Update On Hong Kong

Politico posted an article today about the latest events in Hong Kong. The article is taken from the South China Morning Post. Please consider the source when reading the excerpts.

The article reports:

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has formally withdrawn the much-despised extradition bill that sparked the nearly three-month long protest crisis now roiling the city, confirming the Post’s exclusive report earlier on Wednesday.

She will also set up an investigative platform to look into the fundamental causes of the social unrest and suggest solutions for the way forward, stopping short of turning it into a full-fledged commission of inquiry, as demanded by protesters.

The decision to withdraw the bill will mean that the government is finally acceding to at least one of the five demands of the protesters, who have taken to the streets over the past 13 weeks to voice not just their opposition to the legislation, but the overall governance of the city in demonstrations that have become increasingly violent.

Apart from the formal withdrawal of the legislation, the protesters have asked for the government to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate police conduct in tackling the protests, grant amnesty to those who have been arrested, stop characterizing the protests as riots, and restart the city’s stalled political reform process.

Whether they will view the investigative committee as adequate in meeting the call for a commission remains to be seen. On the bill withdrawal, a government source said that Lam will emphasize that the move was a technical procedure to streamline the legislative agenda, with the Legislative Council set to reopen in October after its summer break.

Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line Blog today about Hong Kong. In the article he quotes a Claudia Rosette article at The Wall Street Journal:

[T]he millions of protesters. . .have been doing the world a heroic service. Like their predecessors at Tiananmen, they are exposing on a world stage the brutality of the Beijing regime. From the only place under China’s flag where there is any chance to speak out, they are shouting the truth, day and night, in the streets and from the windows—while they still can.

During more than 13 straight weeks of protest, Hong Kong’s people have demanded the rights and freedoms—including free elections—that China, in a treaty with Britain, guaranteed to Hong Kong for 50 years after the 1997 handover. At a press conference last week held by Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the biggest peaceful protests, spokeswoman Bonnie Leung observed that if the authorities would simply keep those promises, “the whole movement will end immediately.”

Instead, President Xi Jinping and his puppet, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, have defaulted to threats, propaganda and force. Ms. Lam’s administration has deployed riot police, tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Officers have made more than 1,000 arrests.

China has been pressuring Hong Kong companies, including Cathay Pacific Airways, to fire employees who join the protests. Chanting “Stand with Hong Kong! Fight for freedom!” the protesters have refused to back down. Some told me they are ready to die for their cause. Many of their predecessors did in Tiananmen.

Hong Kong police have begun firing warning shots with live ammunition. This weekend, police were caught on video beating unarmed civilians bloody on the subway. China has been conspicuously drilling troops of its People’s Armed Police across the border, and last week it sent fresh army troops to its garrison in Hong Kong, labeling this a routine rotation to ensure “prosperity and stability.”

(Emphasis added)

The article at Power Line Blog concludes with an UPDATE:

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has finally agreed to withdraw the extradition bill discussed above. She takes her order from Beijing, so it looks like China wants to avoid a Tiananmen Square style massacre and the worldwide condemnation it would bring.

Will this concession, absent the freedoms China promised Hong Kong in 1997, be sufficient to take the steam out of the protests? Perhaps.

Another possibility is that the protesters, if anything, will be emboldened by the concession and that China, having made it, will believe it can defend a crack down by claiming that the protesters couldn’t take “yes” for an answer.

 Stay tuned.

 

It’s Better To Owe Money To A Friend Than To Owe Money To Someone Who Is Not Your Friend

America’s runaway spending is a problem. So far no one in Washington has either the power or the will to bring that spending to a screeching halt. But at least we are being a little wiser in our borrowing habits.

CNS News posted an article today with the following headline, “Japan Surpasses China as Top Foreign Holder of U.S. Debt.” It would be better if we had no debt, but at least the majority of our debt is held by a country that is not out to destroy us.

The article reports:

In May of this year, the Chinese owned $1,110,200,000,000 in U.S Treasury securities and the Japanese owned $1,101,000,000,000. In June, however, Chinese ownership of U.S. Treasury securities rose only to $1,112,500,000,000 and Japanese ownership climbed to $1,122,900,000,000.

That marked the first time since May 2017 that entities in Japan have owned more U.S. Treasury securities, as estimated by the U.S. Treasury, than entities in China.

In May 2017, the Japanese owned $1,111,500,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities and the Chinese owned $1,102,200,000,000. In June 2017, Chinese ownership of U.S. Treasury securities increased to $1,146,500,000,000 and Japanese ownership declined to $1,090,300,000.000.

Chinese ownership of U.S. Treasury securities, according to the estimates, peaked in November 2013 at $1,316,700,000,000.

…The Federal Reserve owns more U.S. Treasury securities than either Japan or China. As of June 27, according to the Federal Reserve’s balance statement, the Federal Reserve owned $2,110,256,000,000 in Treasury securities.

U.S. Treasury securities held by entities in Hong Kong are counted separately from those in Mainland China. According to the Treasury’s estimate, entities in Hong Kong owned $215,600,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities in June.

Entities in the United Kingdom were the third largest foreign holders of U.S. Treasury securities after Japan and China. In June, entities in the U.K. owned $341,100,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities.

The article concludes:

In explaining its methodology for estimating foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities, the Treasury explained that some countries have higher numbers because owners of Treasury securities from third countries “entrust the safekeeping of their securities” to institutions in these countries.

