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This being Mother’s Day, two letters to the editor about Mother Nature in today’s Key West Citizen (keysnews.com), my interjected thoughts in bold italics, after which, a great question posed to me by Sanco Panza, re, if I were POTUS, what I would do about the new proposed foreign trade agreements?
Solution needed for Cudjoe deep well
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection never required the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority to conduct an environmental impact study before approving the old landfill on Cudjoe Key as the site for the wastewater treatment plant.
In the 1970s, when the Cudjoe landfill site was used, it was not constructed with a liner to protect the surrounding environment, meaning that whatever was dumped there can leach unimpeded into the land and potentially into the water.
At the urging of Dig Deep Cudjoe, FKAA engaged Dr. Henry Briceno from Florida International University and Dr. Eugene Shinn from the University of South Florida to conduct a tracer dye study to determine whether fresh water injected into the shallow wells would end up in the near-shore waters.
Their discoveries are twofold: first, there is interconnectivity between the shallow wells and the surface waters as the dye migrated laterally. Secondly, they discovered the presence of fluorescein and rhodamine, used to color automobile antifreeze. Imagine a daily flushing of the chemicals from the landfill into the near-shore waters.
Chris Bergh, director of the Nature Conservancy for South Florida explained: “Putting these two facts together leads me to the conclusion that the groundwater under and surrounding the Cudjoe Key landfill is likely to contain substances other than fluorescein and rhodamine and that those other substances are likely to be mobilized into the surface environment by injection of treated wastewater at the depths of the existing shallow wells. This makes me extremely uneasy.”
The solution is clear: Don’t hook up residents to the plant without performing a thorough scientific study and risk assessment, including a baseline analysis of the water.
FKAA plans to start up the plant this month and begin hooking up residents in June.
FDEP has not been attentive to our environmental concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency only steps in after the fact, so no help there, either.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the best friend rich landowners, mangrove cutters, polluters, developers, Realtors, Chambers of Commerce and their bought and paid for elected local and state officials ever had.
Here’s the irony: FKAA is spending millions of our tax dollars to bring us a “modern” sewer system that will foul our waters for the next two to three years while they take their sweet time permitting and constructing a deep well.
Sanctuary Advisory Council won’t relinquish power
At a recent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary meeting, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation put on by an environmental scientist by the name of Jeremy Jackson.
His presentation covered his findings and opinion on the real causes of our reef system’s continuous demise.
Contrary to popular opinion, which puts most of the blame on global warming, bad water quality is due to over-development and agricultural runoff. Agreed, but sewerage run-off also in play, as the reef cannot tolerate nitrogen. For the first 30 minutes, Jackson spoke of one of the main problems in his mind, which is over-fishing, and the die-off of our sea urchin population.
As far as the sea urchins go, I concur with Mr. Jackson that the demise of so many sea urchins played a devastating role in the death of much of our coral habitat. Without the urchins around to eat invasive algae blooms and other damaging growths, coral polyps were slowly smothered, with widespread and devastating consequences.
I am not sure how that can be blamed on fishermen, but I am sure that given time someone will figure it out.
Now, here is where I got lost.
As I listened to Jackson’s presentation, he finally got to the punchline on the fishermen’s (proven?) part in the coral reef’s demise.
According to his studies, parrot fish — which are herbivores and feed on invasive growth that attacks coral — have been overfished.
Now, unless there is a secret fishhouse buying parrot fish, and restaurants are serving parrot fish under another name, I challenge Dr. Jackson to show proof of this fishery.
Agreed, and, having fished in the Keys many decades, in another life, I know parrot fish are not likely to take a bait, because they eat stuff on coral. And, I know most people do not think parrot fish are safe to eat, because they eat coral and may contain ciguatera. However, I ate parrot fish on the island nation of Dominica, in the Windward Islands, speared by a local teen, and they were delicious and I did not get sick, nor did the Dominicans who ate those parrot fish. If the esteemed ocean scientist Jeremy Jackson was so far off about parrot fish being fished out in the Keys, he unfortunately damaged the rest of his argument, with which I agree. Perhaps Jeremy should investigate what made parrot fish scarcer on the reef. Could it be there is a lot less living reef in the Keys than there used to be, about 90 percent of the reef died, and that made many parrot fish go elsewhere to find something to eat?
Further along in the meeting, a letter was read by Superintendent Sean Morton, authored by Mayor Craig Cates. In the letter the mayor asked to be considered for a position on the sanctuary board, in order to observe and have more input in the process which will directly affect not only the economics of our city, but also its future as a tourist destination.
