Does President Trump Know What a Radical Environmentalist He Picked in Peter Navarro?

The strange case of Peter Navarro became curiouser and curiouser this week.

As the president's pitchman for tariffs, Navarro was all over the airways this week with visions of new factories for steel and aluminum, all through the magical elixir of raising taxes on imports.

Maybe it will work.  Maybe it won't.

But if one of California's most visible advocates of No Growth Environmentalism to stop jobs, housing, and growth of all kinds – and that is who Navarro was before he discovered the evils of China and Trump discovered him – can become the chief spokesman for more jobs, housing, and growth, then anything is possible.

Many Trump-supporters in San Diego are still amazed at how this leader of  a liberal cabal of Southern California environmentalists rose so quickly to such great heights in Trump's conservative regime.  They still remember when Navarro arrived in San Diego in the 1980s and formed his no-growth group called PLAN: Prevent Los Angelization Now.

The idea was that building new homes creates the demand for new homes, and that would fill San Diego up with more people than anyone wants.

It's an "if they don't build it, they won't come" kind of thing.  As for the kids who grew up to want homes of their own, they would just have to go somewhere other than here.

Soon after Navarro's plan was on the ballot, so was he, running for mayor of San Diego.  Twice he tried.  Twice he won the primary.  Twice he lost the general election.  After a similar defeat as a Democrat running for Congress, Navarro moved on, leaving San Diego to start writing books about the Chinese menace from his new post at the University of California, Irvine.

Despite the recent efforts of the local media in San Diego to recast Navarro as some kind of early Trumponian populist, that is not who he was.  Navarro's friend and foe alike agree on that.  He was green through and through – no matter how many jobs or factories or homes had to be stopped, abandoned, or otherwise sacrificed.

As a San Diego reporter, I had written about Navarro and his band of merry enviros on several occasions.  Later, I did opposition research on him.  He was pretty much what he appeared to be: an econ professor with a few books, a handsome face, a winning personality, and a determination to put out of a job everyone in San Diego who carried a hammer on his belt.

His supporters loved that about him.

This is not something I am saying for the first time.  I told him and his gang that every weekend for several years as a panelist on a public affairs TV show that Navarro produced and hosted.

I liked Navarro.  A lot of people did.  But that did not stop me from telling him and his friends the same things I told my friends and clients in the San Diego building industry.  He will never support one single thing you do to create jobs and homes.  And he will load up your projects with so many costs that they will quickly become impossible to build.

Navarro would dispute that: he and his ilk often did just that as they patiently explained why they would really love to support the new jobs and new homes, but they would have to study proposals for five years, or they would support it if you would just move your project five miles away (butterflies, you understand) or if you would just consent to add $300,000 in costs to your new homes by accepting ridiculous new regulations.

Want to know why tract homes are selling in San Diego for $1.5 million?  Ask Navarro.

I got a chance to know Navarro and his friends.  Many times we played golf together, or visited an Indian casino on Thanksgiving (he was not a gambler), or we all sat together at his house, while I enjoyed the rolling bars of his massage chair.

This brings us to the great irony of the Navarro-Trump plan to save American aluminum and steel plants with tariffs: there is simply no way Navarro and his green buddies would support the construction of new steel plants and aluminum plants of any kind.  Anywhere.  For any number of jobs.  For any reason whatsoever.

No way in hell.

Ditto for the wall.

Neither will they recognize what anyone who has been to China knows: tariffs or no tariffs, China has the best factories in the world.  Maybe tariffs will help us catch up.  Or make us fall farther behind.

Either way, the environmentalists will talk a good game in theory, but when it comes time to approve the plans, move the dirt, raise the walls, install the machinery, and actually put people to work, Navarro's crowd (with or without him in the lead) are going to be raising holy hell about the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees and the evil developers and even worse operators who are killing the world with pollution just to make a few bucks with their nasty steel and aluminum.

And besides, they will tell us, as if they just discovered it, we can get all of our steel and aluminum from China –  cheaper and cleaner.

Colin Flaherty is a award winning reporter and author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Don't Make the Black Kids Angry.  More on Navarro at the Colin Flaherty podcast.

