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The Great Disrupter - News & Views brought to you by Howard Direct

The Great Disrupter - Part 1
How the Trump administration can affect North
American trade and Canada’s printing industry


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By:  Nick Howard  |  Date: April 2017  |  Contact the Author
Part 1 | Part 2

Decades ago an older gentleman wandered into the foyer of a five-star hotel. He was carrying a shopping bag and dressed in less than appropriate garb for such an establishment. He asked for a room. The front desk clerk, assuming him he was a bum, suggested he try another hotel down the street. The bum, however, owned the hotel property. Looks can be deceiving. Some of the richest people in both Canada and the United States are seldom seen or heard.

They do not make anything, build our roads or habituate the world of graphic communications. But they do rent space to those who manufacture or sell products and services. Somewhat likened to an iceberg, most of the wealthy exist below the waterline of awareness. Hundreds of millions of square feet hardly noticed and owned by this group of the faceless wealthy. Then there’s Donald Trump.

The results of the Bataan death march referred to as the never-ending U.S. election, shocked a great many people. Lots of hand wringing and mea culpa moments ensued. But it was too late. America had in fact elected Trump as its 45th President. He had campaigned on a clever platform: The world is falling apart and dragging America down with it. Too many immigrants from the wrong countries, unfair lopsided trading practices that put American industry at risk, and so on. The plan worked and America found itself at war – with itself.

Unlike his often silent, low-key brethren of real estate, President Trump enjoys the limelight. He craves attention and respect. There also seems to be zero commonality between himself and the average American $24 per hour factory worker and, as surprising as it seems on the surface, these workers were one of the key reasons Trump now holds one of the most powerful positions in the world.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain what drives Trump, and even harder to support his many rigid viewpoints, except to say that some of it has to do with his involvement in the construction industry in New York City. Sitting across from mid-level bureaucrats that have the ultimate power over what can or cannot be built plays a role in his aggressive behaviour. Having his own name attached to properties belays a need to protect it. One assumes Trump blows himself a kiss each morning when he shaves.

It can be said that Trump’s business views have changed very little since he pushed himself into the limelight of the highest office in the land. The books he is said to have written are nothing more than grandstanding and one fears Trump himself believes every word of it. “I alone can fix it” summarizes extreme narcissism and bills him as a neo-fascist.

Trump sees government agencies as wasteful and incompetent – getting in the way of free enterprise. He did build his own brand, however, and brought up his children to business leaders in their own right, and all the while being mostly alienated from the aristocrats and oldmoney movers and shakers. Few wanted anything to do with a brash newbie with such radical views of society. This is why his campaign was so amazing. Trump created a crisis and drew lower- to middle- class white males and small business owners into his web.

Recent gaffs such as the ban on seven (later reduced to just six) select Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States plays to the right-wing hardliners who are also among his strongest supporters. Trump’s position is nothing more than a red herring and he knows it. There are many faiths within Islam. Ismailis for one are an excellent example of why Obama’s separation of extremists and terrorism is so important. One needs only to recall the bloodbath in Northern Ireland, between Catholics and Protestant, to know that wars are primarily caused by two factors – economics and religion. Man’s character cannot be justified by religion: we are all capable of doing bad things. God has been just a good excuse for war.

If we elect people solely on character, legislatures would be virtually empty. But President Trump with all his obvious flaws has one attribute that may pan out especially for manufacturers. I’ve spoken to quite a few American printers – from all regions. The majority suggest the same thing. They support Trump because he will disrupt the status quo of government and be a pro-business President. You cannot argue with that even though some realities of bringing manufacturing back to America may mean they will be buying $10,000 refrigerators and paying much higher costs for labour-intensive products.

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