The committee never brought this motion to a vote, because apparently Mayor Cates’ wishes could not even get a second to the motion.
The reasoning behind this denial, according to their own words, was that there were already too many people on the board, and if they allowed Mayor Cates to join, they might have to allow a representative from other Keys as well.
The City of Key West has little to no representation on the board, and in my opinion, their denial of the mayor’s request was a slap in the face to all Key West residents, although as a local fisherman who has attended many of these meetings, the outcome was to be expected.
The Sanctuary Advisory Council is working with a stacked deck, and though the mayor is open-minded to both protecting the environment and the people, the SAC is not about to relinquish any part of that deck without being forced to do so.
I disagree. What drives Mayor Cates is a Conch mentality. Conch’s are born here, natives. They are what has led to the local waters being polluted with human sewerage. They are what has led to the ocean being over-fished. They are what has led to Key West being overrun with development, tourists and booze and other drug addicts. They are who once sent through a pipe all of Key West’s sewerage two miles out into the ocean. Cates categorically denied during the 2014 mayor race that Key West’s waters are full of MRSA bacteria, he said the ocean is beautiful and clean, although every diver and physician in Key West knows that is not true; that MRSA is a constant threat to anyone who goes into the water here. Cates is not a fisherman. He is a mechanic and a power boat racer. He his a business man. And he is a politician. I don’t blame the Sanctuary for not having him on their Advisory Council.
Moving beyond the tiny asteroid at the tip end of a tiny asteroid belt,
Sancho Panza wrote yesterday:
Since you are running for POTUS, ask the angels about Grayson!
A true lover of wisdom has hands too busy to hold on to anything! He learns by doing and every pebble in the path becomes her teacher! Oink
Great question, Sancho –
I listened to Grayson’s video, not sure I understand what he said about Warren Buffett’s import certificates solution, and I didn’t find that yet online, but will look further. Do you know, can you explain, Buffett’s solution? I have some rudimentary thoughts and will be mulling this over night. I had told the angels, if they put me up to this POTUS thing, whatever it is, they need to start giving me things to say that will get people’s attention. So, this email is to them, too :-).
Sancho sent back, which I did not see until after I had written again to him this morning:
Basically, exporters are given the priviledge of buying these import certificates(ICs) that are equivalent in initial value to the amount of dollars that they are “EXPORTING”. Importers will require these cerificates to IMPORT goods and the only way they can get them is from……. the exporters….. so this gives an advantage to those businesses that chose to keep producing here and seeling overseas. The acutal value of the ceritificate will be determined in the free market… the more demand there is for importing a particular comodity the higher the value of the IC for that commodity…. and vice versa! Anyway, you’re a lawyer, you should be able to understand this sort of things a lot better than me!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
are a proposed mechanism to implement balanced trade
, and eliminate a country’s trade deficit
. The idea was proposed by Warren Buffett
in 2003 to address theU.S. trade deficit
. In the United States, the idea was first introduced legislatively in the Balanced Trade Restoration Act of 2006. The proposed legislation was sponsored by Senators Byron Dorgan
(ND) and Russell Feingold
(WI), two Democrats in the United States senate. Since then there has been no action on the bill.
Buffett’s plan proposes creating a market for transferable import certificates, (ICs) that would represent the right to import a certain dollar amount of goods into the United States. These transferable ICs would be issued to US exporters in an amount equal to the dollar amount of the goods they export and they could only be utilized once. They could be sold or traded to importers, who must purchase them in order to legally import goods into the USA. The price of ICs are set by (free-market) forces, and are therefore dependent on the balance between entrepreneurs’ willingness to pay the ICs market price for importing goods into the USA and the global volume of goods exported from the USA, (i.e. supply and demand).
Proceeds from the sale of ICs would encourage exporters (who would gain that extra money in addition to the proceeds of their exports) and discourage importers (who would need to pay the additional cost to acquire ICs as well as the cost to acquire the goods they are importing). This system would essentially create a broad-based tariff
on imports to the United States, and subsidy for exports – compare cap and trade
, which creates a similar market in pollution.
Many who are aware of the ”Balanced Trade Restoration Act of 2006” text find it has faults that could have been easily corrected:
They regret that assessments would not be adjusted to exclude the value of specifically listed scarce or precious minerals integral to the goods being assessed. We should discourage the export of cast gold paper weights encrusted with gems in order to facilitate importing high-tech or labor intensive goods. This fault could severely undermine the bill’s economic benefit to our nation.
