Tag Archive: Intercnnected


tariffPresident Donald Trump gathered the CEOs of several top US companies at the White House this past Monday and put them on notice: Move your manufacturing operations overseas and you’ll face a “substantial border tax.”

If you go to another country … we are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in, which I think is fair,” Trump said. “All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people.”

Trump’s notice inspired deeper thought. The biggest of which, is that if tariffs apply to manufacturing products like automobiles and air conditioners, does it apply to other imports such as food and clothing?

China — by far America’s biggest source of clothing — accounted for 37 cents of every dollar’s worth of clothes imported, thereby sucking up the top spot with 37% of all clothing imports. Bangladesh was number 2, accounting for 5.8 percent of all U.S. clothing imports.

The food category is a little different. As the U.S. population has grown in both size and ethnic diversity, the volume and variety of food consumed and imported in the United States has increased correspondingly. American consumers prefer an increasingly wider selection of food products, such as tropical fruits and vegetables, premium coffee, and a greater variety of wines, beers, cheese, grain products, and preserved meats. In 2013, U.S. food consumption totaled 635 billion pounds, or more than 2,000 pounds per capita. Of this amount, imports accounted for 19 percent (123 billion pounds), or 390 pounds per capita.

So how would tariffs impact the clothing and food? A 35 percent tax on imported goods certainly would turn up the heat. It may also give pause to companies deciding where to produce their wares. But if tariffs are implemented, would they work? And what about the unintended consequences?

Concerns vary. Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citi, wrote to clients stating new protectionist trade policies might spark a global trade war, “which could easily trigger a global recession.” Deutsche Bank also weighed-in.  The Deutschland opined team that negative risks of a potential trade agenda were “the biggest threat and a possible protectionist turn, which could depress global trade and even trigger trade wars.”

While both Trump and Hillary Clinton zeroed in on worker anxieties over job losses, it’s important to note that at least some American job losses were not due to trade. Losses were due to automation. And crucially, automation not only hits manufacturing, but also affects jobs that require advanced degrees, such as neuroradiology.

Protectionism policies Neglect the concept of “dependent origination,” that nothing exists in isolation, Life cannot be independent of other life. The Japanese term for dependent origination is engi, literally meaning “arising in relation.” In other words, our existence only occurs because of our relationship with other beings. Everything in the world comes into existence in response to causes and conditions. Nothing can exist in absolute independence of other things or arise of its own accord.

We must remember that, if we as a society, choose “protectionism” as the rule of life, we’re most likely to implode. Interdependence is the rule life, whether country or state, business to business, family or friends. You hit one (meaning tariff one) there’s usually an equal and opposite reaction.

Cloud Atlas“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

~~David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas~~

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Several days ago, I read of a friend passing in December of 2012. Johnny lived unknown to most.  Yet, as a paraplegic, he was a remarkable man. I remember his laughter, love of politics, his guitar music and his smile. He is so much more the man I ever could become.

If one held his hand, he would instantly bond. I cannot explain, but he had something special. He was an instant friend and whenever I was in Southern Illinois one would seek to find him time and again.

I restlessly thought of Johnny these past days.  My unease and restlessness was self-created. I traveled near and far. “Ah, too busy,” I would say. “There will be another day.” I convinced myself with lovely phrased internal deceits until the one I miss becomes so deeply missed.  My very angst displays the many life lessons remaining to learn.

In watching the movie “Cloud Atlas,” I found some peace. In essence, Cloud Atlas is about the world you see and those you don’t. Six interrelated and interwoven stories span different time periods. But Cloud Atlas’s riveting story lines and nonstop action veil weighty lessons about bigotry, oppression and resistance. All things are interconnected.

For the true Buddhist, everything is interconnected. The crux of our own individual story is that every action has a reaction. Maybe our role changes throughout life. Maybe we learn one lesson at this moment while learning another more poignant time changing experience another. Does this sip of whiskey that currently nips my lips impact my life now as much as it does later?  Can we carry love and hatred forward at the time our death? And more importantly, does one believe all living creatures experiencing awareness deserve an awakened life, either now or forever? Will I connect with those whom I’ve lost and loved somewhere between here and heaven? Will I remember Johnny for all his strength and love of life?

In truth, to condense such a wonderful man into a homily of words seems next to impossible. Yes I will remember Johnny. I will remember his life, and want to see him again, again and again.

So Johnny, in the words of David Mitchell:

“I believe there is a another world waiting for us. A better world. And I’ll be waiting for you there”

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