“Imperfections caused by ‘custodial bias’remain in the current MFH [Major Foreign Holders of U.S. Treasury Securities] table,” said the methodology statement. “Some foreign owners entrust the safekeeping of their securities to institutions that are neither in the United States nor in the owner’s country of residence. For example, a German investor may buy a U.S. security and place it in the custody of a Swiss bank. In both the SLT and the periodic surveys of holdings of long-term securities, such a holding will typically be recorded vis-a-vis Switzerland rather than Germany. This ‘custodial bias’ contributes to the large recorded holdings in major custodial centers including Belgium, the Caribbean banking centers, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.”

It truly is time to cut our spending. We owe too many people too much money.

Playing Chess With World Trade

America has been on the wrong end of bad trade deals for a long time. We watched our manufacturing jobs leave America after NAFTA. We watched the steel industry disappear after being undercut by Chinese steel held up by subsidies by the Chinese government. President Trump is a businessman. As a businessman, he is trying to level the trade playing field. In some areas he is getting cooperation at home and abroad; in some areas he is not. China has been a difficult country to deal with regarding trade. The uneven playing field they have enjoyed for years has been very profitable for them. Because their economy is based on an uneven playing field, they are reluctant to make changes. Their economy is currently struggling, and if President Trump stands his ground, the Chinese economy could face serious challenges. That’s where we are. There is, however, some positive news about where we might be headed.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article today about a possible breakthrough in the talks with China.

The article reports:

Did China finally blink in Donald Trump’s trade war? Trump himself seems to think so. At the G-7 summit, Trump told reporters that a statement earlier in the day from a top official in Beijing showed that China had finally expressed a real interest in redefining the trade relationship between the world’s top two economies. It’s “the first time” that Trump sees China acting in good faith, he said

The article continues:

After rapid-fire escalations in tariffs by both sides, China’s vice premiere called for “calm.” Liu He also declared Beijing’s willingness to conclude a trade agreement and called for talks to begin immediately:

“We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war,” Liu, who is President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, said, according to a government transcript.

“We believe that the escalation of the trade war is not beneficial for China, the United States, nor to the interests of the people of the world,” he added.

U.S. companies are especially welcome in China, and will be treated well, Liu said.

“We welcome enterprises from all over the world, including the United States, to invest and operate in China,” he added.

“We will continue to create a good investment environment, protect intellectual property rights, promote the development of smart intelligent industries with our market open, resolutely oppose technological blockades and protectionism, and strive to protect the completeness of the supply chain.”

The last time we thought we had a deal, the person who made the deal was executed when he returned home. Hopefully this time will turn out better for everyone.

Trying To Level The Playing Field Has Its Challenges

Fox Business posted an article today about the devaluing of the Chinese yuan. The devaluing of the Chinese currency (currency manipulation) has been used by China for decades to grow their economy at the expense of America. It has been used to lure manufacturing away from America, impact our trade balance, and generally work against the American economy. We have needed to combat this practice for decades, but no President had the courage.

The article reports:

The onshore Chinese yuan weakened to worse than seven per U.S. dollar, hitting its lowest level since 2008, as Beijing looks to cushion the blow from Trump’s tariffs. A weaker yuan makes Chinese goods cheaper for overseas buyers, which may be necessary as China just lost its spot as the US’s biggest trading partner.

Trade data released Friday by the Department of Commerce showed U.S. imports from China fell by 12% in the first six months of the year, allowing Mexico to supplant it as the U.S.’s biggest trade partner.

“China dropped the price of their currency to an almost a historic low,” Trump tweeted Opens a New Window. on Monday. “It’s called “currency manipulation.” Are you listening Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time!”

Last week, Trump said beginning Sept. 1 the U.S. would place a 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods. He went ahead with the announcement despite objections from his advisers.

The president warned he could “always do much more” with respect to tariffs, adding the 10 percent tax could go “well beyond 25 percent” if necessary. Earlier this year, the administration placed a 25% tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Weakening the yuan isn’t the only form of retaliation Beijing took on Monday. It also ordered state-owned enterprises to stop purchases of U.S. agricultural products, according to a Bloomberg report, citing people familiar with the situation.

That is a reversal from just last week, when Beijing said it had purchased several tons of U.S. soybeans Opens a New Window. as a gesture of a goodwill amid trade negotitations. Before the trade war began, China was the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans, accounting for 70% of all purchases, but their imports have fallen by 97% since the trade war began.

The article notes:

Over the weekened, The Trump administration pushed back against the idea the trade war was hitting the wallets of U.S. consumers.

“China has strategically gamed the tariffs by slashing their prices and by devaluing their currency,” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told “Fox News Sunday.”

This trade dust-up with China may get ugly, but it is something that has to be done.

Elected Officials Are Supposed To Represent The People Who Voted For Them

The Democrats have always been able to count of the labor unions to support their candidates. However, in recent years, Democrat policies have worked against people who belong to labor unions. Illegal immigration depresses the wages of American workers. Bad trade agreements send jobs overseas. Both of these problems are things that President Trump is trying to fix, but the Democrats in the House of Representatives are generally a road block to dealing with either problem.

Breitbart posted an article on Friday about some recent comments by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The article reports:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Democrats during a private meeting this week for their globalist free trade agenda where 2020 Democrat presidential primary candidates have continued to embrace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

During a private meeting with Democrat National Committee (DNC) members, including Chairman Tom Perez who pushed TPP while working for President Obama, Trumka blamed a coalition of elected Republicans and Democrats for the country’s entering into a multitude of free trade agreements that have gutted America’s working and middle class while outsourcing those jobs to China, the Phillippines, Vietnam, and India.

“It’s time to do better,’ Trumka said, scolding Democrat Party leaders, according to the Huffington Post. “I believe you can. I believe you will. And working people are hungry for it. But you can’t offer campaign rhetoric or count on workers’ votes simply because you have a ‘D’ next to your name.”