Natural gas and oil should have also been included in such a scarce or precious minerals list. The proposal itself should not favor the export or inhibit the import of such scarce minerals. (The original U.S. Senate draft temporarily (for only 5 years) excluded the entire value of goods containing petroleum).
The act should be self-funding. Only those exporters of goods from the USA who choose to pay fees that would fund all of the act’s entire net expenses should have their goods assessed and receive the transferable ICs based upon that assessment. Exporter’s potential profits would motivate them to pay those fees.
IC market prices are market rather than government driven
The IC market price (per dollar of face value) is eventually an additional cost to USA purchasers’ of foreign goods. The IC price is directly dependent upon the USA’s purchasers’ aggregate willingness to pay additionally for foreign goods.
Differences between exporters of USA goods expenses for dealing with ICs and the IC prices are additional revenues to the exporters that would induce lesser prices of USA goods to foreign purchasers; (i.e. an induced price reduction of USA goods to foreign purchasers which in turn induces increasing USA exports of goods). This proposal would increase the aggregate sum of USA’s imports plus exports more than otherwise.
Under this proposal to the extents that USA purchasers willingness to pay additionally for foreign goods indirectly induces increasing USA exports of goods, or USA’s purchasers refraining from paying such additional costs indirectly induces increased USA production to satisfy Our domestic want of goods, will in both instances reduce our trade deficit and bolster our GDP more than otherwise.
Buffett argues that the concept is of little value to a nation which maintains a trade surplus of goods. Conceivably under this proposal USA’s economy could improve to the point that demand for USA goods abroad closely approaches or exceeds the demand for foreign goods within USA’s domestic market. In such an environment the open market value of ICs wouldn’t be worth much more than the expense of their acquisition.
It’s been suggested that during such favorable conditions the government by executive-congressional agreement, (by CEA) could for a limited duration of months or subject to presidential termination, waive the requirement that importers surrender ICs. There are precedence’s’ for CEAs.
I sent to Sancho, not yet having seen the above from him:
Okay, been doing homework …
Running for POTUS sounds sort of like running for the commode :-). I heard in my sleep last night, “You don’t have to be married to it.” On waking, I thought maybe I didn’t have to be married to NAFTA, which started the USA foreign trade train to hell, according to many. And, maybe I don’t have to be married to running for President.
I told my host Todd German last night, that I figured any campaign I ran would be a lampoon campaign, but perhaps I would be mistaken. He said, if Americans end up having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, I might do pretty well. I said, my understanding is, it’s hard to get onto the ballot and it takes a lot of campaign workers and grassroots, none of which I have. I’d just tell people to do it the old-fashioned way and write my name on their ballot, for President. Whether or not their vote would be counted, I wasn’t sure. But it would be their vote anyway.
Back to your great question …
I figured, first, I had to study up on NAFTA, which is where it is said the trade deficit went south (of the border), mostly, according to Wikipedia, by more Mexican goods being imported into USA than USA was importing into Mexico, and by USA corporations relocating operations into Mexico, putting lots of Americans out of work.
Similar but less fiscally draining happened between USA and Canada, the third NAFTA country in the 3-way agreement. According to Wikipedia, many Canadian corporations later were bought out by foreign interests.
I well recall Ross Perot, on Larry King Live, tried to persuade George Bush from going in and saving Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Oh me, oh my, how things might later have gone differently, if Bush had listened to Perot.
Well, Bush also spearheaded NAFTA, but he got unseated in his bid for reelection by Bill Clinton, primarily because during his first campaign Bush had campaigned on, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” which his opponent, Walter Mondale, said was a lie, and it turned out to be a lie, and Bush then said it was only campaign talk, and at the next presidential election the voters seemed to have different sentiments about Bush’s moving lips.
Anyway, Clinton liked NAFTA, too, and he sent his Vice President Al Gore to debated Perot on national TV about NAFTA, and poor Perot, he got caught by the short hairs, it looked like, when Gore asked him, if NAFTA goes through, would Perot’s companies benefit from NAFTA? Gore said Perot was playing it both ways, so he would win whether NAFTA was passed, or not, by Congress. Perot handled it poorly. NAFTA was passed by Congress.
So, my rudimentary thinking (brain stem, survival instinct) says, stop the hemorrhage. Congress repeals NAFTA. But I think NAFTA is a treaty, so that takes more commotion and no doubt makes lawyers happy, as in died and gone to heaven.
