And nobody to help

By David Grima | Sep 05, 2019

First, a couple of bits of info that came to me via mystic channels on the Interweb. The first is a tale from Boston from about the last week in August:

“A Cape Air plane bound for Rockland, Maine, came into contact into another airplane on the ground at Logan Airport Friday evening, a spokesperson for Massport said. The plane was about to taxi to the runway when the wing came in contact with the nose of another Cape Air plane that was parked. The spokesperson said no one was on the parked plane.

“It was not immediately clear how much damage was done to either plane. The spokesperson said there were nine people on board the plane, eight passengers and the pilot. No one was hurt.”

Of course, it would have been more accurate for the story to say the aircraft was heading to Owls Head. But we can’t expect them to know everything, can we?

Talking of not knowing, please read on through to the bitter end.

* * * * *

The next piece is longer and therefore too tiresome to quote in whole, and anyway I am supposed to write most of this stuff myself, so it would be unfair not to try to convey the gist of it in my own words. Suffice it to provide the opening sentences in this Associated Press story datelined Portland, Aug. 25:

“U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north. China, a huge and growing customer for lobster, placed heavy tariffs on U.S. lobsters — and many other food products — in July 2018 amid rising trade hostilities between the Chinese and the Trump administration."

Meanwhile, business is booming in Canada, where cargo planes are coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, to handle a growing bump in exports. Canadian fishermen catch the same species of lobster as American lobstermen, who are based mostly in Maine.

“The loss of business has brought layoffs to some Maine businesses, such as The Lobster Co., of Arundel, where owner Stephanie Nadeau has laid off half the 14 people she once had working in wholesale.

“America has exported less than 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of lobster to China this year through June, according to data from the U.S. federal government. The country exported nearly 12 million pounds during that same period last year. That's more than an 80 percent drop. In Canada, exports to China through June were already approaching 33 million pounds, which is nearly as much as all of 2018.”

The story goes on with more detail, but none of it gets any better. The point is that, given Our Chosen Lord Prez Trumpleton’s decision to force a trade war with China by adding import tariffs to just about everything they sell to us, and China’s decision to retaliate in kind, the situation is getting difficult for many American producers who used to sell to the vast market that is China.

A couple of years ago I was part of a crowd that gathered at the Samoset in Rockport to listen to a representative from the Chinese consulate. She said the Chinese adore Maine lobster, and call them Dragon Shrimp. Then along came Lord Trumpleton. Sigh.

* * * * *

So, I decided to personally ask the Beloved Prez why he decided to go down this rabbit hole, irritating the Chinese and putting at risk half the stores in Rockland and hereabouts that carry such a high proportion of goods made in China. (One downtown store employee recently told me he estimates about 90 percent of the goods at the place where he works are from China.)

And while I was on the subject of why the Lord Prez does such odd things, I mentioned to him that things with Iran were also going along quite peacefully until he decided to unilaterally break the international anti-nuclear treaty. The Prez invited me down to Washington for pie and coffee, and to talk these things over.

After a few minutes of introductory conversation, the Lord Prez told me to follow him down a private corridor that leaves the Oval Office from behind a secret panel that looks like a painting of Abe Lincoln. The corridor soon took a downward turn (like Chinese trade) and we found ourselves in an underground room filled with magnificent machinery.

“This is the room with the Levers of Power,” he explained.

Indeed, the room was filled with levers, pedals, wheels, switches, buttons and toggles. It all had a vaguely Victorian atmosphere, a bit like the mechanical innards of the submarine Nautilus in the movie of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

“They told me this is where I have to come to do things to the economy,” the Lord Prez continued. “I’m supposed to come in here at least once a month and make something happen. It’s in the contract. Unfortunately, only presidents are allowed to come in here, so nobody else who works for me has a clue how the whole setup is supposed to operate.”

He looked at me thoughtfully. “I don’t suppose you have any idea how it works?” he asked. “No, I thought not.”

I was not to be put off so lightly. I offered to give it a try.

“Go ahead,” the Lord Prez said with an air of resignation and despair. “Be my guest. You can’t make any more of a mess of the economy than I have.”

After giving the ancient machinery a few minutes of consideration, I seized hold of what looked like a large brass ship’s wheel, and spun it a few rotations to the left. The Prez frowned, and I quickly got the point and spun it back to the right, then kept going. And for good measure, I applied my right foot (I was learning fast) to what looked like a large brake pedal, then grabbed a long lever and hauled it back until it jammed.

“The trouble is,” the Lord Prez continued while surveying the various devices and gadgets in the room, “This stuff is all rather old. There are no screens where you can actually see what effect your decisions are going to have. I’ve been coming down here every month since I was elected and doing what seemed sensible, but every time I go back to the office and turn on the TV, I find that things have only gotten worse. I don’t even watch Fox News any more, as they have become such total losers.”

At this point he just sat down on an antique wooden chair in the corner and held his head in his hands. If I had not known him better, I would have thought he was quietly weeping. Looking the other way, I passed him a clean spotted handkerchief, and he blew his nose. It was all a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when I got back to Rockland and the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live, it was already Labor Day, and things were falling apart all over the place. Import tariffs on our poor lobsters were sky-high, and things in the shops in town all had an extra zero on their price tags.

Yes, I did it. I made that happen. I am responsible. I was in charge of the Levers of the Economy when that all came about. Turning right and jamming on the brakes was obviously not the solution to our country’s woes that I naturally assumed it would be. My only consolation was that the South End Tomato Lady had left a gift from her summer garden on my doorstep; and the Caribou Potato Blossom Princess had likewise left me a blessing of spuds.

I have never had more sympathy for the Poor Old Fellow in the White House than I did at that moment when I was forced to admit what I had done. Certainly, one can also sympathize with the pilot of that airplane in Boston.

All those levers and wheels, and nobody to help.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 07, 2019 14:51

Thought provoking read!  You never fail to surprise me David!

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