The article continues:

“You need to prove that this party is the one and only party for working people,” Trumka said, according to the Huffington Post. “And recognize that unions and collective bargaining are the single best way to make this economy work for everyone.”

Trump has sought to protect and create American working and middle-class jobs by imposing tariffs on China and other foreign imports. Likewise, during his first year in office, he ended the Obama effort to enter TPP — which would have eliminated millions more U.S. jobs by allowing multinational corporations to outsource them directly to Vietnam and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Biden has continued to defend NAFTA, which he claimed in 1993 would add American jobs to the American economy but actually helped eliminate nearly five million U.S. manufacturing jobs and resulted in the closure of nearly 50,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities. A number of American towns and small cities were left economically destroyed and have yet to recover.

I would call this a shot across the bow. Unions provide major money to Democrat political campaigns, even when their members don’t vote for Democrats. If the Democrat party continues in its current direction, the labor union leaders may be less enthusiastic about promoting and funding Democrat candidates.

The Coming Election Impacts Foreign Policy

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about China’s plans to influence the 2020 presidential election.

The article reports:

In his conversation with Levin, Gertz (Washington Free Beacon senior writer Bill Gertz) reflected on his interview with Guo, who told Gertz earlier this week that the Chinese government has been deploying a prolonged campaign to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. Gertz asserted the Chinese government may try to wait out Trump’s time in office so it can negotiate trade deals with a new Democratic president if Trump loses in 2020.

Trump announced Thursday he would impose an additional 10-percent tariff on certain Chinese exports as a trade agreement between the United States and China has yet to materialize.

“The China threat to me is the most serious threat facing the country,” Gertz told Levin.

He pointed to the economic integration between the U.S and China and how those relationships make it difficult for lawmakers and military officials to address Chinese aggression head-on, which he referred to as “an existential threat.”

The article concludes:

“There’s a major push right now to try and build up of American courses in Asia so we won’t have to go to war with China,” Gertz said of the government’s efforts to deter a war hypothetical war with China.

Looking towards the presidential race, Gertz warned the Chinese government would prefer to have a Democrat in the White House.

“It’s going to be a huge problem if the Democrats retake the administration,” Gertz said, pointing to former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent downplaying of threat China poses to the United States.

Gertz pointed out that during the Obama presidency the Chinese government expanded their presence in Asian waterways, in addition to ramping up their theft of intellectual property from American companies and entrepreneurs.

This may be the reason the negotiations with China have become so difficult–China is waiting for a President who will cave into their demands. It is obvious that President Trump is not that person.

By undermining President Trump since he was elected, the Democrat party has made international trade negotiations much more difficult. Creating an even playing field in trade with China would result in continued growth of the United States economy. It is time to repair the damage bad trade deals have done in the past.

Economic Policies Matter

As the Democrat presidential candidates continue their debates, all of us need to step back and consider the consequences of economic (and other) policies. For instance, Medicare for all sounds like a really good idea–until you consider that the one place the government has been running healthcare for a while is the Veteran’s Administration. That hasn’t worked too well. Guaranteed income for all also sounds like a great idea–until you begin to calculate how much it will cost. Income inequality is a problem–it is most prevalent in our largest cities that have been under Democrat control for decades. So what has been the result of President Trump’s economic policies?

The Conservative Treehouse posted an article about the current state of the economy.

The article reports:

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released significant wage and salary data yesterday which held stunning upward revisions for 2018 and 2019.   Wage growth of 5.5% combined with low inflation remaining at 1.4 percent; the disposable income of U.S. workers jumped to a stunning 4.1%.

Within the revised BEA data, we find employee compensation rose 4.5% in 2017 and 5% in 2018.  Importantly the growth trend continued into 2019, with compensation increasing 3.4 percent in the first six months alone.  Year-over-year wages and salaries were revised upward to 5.3% for May, and 5.5% in June.  These are stunning increases in worker pay.

There are various economic indicators we have shared through the years, but wage growth is one of the more critical.  First, wage growth lags behind business activity – workers don’t get pay raises until after business volume demands/provides it.  Second, wage growth is generally uni-directional – once businesses hike pay, the increases cement.

The wage growth is across the board–it has not impacted only the wealthy.

The article concludes with a summary of President Trump’s overall economic strategy:

The U.S. consumer is driving the economy.  The jobs and labor market remains strong.  Wage growth is rising in proportion to the diminished availability of the labor pool. Price inflation is low because manufacturing economies (EU and China) are devaluing their currency, and subsidizing their industries (China), in an effort to avoid Trump’s trade policies (tariffs).  Their efforts increase the value of the dollar and we are importing deflation.

Simultaneously, global manufacturers -multinationals- need access to the U.S. consumer market.   As President Trump applies a series of strategic global trade moves, intended to draw manufacturing back to the U.S., those multinationals are in somewhat of a holding pattern for further investment.  Simply, the multinationals are trying to figure out where to put their investment capital for the highest return.

Example: The U.S. economy is strong, unemployment is low and wage rates up; so if China is a non-option, the profit determination shifts.  Where to manufacture? It might be more profitable for a multinational in either Southeast Asia or North America. The key is which country has a long-term agreement with the U.S.  That’s why the USMCA is critical.

CTH still predicts POTUS Trump will eliminate the uncertainty as soon as the USMCA is ratified.  I suspect President Trump will drop massive tariffs on all Chinese goods.

