No More Stimulus! Until After I Get Elected.

Powell, the Federal Reserve Chairman whose monetary policy has played a crucial and salutary role in softening the economic effects of the pandemic, had said earlier that the absence of further fiscal assistance would severely slow the nation’s recovery.

Then yesterday, fresh from ‘deep’ introspective moments while hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital for a few days, Trump rebuffed Powell, saying there would be no further fiscal aid until after the election.

The message is clear. Elect me and you’ll have the money.

It’s the message of a drowning man.

The message of a man who could not find a way to govern the nation, a man who has only 105 days left in the White House and only 27 days before he watches on his adored Fox News, that Biden/Harris beat him soundly.

Soundly. As in not by a thin margin.

Meanwhile, there will be privations and hardship for those who have lost jobs that are not coming back as the economy restructures.

But their troubles are not Trump’s concern.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, are mum about their leader’s whims. They’re hoping against hope that Trump will pull off another miracle. But it won’t happen. We’ve had it.

Twenty seven days from now, after the vote comes out in favor of Biden/Harris, these same lawmakers, no longer feeling bound to the president, will rush to stand up against him and join with the democrats to pass a delayed stimulus bill and so stave off a grim Christmas.

Trump’s decision to not move forward with the stimulus bill is petty. Manipulative. Cold.

He’s going down because of the cumulative weight of his poor decisions and doesn’t mind piling on yet another burden on people without jobs.

But people who will not have enough will remember. Remember Trump and his lawmakers.

Oscar Valdes

PS: Trump, sinking as he is in the eyes of the nation, cannot resist the chance of seeing how the markets react to his decisions. It feeds his vanity. He will need to really feed it, though, because the election results will deliver much grief.

US China Relations. The Big Picture. The Challenge.

Are we better than them? No, we’re not.

Are they better than us? Not either.

Are they dynamic, hard charging, smart, ambitious? Yes.

And so are we.

It would take doing the ostrich number, burying our heads in the sand, to not allow for the possibility they may surpass us in the near future.

They are moving up in the world, not by committing to security issues but by doing business. In Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, the rest of Asia, Australia.

While we’re battling racial issues, they’re pushing ahead with their plans to rise as fast as they can in every dimension. Space exploration? They’re already there and moving confidently.

Liabilities? Yes. Their autocratic regime. The intrusive governmental vigilance.

It has to be suffocating. But at this point, their fast rise in world standing allows the Chinese people to say to themselves, ‘we’re getting something for our sacrifices.’

Have the Chinese stolen intellectual property? They have and probably will continue to do so. But to think their rise is owed to their theft of knowledge from the West is to miss the fact that they have enormous scientific, technological and industrial capacity of their own.

It’s there in plain sight.

To deny it is to do the ostrich number.

We have not had an adversary of such stature since the Soviet Union in the Cold War. We went on to win that war because of our stronger economy. But China is clearly different.

The Chinese are not tying up their economy building nuclear weapons like the Soviets did. No, they’re making things, and selling what they make to a world eager for their products.

We pride ourselves with our ability to compete. Now the Chinese are saying to us, ‘let’s compete.’

They are saying to us, ‘you brag about your ability to compete. Well, we say to you, we will out compete you, and move past you.’

They are daring us and the whole world is watching.

Do we take them on?

Sure, they took advantage of preferred status in the World Trade Organization and even tried to rig the rules. But there they are. Strong and ambitious. Not willing to bow to anyone. Period.

It has to be exhilarating for their citizens. A nation that has been ruled by western nations and Japan, now standing tall and saying, ‘we have arrived!’ “We’re here on earth and we’re out there in space, too!’

So what are we going to do?

We can complain that they’re ungrateful, as if American companies didn’t make and keep making plenty of money from the vast Chinese markets.

We can and should decry their human rights abuses, their treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, and the violation of their accord with the British in Hong Kong. 

But that doesn’t address the main issue, the fact that their star is rising faster than ours.

And we either confront it or let them move past us.

Our pride is too strong to go with the second option. But to confront China’s rise we have to do some major work in our nation. Long overdue work we thought we could ignore and it would go away by itself.

Let us first consider leadership.

We don’t have any at present. A person who divides is a tribal leader. America has no use for that now. Never did.

The fact that we elected one is a sad chapter in our political history.

But a leader, man or woman, who is able to sit down and talk to us, will have a powerful healing effect. In our hearts and minds, right now, today, we’re all hoping for such a person to step up.

It could well be Joe Biden.

If he has it in him, then he would have to address every sector of this country, address it and say, ‘we can’t do this alone. We’re all part of the solution, we have to come together. Everyone has something to contribute, no one is better than the other. If we don’t pull together, we’ll fall behind. The task for the nation is clear. We must act now.’

To do that we have to forgive. Yes. Forgive that in the matter of race we’ve made blunder after blunder. And so, too, in the matter of growing inequality.

Of course, every group will have complaints and grievances, and every group will feel they should be first in line.

Our leader, will need to hear all of it, to understand and then use it to start down the road to compromise. We’ll have to go down that road because without compromise we won’t get ahead.

We can look at China and say they’re not free. But neither are we. There’s no freedom in disrespect of others, no freedom in systemic racism, no freedom in institutionalized unfairness, no freedom in not having access to proper education and health care, no freedom in living in a dangerous neighborhood without clean and safe water and proper lighting and housing.  

The Chinese are saying to us, ‘we’ll move past you because you can’t get your house together.’

They’re saying to us, ‘you can’t manage your differences.’

