Blog77a The Real Trump and the Trumpeting Trump


Blog77a The Real Donald Trump and the Trumpeting Trump

Summary

Donald Trump’s ideas, his public statements, his philosophy, such as it is, have all been widely trumpeted, and almost as widely examined, Many of his ideas have been avoided on the right and criticized on the left. The man himself, the Real Donald Trump, and his real-life business activities have not attracted as much attention as those of the other Trump, the Trumpeting Trump. Yet the ideas are not sui generis, but are very directly connected to his real personal and material interests, those activities in the pursuit of financial success that have made him the billionaire that he proudly proclaims he is, and that he maintains equip him to be President of the United States. But they deserve to be carefully examined. Do his activities as a casino magnate, a real estate speculator, an exploiter of tax loopholes, a chum of hedge fund managers, a wallower in luxuries, give him the skills and experience we want in someone entrusted with the responsibility of running our country?

***
There is a Real Donald Trump hiding behind the façade of the bombastic media-crazed bigoted
Trumpeting Trump who pushes his outlandish and apparently thoughtless views onto the American public and Republican voters. Much of the critical response to Trumpeting Trump’s statements views them simply as the result of a bigoted mindset, a lack of empathy for others, a desire to seem macho, arrogance, etc. No doubt all these are involved. Indeed in some ways he is almost pitiable in his hunger for applause and lack of self-awareness or introspection. But there is a much more materially-grounded explanation for much of what he trumpets. And the enthusiastic response of so many of his followers likewise has a largely material foundation.

The Real Trump is a very solid, material figure, constantly thinking, shrewd, targeted, down to earth, and practical. In real life, when he is not behind a microphone or being interviewed, he the very model of a modern smart capitalist, with making money, accumulating wealth, as the over -riding goal. But he seems to have a practical realization that some form of moral legitimacy is helpful in pushing raw greed to new limits; thus the creation of a quite separate façade, the Trumpeting Trump. [1]

Look at what Real Trump does in real life. Basically, he makes money. His claim to fame is that he is a billionaire. How did he get his billions? By keeping a relentless eye on his money, making it and keeping it, sometimes wisely, sometimes not. Look at how he acquired his billions.

He started out, of course, by inheriting some $250 million from his father. The evidence is overwhelming that the best way to get rich is to have rich parents, and the richer, the better. And then he invested the money he inherited, and not so profitably, after all.[2]

• Casinos – the ownership of casinos, not the playing in them. Not because he took big risks and was rewarded, but because he lured others into taking on risks in which the cards were always scientifically stacked in his favor. Casinos are not productive; they produce nothing of value except profits to their owners, and they redistribute income regressively. They produce jobs, but that is not why those like Trump invest in them; on the contrary, the less of the revenue goes to wages of workers, the better for the owner, and Trump holds wages down as much as he can Look at is history with unions of his own workers.

• Housing – the development of luxury residences for the very rich, not housing for those that need it. Trump was never concerned with affordable housing, with ending homelessness, with security of tenure, with measures to protect health or safety. The goal was always profit, not people, and the more exclusionary, the more profitable, the better.

• Financial speculation – the kind of speculation in which the hedge funds, in which a large part of Trump’s billions are invested, engage in, making super profits for those that have enough wealth to begin with, unconcerned about social consequences, not subsidizing green enterprises , no concern for environmental sustainability or social justice.

There is no evidence that he was ever socially concerned about what his investments produced, or for whom; the goal was to make money for himself in whatever way would make the most the fastest.

And look at what he is NOT investing in.

