Notes on the President’s May 3rd “Town Hall”

A matter of language

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (Washington DC, May 4, 2020)

Fox News presented a “virtual Town Hall” program last evening featuring President Donald Trump answering videotaped questions for two hours. For those who have been catching the President’s daily news conferences, there was little new information. Apparently, the President’s assumption was that the audience had not been following the daily briefings. For those voters this was a status report on the country’s efforts to recover from the pandemic, both medically and economically.

Rather than attempt to summarize the status report – most of which is already familiar to those who follow the news — we will look here at whether the interview was an overall success of the interview.

The first item on that agenda is the President’s style. On the positive side, he reveals his command of the facts involved on a wide variety of issues. Equally important is his candor in admitting when he does NOT know something. Another characteristic which comes through is his sincerity. He clearly believes what he is saying – and it is this sincerity which allows him to connect with people.

On the other hand, he speaks in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, which is well suited to his amazingly successful rallies but does not serve him as well when the question requires an authoritative response. His manner of speaking is entirely consistent with his overall approach to many of the issues he deals with. That is to say that he is a transactional thinker. He thinks in terms of negotiating each issue rather than in factual terms.

Thus, in answer to a speculative question like, “when will America return to normal?” his answer will be to list some of the elements of the prediction rather than giving a simple answer like “I think we will be back to normal by January 2021”. Instead, he starts thinking of all the elements which go into such a prediction, like: “Americans really want to get back to work. We are not meant to sit around waiting etc.” After surveying the main elements of the prediction, he finally opines that he expects the third quarter, 2020 to be transitional, the fourth quarter to be very vigorous, with a return to the booming economy by the beginning of 2020.

The effect of this style is frustration on the part of the listener. The President seems to be wandering all around the problem, touching on some points that seem irrelevant before finally stating – or not stating – a simple answer to what seems like a simple question. In his mind, he is reviewing all the possible items that might influence an action; he is “negotiating” with the questioner.

It is for this reason that several results occur: 1) he is hard to listen to when the questions concern results rather than the elements of an answer; 2) he is better judged on the basis of his actions rather than his words; 3) a more effective presentation of his accomplishments is done by others. This latter point was graphically illustrated last evening when Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared with the President in the last segment and explained the President’s accomplishments more convincingly than did the President himself.

Another aspect of the President’s transactional mode of thinking occurred near the end of the interview when he was asked about his intentions regarding tariffs on China’s imports. He indicated that the question was forcing him to explain his negotiating position prior to opening talks with China on the issue. In other words, like any good trader, he does not want to reveal his “hold card” (his true goals) in advance. It is often the case that only if the opposition is approached with no prior conditions will talks even commence.

I have noted this characteristic many times before, specifically in terms of his press relations. Reporters always want to know the goals of any negotiation before it even starts, obviously so that they can judge the results as success or failure. They don’t realize that such an approach to negotiations constitutes a set of demands rather than a negotiation. After all, prior to engagement, how does anyone know what might be agreed to in the final outcome. But the press just doesn’t get it. The bottom line is that President Trump likes to play his cards close to his vest – and the press hates him for it!

My conclusion is that President Donald Trump is better judged on results than on discussions. Let him tell his story in his own words at rallies and let others tell us about his accomplishments at town halls, virtual or otherwise. After all, in the end what counts is, “Promises made, promises kept!”

 

© 2020 Richfield Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

Will America 2.0 see a revaluation of labor?

Has COVID-19 softened Labor/Management relations?

By Dr. Larry Fedewa        Washington DC, April 26, 2020

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Mark Cuban has coined the term, “America 2.0” to designate the new realities Americans will face as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine. One of those realities has been the highlighting of the interdependence of labor and management required to attain a successful business. In case after case, we have heard employers and business owners discuss the extreme measures they have undertaken to reduce the burdens on their employees as they face loss of wages and even employment. Their pleas for help have finally penetrated even the hallowed halls of Congress and the Federal Reserve.

Many are learning the lessons that John Mackey discusses in his account of the time when his Whole Foods store would have failed if not saved by the efforts of his loyal employees, suppliers and customers. (Conscious Capitalism, 2013) He discovered that the fate of his business was really in the hands of all those whom he had served so diligently. They had repaid his loyalty to them by proving they were also stakeholders in his company.

