The Trump phenomenon still baffles me, and I assume it always will. The man looks incompetent. He speaks like a fifth-grader. When he reads his speeches, like the joint session of Congress speech earlier this week, he looks wooden and stilted. Everyone praised him for looking presidential. To me, he looked fake. His actions are not congruent with what he says, most of the time. His plans are vapor. He talks about things that make no sense. He makes false statements, knowing fully well they are false. He doesn’t care about the average, middle-class citizen. To me, all this is completely obvious. I can’t believe that others don’t see it too.
Trump supporters don’t seem to see this. It’s baffling to me. There is one thing that all Trump supporters eventually say that justifies everything else that’s going on:
Trump is a brilliant business man, he has had great business success, and he will use that skill for the good of our country, if we only give him the chance.
That’s the argument everyone makes, and it is the core of their justification.
Well, I don’t agree. He is not a brilliant business man, just like Russian oligarchs are not brilliant business men. I think he is simply very good at manipulating others to do his bidding, and to “use the system” to his advantage.
I am a business man. I would not call myself brilliant. But I have run businesses for most of my career, and the last and current one for over 25 years now. I have created hundreds of direct jobs over the years. I have created more than $50 million of direct economic activity in the last 15 years alone, and probably generated several times more indirect activity as a result. I don’t have an airplane with my name on it. I fly coach. I am not rich. But I have been productive all my life, and I have been honest.
I have never filed for bankruptcy, either personal or in business. I have never “used the system” like Trump has several times. Every contractor I ever engaged got paid exactly what the contract said I would pay him. Every time. I have never been sued by anyone. When the market crashed, due to reckless dealings on Wall Street by Trump cronies, and due to bad regulatory oversight by our government, my real estate dropped to 35% of its value in 2008, and for the past nine years the property still has not recovered the value I paid for it at the time. It’s still upside down today. I have paid my mortgage every month, on time. Financial advisors have told me to walk away from it over the years. But I pay my mortgage because I wrote on a piece of paper in 2004 that I would. I could have “used the system” and been what Trump calls “smart,” but my honor and integrity is more important to me than being smart and rich.
Trump, the brilliant business man, does apparently not see anything wrong with “using the system” to shed his debt when he makes a bad deal, or when economic conditions work against him. I do.
When you file for bankruptcy, you are making other people pay for your losses. There is no more favorable way to put it.
When you don’t pay your contractors what you promised to pay them, you are using other people’s money to enrich yourself, and you are using bully tactics to intimidate them into settling. This is not smart or brilliant, it’s simply reckless.
This may work in business. Trump has an airplane with his name on it. And I simply go to work every day. But I don’t believe it works when you lead a country.
When we screw this up, everyone pays for our mistakes. If we are wrong on global warming, and if we’re creating hell for our grandchildren, they pay. They may curse us, but the will pay. When we see nothing wrong with polluting our rivers with toxic coal residue, and people downstream are poisoned, so people upstream can have jobs, those downstream pay. They may not like it. See what’s going on in Flint, Michigan. They may not like it, but they pay.
Is Trump really such a brilliant business man?
I am a business man, and I would be ashamed if I had used Trump’s tactics, like filing bankruptcy four times, like not paying income taxes for 20 years (which we can only assume he did), like suing contractors who worked on my buildings, like sexually assaulting women in my employ. I am proud that I was not a brilliant business man, I guess.
But then, I don’t have an airplane with my name on it, I don’t have luxury properties all over the world, and I don’t get to ride on Air Force One for my vacations, at $3 million of taxpayer money per trip.
Do you see why I am baffled?