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Cafe Society to discuss the U.S. economy

By Staff | Mar 10, 2017

At its next session on Mar. 14, the Cafe Society discussion will focus on the state of the U.S. economy and how anticipated Trump Administration initiatives are raising apprehension both here at home and around the world. The long acrimonious U.S. Presidential campaign raised a number of troubling issues as the candidates sought to gain support from American voters. They included unusual receptivity to long dormant socialistic ideas advanced by Bernie Sanders, new voices heard from our young “millennial” generation struggling to gain a foothold, fear on the part of millions of undocumented residents facing criminal charges and deportation, unrealistic expectations that merchants would show preference for goods produced domestically and a resultant boost to the demand for skilled labor, abandonment of current “Free Trade” policies, changes to the tax structure, reduction of government regulations, and incentives for corporate entities that drive the economy. Now that Donald Trump has prevailed in the election, many of these issues, or areas of concern about “making America great again” are being abruptly addressed. In part this is an apparent effort by our new President to make good on his campaign pledges which he appears to be determined to turn into an electoral mandate. Many of these initiatives or policies will directly impact the economy and the real, as well as psychological forces that drive it. These informal discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. each Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University (SU) Student Center. They are an integral part of the SU Life Long Learning Program and are intended to facilitate a dialog on current issues between the students and older members of our community. There are no fees or registration requirements.

Cafe Society facilitator, Mike Austin commented, “Our economy is a very complex system that permeates every aspect of our lives. How we fit in defines our identity, our prospects for a full and rewarding life, our sense of security and our relationship with others. Despite numerous academic and commercial efforts to make economics an empirical, fully understandable discipline, it defies comprehensive understanding. In essence it remains an art rather than a science. One of the things that makes economic decisions so challenging is that forward looking initiatives have to be based on old data. There are few ‘givens’ in attempting to resolve complex economic problems. There are simply too many variables to have any reliably predictable outcomes. The situation is exponentially worse when you politicize the process of trying to have a desired impact on any part of the economy. That is the scenario that we now find ourselves in.

“The President has launched, or threatens to implement a large number of policy and regulatory initiatives that will have significant reverberations and most likely, unintended consequences not just in the U.S. but around the globe. The thrust of his efforts, which some are calling ‘economic nationalism’, ignores the degree to which nations are interdependent. Globalization is too far advanced to be reversed now by one nation, no matter how powerful it might be. Economic, social, national security and other more specific efforts at governance are all interdependent. So any significant attempt to abruptly stop, or radically alter the flow of people, goods (including money and technology), and services, exchanges of information, research and development and other cooperative programs will set in motion both immediate and long term changes. Many of those considerations are the purview of the U.S. Congress and ultimately the voters. So in the weeks and months ahead, it will be incumbent upon us as responsible citizens to try to inform ourselves about the implications of various proposed initiatives that will impact the economy specifically in our state and community. We will focus on those aspects of the President’s policies and initiatives in follow-on discussions.”