As usual, jot down your ideas as you go. The answers are below.

  1. Why does President Trump lie so much?
  2. How many times has Trump lied since taking office?
  3. Was Trump right that “the Germans are bad, very bad, on trade”?
  4. Was The Economist impressed when interviewing Trump in May 2018?
  5. Per The Economist, what are America’s “economic ills”?
  6. Are there any other expert manipulators besides Trump?
  7. What is “shareholder value”?
  8. Which captain of industry called it “the dumbest idea in the world”?
  9. What is a “right-to-work” state?
  10. Will increasing minimum wage create unemployment?
  11. Which advanced country has the worst class system?
  12. How did this happen?
  13. Is there a remedy?

ANSWERS:

  1. Trump got rich by lying and cheating. Pointing out his lies therefore has no effect. He lies to display his power. He could eventually, however, be arrested for felony campaign-finance violations involving hush money for sex, paid in cahoots with “fixer” Michael Cohen who “flipped” and implicated him in federal court.
  2. According to the Washington Post, Trump has told over 6,420 lies.
  3. False. The European Union sets Germany’s tariffs.
  4. The Economist considered Trump is worse than King Henry VIII with his “displays of dominance.” He is incoherent: “Trumponomics offers no lasting remedy for America’s economic ills.”
  5. America’s principal economic ills are low wages, low taxes on the wealthy, staggering inequality, crumbling infrastructure and soaring national debt. These are fixable by reverting to the progressive taxes and other policies of President Eisenhower’s administration.
  6. For one horrendous week I listened to Rush Limbaugh. He deflected all factual questions toward unabashed ideology. The callers fell for the trick. He and his ilk are experts at making things “stand to reason,” meaning far-right-wing mythology.
  7. “Shareholder value” mandates that corporations be run solely for the benefit of their shareholders.
  8. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, told the Financial Times that shareholder value is the “dumbest idea in the world.” He championed it for 30 years, but came to realize (like Henry Ford) that low wages result in low sales and hence low profits. Moreover, Germany’s outstanding economic success comes from its rejection of shareholder value. By law, labor unions sit on the boards of large companies.
  9. In right-to-work states, workers need not pay union dues even if they receive union benefits. Hence, union membership declines and wages decline, giving right-to-work states America’s highest poverty rates.
  10. In a letter to President Obama, 600 economists stated “a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy.” Workers spend their extra money, so businesses employ extra staff, to serve the extra demand, created by the extra spending.
  11. In his book Dream Hoarders Richard Reeves states “the US is more calcified by class than Britain.” America effectively has a caste system like India. “Conservatives” gradually destroyed the prosperous middle class created by FDR.
  12. Republicans pulled it off with help from the secretive Federalist Society. They appointed extremists to the Supreme Court. Conservative majorities of 5-4 then struck down laws not to their liking (e.g., the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which magically became “unconstitutional” in 2013). And they weaponized the First Amendment to justify their agenda, giving us the ludicrous idea that money is “free speech,” to tilt elections toward the wealthy and to attack labor unions. The GOP then stirred in Reaganomics, gerrymandering, voter suppression, the absurd Electoral College, the undemocratic Senate, and cooked on Low for 40 years. The result is “oligarchy” (President Carter) where the average worker gets only the crumbs left over from the banquet.
  13. Yes. Take control the White House and Congress by electing more progressives. Appoint four more justices to the Supreme Court, creating a liberal majority 8-5 on a bench of 13 (allowed by the Constitution). Then pass court-proof laws to level the playing field again. Republicans are terrified this will happen, so they steal elections with dirty tricks, knowing the current Supreme Court allows them to.

This is my last Sharper Focus. My goal as stated in February 2013 was “to penetrate the obscurity surrounding economic, financial and political matters.” It was a pleasure doing so. I still offer my free presentations on economics, aimed at ordinary people in coffee bars, appropriately called “Coffee Bar Economics.” Contact me at freemanry@aol.com if you would like me to speak.

Finally, I suggest you follow Prof. Robert Reich, President Clinton’s first Secretary of Labor. He explains economic matters superbly. Economics is not, as I often hear, “just theory.” It follows the money and explains the world around you. Goodbye and good luck for 2019.