For anyone keeping tabs on the NAFTA negotiations and all the craziness surrounding North American trade this past week, I think there’s a real desire to stack sandbags high around the house and hunker down until sanity—or some semblance of it—once again dominates in international affairs.
By the end of last week the U.S. Administration was claiming Canada’s shipments of steel and aluminum posed a risk to that country’s national security, hence the need to whack us with a tariff of 25 and 10 percent respectively. Until the Jets were knocked out of the playoffs there might have been some truth to that. We were ready to steal the Stanley Cup back.
Other than that it’s hard to image we’re a threat to anybody. Just contrast the difference between the facilities at a border crossing. Until a couple of years ago, unlike the U.S. Border Patrol agents who were packing heat, our border agents had a customs duties stamp on their belt where a holster would normally be.
Every time I came across the border that stark difference was always quite noticeable to me. And quite frankly, one that made me very happy when I thought about it.
But back to the trade discussion.
Those tariffs will increase the cost of manufactured goods on both sides of the border, and that will affect farm equipment in spades. So expect to pay more for that shiny new farm machine next year if things don’t get back to normal.
U.S. farmers are going to feel the heat of counter sanctions from a host of countries. And farmers here may end up hurting a bit too. Remember, most Canadian beef cattle head south of the 49th for slaughter, so if a trade war heats up, there could be trouble there. Certainly special interest groups in the U.S. (R-CALF comes to mind) could once again press for a duty there.
When it comes to trade, we don’t have too much choice but to try and get along with our giant neighbour to the south. Federal Governments have looked at trying to establish new markets with countries like China. But depending on them could be much, much worse. That country poses another kind of threat to the world as we know it. Currently, the Chinese Communist Party has reportedly infiltrated the New Zealand government to such an extent there is talk of excluding that nation from the “Five Eyes” security group. China is also making threats of territorial expansion in the Pacific.
In the future, it looks like they’re not going to be all that easy to get along with. And our neighbour on the other side of the North Pole, Russia, is up to no end of shenanigans.
So with a world that’s changing quickly and as unpredictably as the moods of the U.S. president, where do you go to get your mind off things? When we were on the farm, my kick-butt workshop was where I retreated to, a place where the logic of mechanical systems was a pleasant change from the craziness elsewhere. It was kind of like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. But since we sold the farm, I haven’t yet found an adequate replacement for that ultimate man cave.
In its place, though, I’ve since found a fair bit of useful distraction cruising the aisles and checking out the almost endless supply of nifty bolt-on gear at some of the city’s best-stocked auto parts and accessories stores. Doing that used to only be a rare treat on those days when we made the trek into the city. Now, it just involves a trip down the street.
This week I noticed some really cool programmable LED strobe lights that would look pretty good on my Jeep. And if world events stay on their current pace, who knows? Installing those lights may help me avoid getting hit by someone in a Mad Max-style roving band of hooligans after the apocalypse.