December 2, 2018

The day that Donald Trump got on a plane to attend the G-20 summit, my sixteen year-old daughter came home from her AP European History class and said, "Mom, Donald Trump is really dumb."

Now, that's not a sentiment that I feel it necessary to argue against. But because I'm a writer, I don't want my kids to rely on lazy language. I want to hear her reasoning. And as it turns out, she was learning about the economic struggles of 16th century Europe and how "mercantilism" (now known as "protectionism") had contributed greatly to both economic and political strife at that time. This is what my munchkin collated and notated as part of her debate prep discussing how these economic theories (which led to the American Revolution) now apply in the modern age:

Trump's foreign trade policies are stuck in the 1680s. Maximizing exports and minimizing imports and imposing tariffs isn't going to make America rich. He has a zero-sum view of the world, but trade is positive-sum.

I don't know if Trump took an accurate history class in his private school (Ed. note: ZING! but actually it was a military academy) but if he did, he would know that mercantilism was debunked by Adam Smith THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

Like an 18th c. mercantilist, Trump perceives no mutual gains from trade. In any transaction, he only perceives a winner and a loser, the winner being determined by who has a trade surplus. He also conflates our balance of trade with national security, though the exact connection is muddled and undefined.

Trump isn't even a good mercantilist. Even mercantilists from CENTURIES AGO understood that if you were trying to use tariffs to boost your trade surplus, you needed to impose tariffs on *finished goods* not the materials your domestic industry needed to manufacture those high-value finished goods for export.

Trump still hasn't figured this out. In protecting US steel and aluminum, he is threatening the much larger manufacturing industries that purchase these materials to make products to export to other nations, such as cars and appliances (Ed. Note: see GM's recent closure).

John Maynard Keynes once said that men who fancy themselves independent thinkers are usually just slaves to some defunct economist. But what do you call a man who can't even get his guiding economic anachronism correct?

No lazy language there. Amazing how my tenth grader understand economics better than those who sit in the seats of power. You know the old saying: "Those who refuse to learn the lessons of the past are doomed to vote Republican."

The guest lists I received from the various Sunday shows came before the news of the death of George HW Bush. Anticipate that today's line up may change to be more Bush-focused.

ABC's "This Week" — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Roger Stone, former adviser to Donald Trump. Panel: ABC’s Mary Bruce and Matthew Dowd; former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.; Meghan McCain of ABC’s “The View”; and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. Panel: Dan Balz of The Washington Post; former Gov. Pat McCrory, R-N.C.; Heather McGhee, Demos; and Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Jon Tester, D-Mont. Panel: Seung Min Kim and David Nakamura of The Washington Post, Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal and Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Warner. Panel: Rep. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif.; former Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.; David Urban, former strategist, Donald J. Trump for President; and Democratic strategist Karen Finney.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Ian Bremmer, president & founder, the Eurasia Group; Richard Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations and former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department of State (George W. Bush Administration); Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO, New America; Ruchir Sharma, author of “The Rise & Fall of Nations”; and Michael Lewis, author of “The Fifth Risk.”

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News and co-author, “Russian Roulette”; Garrett Graff, author, "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI & the War on Global Terror"; Kaitlan Collins of CNN; Susan Glasser of The New Yorker; Matt Lewis of The Daily Beast; Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post; Oliver Darcy of CNN; and Julie K. Brown of The Miami Herald.

"Fox News Sunday" — Pompeo; Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md; Gen. Jack Keane, (ret.); Michele Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense. Panel: Juan Williams, Karl Rove and Jennifer Griffin, Fox News national security correspondent.

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