This is the prism through which we are looking at the topic of this discussion. Clearly, there are external factors as well. Before the pandemic, we were very close to a labor shortage. We were hearing pleas from recruiters to retirees and other pools of unattached workers to rejoin the workforce. Hiring and retaining a competent workforce was becoming a high priority in some industries, and critical in others. The usual effect of such a situation is an increase of the enticements to candidates or employees to hire or retain their services, including bonuses, higher wages, and enhanced benefits.  Keep Reading

What will happen on Main Street?

 

Will there be permanent changes after COVID-19 is gone?

(Washington DC, April 19,2020 by Dr. Larry Fedewa) The total shut-down of American activity will soon be drawing to an end, one area at a time. When we look around us at the world of shutters and silence, it may be worth thinking about this sheltered lifestyle and trying to project forward toward “a new normal”, that is, what effects might this time have on the future? We will look at several areas of American life: home and family, business, recreation and entertainment, and social trends – as a small sample of a very complex topic. Keep Reading

Republican activist agenda for 2020 elections

 

Republicans have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become the majority party!

Washington DC. April 11, 2020 by Dr. Larry Fedewa) For Republican activists who would like to a plan of action for the summer and fall, I would suggest that they work to increase the Republican Party’s base. There are three constituencies which the Republicans need to capture if they wish to return to majority party status:  black voters, Hispanics, and suburban women.

Black voters

Background

Remember that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863 and black Republicans were the first elected officials of their race during Reconstruction. This phase ended when the Democrats struck back with the Ku Klux Klan and began a reign of terror against southern blacks which lasted until Republican Dwight Eisenhower signed the Voting Rights Bill of 1957, the first victory of the civil rights movement. Keep Reading

How do we end this?

Employers must be part of the re-open strategy

By Dr. Larry Fedewa

(Washington DC — April 6, 2020) Two weeks ago, we discussed “Trump’s huge gamble”, namely, his decision to follow the action plan prescribed by the public health experts rather than attempt to mitigate the effects of coronavirus with less drastic means. To date, that strategy seems to be effective in reducing the spread of the disease to more or less manageable dimensions. The prevalence of cases seems increasingly limited to densely populated urban areas, most notably, New York City.

The economic cost, however, is already beyond any recession in recent memory, with the possibility of becoming catastrophic. The entire sequence of events is unique in American history. Never before has the country simply stopped in place 75% of the economy. The closest parallel may be the 14th century Black Death which is estimated to have reduced the population of Europe by 50% after returning several times over a span of two generations. But the resulting drastic effects on the medieval economy were not voluntary like this one. Plus, it was so long ago that few lessons can be drawn to benefit our current decisions. Keep Reading

Some possible results of “Shelter-in-place”

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Is there any silver lining to this pandemic?

By Dr. Larry Fedewa

Washington DC, March 29, 2020 – As we ponder our suddenly isolated lives, we begin searching for some benefits which may come from it all – besides, of course, the major value if we escape catching a very unpleasant disease. Some things are happening which can easily become a trend. The most obvious is the notable increase in online shopping. This was already a trend, but it may be significantly accelerated by this crisis, as a whole new population tries shopping online for the first time. The same is true of home delivery, which is a major requirement of home shopping. What is happening now, however, is the sudden spread of delivery services for restaurants and grocery stores, which started, to be sure, before this pandemic was even thought of. Nevertheless, we are seeing a major up-tick in food delivery services.

The same can be said of distance education. Never in a hundred years would public schools have participated in the development and internet delivery of K-12 schooling on a voluntary basis. The “shelter-in-place” along with the closing of so many schools has forced their hand. Once they have experience with teacher-assisted home schooling, however, they may take steps in that direction, certainly urged on by parents, especially in rural and inner city areas. It reminds us of the grand ideas of the early pioneers of educational TV who had the same idea. While they had limited success with classroom based television, it was not enough to impact the roles and structure of the school. It will be interesting to see whether this crisis ends up affecting real changes. Keep Reading

Trump’s Huge Gamble!

Was shutting down the economy the right choice?  

By Dr. Larry Fedewa

(Washington D.C. March 21, 2020) President Donald John Trump, 45th president of the United States of America, has just made the biggest gamble of his career.

On the unanimous recommendation of the public health professionals, he decided to close down the US economy in a manner more severe than any other measure ever taken by a U.S. president, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln’s declaration of martial law on September 15, 1863.

