Monday, March 5, 2018

Trump flips the bird to Chicago business and American trading partners

      When we kids asked our mother which of us were her favorite child, she didn't tell the truth — me, obviously, I knew in my heart.
     Rather she would lie, spreading her hand wide, wiggling her fingers and asking which finger she loved most. They must teach that ruse in Mom School, though it doesn't make sense: Who wouldn't prefer their index finger over their pinkie?
     But we bought it; we were kids.
     The government pretends to take that same impartial attitude when it comes to American industries. All are valued; how could it be otherwise?
      But it is otherwise. Like the barnyard critters in "Animal Farm," all are equal, but some are more equal than others. To see the result of this favoritism all you have to do is go to 4656 W. Kinzie St. and survey the weedy expanse east of Cicero Avenue.
      The largest candy factory in the world used to be there. For almost a hundred years, the E.J. Brach plant had thousands of employees — over 4,000 at its peak — turning out millions of pounds of Chocolate Stars and Jelly Nougats, Candy Corn and Conversation Hearts, and my favorite, Sundaes Neapolitan Coconut, those sticky rectangles of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.
     All gone, a shadow on a map — the ghost plant sketched by a few streets that mysteriously vanish, such as Kenton north of Kinzie. The Brach factory closed down in 2003, thanks largely to congressional efforts to prop up the sugar industry, which is big in places like Minnesota (sugar beets) and Florida (sugar cane) but not so big in Illinois. Sugar in the United States costs two to four times as much as in the rest of the world, thanks to the U.S. government.
      So Brach is gone. (You can see part of the factory being blown up as Gotham Hospital in "The Dark Knight.") Wrigley exiled chewing gum production to Mexico and China in 2005.

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  1. The Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act is often cited by economists as illustrating the fault with using tariffs to gain a trade advantage over other countries. Passed by congress and signed into law in 1930 by Hoover, it wasn't repealed until 1944 by FDR. Other countries responded with their own tariffs, it reduced international trade significantly. In addition to prolonging the Great Depression, it arguably set the stage for events leading to WWII. The U.S. Sugar Tariff with us since 1789, was also passed by congress with periodic adjustments in the rate, is signed into law by the President.
    For decades now more and more of the Constitutional powers belonging to the legislature have been transferred to the Executive Branch. In the past it would have been unconstitutional for the President to alter tariffs by Executive Order. I had hoped a Trump Presidency would motivate the Congress to pass laws limiting Executive Power to what is enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. Here is the chance for congress critters shocked at Trump's stupidity, to drop their partisan haggling and take action.

  2. His supporters are already saying that those greedy beer and other metal-buying companies should just eat the increases in their supply costs, because after all those filthy rich capitalists made a lot of money when metal was cheap, didn't they? This from people who howled about "class warfare" every time Obama or anyone else suggested that rich people could stand to pay a little more in taxes.

    I doubt that domestic steel or aluminum manufacturing will increase, because that would require long-term investment, and anyone who makes long-term plans based on the policy of President Whim is a fool.

  3. Grew up close to the "K" streets, so it has to be Kenton (4600 West). Cub fans know Kenmore (1050 West) as the street just west of Sheffield, the one that backs up to the left-field bleachers and ends at Waveland (the little brick apartment attached to Wrigley was at 1053 Waveland).

    Google Earth makes the old Brach site look like a huge sand pile that is being redeveloped. I lived near there until I was almost seven, and I remember the huge neon signs on the roofs. If you zoom in, you can see that the old employee parking lots still exist. They covered almost three city blocks. All those empty spaces--a testament to the thousands of jobs now gone forever.

    1. Yup Kenton. The print on those maps is getting smaller year-by-year.

    2. Hey grizz, I grew up out here too. St Angela's parish. Helene Curtis , white cap .Lots of huge factories long gone. Worked the back of a Daley news truck back then .Upholstering furniture at Cicero and rice now so I'm still over here in the daytime.
      My mother-in-law lives at the corner of larchemere and MLK in Cleveland .love that town !

    3. That republicans remain silent about Trumps reluctance to speak ill of Putin is understandable as the price for pushing their own political agenda. Tariffs run counter to their free trade policies, yet they protest not.

    4. My dentist as a young kid was the late, great Dorothy Rizzo, offices above the old Alamo Theater on W. Chicago Ave. One of the first female dentists who catered exclusively to children. She drilled and filled a few blocks from Our Lady of Angels parochial school. I still cannot imagine the horror she must have had to go through afterward.

      Larchmere and MLK...great spot for photos, because the elevation is high enough to look west and see not only the whole East Side, but even further downhill--to downtown and even beyond, all the way to the lakefront "Gold Coast" high-rises out in Lakewood, miles away. A very neglected view that hardly anyone ever captures (most photos of Cleveland's skyline are taken looking east, rather than north or west). Makes us look rather hilly. We're not Pittsburgh, but this is not exactly pool-table-flat Chicago, either.

  4. Paul Ryan is against the tariffs. I like to see the scales tip against Trump, even when it's just a little. It's going to be an interesting summer with the midterms looming. Look for the gnashing of GOP teeth.

  5. There seems to be some pushback developing. Also, his authority to do this on his own, based on a national security justification may not be clear. I think we're in for a confusing couple of weeks.


    1. "I think we're in for a confusing couple of weeks."

      How is this any different to the last couples of weeks?

  6. David Axelrod is on the money. He twitted earlier: @davidaxelrod: A cynic might suggest that the timing of @POTUS blast on steel & aluminum tariffs might have something to do w/3/13 special in PA district, where @GOP candidate is struggling and issue of steel dumping is ripe.
    I mean, Trump wouldn’t risk a global trade war for THAT, would he?


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