Think of China like a big lake filled with U.S. economic value. Through his Asian discussions with Vietnam, S Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan, et al, President Trump has stealthily built a thin levy, an ASEAN dam of sorts, that will direct the China lake of economic value into Southeast Asia.

Once the USMCA is signed, Trump will blow the dam by triggering the tariffs.  This will move all of the multinationals who are in a ‘holding pattern’, and capital investment will flow fast.   The China exodus will benefit North America (USMCA) and those ASEAN nations who have partnered with Trump and made proactive trade agreements.

This is the reason it is good to periodically get politicians out of the White House and elect a successful businessman.

Unfortunately This Is Going To Require A Response

Fox News is reporting today that two tankers flying British flags have been seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The article reports:

Fox News has learned that a second Liberian tanker operated by a British company was also seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and was seen on maritime tracking services making a turn, headed towards Iran.

President Trump said Friday that Iran is “nothing but trouble” and that “we heard one, we heard two,” tankers were seized.

Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Friday amid growing tensions in the region.

The Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 onboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press.

Websites tracking the ship’s path show it turning sharply in the direction of Iran’s Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News.

In July 2018 Reuters posted the following:

With a third of the world’s sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

That dynamic has changed slightly due to the fact that America now exports more crude oil than they import. The countries that will be hurt by problems in the Strait of Hormuz will be Europe, India, and China. I am sure that America will be willing to help Europe, Russia will also increase her oil production. The price of oil will rise sharply, but it is doubtful that the Strait will remain closed.

The latest report that I have heard is that there are actually three tankers that have been seized. This is an international problem and should be handled by the international community in unison.

The Appropriate Response And The Slanting Of The Story

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog about the warfare of the future. In the article Mr. Hinderaker mentions that according to The New York Times, Russia and China are working on the technology of hypersonic weapons. These weapons would render our missile defense systems useless.

The article also mentions President Trump’s response to the Iranian attacks on oil tankers:

Cyber warfare is almost old hat by comparison. The Associated Press (AP) says that President Trump ordered cyber attacks on Iran in place of actual bombings:

U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The article then illustrates how the Associated Press can spin a story by quoting the AP’s reporting on the President’s response:

“This is not a remote war (anymore),” said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. “This is one where Iranians could quote unquote bring the war home to the United States.”

Caltagirone said as nations increase their abilities to engage offensively in cyberspace, the ability of the United States to pick a fight internationally and have that fight stay out of the United States physically is increasingly reduced.

Note that the AP accuses the United States of picking a fight internationally.

The article concludes:

Did the U.S. pick a fight here? I thought Iran did that, by bombing tankers in international waters and shooting down an American drone. But for the AP, like many other American liberals, anything other than Obama-style supine acquiescence constitutes picking a fight.

Well said, sir.

It’s Amazing What You Can Lose When You Are Motivated

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today with the following headline, “How Convenient! — Christopher Wray’s Corrupt FBI ‘Loses’ Notes from Meeting Where Corrupt Cop Peter Strzok was Told CHINA was Hacking Hillary’s Emails.” My, isn’t that a surprise.

The article reports:

Corrupt Deep State FBI has misplaced emails that would prove that Peter Strzok was lying to Congress last year about knowing about Hillary Clinton’s emails being hacked by China.  Imagine that!

Last year representative Louie Gohmert from Texas interviewed corrupt cop Peter Strzok before Congress  about whether he remembered anyone mentioning that China was hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails.  Strzok lied and said he didn’t remember which led Gohmert to call out his lying, especially about his affair with Lisa Page. 

…The point that Gohmert was trying to make was that the FBI knew that China was hacking Hillary’s emails but ignored it. Instead the FBI selectively addressed whether Russia was hacking Hillary’s emails and used this story to make up the fake Trump – Russia collusion narrative.

The article concludes:

So the FBI has lost the notes from 2015 that show that dirty cop Peter Strzok, who oversaw Hillary’s email investigation, was notified that China was spying on Hillary.  Corrupt cop Christopher Wray’s FBI does not want the American public to see these notes and therefore his FBI is now saying that the notes are conveniently lost.

The fact that the FBI would ignore China spying on Hillary’s emails was material to the Spygate story.  The FBI didn’t want to look into spying on Americans, they wanted to exonerate Hillary Clinton and go on to frame candidate and President Trump on bogus Russia collusion lies.

Will the Deep State ever be cleaned up and brought to justice?

Some of us are beginning to wonder if justice still exists in America.

Wrong Again

Remember when the talking heads on television told us that because of the tariffs President Trump had placed on China, the cost of imports would go up. Well, they misread the tea leaves again.

The Gateway Pundit posted the following from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Prices for U.S. imports declined 0.3 percent in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following an increase of 0.1 percent the previous month. Lower fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the May decline in import prices. U.S. export prices fell 0.2 percent in May, after advancing 0.1 percent in April, 0.8 percent in March, and 0.6 percent in February.

Imports

U.S. Import prices fell 0.3 percent in May, the first monthly decline since a 1.4-percent drop in December. Import prices advanced 1.8 percent from December to April before the downturn in May. The price index for overall imports decreased 1.5 percent over the past 12 months, matching the drop in January. These were the largest over-the-year declines since the index fell 2.2 percent in August 2016.

Fuel Imports: Import fuel prices declined 1.0 percent in May, after rising 25.4 percent over the previous 4 months. Lower prices for both petroleum and natural gas contributed to the May decline. Petroleum prices fell 0.9 percent in May, after a 4.7-percent advance in April. The May decrease was the first monthly decline since a 15.3-percent drop in December. Natural gas prices fell 6.8 percent in May following a 51.1-percent decline the previous month. Overall fuel prices decreased 1.1 percent over the past year. The decline was driven by a 1.9-percent drop in petroleum prices which more than offset a 2.5-percent rise in natural gas prices.