And they have a point. That is the Chinese challenge to us. They are telling us, to our faces, ‘dare to be more productive than we are’.

Can we do it?

I think we can. And as we learn to do so we’ll discover great riches. Human and creative riches. Riches that lie trapped in differences not understood.

For instance, how we address immigration will be key. Immigration has contributed enormously to who we are. We should be open to it.

The genetic pool from which China draws talent is enormous, nearly three times ours.

But we have always been a magnet for people from all over the world wanting to improve their lot. There are riches in staying open to the world.

A strong, compassionate leader will help us work with our differences to come together.

Renewal is essential to survival. China is challenging us. We are more than capable of taking them on. And also capable of botching the opportunity.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for a Nation. Available on Amazon.

Day 3 After National Emergency Declaration. China versus US, South Korea, Europe, Japan etc.

After the first case appeared in December 2019, China bungled the initial response, which made things worse. Since then, however, they’ve managed to halt the spread of the virus.

We bungled in our own way, because with knowledge of what had started in Wuhan, and that in the age of travel an ocean is not a barrier, our response could’ve been more effective. For instance, we could’ve had plenty of testing kits for the virus.

So they bungled and we bungled also.

Now for the second phase. China instituted strict quarantines. Their economy has taken a hit but they’ve halted the spread of the virus. Those results are a challenge to us.

Can our open society, with a plurality of voices and a wide diversity of competencies and political views, manage to present a united front to stem the tide of infections and limit the damage so it’s less that what China has endured?

The battle is on. The number of infected cases and deaths will tell the story.

The stock market (which is not the economy but tells us something about it) plunged another 3 thousand points today.

The virus has already sent us into a bear market. With the severe contraction in the service sector, most economists agree we’re headed for a recession.

There is consensus that this is not 2008. The disruptive force is not buried within our financial system but swimming in our body fluids, so this is very different.

China is ahead of the game. How they do, how quickly their economy bounces back, will tell us a great deal. If they pull out of the stagnation they’re in we will know that at least one path works. Maybe ours will too, but we’ll know that theirs works for sure.

The hope is that, once their travel restrictions are lifted, the infection will not return. I am definitely pulling for them. And if the infection does not return then their economy will start to climb back.

There’s much more at stake here than getting over the virus. There’s the sense, at least in a lot of people watching these developments, that contrasting political systems are in fierce competition; that overbearing state control is being pitted against individual liberty.

I don’t have any doubt in which world I like to live, and will do what I can to make sure we control the spread of the virus.

Pasadena was dark and rainy today.

Most eateries were doing take out business only, but the mood seemed positive.

This morning I went into a store to buy some fresh vegetables and the shelves were barren. I was able to get some other things I needed. I have yet to find hand sanitizers but put my name on a list at a specialty pharmacy. A single surgical mask was going for 6 dollars. I passed.

One prediction has it that sooner or later, all of us will catch the virus. But the longer it takes for most of us to get infected, the more likely it will be that we’ll have the resources to help us heal.

At an early morning appointment with my dental hygienist, I mentioned that coronavirus was showing us how interdependent we are. ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘it’s humbling.’

No cough, no fever.

We’re going to beat this.

Good night.

Take Immigration and the Economy Away from Trump. Now!

There is the possibility, let’s be really clear about it, that Trump might get reelected.

It sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it, but there it is.

A man who lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 2.9 million votes has a chance of becoming our president for another 4 years.

Trump took the immigration issue and whipped his supporters into a frenzy. He painted a picture that immigrants where the reason they had not fared better economically. Or socially.

It was the immigrants’ fault. And he would clean house, build a wall, put in restrictions, stir as much hatred as possible so his loyal supporters could march to the polls and put in that ballot for him.

But immigration is not Trump’s issue. It is the nation’s issue. All of us should have a say in the matter.

Immigration has helped us become the strong nation that we are. A nation one hundred times better than Trump (who, while decrying immigrants, has married two immigrant women).

It should be up to all Americans to decide how to handle immigration.

It should not be up to a man who lost the popular vote.

His supporters do not represent the will of this nation.

We do need new legislation on immigration for we must be in control of our borders. But such control should be based on a consensus reached by all Americans.

Which is why I am proposing that we hold a National Referendum on Immigration.

How many immigrants should be allowed in, with what skills, from which countries, for how long a period?

After a set period of discussion on the pros and cons, then all Americans would vote on what to do about it. Then it would go to congress to be made into law.

Our democratic presidential candidates have not taken this matter seriously.

Immigration deserves to be front and center, with a sound plan to address it, otherwise Trump will do the same that he did in 2016 and stir more hatred of immigrants in his supporters.

To check him, a plan is needed. And it is needed now!

On the Economy.

Is it better than under Obama? Yes. This in spite of the dampening effect of the ill advised tariff war with China. But who blocked the needed spending to boost the economy during 2010-2015? Republicans in congress (please see Paul Krugman – The Legacy of Destructive Austerity – NYTimes 12/30 2019). The same Republicans who then, after Trump became president, chose to reverse course and approve such spending.

The duplicity of Republicans has to be exposed. Their blocking of Obama’s economic measures clearly harmed Americans’ economic wellbeing.

Democratic presidential candidates need to be very vocal on these two issues.

The harm caused by Republican policy has been devastating to the nation.

It should be front and center in the presidential political debate.

Finally, a word in support of Common Cause’s effort to Fix The Broken Electoral College by  sponsoring a proposal for a ‘National Popular Vote Compact’ which is ‘… an agreement among states to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.’

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