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Donald Trump as POTUS. That is what we have experienced for the last year or so, and in that time we have SEEN some things. Some things that beggar belief, yet he remains arguably the most important single individual in the Western World. How did this happen, what has become the norm, and what can we expect for the future from President Trump? Read on to find out.
How Trump was elected
Of course, why any single person gets elected as the leader of the free world is a complicated matter. However, there are two issues that stand out above all others.
The first is that voter turnout was incredibly low. 58 % to be precise, and as voter turnout reduces you can expect those with more extreme views to be the ones left making an effort to put their mark in the box. With the indifferent voters more likely to stay at home, something that perhaps had a role in Trump’s success?
Perhaps, also, if we had taken a leaf out of Estonia’s book and used something like the Smartmatic system, an online system that allows votes to be cast and verified. Something that raised votes in their last parliamentary election by 5%, we would have a different bottom on the chair in the oval office?
The other major issue here is perhaps one that became expressed in terms of reaction. In fact, framing Trump’s success as a reaction by those disappointed with Obama and his democratic policies is possible when explaining his triumph. It is even possible to frame it as a reaction by conservative America to having Hillary as the first ever female presidential candidate. Although why a capable, qualified woman would be less desirable than an ageing wheeler-dealer is enough to baffle the mind.
Some of the stuff Trump has done since being POTUS
A post on the truth of Trump cannot be complete without documenting of some of the more unusual behavior that we have seen. His use of social media, in particular, is worth commenting on, especially his official Twitter account.
There he has called the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fat and short, although to be fair this was in response to the barb that Trump was old. He has also got into a Twitter battle with LaVar Ball, Michael Moore, and Sen. Bob Corker. While before he was elected, he was known to dole out the odd word of relationship advice to celebrities such as Katy Perry. I suppose it’s nice to know that he cares?!
What can we expect from Trump in the future
According to his aforementioned Twitter Trump, himself suggests that we can expect unemployment to fall below 4% under his leadership.
However, it seems we can also expect healthcare provision to be snatched from the hands of the neediest and free birth control provision to go out of the window. This is in addition to funds being channeled into fossil fuels as opposed to their more eco-friendly and suitable alternatives. Things that many of us find truly terrifying!
The thriving economies of countries in the Asia Pacific region remain threatened by political tensions that surface every time a sticky issue comes up. Japan and South Korea ties are less than friendly, despite both being US allies. China is at loggerheads with many of its smaller neighbors over territorial disputes and its aggressive militarization of the contested islands.
With President Trump scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal done by the previous administration, it would be wise for these Asian nations to band together, not to fight a superpower, but to find alternative solutions that would be favorable for them in light of the uncertainty of US policies that affect them.
Japan and China are two of the richest countries in the world, with the former generally viewed as “old money” and the latter as “nouveau riche.” Flattering or derogatory implications aside, it cannot be denied that both are the chief entities that make this once destitute eastern region now a powerful force in the international economic landscape.
It is therefore incumbent upon these countries’ leaders to rethink their differences and find ways to improve their relations. Achieving respectful politeness will pave the way for productive dialogues that will protect their solid global standing and safeguard the fiscal and defense forces’ stability not only for themselves but also for the other emerging Asian economies. Other than China’s military belligerence, the delusional leader of rogue nation North Korea is proceeding with his nuclearization goals, causing global agitation. Tokyo’s Abe Shinzo wields more influence in fixing the strained ties with China, his country being a long-time major US ally and a seemingly unsinkable force. But it won’t be an easy job for Abe, with the sitting US president flip-flopping on his views of Beijing’s Xi Jinping and giving the Japanese Prime Minister a politically induced headache.
Historical accounts allege that the fight for regional supremacy between the two countries already existed 1,500 years ago. China had the upper hand in geographical dimensions but Japan’s innovative progress in the 19th century and its victories in the Japan-Qing War in 1895 and over Russia in 1905 solidified its superiority over its Goliath-size neighbor. The Sino-Japanese bond was on friendlier footing in the mid-1970s to the ‘80s but events in the following decade cropped up that led to tensions that have not abated since then.
In the 1990s, nationalistic Japanese historians revised school textbooks to cast the nation in a better light and instill patriotism in the minds of the young children. Among the revisions were the downplaying of the crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Army against its enemies in World War ll, including China, and the purported sanitization of the events that occurred in the Rape of Nanking in 1937. The number of people killed in that massacre has never been factually established and various counts put them between 40,000 and 300,000.
A thorny issue that has hounded the two countries is China’s insistence that Japan apologize for its WWll atrocities through financial compensation. But a book by author June Dreyer mentions an incontestable fact – 70 percent of Japanese aid in the 1980s went to China. The never-ending demand for apologies now does not solicit sympathy from the Japanese but has the opposite effect of annoying them.