The strange case of Peter Navarro became curiouser and curiouser this week.

As the president's pitchman for tariffs, Navarro was all over the airways this week with visions of new factories for steel and aluminum, all through the magical elixir of raising taxes on imports.

Maybe it will work.  Maybe it won't.

But if one of California's most visible advocates of No Growth Environmentalism to stop jobs, housing, and growth of all kinds – and that is who Navarro was before he discovered the evils of China and Trump discovered him – can become the chief spokesman for more jobs, housing, and growth, then anything is possible.

Many Trump-supporters in San Diego are still amazed at how this leader of  a liberal cabal of Southern California environmentalists rose so quickly to such great heights in Trump's conservative regime.  They still remember when Navarro arrived in San Diego in the 1980s and formed his no-growth group called PLAN: Prevent Los Angelization Now.

The idea was that building new homes creates the demand for new homes, and that would fill San Diego up with more people than anyone wants.

It's an "if they don't build it, they won't come" kind of thing.  As for the kids who grew up to want homes of their own, they would just have to go somewhere other than here.

Soon after Navarro's plan was on the ballot, so was he, running for mayor of San Diego.  Twice he tried.  Twice he won the primary.  Twice he lost the general election.  After a similar defeat as a Democrat running for Congress, Navarro moved on, leaving San Diego to start writing books about the Chinese menace from his new post at the University of California, Irvine.

Despite the recent efforts of the local media in San Diego to recast Navarro as some kind of early Trumponian populist, that is not who he was.  Navarro's friend and foe alike agree on that.  He was green through and through – no matter how many jobs or factories or homes had to be stopped, abandoned, or otherwise sacrificed.

As a San Diego reporter, I had written about Navarro and his band of merry enviros on several occasions.  Later, I did opposition research on him.  He was pretty much what he appeared to be: an econ professor with a few books, a handsome face, a winning personality, and a determination to put out of a job everyone in San Diego who carried a hammer on his belt.

His supporters loved that about him.

This is not something I am saying for the first time.  I told him and his gang that every weekend for several years as a panelist on a public affairs TV show that Navarro produced and hosted.

I liked Navarro.  A lot of people did.  But that did not stop me from telling him and his friends the same things I told my friends and clients in the San Diego building industry.  He will never support one single thing you do to create jobs and homes.  And he will load up your projects with so many costs that they will quickly become impossible to build.

Navarro would dispute that: he and his ilk often did just that as they patiently explained why they would really love to support the new jobs and new homes, but they would have to study proposals for five years, or they would support it if you would just move your project five miles away (butterflies, you understand) or if you would just consent to add $300,000 in costs to your new homes by accepting ridiculous new regulations.

Want to know why tract homes are selling in San Diego for $1.5 million?  Ask Navarro.

I got a chance to know Navarro and his friends.  Many times we played golf together, or visited an Indian casino on Thanksgiving (he was not a gambler), or we all sat together at his house, while I enjoyed the rolling bars of his massage chair.

This brings us to the great irony of the Navarro-Trump plan to save American aluminum and steel plants with tariffs: there is simply no way Navarro and his green buddies would support the construction of new steel plants and aluminum plants of any kind.  Anywhere.  For any number of jobs.  For any reason whatsoever.

No way in hell.

Ditto for the wall.

Neither will they recognize what anyone who has been to China knows: tariffs or no tariffs, China has the best factories in the world.  Maybe tariffs will help us catch up.  Or make us fall farther behind.

Either way, the environmentalists will talk a good game in theory, but when it comes time to approve the plans, move the dirt, raise the walls, install the machinery, and actually put people to work, Navarro's crowd (with or without him in the lead) are going to be raising holy hell about the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees and the evil developers and even worse operators who are killing the world with pollution just to make a few bucks with their nasty steel and aluminum.

And besides, they will tell us, as if they just discovered it, we can get all of our steel and aluminum from China –  cheaper and cleaner.

Colin Flaherty is a award winning reporter and author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Don't Make the Black Kids Angry.  More on Navarro at the Colin Flaherty podcast.