The Gateway Pundit article concludes:

The lower costs on fuel allowed the overall import costs to go down for the month.  This is in the face of tariffs the Trump Administration put on China as a result of inaction from the Chinese in coming together on a trade agreement with the US.

Despite what all the liberal naysayers said about increasing tariffs costing Americans millions, the costs of imports are actually down.

Overall the US economy is in very solid shape –

The experts seem to be having a very difficult time getting things right under the Trump administration.

An Obvious Conflict Of Interest

Senator Mitch McConnell does not like tariffs. He does not like them on China where they are levied in an attempt to level the playing field on trade, and he does not like them on Mexico where they are being levied in an attempt to stop the flow of illegals and drugs over our southern border.

Unfortunately, the meme below is not a joke:

An article posted at Breitbart today explains the problem. Senator McConnell is married to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

In the article, Peter Schweizer explains why that is important:

Schweizer highlighted Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to McConnell, as illustrative of what he described as widespread political conflicts of interest between sitting American officials and foreign governments.

“The Chao family are deeply embedded commercially and financially with the Chinese government,” explained McConnell. “The Chinese government essentially set them up in the shipping business. Their ships — these are large cargo ships that transport a large amount of goods around the Pacific.”

Schweizer added, “The Chinese government is financing the building of these ships for the Chao family business. They provide crews for these chips, and they provide contracts to ship steel and other products around the Pacific.”

The Foremost Group is a shipping business founded by James Chao, Elaine Chao’s father. The Chao family business primarily revolves around China, necessitating “deep ties to the economic and political elite in China,” according to a Sunday-published New York Times report.

“[The Chao family’s shipping business] started out in the early 1990s with just a couple of vessels, a couple of large cargo ships,” said Schweizer. “They now have, by some estimates, 35 or 36, many of those built by the Chinese government. The estimates are that hundreds of millions of dollars in financing is done by the Chinese to build these ships, and that they give them preferential treatment.”

Schweizer explained, “Business in China is done with a political purpose. The China State Shipbuilding Corporation is controlled by the government, by the Communist Party, and they do business deals with people in the West with the expectation that they will get things in return.”

That is called a conflict of interest. So what is Senator McConnell’s problem with the Mexican tariffs? Many Republicans have aligned themselves with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which supports our porous southern border as a source of cheap labor. There has never been a border wall because Republican business men who contribute to political campaigns want cheap labor and Democrats want future voters.

I Know This Is Simply An Incredible Coincidence, But…

CBS News is breathlessly reporting today that Congress Justin Amash is the first Republican Congressman to call for the impeachment of President Trump. Wow. That’s really amazing. Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at Congressman Amash and some of his financial interests. Congressman Amash represents Michigan’s Third District.

Yesterday The Conservative Treehouse reported:

Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash made headlines Saturday by declaring on Twitter that President Trump deserved impeachment.  The media was quick to promote his position and advance an anti-Trump narrative.  However, a review of Amash’s financial interests quickly reveals a very personal business motive.  His family tool business is heavily invested in Chinese manufacturing.

In his 2017 financial disclosure forms (pdf here), Representative Amash reports income of between $100,000 to $1,000,000/yr. for his ownership stake in Michigan Industrial Tools.  Michigan Industrial Tools is the parent company, manufacturing in China, that produces Tekton Tools, Justin Amash’s Michigan family business.

…It is demonstrably a fact (as above) that “Michigan Industrial Tools” operates as a manufacturer in China, and the product they produced is Tekton Tools which is Amash’s family company (as admitted in the interview).

Obviously President Trump’s tariff and trade position against China is adverse to the financial interests of Justin Amash.

So Congressman Amash’s motives might not be entirely pure. China has had a trade war going on with America for many years. They have manipulated their currency to give themselves and unfair advantage and the have stolen intellectual property. It is wonderful that we finally have a President who is willing to stand up against these unfair trade practices. Unfortunately those Americans who have benefited because of these unfair trade practices are not going to meet the attempts to level the playing field with enthusiasm.

It is truly sad when a Congressman puts his own personal financial interests above the interests of the people he is supposed to be serving. The answer to Congressman Amash’s financial problem is not the removal of President Trump–it is a change in the trading practices of China to create a  more equitable balance of trade.

Tariffs And Trade Negotiations

John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line today about the ongoing trade negotiations with China. It is an open secret that China has been stealing American intellectual property for years. They have also engaged in other unfair trade practices such as manipulating their currency. What is happening now is that President Trump is trying to make the playing field more level. There will be opposition. There also may be some short-term losses for Americans, but the President is doing what needs to be done.

The article includes the following cartoon:

That about sums it up.

Our Future?

I think most Americans realize that Big Brother is getting to be a bit intrusive. Our computer searches are mined for advertising information, Alexa listens to our conversations, our government has been known to listen to our telephone conversations. This is not headed in a good direction. However, it gets even worse when you consider the fact that the next step will be modifying our behavior to fit some ideal created by someone who believes he has the right to control everyone. Not a pleasant thought. Think it’s too farfetched? An article posted at Wired on January 23 might change your mind.

The article begins:

A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

China’s social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.

By 2020, if the Party’s plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one’s social rating.

Personal “creditworthiness” or “trustworthiness” points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a “green channel,” where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be “unable to move a step.”

We do an awful lot of business with China. When trade was opened with China, the idea was that our form of government and freedom would influence their government in the direction of freedom. Somehow, based on this story, I don’t think that is what has happened.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There is no way I can summarize all of it, but I would like to share a few more points.

