Month: July 2018


TARIFFS.pngPresident Trump placed massive Tariffs on Chinese imports to the US last Friday.

As previously announced China immediately placed tariffs on US products that were being shipped to China.

Many Americans do not understand that Tariffs are taxes on goods imported into a country. The idea is to force the price of things imported into the USA higher so that goods made here in the US will have a price advantage when the consumer decides to buy the imported version of a product when he or she is at the store making a buying decision.

Initially, the American tariffs are paid by the importer at the “Point of Entry” to customs officials.  However, that tax is immediately passed on down the wholesale chain to, the manufacturer who uses the product, or by the retailer who plans on selling the finished goods, such as; perhaps, T-shirts for our children at a local store.

As for the American manufacturer, he pays the increased cost, let’s say, for aluminum to make pots and pans and that manufacturer has to consider his increased cost of raw materials when he calculates his price to the retailer who eventually tries to sell those pots and pans in his or her store.

My experience with costs is that with few exceptions, the manufacturer will pass the increased cost to the retailer and the retailer ( e.g. Walmart )  will adjust the final consumer selling price of most goods that come from other countries and are affected by the import taxes we call tariffs. That means that you and I will pay higher prices for anything that is subject in whole or in part to these American taxes on goods or raw materials imported from China or Canada.  Occasionally a retailer may decide to absorb the tax itself, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Traditionally Americans, especially Republicans, have always been for a “Free Trade” economy, which means against all tariffs, either on the goods we import or the products we make here and export to be sold elsewhere.  Equally unpopular, as a nation with a long history as a great manufacturer and exporter of finished goods to the world, are tariffs set by other nations on American goods imported into a foreign nation to be used by its citizens.

Once what tariffs are, and what they do, is understood it should not be shocking news that Trump’s import taxes, e.g. Tariffs, will raise the prices of things we routinely buy. As for, tariffs on products we do not use personally such as raw steel or aluminum, remember those products are being imported to be used to make products that are made here and often sold here, everything from large construction machines, to the new coffee maker we might want to purchase.

Photo courtesy CBS News

There is another effect of import taxes, the response of other countries. The president apparently is quite proud of the tariffs placed on Chines goods we import, but immediately China introduced what is called, “retaliatory tariffs” on a wild array of American products sold to and usually imported into China.

This means that the things made in US factories or grown on US farms will be taxed in China making them more expensive to the Chinese consumer in comparison to similar goods made in other countries and not subject to Chinese import tariffs, One of the first and most obvious to be affected is the American corn, wheat, and soybean farmer because, quite simply, to the Chinese importer our products become more costly than those produced by farmers in other nations.


The American auto manufacturers, Ford, GM, and Chrysler are hit in two ways, first the steel they buy to make autos to sell to Americans costs more and so the autos will cost more, plus the autos we make and put on a ship to deliver to a Chinese importer will cost even more when those Chinese tariffs are added, giving a price advantage to autos produced in, for instance, Japan and now India.

If the farmer here loses sales he may be forced to lay off workers he hires and put off replacing some farm equipment he might have needed. That, of course, affects the farm worker in our mid-west, the seed producer and the banker who holds farmers mortgages. Also, the production worker who makes equipment here, e.g. John Deere, or the tire companies whose product is needed to go on farm equipment.

We have seen how quickly manufacturers like Harley Davidson have responded by moving production overseas so that the motorbikes sold there will be made there where neither set of tariffs will apply to their sales.

And who benefits? The Dutch or Belgian worker who gets a job that would have gone to an American worker, the foreign construction company that builds the new factory and the local banker who makes the construction loan. The American worker who got laid off or never hired in the first place may also have to avoid purchasing one of the many foreign vehicles made or assembled right here in the USA.

Meanwhile, if American auto manufacturers, both of American brands and foreign brands made here, lose sales, who is affected, the auto worker and the workers in the associated industries whose orders for goods are lessened or services, all the way down to the Joe Six-pack mechanic working in an auto dealership.