Clearly, no one can reasonably disapprove of the need to save American lives by containing the deadly coronavirus. If the next few weeks occur as expected by the public health experts, the virus will peak and begin to recede, allowing normality to return. If that sequence of events is delayed much longer than a total of 30 days or so, the country risks falling into a recession that could rival the Great Depression of the 1930’s – 25% unemployment, long bread lines, starvation staring out of the hallow eyes of children.

The President is fully aware of this danger. He knows he is risking becoming another Herbert Hoover, who was unjustly blamed for the Depression and lost the presidency by a landslide in 1932. One big difference is that Hoover was a victim of circumstances, whereas Trump’s fate will be seen as the inevitable result of his own decision. Keep Reading

Sanders’ Socialism

 Everybody gets a free ride!

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (March 16, 2020)

Recent polls show that a large plurality of Americans prefer socialism over capitalism. On its surface, such a preference is shocking. Digging beneath the surface, however, we find a somewhat less alarming reality. So, let’s dig a little.

The first question is, what do most of those Americans think “socialism” means? To many of our fellow Americans, “socialism” has been defined by Bernie Sanders, the socialist Senator from Vermont. He describes socialism in terms of an expansion of “human rights” into services, notably health care, higher education, and income parity, if not equality. He advocates free delivery of these services to every American. He also believes that the USA should have open borders, inviting anyone who wishes to become an American citizen to come at will.

Then there is the other side of his views. He also believes that Americans’ access to gun ownership should be severely restricted. He says that climate change is “an existential threat” to the world and adopts the “green agenda”. That agenda includes the elimination of fossil fuels, and the substitution of renewable forms of energy (even though no such energy sources exist) and the re-entry of America into the Paris Accord, which obligates the USA to pay the bill for converting the major polluters of the world (China and India) to renewables. These are samples of the price we would pay under a Sanders idealized world-view for all the “free” services. Keep Reading

Democratic Capitalism: The American way

The Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (March 10,2020)

Before Capitalism

Through most of human history, there have been two ways by which humans have organized themselves: tribal and totalitarian. Tribes were based on families which came together to form clans, which combined to create tribes. In the end, what united the various clans into a tribe was the culture they all shared – language, values, customs and religion.

The primary driving factor in this move toward greater numbers was the greater power -and defense – afforded by greater numbers and the greater accumulation of wealth made possible by a greater variety of skills and a heightened group ability to take on ever larger projects, such as cities, roads, dwellings, and monuments. These factors eventually resulted in cities and nations. And empires. It was called “civilization”.

Nevertheless, the original loyalties to families and tribes have remained forceful elements in all societies.

As the more advanced “civilizations” grew in power and wealth, they grew also in territory, mostly by conquest of other countries. The management of the conquered territories was solved by the creation of a hierarchy of different classes of inhabitants: the ruler, his direct followers (usually military), the wealthy who provided financial resources, and the poor who were the vast majority of the population, whether slaves, peasants, serfs or servants, who supplied the labor on which the entire nation depended.

The average life span of mankind was about 35 years. This pattern, with a few exceptions, endured for most of human history. Until the 18th century. Then human life began a radical series of changes. Between 1700 and 2020 human life span grew from 35 years to over 70. The average annual income grew from a few dollars a year to $10,000 a year. (Gallup 2012) And world population grew from an average 1% annual increase for 1000’s of years to about 610 million in 1700 and nearly 8 billion in 2020 (Source: Worldometer). Keep Reading

The Dems and climate change: a ship of fools!

They want to fix a false problem with solutions that don’t work! 

 

 

By Dr. Larry Fedewa (March 2, 2020)

One of the pillars of the internationalist world view that is solemnly proclaimed by the establishment is the dogma of climate change – what it is and how to fix it.

This view is accepted aa a fixture by such institutions as the United Nations and many national governments, including until recently, the United States government. We can thank President Trump for rejecting this nonsense. He withdrew the USA from the Paris Accord (which was negotiated by the Obama Administration, but never submitted to the Senate and therefore not ratified by the USA).

Most Democrat presidential candidates want to eliminate fossil fuels in 10 years although the entire world depends on fossil fuels for survival, and there is no comparable substitute for fossil fuels. Windmills are not only inconsistent, but they also create new environmental hazards. Solar panels seem to have a place for supplementary energy production, but they are not transportable or suitable for transportation. Keep Reading