The article continues:

Perhaps we are reading the wrong books. Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We, which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.

The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines.

The article concludes:

Beauty is the ultimate example of human un-freedom and un-reason, being a subjectivity that is rooted in our biology, yet at the same time rooted in external absolutes like mathematical ratios and the movement of time. As the critic Giovanni Basile writes in an extraordinarily perceptive critical essay, “The Algebra of Happiness,” the utopia implied by Zamyatin’s dystopia is “a world in which happiness is intertwined with a natural un-freedom that nobody imposes on anyone else: a different freedom from the one with which the Great Inquisitor protects mankind: a paradoxical freedom in which there is no ‘power’ if not in the nature of things, in music, in dance and in the harmony of mathematics.”

Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of “justice,” Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: “In fact, only within the ‘here and now’ of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified.” Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.

A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp. The question now—as in previous such moments—is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.

This is scary–not scary enough to get me to get rid of Alexa–but scary.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

It’s hard to defend the actions of the Federal Reserve right now. The people who propped up the economy under President Obama seem determined to destroy the economy under President Trump. But we know that the Federal Reserve is apolitical. Sure we do. However, there may be some unintended consequences of the current Federal Reserve actions.

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today which explains some of those consequences.

The article reports:

The Chinese were relentless in their efforts to obtain Western technology and grow their economy.  They set up trade barriers and manipulated their currency in ways that helped China. The US was at a disadvantage in trade resulting in massive deficits into the billions.

Along comes the Trump Administration, the first administration to address China’s unfair trade advantage.  President Trump is a shrewd negotiator and he obviously believes now is the time to encourage China to make changes to their trade barriers with the US.  China may have no choice but to go with what the US offers to keep its economy afloat.

The more pressing issues for China surround real estate, in a manner similar to the US in 2008.  As China grew, it invested in its infrastructure and in addition it invested in large housing projects throughout the country.  These efforts helped bolster China’s already fast growing economy.

The problem is that China over invested in these random properties all over China and these properties today remain empty.

…Now to add to China’s misery, the Fed is doing all it can to kill the US economy.  China is dependent on the US economy to stay afloat.

…The US debt now stands at $21.8 trillion. A 2.25% interest increase on this amount of debt is an annual increase in debt interest payments of $500 billion!!!

The Fed is doing all it can to destroy President Trump’s economy. What the Fed doesn’t realize is that a flat US economy means disaster to the Chinese.

China’s financial crash may make the 2008 crash in the US look small.  The implications will no doubt impact the entire world.  Jerome Powell at the Fed has no idea what he is doing!

Hang on to your hat, if the Federal Reserve continues on its current path, this may be a very bumpy ride.

Who Holds Our Debt?

CNS News is reporting today:

Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities are 11.5 percent below their peak level which was attained in November 2013, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

U.S. government debt held by entities in the People’s Republic of China peaked at $1,316,700,000,000 in November 2013, according to the Treasury. As of August 2018, according to the latest date released by the Treasury this month, China held $1,165,100,000,000 in U.S. Treasury.

That is a drop of $151,600,000,000 from the November 2013 peak.

We are still carrying way too much national debt, and that will be a more serious problem as the federal reserve raises interest rates. However, although China is holding less of our debt, it is still the the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities.

The article concludes:

While China remains the top foreign owner of U.S. government debt—despite its declining holdings—the Federal Reserve still owns far more. As of the end of November, according to the Federal Reserve, it owned $2,324,589,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities.

China’s $1,165,100,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities was only 50.1 percent of the Fed’s holdings.

It’s time to cut government spending and get out of debt!

 

 

The Ignored Threat

On October 5, The Daily Signal posted an article about the threat posed to the United States by China.

Vice-President Pence lists four major threats to America from China:

1. Cyber Espionage

…Microchips, about the size of a grain of sand, were inserted into the manufacturing of equipment in China of Super Micro Computer Inc., which is a server supplier for several major companies in the United States.

Investigators determined the chips allowed attackers to create backdoor entry to alter computers. However, Amazon, Apple, Super Micro itself, and the Chinese government all disputed the Bloomberg reporting.

“This is a backdoor into the hardware level in determining personal identification, health care records, and possibly even voting machines,” Dean Cheng, research fellow on Chinese political and security affairs at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

“If the chip story is true, there is something fundamentally wrong with our supply chain,” he added.

Cheng contends these cybersecurity concerns are far weightier than concerns about election interference and spreading propaganda.

2. Election Meddling

…“It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence,” he said.

“When it comes to influencing the midterms, you need only look at Beijing’s tariffs in response to ours,” Pence added. “The tariffs imposed by China to date specifically targeted industries and states that would play an important role in the 2018 election.

“By one estimate, more than 80 percent of U.S. counties targeted by China voted for President Trump and I in 2016. Now, China wants to turn these voters against our administration,” he said.

3. Squeezing US Companies

Pence called out Google for its seeming willingness to work with the Chinese government.

“Google should immediately end development of the ‘Dragonfly’ app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers,” he said in his Thursday speech.

Pence also noted that Chinese officials tried to influence business leaders.

“In one recent example, China threatened to deny a business license for a major U.S. corporation if they refused to speak out against our administration’s policies,” Pence said.

4. Military Buildup

…China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies. But they will fail.

America had hoped that economic liberalization would bring China into a greater partnership with us and with the world.

Instead, China has chosen economic aggression, which has in turn emboldened its growing military.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. We ignore this threat at our own peril.

