• Ed Flattau

Economic Genius?

President Trump outspokenly fancies himself a financial genius, but he is actually a textbook illustration of “penny wise, pound foolish”.

Nowhere does that fiscal miscalculation color his thinking more than in environmental matters. For example, the recurring loss of life, limb, and property that would be exacerbated by Trump’s climate change denial policies would severely mar the President’s envisioned fossil-fuel dominated economy.

Trump displayed his misplaced fiscal priorities at the recent G-7 international meeting when he declared he would not jeopardize America’s oil wealth for a “dream” (namely, acknowledging and confronting the climate-change threat).

His love affair with fossil fuels has him bad-mouthing wind power’s fiscal competitiveness as well as qualitative potential. Yet, despite the high front-end costs, wind power over the long haul pays for itself and arguably will “trump” fossil-fuel economics. Why not? Wind is inexhaustible, pollution-free, a job-creator, a source of revenue for rancher and farmer windmill landlords, and a factor in eventually lowering electricity rates. Wind, in Trump’s vernacular, is a “good deal”.

The President has relaxed environmental regulations to purportedly increase corporate America’s “flexibility” and stimulate the economy. Reducing pollution-abatement controls may result in short term profits for the business community, but such largesse will be eclipsed by long term medical expenditures from the public’s increased exposure to industrial toxic chemicals.

Trump wants to weaken the Endangered Species Act to spur development, oblivious to the priceless nature of biologically diverse ecosystems.

He is championing offshore oil drilling whose one-time payoff risks disruption to tourism and fisheries, the two major sustainable revenue producers for most coastal regions. An ill-advised tradeoff at the very least.

The Trump Administration has sought to cut foreign aid, presumably to save money for domestic uses. However, this empathy and frugality are in question. The United States ranks 22ndout of 28 industrialized countries in the percentage of gross domestic product allocated to help struggling nations get on their feet. Moreover, our stinginess stands to cost us if it should define our foreign policy. Funds that Trump would withhold are aimed at energizing the economies of the Third World, thereby discouraging mass migration that eventually would adversely impact our shores - and the U.S. Treasury.

Trump views the world through the prism of immediate monetary gratification with no thought or care for negative long-term repercussions. An economic genius he is not.


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