So, redneck mystic solution: screw the lawyers, ignore the international tribunals in which, according to Wikipedia, the NAFTA treaty says disputes will be decided. This is life or death. Stop honoring NAFTA, which will make lots of American meat farmers unhappy, as, according to Wikipedia, post NAFTA Mexico started importing considerably more American meat, and more corn, as Mexico did not produce enough corn for itself.
So, given all of that, and taking all of it as the down and dirty close to ugly truth, for darn sure, don’t do a NAFTA simile with Asia and another one with Europe.
As for Warren Buffett’s import certificates solution to the trade deficit, found this article, which seems to lay it out pretty good:
Balancing Trade – Remember The “Buffett Plan”
MAY 1, 2014
The enormous, humongous trade deficit is doing incredible damage to our economy. Our country’s elites used to care about that.
In 2003 Warren Buffett wrote a highly-influerntial article, America’s Growing Trade Deficit Is Selling The Nation Out From Under Us. Here’s A Way To Fix The Problem–And We Need To Do It Now. Buffett began, “I’m about to deliver a warning regarding the U.S. trade deficit and also suggest a remedy for the problem.” Then he added, “… our country’s ‘net worth,’ so to speak, is now being transferred abroad at an alarming rate.”
To make his point, Buffett used a hypothetical example of “two isolated, side-by-side islands of equal size, Squanderville and Thriftville.” Thriftville lived off the food they grew, and worked extra time so they could export food. The people in Squanderville stopped working and issued IOUs so they could just buy food from Thriftville, thinking “they can now live their lives free from toil but eat as well as ever.”
Of course, Squanderville couldn’t issue IOUs forever to buy Thriftville’s food. Eventually Thriftville owned all of Squanderville and the people there had to start working 16 hours a day to make up for the work they hadn’t done. And because Thriftville now owned Squanderville, the long hours would continue forever, generation after generation.
The 2002 US trade deficit that had Buffett sounding this alarm was $417.4 billion — an enormous, humongous number. By 2005 it reached $708 billion. The Great Recession knocked that way down, as we stopped being able to buy so much, but we made no changes in our trade policies and recovery returned it to $560 billion in 2011. It is down to $470 billion now, largely because the oil and gas boom reduces imports. (And lower oil and gas imports do not reopen factories, etc.)
Buffett went on to explain how the trade deficit is affecting us.
In effect, our country has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than we produce — that’s the trade deficit — we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own.
When You Sell The Farm, The Jobs And Ability To Make A Living Go Away
When a family sells off the farm to a housing developer the members of the family might put a bunch of cash into their bank accounts, but all the people working at the farm are out of a job and the surrounding community loses its ability to grow food to eat in the future. That is what our country is doing. That is the inequality we are experiencing. The trade deficit is a few people selling off our jobs and ability to make a living in the future. They get really rich, and the rest of us lose everything in the long run.
To put the huge trade deficit in perspective, picture our economy if $470 billion of orders came in right now to companies that make or do things inside the US. Picture the factories reopening, the people hired, the suppliers thriving, the communities reawakening, the tax revenues filling up government coffers, etc. That is the harm that this trade deficit is doing, because those things are not happening. That is the harm done when we borrow so we can buy things made elsewhere.
The trade deficit has been draining our wealth. It is the main reason the economy is having so much trouble. The unequal distribution of our wealth is part of the problem, too, but only part. In other words, right now we are unequally redistributing less and less wealth. Our economic problem is not the budget deficit, the budget deficit partly results from the trade deficit.
The trade deficit is a few rich people selling the farm that grows the food we eat and where the rest of us work.
The Buffet Plan
Buffet proposed a simple plan to balance our trade. The government could issue “Import Certificates (ICs) to all U.S. exporters in an amount equal to the dollar value of their exports.” The number of import certificates determines the level of trade imbalance or balance that we allow.
Each exporter would, in turn, sell the ICs to parties–either exporters abroad or importers here–wanting to get goods into the U.S. To import $1 million of goods, for example, an importer would need ICs that were the byproduct of $1 million of exports. The inevitable result: trade balance.
The idea was sort of like cap-and-trade. Exporters would get a certificate for the value of their exports. The certificates allow anyone holding them to import that dollar amount of goods or services. So selling these certificates would mean extra cash to exporters, and would help them modernize factories, pay specialists and the other things needed to revive our in-country industries. Or the extra cash would let them sell for less, which would counter currency manipulation and other subsidies that other countries provide to their exporters.
There are a number of pluses and minuses, and Buffett goes on to list some of the negative effects of balancing trade. For one thing, prices would necessarily go up. But, of course, jobs and wage gains would return to our economy.
Buffett closes by saying we need to stop wishful thinking about the trade deficit.