An Interesting Take On Tariffs

Real Clear Politics posted an article today titled, “Why Trump’s Tariffs Won’t Cost Consumers a Nickel.” I’m not sure I totally agree with that, but the ideas behind the statement were interesting.

The article states:

Critics also contend that President Trump’s tariffs will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers.  We’ve heard this before. They said aluminum tariffs would spike the cost of a six-pack. But soda and beer prices have remained flat.

Now Walmart has joined the chorus. But we have no more reason to believe officials there than other boys who cried wolf. To understand why, let’s review how tariffs work, and how specifically the president’s tariffs work.

…Tariffs aren’t imposed on the final retail price the way a sales tax is. They are also not imposed on the wholesale price. They are not even imposed on what the importer pays at the dock when the goods enter the U.S.  The duties are imposed on an even lower price than that – and that’s a scandal in itself.

Let’s say Black & Decker wants to sell a line of toaster ovens with a $60 retail price in the U.S.  It goes to a Hong Kong middleman who deals with Chinese manufacturers. The Hong King middleman pays his cousin at a Chinese toaster oven factory $10 for toaster ovens. Black & Decker agrees to pay the Hong Kong middleman $20 for the toaster ovens, and picks them up off the boat in Long Beach, Calif.

Let’s say there’s a 10 percent tariff on toaster ovens from China. (There isn’t.)  The tariff would only be $1 because it’s calculated on what the Hong Kong middleman (says he) paid his cousin at the toaster factory – the first sale — not what Black & Decker pays to take delivery at the port – what’s known in the jargon of the trade world as the last sale. 

As a result of this accounting flim-flam, Hong Kong middlemen and the importers who love them are getting rich while taxpayers are getting hosed for untold billions of dollars the U.S. Treasury is not collecting.

The article concludes with information that shows the wisdom of what President Trump is doing:

And here’s the beauty part, how the tariffs are designed to hurt China: The Trump tariffs target items available from sources outside China.  Buy from a supplier outside China, avoid the tariff.

President Trump’s surgical strike tariffs are sending companies a clear message: Do business anywhere but China.  

And the message is getting through. Companies no longer see China as a safe space.  China needs a continued influx of foreign investment to feed its economic growth, and the president’s trade policy encourages companies to look elsewhere.

This is the reason it is good to have a businessman in the White House instead of a politician.

Why Are All These People In Djibouti?

This is a map showing the location of Djibouti:

Many years ago at a Marine Ball in New Orleans, I sat next to a young officer who had recently returned from Djibouti. I asked him what he had done there, and he responded very politely by telling me everything I wanted to know about Djibouti except what I had asked him. I wondered, but let it go. That was at least twelve years ago, and Djibouti is still an important place to the world’s most powerful nations. One look at its location explains why.

On Friday, the Center for Security Policy posted an article with the title, ” Arms Trafficking on the Rise in Djibouti.” So what is this about?

The article reports:

Attention was brought this week to the growing issue of arms trafficking in the East African nation of Djibouti, which has seen a spike in recent years. Driving the problem is the instability and ongoing conflict in neighboring countries such as Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan. The negative attention comes as Djibouti is trying to establish itself as a developed and economic upstart nation.

…Djibouti’s lack of internal conflicts, its surge of economic investments and its resulting economic growth, have all led to increased stability not present in its neighboring countries.  Driving these positive developments are its access to both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, resulting in its labeling by some as the “most valuable real estate” in the world.

Another major component of Djibouti’s growth has been the military presence of several major world powers within its border such as the United States, France, China, and Japan. France was the first power to establish a military base there as the former colonial power in the region, although budget constraints will require them to close this in the near future. The United States has a strong military presence in Djibouti as the central location of its African-based operations known as AFRICOM. The only foreign bases of both China and Japan are in Djibouti, and India is looking to build a base there in the coming years. The main interest of these countries in Djibouti is the country’s strategic positioning near the Bab-el-Mandeb strait and the Horn of Africa.

…China has the largest presence in Djibouti, given its large development and business presence, and owns a significant amount of the nation’s debt. To this point, the United States sought reassurance earlier this year by the Djiboutian Foreign Ministry that Djibouti’s relationship to China would not overshadowed their agreement with the United States. Despite these assurances, concern over China’s heavy presence in Djibouti, and its ability to remain a neutral partner, continues to increase.

As Djibouti’s economy and international profile continue to grow, interest in the strategically located African nation will continue to increase from world powers and transnational criminals alike who look to profit from the country’s exponential rise.

Stay tuned. This growing country in one of the most unsettled regions of the world is very strategically located. The military buildup by foreign interests in Djibouti is not accidental.

Consequences Of Not Following The Rules

On May 21, 2017, the Business Insider reported the following:

China killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012, hobbling U.S. spying operations in a massive intelligence breach whose origin has not been identified, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Yesterday I posted an article that included the following:

  • A Chinese-owned company penetrated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server, according to sources briefed on the matter.
  • The company inserted code that forwarded copies of Clinton’s emails to the Chinese company in real time.
  • The Intelligence Community Inspector General warned of the problem, but the FBI subsequently failed to act, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert said during a July hearing.

The article at Business Insider stated:

By 2013, U.S. intelligence concluded China’s ability to identify its agents had been curtailed, the newspaper said, and the CIA has been trying to rebuild its spy network there.

Hillary Clinton set up her private server when she took office as Secretary of State in January 2009; she left that position on February 1, 2013.

The Business Insider further reported:

The Chinese killed at least a dozen people providing information to the CIA from 2010 through 2012, dismantling a network that was years in the making, the newspaper reported.

