Trade Wars

I love these bright early summer evenings. The tide was going out and I walked along the beach to my usual Thursday meeting with Campbell at ‘Gramma’s Pub’ on our quaint Gibsons harbour. Camp as I’ve called him for years, is my friend and occasional verbal adversary and sparring partner but this time I came with an agenda.

“I’ll trade you seats,” I offered Camp as soon as I sat down, “I think you have the better view.”

“Oh,” he said, taken aback, “that depends on your point of view. Tell you what, I’ll trade seats with you if you pay for the first round, and the one after that.”

“Now is that fair?” I asked, “you not only get to have the better view but now you have free drinks as well.”

“We can always go to a court of arbitration, hoping to get a fair ruling.”

“We’ll ask Vicky, she’ll give us her wise counsel.”

Just at that very moment Vicky was striding over to clean off the table next to us, a perfect time to ask her while she was working.

“Vicky, who do you think has the better seat here?” I asked, “Camp with the frontal water view and the harbour and the island or I with my back in the corner and the view of the whole terrace and a bit of the dock and the water off to the side.”

Without interrupting her chores she said: “Depends what you want to see: The far and serene view of the water, Keats Island and the leisurely boat traffic or the busy circulation of people coming and going, whose drinking what and with whom and how much. I’d say you both have the best seat in the house and I call it even. How about you swap seats every other Thursday.”

“That’s the longest speech I ever heard from Vicky,” Camp said, after she wiped the table with a bit of extra gusto and vanished into the interior of the pub.

“Brilliant solution really.”

“She must have watched the news last night about Trump’s trade wars. Upsetting every ally and apparent friend. What does he hope to gain?”

“Notoriety and longevity,” Camp said.

“How to do you mean?”

“He doesn’t want to be remembered for just a different kind of president, he wants to go down in history for the one who upset the balance of power and brought the world to the edge of the precipice, just to try and bring it back and thereby win the Nobel peace price.”

“Like a poker player? Is it all a bluff?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think so. He has surrounded himself with likeminded people and sycophants who love nothing better but to make history and if it takes a war then what better way then to have a trade war, at least it’s some kind of war. It’s simple hubris.”

“Maybe it’s just a side show and Iran and Korea will be the main feature.”

“Maybe, but he will blame the rest of the world for the uptick in prices and commodities which are sure to follow all these new tariffs. I told you so, he’ll say, they all have it in for us.”

“At least Trudeau stepped up to the plate and called for common sense to prevail,” I said.

“About time, but he only made it to first base, a long way from the home plate.”

“I don’t get it. Everybody will lose, meaning everybody is you and I. If there is a sudden tariff on hops and malt then the price of beer goes up. Very bad news and if for every $ 100 of aluminum the Canadians are charged a $ 25 tariff then that cost gets added on at the production end and passed on to the customer like Boeing and Ford who then roll it on to the consumer.”

“And in retaliation an equal punitive tariff gets imposed on a bottle of Bourbon and a Harley bike, which will put out the Hells Angels, surely a core part of Trump’s base. That will have its own consequences. Might even lead to a world war, sort of like the butterfly effect,” Camp mused.

“That’s Trump for you, chaos theory in action. You think he knows what he is doing?” I asked, shaking my head.

“Does the emperor know he has no clothes, believing he’s wearing the finest and most magnificent cloak?  And did any of his advisers or his loyal legions of admirers tell him that? No, it was a little boy that cried out: “But he has no clothes.”

“Who has no clothes,” Vicky, who just appeared at the perfect moment, asked surprised, “you two naughty boys having indecent thoughts?”

“No, not at all,” Camp cried out, throwing up his hands and laughing, “we’re just picturing Trump appearing naked on Fox News while everybody claps and applauds his fantastic new outfit.”

“I think you two maybe need something stronger than beer, how about a shot of Jim Bean, I hear the price is going up.”


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