On November 9th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States of America. Now the rest of the world is wondering how it happened, what it means for the future and what the public should do now.
Predicting the behavior of American presidents is historically impossible, because they never keep their promises. Regardless of their political affiliation, they tend to just maintain the status quo. Even Obama, who epitomized hope and change, acted like a lame duck president for 8 years. Democrats might explain his behavior by pointing out that Congress made it their number one priority to make sure he accomplished nothing, but Obama barely tried. His biggest accomplishment, Obamacare, exemplifies how the American government works, because it was mostly written by insurance companies, signed off by politicians and forced on the public, who didn’t want it.
If Hillary Clinton became president, we could have expected her to slowly give more rights to corporations while whittling away consumer and worker protections. She’d pass a few minor laws protecting minorities based on whatever social justice issue is trending at the time, but she’d also pass a few major laws that turn America into more of a police state. She would have kept America at war at the behest of the military industrial complex. The size of the middle class would have gotten little smaller. The lower class would have gotten a little bigger, and the 1% would have gotten a lot richer. Historically, that’s exactly what you can expect from any American president.
Everybody knew Hillary Clinton worked for big businesses before she entered the presidential race, but Barack Obama’s 180 degree turn leads me to suspect someone used leverage over him to force him to change his priorities and ethics. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know if history repeats itself, Trump will be a mildly pro-corporate, lame duck politician. During Obama’s presidency I often mused that if someone of his poise couldn’t change America, nobody could, but I never expected someone like Donald Trump to become president. There are several key differences between Trump and every other president in recent history that may affect how he conducts himself:
- He’s not a career politician.
Trump can’t be corrupted by money and fame, because he’s already been corrupted by them. He doesn’t need to compromise with lobbyists to keep his job or secure a god-like retirement, because he already lives like a Roman emperor. He can’t be strong-armed by politicians who have sold out to the 1%, because he’s been donating to congressional campaigns for years. So he’ll be working with a Congress full of puppets who have already sold out to him. Plus, he still has enough money to buy off everyone he ever meets.
Chances are, Trump knows he’s going to be a one-term president. So he has even less motivation to play ball according to the old rules. The only reason he ran for president was to make a name for himself. He doesn’t have anything more pressing to do than shake things up. So it will be profoundly interesting to see how he takes advantage of his freedom and leverage.
- He’s certifiably insane.
You don’t need a degree in psychology to figure out Donald Trump isn’t normal. He exhibits all the symptoms of a narcissistic psychopath, pathological liar and philanderer who suffers from a severe thought disorder and affluenza. Sane people can be reasoned with, and they respond to fear predictably, which makes them possible to control. Donald Trump isn’t bound by the conventional rules of motivation. So he could do anything.
- He’s entering office with the lowest approval rating of any American president.
Even if Trump weren’t a narcissist, we could expect him to do something drastic solely for the purpose of boosting his popularity. When George Bush Jr.’s approval rating dropped below 50%, he started a war with Iraq, and his popularity surged… for a while. War didn’t help Obama out of his slump, and if Trump starts another war, it will only vindicate his critics. Trump’s only hope for attaining the glory he so desperately seeks is to do something that actually matters within his first 100 days of office. Beyond that, America is his sand box for at least four years, and he’s not the type to sit idly. The question isn’t, will he change anything, but how sane will his changes be?
- Many of his campaign promises violated the Declaration of Human Rights, common sense and basic human decency.
Some of the policies Trump laid out in his Contract with the American Voter are great. Americans desperately need someone to put term limits on Congress, limit the power of lobbyists and monitor the ethics of politicians. I support Trump doing those things, and I will applaud him if he does. However, they would be empty victories if he implements his worst promises.
If Trump keeps the promises he made in campaign speeches, we can expect him to build a $30 billion wall between Mexico and America, and force the Mexican government to pay for it, bomb the families of known terrorist, waterboard enemies of the state, deport every illegal immigrant, and ban all Muslims from immigrating to the USA. President Trump will have to pay lip service to his voters by using illegal immigrants as a scapegoat, but he can’t deport all of them or build the wall between Mexico he promised. Both of those activities are impossible, and they would cause food, construction and landscaping prices to skyrocket, which will make Americans hate him. So, it should come as no surprise that he’s already back-pedaling on some of these promises.
