Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trump Is Gaslighting Soybean Farmers

Many rural areas, especially in the Mid-West voted for Donald Trump.  Now, thanks to Trump wholly self-created trade war these same rural areas are likely to take an economic beating, particularly as China retaliates for Trump's tariffs and looks to other markets to replace agricultural products previously  purchased from American farmers. Trump is trying to deceive these - in my view fools and/or bigots - who fell for his appeals to racism and xenophobia by trying to pretend that China and other nations commenced the trade war that Trump himself started.  A piece in Slate looks at this gaslighting of what Trump hopes will prove to be the gullible.   Here are excerpts:

American soybean farmers are fretting about becoming a casualty of Donald Trump’s brewing trade war with China, which happens to be their most important export market. Prices for the crop took a dive after tensions between the U.S. and Beijing began to flare up earlier this year, and in June, the People’s Republic finally placed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans and other agricultural products in retaliation for the White House’s duties on Chinese goods.
[Trump] The president, of course, is trying to absolve himself of all responsibility:  “I am in Brussels, but always thinking about our farmers. Soy beans fell 50% from 2012 to my election. Farmers have done poorly for 15 years. Other countries’ trade barriers and tariffs have been destroying their businesses. I will open...”
I don’t usually like to use the phrase gaslighting, because it’s kind of a cliche at this point, but I’m pretty sure this is gaslighting. Trump is right on the narrow point that prices for soybeans have fallen by around half since 2012. But that really has nothing to do with trade barriers by other countries, as he suggests. Crop prices have plunged because of a worldwide boom in farming production that’s led to a giant commodity glut. Meanwhile, exports have actually been a crucial bright spot for American farmers: Measured by tonnage, the U.S. sells a little under half of its total soybean production overseas, with almost 60 percent of those exports headed to China alone last year.
U.S. soybean exports to China* were already down 22 percent through the first five months of this year, and the great fear among growers is that they could end up permanently losing market share there as buyers there shift to other suppliers, particularly Brazil, while Trump’s trade conflict wears on.
[Trump] The president wants the farm belt to believe he’s coming to its rescue. Somehow, I doubt farmers are going to buy it.

Trump played these voters for fools and karma may be about to catch up with them. 

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