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Chris Powell: Currency regime has run the world for 'America first' since 1945

Section: Daily Dispatches

Trump's Megalomaniac Delusion: 'Now I Am the People'

By Chris Powell
Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Connecticut
Monday, January 23, 2017

President Trump's inaugural address was based on the ridiculous conceit that he somehow had received a mandate for running second in the election with just 46 percent of the vote, almost 3 million votes behind the leader, who didn't do so well herself. With his ascension, Trump said, "we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington and giving it back to you, the American people."

Or as the megalomanical politician invented by the Firesign Theater in 1970 said, "Now I am the people."

Continuing to pander, Trump offered another ridiculous conceit -- that "a small group in our nation's capital" has been cheating all the good people of the country.

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In fact, while the country purports to hate Congress, it loves its own congressman, almost always re-electing him because he does his best to cheat every other congressman's district for the benefit of his own. That is, nearly everyone is on the government gravy train one way or another but still fashions himself exploited.

"We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country have disappeared over the horizon," the new president said. "The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world. ... From this moment on, it's going to be America first."

Except that since 1945, when, by international agreement, the U.S. dollar was installed as the world reserve currency, the world itself has been run on an "America first" basis. That's because for international trade the world has been required to use currency issued only by the U.S. government, allowing the United States to run huge trade deficits, thereby essentially taxing the world for using the dollar so Americans can consume far more than they produce.

This currency arrangement is a primary cause of the decline of simple manufacturing in the United States, about which Trump complained during his campaign and again in his inaugural address.

"America first"? It has been a long time since it was otherwise.

The protectionism and tariffs the new president seemed to advocate in his address will not be good for the complex manufacturing in which the United States now excels. Protectionism and tariffs will be reciprocated and may be as bad for Boeing and Pratt & Whitney as they may be good for Airbus and Rolls Royce.

Trump's address included fair grievances: "Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities. Rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation. An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge. And the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. ... We have defended other nations' borders while refusing to defend our own."

But Trump's own response to these problems was only the most delusional megalomania. "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," the new president said before hurrying off to march in the inaugural parade and dance at the inaugural balls.

A new week has begun and of course the "carnage" has not stopped or even slowed, for mere proclamations are powerless against problems arising from mistaken policies of long standing. The country may not even be capable of addressing these problems while it is as divided politically, philosophically, and socially as Weimar Germany was divided between Nazis and Communists.

Indeed, as the tribune of America's populist right was taking his oath, just a few blocks away the neo-Stalinist left was already rioting, smashing windows and burning cars.


Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer.

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