One was shot and killed in front of a government building in China, three officials told the Times, saying that was designed as a message to others about working with Washington.

The breach was considered particularly damaging, with the number of assets lost rivaling those in the Soviet Union and Russia who perished after information passed to Moscow by spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, the report said. Ames was active as a spy in the 1980s and Hanssen from 1979 to 2001.

The CIA declined to comment when asked about the Times report on Saturday.

The Chinese activities began to emerge in 2010, when the American spy agency had been getting high quality information about the Chinese government from sources deep inside the bureaucracy, including Chinese upset by the Beijing government’s corruption, four former officials told the Times.

I think we need some accountability here.

America Is Reducing Its CO2 Emissions

bp Global posted an article recently detailing CO2 emissions for 2017.

The article reports:

Global CO2 emissions from energy in 2017 grew by 1.6%, rebounding from the stagnant volumes during 2014-2016, and faster than the 10-year average of 1.3%.

This is not really a surprise since the worldwide economy improved during 2017. However, the article reports which countries increased emissions and which countries decreased emissions.

The article reports:

Carbon emissions from energy use from the US are the lowest since 1992, the year that the UNFCCC came into existence. The next largest decline was in Ukraine (-10.1%).

The largest increase in carbon emissions in 2017 came from China (1.6%), a reversal from the past three years when the largest increases in emissions came from India. China’s emissions in 2017 were 0.3% higher than the previous peak in 2014. China has had the world’s largest increments in carbon emission every year this century except in four years – 2000 and between 2014-16.

The next highest increment came from India where emissions rose by 4.4%, though lower than its 10-year average (6% p.a.).

Together, China and India accounted for nearly half of the increase in global carbon emissions.EU emissions were also up (1.5%) with just Spain accounting for 44% of the increase in EU emissions. Among other EU members, UK and Denmark reported the lowest carbon emissions in their history.

President Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. It is important to look at the above information in view of that agreement.

According to The New York Times on May 31, 2017:

Under the deal (The Paris Climate Accord), the Obama administration pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 as well as to commit up to $3 billion in aid for poorer countries by 2020. (The United States has delivered $1 billion to date.) China vowed that its emissions would peak around 2030 and that it would get about 20 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by then. India would continue to reduce its carbon intensity, or CO2 output per unit of economic activity, in line with historical levels.

So under the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. would cripple its economy and pay money to other countries. China would not really do much before 2030, while America would have to be below 2005 emission levels before 2025. President Trump again withdrew America from an unfair deal, while actually accomplishing the aim of the agreement without crippling the American economy. Meanwhile, China and India, who signed the deal, are increasing their carbon emissions. This is typical of how those who want to weaken America to achieve their goal of one-world government operate. Americans need to understand that America is the biggest obstacle to one-world government, particularly with President Trump in charge.

 

 

Common Sense Is Slowing Arriving In America Regarding The United Nations

Yesterday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Some of the current members of the Human Rights Council are Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. The Human Rights Council does not have a history or actually protecting human rights.

The following is from Wikipedia, but still is noteworthy:

Since its creation in 2006—the Council had resolved almost more resolutions condemning Israel than on the rest of the world combined. The 45 resolutions comprised almost half (45.9%) of all country-specific resolutions passed by the Council, not counting those under Agenda Item 10 (countries requiring technical assistance).[1] From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council adopted 131 resolutions directly addressing the Arab–Israeli conflict. In early Security Council practice, resolutions did not directly invoke Chapter VII. They made an explicit determination of a threat, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, and ordered an action in accordance with Article 39 or 40. Resolution 54 determined that a threat to peace existed within the meaning of Article 39 of the Charter, reiterated the need for a truce, and ordered a cease-fire pursuant to Article 40 of the Charter. Although the phrase “Acting under Chapter VII” was never mentioned as the basis for the action taken, the chapter’s authority was being used.

One thing to consider when looking at how the United Nations began and where it is now is the creation of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1969. In 2011, this group was renamed the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. The original charter of the organization emphasized the goal of “revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world.” The group consists of 57 members, including Sunni and Shia states. Its membership is not limited to Arab states. This group has become a major power bloc in the United Nations and bears much of the responsibility for the anti-democratic turn the United Nations has taken. The United Nations no longer supports freedom–it has become a place where dictators can parade as great leaders while their people are starving or imprisoned.

Leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council is the right thing to do. The next step is to leave the United Nations entirely.

When We Mean Well, But Just Don’t Get It Right

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about recycling. Most American communities have made provisions to recycle items rather than just dump them in the landfill, but evidently things are not always what they seem. China used to take about one third of America’s recycled material, but China has put strict rules on what it will accept–generally refusing most of our recycled material. This has resulted in many recycling companies dumping recyclables into landfills. So all of our sorting efforts are for naught.

The editorial reports:

But this isn’t even the worst of it. As John Tierney explained in an exhaustive analysis of recycling programs, also published by the New York Times, recycling is not only costly, but doesn’t do much to help the environment.

The claim that recycling is essential to avoid running out of landfill space is hogwash, since all the stuff Americans throw away for the next 1,000 years would fit into “one-tenth of 1% of land available for grazing,” Tierney says.

Other environmental benefits, he finds, are negligible, and come at an exceedingly high price. Tierney notes, for example, that washing plastics before recycling them, as is the recommended practice, could end up adding to greenhouse gas emissions. And the extra trucks and processing facilities produce CO2 as well.

Since it costs far more to recycle trash than to bury it, governments are wasting money that could be more effectively spent elsewhere.

We need to find a way to convert waste into energy without pollution. That might be a pipe dream, but it is a worthwhile goal.