In order to look tough and appeal to patriots, Trump will undoubtedly keep his promises to increase military and law enforcement funding, which will make life a little harder for the average American by diverting funding from agencies that help people, to ones that hunt people. This won’t turn rural America into a full-on police state, but it may turn the ghetto into one, which would inflame racial tensions worse than they already are. That would lead to more riots but probably wouldn’t incite a race war. However, if anyone could start a civil war, Trump’s the man to do it.
I don’t know if Trump is evil enough to do that, but I do know there are millions of minorities who are already scared enough of him to want him dead. So he’s going to have to try very hard not to get assassinated. No matter how bad of a president he is, I firmly believe his assassination would cause America more problems than it would solve. So I hope Trump loves himself enough not to poke the bear with a stick too hard.
- He has an entourage of known extremists and criminals.
Even if Trump never passes any deplorable laws, he’s promised to staff his administration with homophobes, xenophobes, religious extremists and climate-change deniers. If these men get their way, America will become more of a Christian police state with a slave-based economy than it already is.
Trump is way over his head, and the only asset he stands to lose from being the worst president in history is the value of his brand, which is what his entire life revolves around. He may have won the presidency by appealing to bigots, but his brand won’t survive if he continues acting like Hitler. His cabinet might devote their careers to taking America back to the dark ages, but I predict the main theme of Trump’s presidency won’t be scapegoating minorities.
You can’t predict what a pathological liar will do, but you can make educated predictions about someone’s behavior if you know their prime prerogative, and Trump’s highest priority in life is making money. He was born into the 1%, and raised to believe their philosophy, which is that the world exists to make the rich richer by any means.
Trump has never, and will never, spend a day living among the poor. After leaving office, he’ll wind down the rest of his years rubbing shoulders with the financial elite, and if he doesn’t want to be ostracized at the Kentucky Derby, he needs to give the rich what they want, which is the same thing he wants: money. This is why I don’t believe his promises to get out of NAFTA or the TPP, anger China, prevent outsourcing jobs or increase tariffs on imports. All of these actions would cut into American billionaires’ profit margins.
Every billionaire earned their fortune the exact same way. In order to make money, you have to either own or work for a business that sells a product. If you work for someone else, you’ll only have one stream of income, which isn’t enough to become a billionaire. To get filthy rich, you have to own a business, because when you do that, every employee either becomes, or facilitates, an additional revenue stream for the owner.
The goal of business is to make as much profit as possible. The formula for maximizing profit is to sell your product at the lowest cost to you and the highest cost to as many customers as possible, as frequently as possible. The perfect product would be something that doesn’t cost you anything to produce, and that customers have to pay a huge percentage of their salary for, every month. This product doesn’t exist, because there’s always a cost to do business, but the goal is to get as close to the mark as possible. The three most perfect products are stocks, insurance and real estate.
Stocks don’t cost anything to produce, and they don’t represent ownership of anything. They’re just collector’s items. Think of them as virtual baseball cards. This is free money for companies that issue them. Investment firms that sell stocks, are just middlemen, passing on one party’s empty promises to another in exchange for a significant fee. Nobody has to buy stocks, but there will always be a high demand for get rich quick schemes.
Insurance is a service you have to pay for monthly, which is designed to give customers the lowest return on investment legally possible. Plus, the government forces almost everyone to have car and health insurance. So customers can’t stop buying the product even if they wanted to. They could go to a competitor, but there are enough victims to go around.
Real estate is expensive, but if you inherited $20 million and a business worth $200 million, then spending $5 million on a piece of property you’ll never live in would impact your quality of life less than a minimum wage earner spending $50 on groceries. Once a property is paid off, you have to pay upkeep, but the cost is negligible, because you’re selling empty space to desperate customers for at least one third of their monthly income. Then you just sit back and watch the nation’s wealth pour upward into your bank account. The more property you buy, the scarcer it becomes, and the higher rent you can charge.
This is Donald Trump’s formula for success. It’s the premise of his entire life. Knowing that, we should be able to accurately predict that President Trump will make it drastically easier for businesses to lower the cost of making/selling products and increase businesses’ ability to extort their customers.
This explains why Trump is a climate change denier and why the global warming-denial movement started in the first place. Anyone smart enough to run a billion dollar company, is smart enough to trust the 99% of scientists who say global warming is real. Exxon’s own scientists proved it before their board of directors started spending millions denying climate change and bribing politicians to endorse their agenda.
Climate change denial is a lie on par with claiming smoking doesn’t cause cancer. It was invented by business owners, because environmental protection raises the cost of producing consumer products, which lowers profit margins, which, according to the 1%’s ethical code, is the most evil thing you can do.
