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United States of Trump

pottersvilleThese days, I felt reminded of a scene in “It’s a wonderful life’, where George Bailey played by James Stewart was running through the streets of his hometown Bedford Falls meanwhile ruled by the old ruthless capitalist Potter and called Pottersville. The scenes indicate a society where the rule of the stronger applies and moral has declined with gambling, alcohol and prostitution.

Now, the US will be ruled by a ruthless capitalist called Trump, a property tycoon who also ventured in gambling with a very sleazy image of a misogynist and racist. The George Bailey of our times was Obama Barack and he had his chance, but we also know that this was a steep uphill struggle for various reasons.

The big question is, how America and the world will look like after 4 years Trump. Some think Trump is a fascist, others believe that he doesn’t actually believe in anything in particular and it won’t be as terrible as his speeches promised to be.

There are comparisons to Mussolini or Hitler, but I don’t want to go as far.
The US -American institutions and democratic tradition should help to prevent a decline into a dictatorship-like state, but still the US-American system didn’t prevent undemocratic excesses like McCarthysm or camps for Japanese during WWII – and to experience such excesses is the concern now.

When there were those excesses, in WWII and the beginning of the Cold War, fear dominated the society. It was a society that was relatively united. Nowadays, the country is split in two camps. No one should forget that Trump hasn’t won the popular vote. He’s even got less votes than preceding Republican candidates who lost against Obama. This means, these angry white Trump supporters can be quickly in the minority in the next elections.

Even Trump’s hardcore supporters might have a rethink quite soon. They still might be impressed that their leader won’t take the presidential salary, but soon it will be a topic how his business transferred to his children will benefit from his politics as president.

If Trump will execute his economic policy as promised the country will soon feel the cold wind of the economic reality. The huge tax cuts for big enterprise will increase the already huge deficit of the US even more.  The rich will be even richer. They will invest the money where they can expect the best return, but investing in the manufacturing industry to create jobs in the middle west is not the most lucrative investment.

Trump intends to renew infrastructure. Airports should look more representative, but will a shiny airport invite more investment? The experience in East Germany with one of the biggest infrastructure programmes ever pursued was that investments do not follow easily, if there is no market for products or products for a market. East Germany nowadays has a perfect infrastructure, but the East German economic output is still lower than in West Germany.

It is easily possible that the US will end up with deserted nicer streets and airports amid a further declining economy. It is even pointed out that for a huge infrastructure program, there are not enough construction workers and companies unless (illegal?) immigrants would be employed.

The New Deal effect won’t come easy and it didn’t come easy in the 30ies. Will it come at all? If Trump cancels trade agreement and puts higher tariffs on foreign products, trade will decline. Prices will push up – either through more expensive imports or more expensive domestic production. Inflation will lower the consumption. In combination with the budget deficit, increasing interests will be unavoidable. An economic downward spiral will be a rather likely consequence and the first victims will be the Trump supporters. There are people who think it can’t get worse than it is now.  They are wrong. In a protectionist world, it is more likely to have lower consumption due to higher prices and less jobs.

Fortunately, no economic bill has been drafted so far. Trump is just setting up his team. He indicated some flexibility. Meetings with other politicians (not necessarily Mr. Farage or Mrs Le Pen) may help to reconsider. The Republican majority in the Congress with a view of midterm elections in 2 years time will hopefully assist to adjust politics. So, it might not get so terrible or maybe I just try to persuade myself that reason prevails.

In the news today, Trump promised to deport or incarcerate up to 3m people – criminals according to the President elect. This is less than the number of 11m, he promised to deport during the election campaign, but what does ‘incarcerate’ mean? Will this be a new Guantanamo or even concentration camp?

I’m afraid, Mr Potter’s Bedford Falls appears almost desirable in comparison to the United States of Trump. The real majority in the US has to be vigilant and should remind themselves of what Franklin D.Roosevelt once said: The only thing to fear is fear itself.


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