What many thought would be impossible has already happened. Except the formality of official nomination at the Republican convention in July, for all practical purposes, Donald Trump is the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. It happened despite denouncements from the GOP establishment and the decision by a group of generous benefactors of the party (including the Koch brothers), who have donated $90 million in the last three federal elections, to not support a Trump candidacy. Michael K. Vlock, an investor who has given $5 million to Republican candidates at the federal level since 2014, considers Trump a dangerous person because, “He’s an ignorant, amoral, dishonest, and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard.”
Let us consider the immediate impact on the Central Coast of just two of the actions he has repeatedly declared he would take if elected.
First, if all undocumented workers were deported, it would literally destroy the Central Coast economy. Agriculture is an important contributor to the local economy and almost all of the farmworkers are undocumented immigrants. They cannot be replaced by machines because of the nature of most crops grown in this region. For example, strawberries, the top crop for the county economy, are too delicate to harvest with machinery.
The second impact will be the stigmatization of local Muslim citizens. They are law-abiding, productive members of the community. And many have made unique contributions for the benefit of the whole community. Were it not for Dr. Ahmed Nooristani, there would be no free clinics for the disadvantaged in our county; Dr. Rushdi Cader, an emergency physcian, is a reserve police officer, medical director of the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT Team, and is founder and president of SWAT Trauma Assistance Training; Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal, president and owner of the Calzyme Laboratories, and his entrepreneur sons Usman and Umer have created dozens of local jobs. They, along with other Muslim citizens, would be required to register with the government. This reminds me of the way Nazis treated Jews; they were singled out because of their religion and considered not a part of the citizenry.
A report released in May by the Pew Research Center disclosed that the middle class no longer constitutes a majority of the nation. The report identified declining manufacturing as the major cause of America’s shrinking middle class. “The problem with our country is we don’t manufacture anything anymore,” Trump declared. “The stuff that’s been sent over from China falls apart after a year and a half. It’s crap.” One may want to ask Trump then why his own line of clothing is made in China as well as in Mexico and Bangladesh.
Manufacturing jobs are declining not just in the U.S. but all over the world. Robots and other advances in technology have replaced people. Most of us have witnessed the disappearance of telephone operators, typists, and gas-station attendants. The real solution is to upgrade skill sets of workers, so that they can adapt to technological changes.
Trump has been able to generate significant support because he has made promises that, as a matter of fact, he cannot keep. Any president’s influence on the country’s economy has its limitations. In essence, most of Trump’s promises are empty. Trump has vowed to create coal industry jobs by relaxing clean-air regulations. “It is going to happen fast,” he told a crowd of applauding supporters in West Virginia. In reality, the coal industry has lost jobs due to factors that have nothing to do with clean-air regulations. Those include: Fierce price competition from cheaper natural gas; fast growing alternative energy sources, e.g., solar and wind; steep decline in demand for coal by steel companies because they have had to curtail their output due to weak demand globally; and coal-fired power plants have been discontinued.
Even China is losing $10 billion annually on its steel industry, but Trump promised to resurrect steel mills while speaking before a Pittsburgh audience. “When I’m president, steel is coming back to Pittsburgh,” Trump gave his solemn promise. No industry expert or economist would agree with him. “We can’t be fooled,” Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., declared at its annual convention in April. “Trump isn’t interested in solving the problems he yells about and swears about. He delivers punch lines.” Timothy Egan opined in The New York Times, “So it goes for Trump, a traitor to the class he professes to be for. He ‘loves the uneducated.’ He is a working-class hero to the angry white masses who flock to his rallies. Of all the parts Trump has been playing, this one is the phoniest.”
Trump has criticized treatment of workers by big American companies. This, of course, resonates with a majority of his supporters—if only they knew how he treats his own workers. Maids, food servers, and bartenders have been protesting in front of his luxurious five-star Trump International Hotel and its restaurants because he would not allow them to join a union; doing so could increase their wages by $3 per hour. All other hotels in Las Vegas pay their workers union wages.
Trump was asked in the Republican debate last November if he would support raising the current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. His answer was “no” because higher wages would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage. He was asked by CNN why he has signature products made in Chinese shops. “It is very hard to have anything in apparel made in this country,” he said with a straight face. An honest reply would have been that it is cheaper to get the apparel made in low-wage Chinese shops.
He wants to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods imported to the U.S. Undoubtedly, China would do the same to U.S. imports to China. This would lead to a drop in demand for American goods, adversely affecting American companies that export airplanes, automobiles, medical equipment, etc., to China, which amounted to $116 billion last year. American companies would have to lay off workers due to reduced Chinese demand. Additionally, tariffs levied on Chinese imports would ultimately be paid by American consumers through higher prices.
Trump would cut taxes for individuals and businesses. He claims that it would increase annual economic growth to 6 percent. Economists estimate that such a plan would result in a $10 trillion deficit over the next decade. Trump’s approach has already been tried in the state of Kansas resulting in disastrous economic consequences.
Trump would like to repeal Obamacare. Doing so would result in serious repercussions for 12.7 Americans who are directly covered by the law. In addition, millions benefit from the law’s provisions such as allowing young adults to receive coverage under their parents’ policy, and preventing insurers from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Trump calls climate change a “hoax.” It raises the question: Why Trump International Golf Links in Ireland has asked for permission to build a sea wall to protect a waterfront resort against “global warming and its effects”?
Finally, good news. Trump has declared that there is no drought in California. Rejoice!
Zaf Iqbal contributes a commentary to New Times the first week of every month. He is past associate dean and professor emeritus of accounting at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. Zaf volunteers with several nonprofit organizations, including Wilshire Hospice, Good Neighbor Program, and Mentoring Program for At Risk Youth at the Pacific Beach High School. He is Partner for the Future at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and past president of the San Luis Obispo Democratic Club. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.