Perhaps there are other solutions that make more sense than mine. However, wishful thinking–and its usual companion, thumb sucking–is not among them. From what I now see, action to halt the rapid outflow of our national wealth is called for, and ICs seem the least painful and most certain way to get the job done.
Variations On The Buffett Plan
Senators Russ Feingold and Byron Dorgan proposed the The Balanced Trade Restoration Act of 2006, similar to Buffett’s plan. The bill warned, “The surging trade deficits could soon create a balance of payments crisis for the United States, which could wreak havoc with the economy of the United States.” The bill didn’t go anywhere.
A 2008 paper from the Levy Institute, The Buffett Plan for Reducing the Trade Deficit suggest that the government auction import certificates and use the revenue to offset the negative effects of the initial transformation back to an exporting economy.
A 2009 paper from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Addressing Balance of Payments Difficulties Under World Trade Organization Rules says that government auctioning of Import Certificates would be more consistent with WTO rules than letting companies sell them to exporters. According to the paper,
Warren Buffett’s trade balancing proposal would bring the chronic U.S. trade deficit into balance by creating import certificates equal to the value of U.S. exports. These certificates could be granted to exporters and sold by them on the open market, or they could be auctioned by the government through a certificate market. While the first method would provide benefits to exporters, the second method would help reduce or eliminate potential inconsistencies with WTO prohibitions on export subsidies.74 In addition, the second method could generate a stream of revenue for the government.
In a 2011 article, “What Would Buffett Do? — A Plan to Balance Trade, Create Jobs and Restore American Manufacturing,” Bill Parks goes into detail on a similar plan, and suggests a mix of private and public sale of the import certificates. He also suggests that the government could adjust the ratio of exports to imports as needed.
We Have To Balance Trade Somehow
It should be noted that in a free market these trade imbalances would be at least partly addressed by currency rates moving to market levels. America’s dollar would weaken, moving prices low enough that we would start selling much more of what we make and do. But countries like China and others are benefitting from this trade imbalance and are keeping their currencies from adjusting. And there are beneficiaries inside of our own country — Wall Street, giant multinationals an others — who are benefitting from the status quo. So the vast imbalances continue.
The Buffett Plan was just one idea for balancing trade. But balance we must. As Buffett warns, these huge trade deficits cannot be sustained. They are draining our economy. There has to be a reckoning. We have not faced that reckoning yet, but it is inescapable. It has to happen. We have to tackle this as a country, with a national plan.
However, Sancho, I don’t myself care for Buffet’s certificates, because the US Government will give them to US for profit corporations, who will use them to export more products, or spend on their corporate needs, or squander, or sell to other exporters, or to foreign importers, and how’s that going to affect the US budget deficit? I don’t see how those import certificates will not become commodities, like pork bellies, wheat futures, foreign currencies. I can see those import certificates having serious unintended consequences, like NAFTA apparently had. I can’t go with import certificates issued by the US Government.
There is a bit more in play here, which perhaps Buffett did not want to drag into it, I can’t imagine he doesn’t know. That’s the huge amount of US military spending overseas. Military bases, personnel, equipment, ordnance, naval vessels, civilian contractors, and, yeah, armies and wars. Wonder how much they would spend in America, if they were not overseas? As President, they would not be overseas. I order them to be here, in America, or in American territories, such as Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands. Defending Americans from external and internal attack.
Also I can’t imagine Buffett is not aware of US Corporations setting up foreign subsidiaries and not paying US taxes, which I suppose increases the amount of money leaving the US, and also increases the US budget deficit. That needs to be rectified, too, but that will take Congress passing changes to the US Tax Code and the IRS sleuths enforcing those changes.
Whew! Rough first day on the job, you caused, Sancho. Oh, my bad, I was assassinated one hour after I ordered all US military forces to come home, and I told Israel it gets no more US aid over which I, POTUS, have any control. Stop that US budget and foreign trade drain, too.
Something needs to be done about the US dollar being artificially propped up, after all, capitatisim, free markets, laissez faire, the law of supply and demand, etc.
Todd also said that I’d be the only non-millionaire in the race, for that reason, and other reasons, I’d be able to speak to homelessness and other issues the millionaires could not address. I said, yes, and I doubted I would do any worse than any prior President, and I might do better.
I was shot in the back of the head by a closet left-wing Zionist on my Secret Service detail, just moments before a closet right-wing Skinhead on my Secret Service detail was about to do the same. Instead, he shot the Zionist and was promoted to Deputy Director of Homeland Security.