People are already trying to convince Donald Trump to accept climate change is real, but he already knows and doesn’t care. All he cares about are profits. So he’s going to do as much as he can to lower environmental protection laws wherever possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if he passes a law making it a criminal offence to protest in any manner that halts the construction of oil pipe lines.
We should expect Trump to loosen restrictions on businesses anywhere he can. His Contract with the American Voter already states his unsurprising intention to lower business’s tax rate from 35% to 15%, but he doesn’t mention how he’s going to “fix” the biggest expense of running a business: paying your employees a living wage.
At the very least, it’s safe to say Trump will never increase the minimum wage, vacation time, sick time, mandatory rest breaks, or guarantee maternity leave. He won’t support free education or lower interest rates on student loans, credit cards or mortgages. Instead of fighting for meaningful bank reform, he’ll loosen banking regulations and consumer protection laws. Trump has already stated his intention of removing safety regulations that prevent drug companies from selling poison to customers, and that will become a metaphor for his presidency.
We can expect Trump to demonize and neuter unions by writing policies with the same spirit as “right to work laws.” I don’t know how much further he’ll slave-ify workers, but I would be shocked if, four years from now, standard employee contracts aren’t a page longer and twice as harsh as they are now.
The bitter sweet irony of Trump’s addiction to profit is that making businesses more profitable will improve the economy. As companies make more money, they’ll hire more workers, which will make the unemployment rate go down. Businesses will have more money to pay employees with, and some will, but the golden rule of business is to keep as much money for yourself as you can. So, even though some workers’ lives will be improved, most won’t. Statistically, if you work at McDonalds right now, life is as good as it’s going to get for you.
The stock market dipped the moment Trump was elected as investors panicked, but “The Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffet, a man who once criticized Trump’s racism, is now gleefully endorsing him, because he knows eliminating regulations will cause the profits of publicly traded companies to surge, which will raise the worth of his existing portfolio. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’s already planning on making new investments in whatever industries Trump cuts the most red tape for, like drugs and energy.
Conservatives will point to the impending stock market boom as proof Trump’s policies are working. However, even though investors at every income level will get richer, the bigger the bull market, the bigger the bubble it leads to. If Trump can manage to create a new golden era, it will be immediately followed by a financial crisis. Donald Trump isn’t responsible for individuals making speculative investments, but after the bottom falls out, and millions lose their life savings, they’ll have to re-enter the work force, which was already tantamount to slavery before Trump got elected, and will likely get worse during his tenure.
For the next four years, the poorest of the poor may get more job opportunities, but those will be dead end jobs. Even if Trump raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, it won’t be enough to keep up with the cost of living, because the cost of products are based on supply and demand. Theoretically, this means competition drives prices down to the lowest price possible. However, customers are always willing to pay a price equal to how badly they need a product. Everybody needs a home, groceries, electricity, water, gas, education, furniture, vehicles, medical care, clothing, computers, phones, stationary, appliances, tools and entertainment. When every business sets their price as high as their customer’s desperation level, then the average cost of the products you buy most, represents the average amount business owners can get away with extorting you.
As long as everything is as expensive as possible, it doesn’t matter how many individuals Trump’s policies make rich. Most Americans will still be trapped in the same state of perpetual debt slavery they were born into. One day they’ll come home exhausted from work, carrying $50 of generic, poisonous groceries. They’ll collapse onto their couch, turn on their television and see reporters panicking because the stock market bubble just popped, but they won’t bat an eye, because to them, it was just another regular day in Hell, same as yesterday and tomorrow.
Lowering the poverty and unemployment rates isn’t an accomplishment presidents should even brag about, because if governments did what they’re supposed to, there would be no poverty or unemployment. Reducing them is tantamount to securing their continued existence. Worse than that, when a capitalist economy has an economic boom, it means more products are being sold, which means humans are consuming more of the Earth’s resources, faster. The faster we consume, the faster we turn the planet into an uninhabitable garbage dump. If Trump puts his foot down on the gas pedal of the economy, he’ll drive humanity straight towards extinction, and that’s the worst thing a human being can be successful at.
100 years from now, nobody will praise Trump for momentarily boosting investor returns. If his policies don’t turn the Earth into a toxic, scorching landfill, he’ll be remembered as a greedy fool who strengthened the fundamental flaws in the economy that create and sustain poverty. That will be Trump’s legacy.
This brings us to the question, what do we do now? I’ll explore that topic in my next blog post.
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