The USA is putting a tariff on Canadian aluminum. Those nasty Northerners are a security risk. Tsk, tsk, so easy to blame Canada. Who is really hurt and who is really helped? Get my take on it in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
So… the poor old United States is suffering and, once again, the solution is to “Blame Canada”! (Click here if you don’t know the famous song.) Those aggressive rascals up north are producing aluminum cheaper than we can. They’re going to ruin our economy (You mean even more than the federal and state governments are already doing?), take jobs away from our workers, even undermine our Christian faith! We need a tariff on aluminum! That will solve all our problems.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Out of the 60 million metric tonnes per year produced in the world, China produces over half—about 35 MMT. The next two largest producing countries (Russian and India) each account for about 10% of the world’s production at 3.7 MMT. Canada comes fourth at about 2.9 MMT, almost all of which is exported to the USA. I guess that’s a problem. The United States produces a measly 0.89 MMT annually yet consumes about 3.4 MMT so it’s got to buy the other 2.5 MMT somewhere.
Now, if you need something, wouldn’t it be best to buy it from the nearest and cheapest supplier? Like, Canada? Do you see that as a problem? According to the news reports, most aluminum producers and consumers in the United States don’t see a problem either. The push for tariffs has come only from the American Primary Aluminum Association. They claim that Canadian aluminum presents a national security risk. So…buying from China and Russia is a better idea? That seems ironic—to say the least.
It seems there are only two aluminum producers that are members of the American Primary Aluminum Association—Glencore (Swiss-based) and Alcoa (US-based), two of the largest companies in the world. Curiously, Alcoa is also the second-largest Canadian producer of aluminum. I have a degree in Economics, so I know I’m oversimplifying. There’s far more to it. But let’s follow the money.
The U.S. puts a tariff on Canadian aluminum. That means the U.S. importers pay money to the U.S. government. They turn around and charge their American customers more money for the aluminum, who’s price just went up by 10%. Of course, American-produced aluminum will also go up by 10%. They’re not going to undersell the market. That’s the whole idea of tariffs—to raise prices. That will be free money for Alcoa and Glencore.
That cost gets added to the cost of new washers, dryers, fridges, and stoves. As well as bridges, office buildings, airplanes, and everything else that uses aluminum. No extra jobs will be created in the United States. The federal government just collects more in another tax (which they will surely spend just as wisely as the other $5,000,000,000,000 they are spending this year.) American consumers will pay more for all goods that use aluminum. Canada doesn’t pay anything. The effect is an American tax on the American people.
"But it must do some good," you say. Sure, it does. It adds to the profits of Alcoa and Glencore. It bolsters their share prices. Their managers get bigger bonuses because profits and share prices are up. Their shareholders might get bigger dividends. The rich get richer. The government appears to be protecting the American people but in fact, average people are worse off and the rich are better off. Money moves from the middle class to the elites. This is a tiny example of how government really works. This is not free enterprise. This is crony capitalism in action. Kinda funny. Kinda sad. Definitely ironic.
"But this is a spiritual blog," you say. "Is there a spiritual message?" Of course. Life is always a metaphor for the spirit. Let me explain the metaphor.
You are an ordinary buyer of aluminum products, an ordinary human. You want something. The supplier of all your wants is God, the divine, Source, the universe—whatever you want to call it. The master teacher said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all else will be added to you.” What we most seek in life is love. And, as St. John said, “God is Love.” God is the source of love, the source of all you need. What we really want is an intimate relationship with that divine source of everything. In this metaphor, you are the American aluminum consumer and God is Canadian aluminum. Weird, I know.
But something is coming between you and the Love you seek. You cannot just connect with it directly. Something else feels threatened by that. Its “security” is at risk. What is that something? Your own ego. I mean “ego” in the spiritual meaning of the word, not the psychological meaning of it. Here’s a good definition, taken from the book, “Awakening Love” by Gina Lake (which I highly recommend).
“The ego is the conditioned self and the sense of yourself as an individual apart from others. It is reflected in the ‘voice in your head’, especially in all the thoughts that begin with ‘I’. The ego is the sense of me, who I am, who I want to be, who I was in the past, who I will be, what I want and don’t want, and what I like and don’t like. The ego is made up of all the beliefs you have about yourself and all the thoughts you believe others have about you. The ego is not actually real, but only a sense of self built on a set of beliefs about who you are.”
Our ego is that part of our programming that looks out for #1, that is greedy, selfish, fearful. The ego inserts itself between our real self, our spirit, and our source—God. The ego puts a “tax” between our spirit and God. It pretends to help us, but it doesn’t really. Just like a tariff blocks the flow of value in an economy, our ego blocks the flow of divine energy, divine love, from God to us. It’s best to set our ego aside. Acknowledge it, then focus on connecting buyer and seller—our spirit and God’s spirit. That’s how we really satisfy all our real needs. Set your ego aside and let your real self come through—your loving, honest, peaceful, joyful, godlike inner self.
It is in that oneness with the divine that we will find all our needs and wants satisfied.
God Bless You!
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