen to adults directly exposed.
  4. Malaria deaths have been cut by 75% since DDT was indicted as a harmful substance. Perhaps more surprising, without DDT, health workers around the world have sharply reduced malaria incidence and especially malaria deaths.  Nearly four million people died from malaria, worldwide, at the height of DDT use in 1959 through 1961.  Today that death toll has been cut to under 900,000, through wise use of curative pharmaceuticals, careful use of prophylactic nets and home improvements, and the development of new, better-targeted pesticides.  Malaria fighters especially are redoubling efforts to make the disease at least rare, now encouraged by the dramatic strides made without relying on DDT.  Ironically, India has a growing malaria problem, despite its being the greatest user of DDT today.  (Even more ironic:  Roberts claims about half the death rate WHO does — a 90% reduction in malaria deaths.)
  5. No preventable death to malaria has been tied to a lack of DDT. No nation has ever had difficulty getting DDT if it wanted it.  The fight against malaria was hampered when the malaria parasites developed resistance to traditional pharmaceuticals used to treat the disease in humans, but the promulgation of artemisinin-based combination therapies made up the gap. Nations have difficulty developing a health care system that can quickly and accurately diagnose malaria, and which form of malaria, and then deliver the necessary therapeutic regimen of pharmaceuticals to cure humans.  DDT cannot make up for that difficulty, partly because DDT use itself now requires rather extensive testing to make sure it works.  As Jonathan Weiner noted in his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Beak of the Finch, nearly every mosquito on Earth today carries at least one of two alleles which make them resistant or wholly immune to DDT.  DDT cannot be used without first testing to be sure the mosquitoes are killed by it.
  6. No otherwise noble European or “western” business groups nor environmental groups work against the minor use of DDT for indoor residual spraying (IRS). For example, the Environmental Defense Fund was one of the groups that lobbied the Bush administration to allow USAID money to buy DDT for IRS in Africa, a use the Bush administration inexplicably had not allowed.  Opposition to this minor DDT use in Uganda was organized by Uganda businessmen who sued to stop it, not by European groups — generally.  BAT, British-American Tobacco, did organize opposition to use of DDT, on specious grounds — highly ironic since the people who run the pro-DDT publicity machine are, several of them, former tobacco propagandists whose organizations go seed money from tobacco companies.  Generally, DDT use for IRS in Africa is supported by everyone involved, including environmentalists and the U.S. government.

Four sentences and six grievous errors of fact from the American Enterprise Institute.  And this is just the first paragraph of their “background” paper.

James Roberts may have tried to pluck an example from a history he does not understand.  There may be a problems with trade and pharmaceuticals and pesticides — but none of the problems he cites for DDT is accurate and true.  He may have fallen for the hoaxes perpetrated by others.

Watch:  A hundred others will cite the hoax conclusions Roberts lists, claiming American Enterprise Institute as the source.  Likely they will assume AEI had its facts straight, and wasn’t the victim of a hoax.

And that’s how hoaxes get started, big time. This is how no-think tanks wage the War on Science.

Will AEI issue a correction?

Does anyone take such publications as authoritative?  May God forbid.

With such a sloppy start, can the rest of the paper be any better?

(Oy, now I scan down the document, and I see Roberts cited Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring as saying DDT use would lead to extinction of birds, “offering no proof.”  Since Carson made no such direct claim, and since the book was loaded with citations to the studies that proved her points, that is it was loaded with “proof,” we must conclude that Roberts did not bother to actually open the book, let alone read it.  That doesn’t speak well for the chances of getting a correction.)

China-Olympics-sized stakes in science education

August 25, 2008

Frank Rich, in Sunday’s New York Times:

We don’t have the time or resources to go off on more quixotic military missions or to indulge in culture wars. (In China, they’re too busy exploiting scientific advances for competitive advantage to reopen settled debates about Darwin.) Americans must band together for change before the new century leaves us completely behind.

It’s an aside in a longer piece of advice to Obama on issues for the rest of the campaign.  It’s a Sputnik statement for this century, for anyone with the brains to pay attention.

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