Adding to the tensions is the continuing dispute between Tokyo and Beijing of ownership of the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu Islands as China calls them. The United States had given back control of the islands to Japan under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement. China, however, does not honor the agreement, insisting that the islands belongs to them. The long-held animosity escalated in 2012 when Japan purchased the set if islands from a private individual for more than 2 billion yen.
An accord that is mutually acceptable can put to rest these contentious issues if leaders Abe and Xi are open to rebuilding the damaged lines of communication. Further, Japan’s prime minister should nurture its relations with the new US administration and maintain the cordial ties it had with the previous resident of the White House. Pres. Trump’s vacillating moods now has him favoring Pres. Xi, and Abe must be careful not to offend him. Japan needs Washington and Beijing for economic and security soundness.
Image source Flickr
For its part, China should keep in mind that its current economic strength cannot continue if it repeatedly provokes other nations with its combative and hostile behavior. It should learn to respect the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration denying its rights to the Spratly Islands in favor of the Philippines. Despite the court’s ruling in July 2016, China continued building artificial reefs and a military airfield on the contested land. and ignored several countries’ requests to abide by the legal decision.
Earlier this year, three China Coast Guard ships entered the waters around Senkaku Islands, which is the subject of a Japan-China territorial dispute. The move came days after US Secretary of State James Mattis paid a visit to Japan and reaffirmed its government’s support for Japan’s claim.
Notwithstanding the recent chill in relations, Abe and Xi have vowed to resume communication and restore healthy ties when the two met on the sidelines at the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month.
US President Donald Trump vowed on Sunday to “move forward in working constructively with Russia”, including mentions of forming a cybersecurity unit staffed by the two countries. This statement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin denying any kind of interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Source: Kremlin Official Website
Trump’s commitment to partner with Putin on cybersecurity has drawn stern criticism from officials of both the main parties, some of whom have described the president as dangerously naïve for trusting his Russian counterpart in this way. Trump tweeted that he “strongly pressed” Putin twice about Russia meddling in the election during their meeting in Germany on Friday, and that Putin “vehemently denied it”.
American intelligence agencies have concluded definitively that there were attempts by Russian authorities to influence the election in Mr Trump’s favor, through illegal hacking, propaganda, and other insidious activities. However, Trump’s public statements on the issue haven’t been defensive in the least, and have varied from vague complacency to outright doubt over Russia’s role in the election.
Following the meeting at the G20 Summit earlier this month, Trump didn’t say whether he believed Putin’s denial or not, only stating “I’ve already given my opinion” at the end of his tweet. Both Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have claimed that Trump believed Putin’s assurances that Russia hadn’t meddled in the election.
However, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus disputed Putin and Lavrov’s version of events. Though Priebus wasn’t present at the meeting between the two world leaders, he said “It’s not true” on Fox News Sunday and that Trump “absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin”.
However, the Chief of Staff later showed varying certainty over the issue, saying that president Trump “believes that Russia probably committed all of these acts that we’ve been told of. But he also believes that other countries also participated in this activity.”
Trump’s statements have all come in the form of tweets, following his three-day visit to Hamburg, where he met Putin and other world leaders. In these tweets, Trump repeated his accusation that Obama and did “nothing” after learning about Russia’s involvement in hacking Democrat email servers to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
As more and more of the election hacking scandal has come to light, there’s been increasing talk about what can be done to protect future elections. One arm of this is new biometric technology, from companies such as Smartmatic. If integrated, this extra layer will ensure that the person voting really is who they say they are.
While there’s no evidence as of yet that ballot counting or voting was affected directly in last year’s election, many American officials are concerned that Russian saboteurs may have gained some knowledge that could help them influence elections in the future, including the 2018 mid-terms.
Both Democrat and Republican secretaries of state, who are responsible for conducting elections in many American states, have complained about a lack of information from federal intelligence officials regarding Russian interference in the last presidential election.
Small businesses in the U.S. make a significant contribution to the country’s economy. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that there are now an estimated 28 million small sized businesses in America which account for more than half or 54 percent of all sales in the U.S. They have also been providing 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all new jobs in the country since the 1970s. Since 1982, their number has grown by 49 percent while in 1990, these small businesses provided 8 million new jobs.
With Donald Trump now as the new U.S. president, many business owners are optimistic of their future. Being a businessman himself, Trump is seen as a business-friendly president who can help improve their enterprises and the country’s economy in general.
While optimism is increasing at the moment, major players in the small business industry want Trump to focus on two most important issues which pertain to healthcare and access to capital. Some are also expecting new legislations to be passed in the future to clarify the employee-contractor distinction.