Companies like Boeing need aluminum and other finished goods to go into their multimillion-dollar products so they will have to raise prices.  Sales of 737s to expanding nations such as China will go to companies like Airbus, Boeing’s European competitor who are affected neither by Trump’s import Tariffs nor Chinese retaliatory tariffs.

All in all, the bottom line loser will be the American workers and farmers, and those who initially think that they will not be affected since they do not trade directly with China. Mexico or Canada, but when workers are laid off our economy will be damaged. That means we all will suffer.

Lest someone believe that these things are exaggerated, just look at history and see what happened in the past when tariffs were placed on goods entering the country.

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

Avoiding People’s Courts

how to avoid the People's Court

I am not usually a fan of TV shows other than News or a Science documentary channel, but one of my favorites is The People’s Court.  It is amazing how many people do not understand the essential rules of the Uniform Commercial Code which I think is the same in both Canada and the USA.

Case after case is brought in, disputes over misunderstandings that could be avoided by a little knowledge marinated in a sprinkling of the salt of common sense.

One very frequent problem is that deposits to hold a sale in abeyance are not refundable unless agreed to in advance and memorialized in writing or at least through mutual e-mails, or texts.  Deposits purchase time, whether ten minutes or ten days.

Buying a used auto is an “as is sale”.  The occasional “Lemon Laws” only apply to new vehicles purchased from a commercial dealer.  Not in private sales.

Buying a ten or fifteen-year-old vehicle with close to or in excess of 200,000 miles is not a guarantee of lifetime free repairs. Quite often bad things just happen and are not the fault of the last person you blessed with your patronage.

When renting, where a 30-day notice is required, that means a full thirty days from the next “Rental Due Date” preferably in writing not by voodoo hand signals.  And in most jurisdictions, there are laws about informing a vacating tenant the reason security is being withheld in actual writing on paper listing the suspected damages and the estimated cost of repair mailed to the tenant within a specific time period.

Also when a renter vacates the premises, anything left behind whether usable or garbage becomes an expense to the owner that can be charged to the security deposit.

An engagement ring is a gift in anticipation of a wedding.  Cancel the nuptials, even for the best of reasons and it needs to be returned to the purchaser.  Also, actual gifts given while playing house do not suddenly become loans when the wisdom of a breaking up lights the bulb over your head.

A salesman’s “puffery” (verbal comments) is not a warranty.  Trusting a person you only met on Craig’s List or at an auto shop’s back room a few minutes earlier is not a cause of action in court or a reason for slanderous remarks posted on some social media website.

how to avoid the People's CourtUnless you are a certified auto mechanic with six to ten years of actual experience it is wise to spend a few dollars to hire a real automotive repair technician (ASE certified) to examine a prospective purchase before you sign the sales contract, not a few weeks later when a knocking rod starts to wake the dead as you drive past the nearest  cemetery. Your favorite uncle or recent boyfriend may know how to drive but is not the best choice just because he, or she, “knows” about cars.

Your former friend calling you to get his or her money back is not harassment, even if they get upset at your ducking them and avoiding repayment.

Of course, one party to a contract cannot unilaterally decide to change the terms of a contract no matter how convenient it is.  A thirty-day warranty on an auto is valid for precisely thirty days, not six months or the first oil change.

The mental idea that, “I never said I wouldn’t pay the loan back, ” cannot be deposited in a bank or mailed to a landlord as payment for rent.  It is also seldom useful in buying week to week groceries.

how to avoid the People's CourtChild support is not a gift to the other spouse.  It is your share of the expense of raising, feeding, clothing and housing your child, not something subject to your luck at the racetrack or the change in the price of a bag of weed.

One more thing, when there is any written contract (e-mails or texts may count as well) between parties that clearly lay out the terms of an agreement, prior oral statements, pinkie swearings or sincerely crossed hearts are not admissible.  The limits are the four corners of the agreement.

If more people understood these things and a few others before they signed a written agreement, life would be much easier.  I am sure other readers can add a few more misunderstood rules.

As Judge Marilyn Milian so often says; a loan of anything over a $1.oo should be in writing, even on a piece of toilet paper, in crayon if necessary, if there is to be any hope of repayment.