• No significant investments in, donations to, support for, environmental protection, social welfare, the Red Cross, disaster relief, police responsibility, affordable health care, affordable education, clean air, drinkable water, environmental sustainability, no evidence that black lives matter, that secure retirement for the elderly or secure futures for young people, matter.[3]

The data is all there, and needs to be examined thoroughly; a little muck-raking would probably unearth some very interesting muck. But Trumpeting Trump is not interested in talking about it. The fact that such policy proposals as Trumpeting Trump has made would all be very directly supportive of what Real Trump is about is the last thing either of the two Trumps want to have exposed. But it is not coincidence that the details of how his tax proposals would benefit himself personally or the hedge fund managers with whom he invests, or how trade proposals he supports would build markets for his luxury enclaves and players for his golf courses, have as yet to become public. What details would expose is pretty clear: the proposals are of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Trumpeting Trump serves Real Trump best by avoiding attention to the connection between them.[4]

Trump is not the only billionaire who is concerned with protecting his or her own interests in the arena of public policy. But he is unique in how he uses his public persona directly to promote his own financial interests. The Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson use their money to advance their own personal financial interest, but they do it from the shadows. These billionaires would rather conceal that brag about what they are promoting with their money. To the extent that Real Trump finances Trumpeting Trump’s campaign for the nomination for president, he trumpets the name “Trump” (the god of names clearly has a sense of humor), and it becomes part of the branding for his real enterprises.

And other billionaires at least try to show a real concern for those that are at the other end of the inequality scale from themselves. Warren Buffet is publicly directly concerned with inequality and sometimes acts against his own interests. By contrast, nothing Trumpeting Trump has trumpeted might harm Real Trump’s private interests.

Historically, the holders of great wealth have sometimes been public benefactors, whatever their complex motives might have been. One thinks of the Carnegies, the Rockefellers, the Roosevelts, for that matter even Gates and Zuckerman. No one has ever heard Trumpeting Trump boast about the charities Real Trump has endowed, the gifts to educational institutions, hospitals, medical research, or international peace. No donations by the Trumps show that for them black lives matter, or women’s lives, or immigrants’ lives, or the lives of the sick or the disabled or the elderly. [5]

But why do so many seem to buy the harangues that Trumpeting Trump is trumpeting? A rather speculative answer is spelled out in
Blog #77b, at pmarcuse.wordpress.com,
which scratches the surface of that argument.

———–

[1] One place where Real Trump and Trumpeting Trump seem to be together is when Donald Trump, as moderator of The Apprentice on TV, says to an unsuccessful apprentice, “You’re fired!” With glee. No human concern for the consequences. A desirable attitude for a U.S. President?

[2] According to Investment News, “Trump has not done nearly as well as other American business magnates, or even a typical middle-class retiree following sound financial advice, as a review of the numbers over the past four decades shows. He is a billionaire today despite this poor performance because when he started his career, his father had already built a colossal real-estate empire. And the wealth   Donald Trump has accumulated since then has at times come at the expense of taxpayers or the banks and investors who have lent him money.” Max Ehrenfreund, “The real reason Donald Trump is so rich,” Comments 102, The Washington Post, September 3, 2015. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/03/if-donald-trump-followed-this-really-basic-advice-hed-be-a-lot-richer/. And Max Ehrenfreund, at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/03/if-donald-trump-followed-this-really-basic-advice-he’d-be-a-lot-richer.

[3] These are not ordinary folks’ omissions or based on lack of funds, but omissions of someone boasting about his wealth and seeking the highest elected office of the land, based on what he can do for its citizenry,

[4] See, for instance, the data assemble at   Trevor Hunnicutt “Donald Trump’s investment portfolio a messy hodgepodge: advisers. New disclosures by the GOP presidential candidate reveal an unclear money-management strategy, say advisers” Investment News, July 23, 2015, available at http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20150723/FREE/150729940/donald-trumps-investment-portfolio-a-messy-hodgepodge-advisers. It may be because the facts referred to here can be awkward for contenders within the Republican Party who likely share many of the values that underlie Trump’s approach that they have not primary debates. They may play out differently in the general election surfaced at all prominently in the Republican campaign.

[5]These are not ordinary folks’ omissions or based on lack of funds, but omissions of someone boasting about his wealth and seeking the highest elected office of the land, based on what he can do for its citizenry,

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