Image source Flickr
One area in the U.S. now experiencing positive growth among small businesses is Detroit. Business owner Joe Spencer revealed his restaurant achieved $1.2 million in sales last year prompting him to open a second branch. He expressed optimism over this development and remains hopeful that more investors will put their money in the country to generate more employment.
Another positive outcome of Trump’s presidency is the creation of new or startup companies. The Detroit metro area, in particular, saw 73 percent new entrepreneurs start companies in 2016 because of the opportunity available in the marketplace.
Business confidence is high in this area as well as in other parts of the U.S. and entrepreneurs are hopeful that the Trump administration will implement more reforms, invest in infrastructure and eventually make the country’s economy stronger.
A former head of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and senior fellow at the Harvard Business School, Karen Mills, also said the Federal government should create tax requirements to be able to source more from small supply chain companies based in the U.S. She added that Trump should use incentives to encourage companies to pay these suppliers faster than usual and invest in them as well by providing technology and skills training. The bigger companies, for their part, must treat their small business suppliers as partners.
When it comes to taxes, Trump should pursue his plan of reducing the business tax rate from the current 35 percent to 15 percent. This should be done along with the elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax as what he earlier proposed during the campaign period. Right now, the U.S. has one of the world’s highest corporate tax rates but with the proposed cut, the American economy is sure to grow and people will enjoy higher personal income.
The Trump administration is currently discussing two major comprehensive tax reform plans. One is the President’s own plan and the other is the so-called “Blueprint” created by the House Ways and Means Committee. Both are similar in many ways but differ in certain provisions.
These two tax reforms call for three tax brackets – 12, 25 and 33 percent but they differ on when each will apply. Also, they seek to scrap the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) which means that small business owners could eventually save up to 10.4 percent in their maximum tax rate.
President Donald Trump has earlier expressed his interest in making banking regulations lighter across the industries. The Wall St. Journal noted that he was even critical of the signing into law by President Obama of the Dodd-Frank regulatory amendments in 2010 saying that smaller banks were adversely affected by it.
If bank regulations are reduced, on the other hand, there’s a greater chance that banks including the smaller ones can approve business loans freely. This will then benefit entrepreneurs as they can easily obtain laws to expand and grow their businesses.
It’s tied into so much of our politics today even if we don’t always fully realize. The right and the left have been pushing back and forth on the issue of energy and the ways that we use it in all aspects of our lives. From the effects of the market on daily economics to the industries we work in and even the future of the world itself. Now that Trump is in power and the right have control over all three branches of government, what can we expect to see in the world of energy?
Picture sourced by Pexels
Is coal becoming viable again?
The ‘war on coal’ has been waged and won again after the battle seemed done and dusted to most people. During the Obama administration, it looked like we were leaving coal behind but as of the end of last month, President Trump has effectively undone the work that President Obama left in place. To some, this represents a chilling step back on the path to shrugging off fossil-fuels. To many Americans, however, the coal industry means jobs. Stripping regulations and bringing back jobs in seemingly abandoned or hamstrung sectors has been a big part of Trump’s campaign promises. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that America’s coal industries start growing again if he continues to keep that promise.
Picture sourced by lalabell68
The price of oil
As https://oilandenergyinvestor.com/2011/04/why-gas-prices-are-outrunning-oil-prices/ states, oil hasn’t been showing serious growth for years now. Under President Trump’s regulation reversing revolution, we might see oil and natural gas prices tumbling further for the consumer. But while that’s good for stimulating local economies, making work more affordable for business owners and employees. However, lower prices are not necessarily good for the oil and gas industries which the US still relies heavily upon. In fact, some say that 35% of all E&P oil and gas companies are at risk of bankruptcy. Such a collapse of huge portions of such a vital industry could very well be the beginning of a new financial crisis not just in the States but across the world.
Picture sourced by Unsplash
A greener future?
To those who care about the impact of human’s use of fossil fuels on the environment, reversing the Obama’s administration’s regulations look like nothing short of a disaster. The current administration certainly hasn’t done a lot to assuage fears that we are at risk of serious climate change. But for those in the throes of despair, there are reports like http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/24/donald-trump-cant-stop-back-solar-and-wind-power.html which say that it’s too late to turn the clock back on the rise of renewable fuels. Investors have continued to show more interest in renewable energy projects as opposed to the aforementioned trouble seen in oil and gas companies and lawmakers from all sides have renewed subsidies in many states for solar and wind energy companies.
There’s still a lot of concern over what exactly a Trump presidency will mean for the different ways energy works in our world. In terms of jobs, environmental impact and prices, there’s still plenty of time to be surprised by this administration.