A Diverse Family

In the recent past, it really did not matter if a person was a Republican, or a Democrat, or which party controlled the Congress or who was president.  They were all Americans first, joined by one thing, a belief in that wrinkled old Constitution, respect for the laws and faith in the agencies of government.  They could argue about politics because if you presented someone with facts that you could document they would listen and in some cases, learn.

Not one member of our family would tolerate allowing foreign powers to interfere with our elections.  There was occasionally an attempt by other nations to sway public opinion but that almost always backfired.  The idea that any nation would even try was repugnant to us all.  There was sometimes a feeling that one agency or another might be exceeding its powers, but they all trusted that could be rectified through the processes and the system of checks and balances that had served us so well for so long.  We believed that if by some chance an agency such as the CIA, ATF, DIA or FBI erred, that error would be corrected reasonably fast because the agency was trusted and trustworthy.

And there had never been a party that nominated a serial adulterer, a sexual predictor, a person with multiple bankruptcies, or who had run a scam such as a phony University and was known for a habit of skipping out on his debts to contractors.  Anyone who was discovered to have done any of those things was quickly dropped from consideration.

And no president ever staffed his administration with individuals so aligned with a foreign power.  Not just one bad choice or two but almost twenty who have been charged, or have pleaded guilty to the crimes they are accused of.

Today this nation is in danger of collapsing as a democracy.  Some see it and are upset. Some seem to be capable of closing their eyes and ears to the perfidy, the mendacity and the distortion of the truth.  We are in the hands of the most corrupt administration that ever held office.  I am sure that most of our family would recognize treason for what it is. There seems to be no way today to reach those who are blind to the danger and it is infuriating to those who recognizing evil do not understand how apparently decent people can actively endorse it.

© 2018, Charlie Jensen, All Rights Reserved

A Civil Crisis

New York Times Front Page 8/10/1974

When Nixon resigned and left for California, the country was tired of the years of charges and recriminations and Jerry Ford rightly decided to just end it with those convicted where they deserved to be.  As for Nixon, he felt that being forced to step down and leave both the White House and politics was a significant punishment. So to avoid further national trauma he issued the famous: “Our long national nightmare is over.” pardon.  Subsequently, there was an investigation and some laws were changed to prevent a reoccurrence.  This will not be possible for Trump because his collusion with the Russians is a form of treason.  His continued violation of the emoluments clause demands restitution.  He and his family’s long history of criminal dealings will require a trial and a series of economic penalties as well as the possible incarceration of some of the principles.

Trump’s violation of international laws and abrogation of signed treaties and agreements will have to be examined to determine what if any harm was done and to whom?  Since Trump’s supporters seem to have an equally poor opinion of laws and they appear to have a fondness for violence, they will have to be neutralized, probably disarmed and possibly re-educated.  Whether that can be accomplished without some kind of civil struggle is at this time unknown.  But for some time a portion of our citizenry will have to be considered traits and in rebellion against the lawfully constituted government.  Some laws will need changing to ascertain that the executive power can never be placed in the hands of someone so unprepared and mentally unstable as Donald Trump.

The right to vote in elections and the opportunity to serve in Congress may be subject to a system of tighter qualifications and education.  The intrusion of certain religious cults into political affairs will need to be prevented in some way.  And that old bugaboo control of firearms addressed.  I suspect that military grade weapons will have to be collected and some means of limiting handguns and hunting weapons to responsible parties.  One way is by passing laws requiring weapons be insured just as motor vehicles and motorcycles are presently done with insurance companies setting premiums and standards since we are as a nation adverse to the federal governments overseeing such a program.  Violations would follow a similar path that motor vehicles violations do with repeated violators being sentenced to actual jail time.  This can be done within the boundaries of the current Second Amendment.  A commission may need to be appointed to examine the increasingly vast difference between an acceptable middle-class income and the millions gathered by an ever-growing Royalty class and some adjustment made.

© 2018, Charlie Jensen, All Rights Reserved