There are some days lately—well, many of them actually—when it feels to me like the world is living through one giant Monty Python skit. I mean think of it. This week Boris Johnson’s Tory government in the UK tried to pass a non-confidence bill against itself to trigger an election—and it failed!
Even with his perpetually unkempt hair, Johnson couldn’t convince parliament he was a nincompoop that should be posted to Monty Python’s classic government Ministry of Silly Walks rather than be prime minister.
After all, he only wants to crash Britain out of the EU in a manner that many economists predict would utterly disrupt international business.
Down south, Donald Trump incorrectly claimed Alabama was forecast to be hit hard by Hurricane Dorian. The U.S. government’s own weather office immediately contradicted that on Twitter, saying it wasn’t true. So Trump, or someone in his office, apparently took a Sharpie to an official hurricane path forecast map and drew a different line on it in a manner that any grade school student would be embarrassed to hand in for an art class assignment. That map was then shown to the media right in the Oval Office, as proof Trump was right. Apparently, he and his staff assumed the assembled media was made up of characters from the Python “Twit Competition” skit.
Now can’t you, in your mind’s eye, see John Cleese playing the part of Donald Trump presenting that map in a Python skit? To me, this whole Trump-hurricane episode reminds me of Python’s classic it’s-a-dead-parrot-no-it’s-not skit.
Then Trump is reported to have told his senior staff it would be a good idea to set off an atomic bomb in the middle of the hurricane to stop it. Spoiler alert: every expert thinks this could be the dumbest idea ever.
With all of this going on, watching cable news ought to be the equivalent of first-class entertainment and good for more than a few laughs. The trouble is, none of the unbelievable actions of these major leaders is even remotely funny. What was a continually growing world economy with booming trade two years ago has given way to gloomy predictions of a looming global recession.
AEM, The Association of Equipment Manufacturers that represents most of the major ag and off-road equipment manufacturers has been one of the organizations trying to sound the alarm about messing with global trade agreements ever since Trump starting nixing them. Sadly, apparently no one of consequence was listening.
In its latest report, AEM suggests the current level of U.S and Chinese tariffs will cost about 260,000 jobs in the U.S. alone over the next decade, with over 20,000 of them in the manufacturing sector alone. They make no mention of what the disruptions will hold for other nations, but farm equipment production costs are expected to rise by six percent.
In its latest earnings call, John Deere’s management brought up the probability of significant layoffs due in part to increased production costs from tariffs.
If only it was possible to re-enact another famous Python skit. The fish slapping one, where the officer stands at attention in military fashion and then gets ceremoniously whacked upside the head with a wet fish. I have an idea as to who would best play the part of the guy (or guys) on the receiving end of the fish.