Trump and the fall of the business class

by Rodrigo Fernós

If there’s one thing we can thank soon-to-be-impeached President Donald Trump for is his blatant demonstration of the rampant ignorance of many businessmen, and implicitly for the fall of the social group in many North American’s eyes.

The dumb blonde

Telling a joke about Trump’s ignorance is a bit like telling a blonde joke. “How does a blonde change a light bulb? She holds it and expects the world to revolve around her.”  In Trump’s case, however, the joke is tragic. The blonde’s ignorance in many of the jokes have no social consequences; she merely has difficulty with day to day tasks or in her cognition of the world. In Donald Trump’s case, however, his position as leader of the most powerful nation in the world is  full of grave and horrific consequences.  The withdraw from the Paris Accords relating to the voluntary meeting of climate goals is one such example; there are countless more of the recently established administration.

¿Should there be educational requirements for political positions?

It is clear that Trump is very ignorant; this is demonstrated again and again. The brash confidence with which he speaks is that of the King’s fool rather than that of the king himself. Crassly rejecting well established truths by referring to these as ‘fake news’ is in poor taste to those who have undertaken so many sacrifices to establish such truths. We should be wondering whether there should be educational requirements to the highest posts in the land, of every nation. While an undergraduate, it was pretty clear that those in ‘business administration’ were not the sharpest cookies in the world. They did not take advanced calculus, rarely understood economics, and preferred to ‘drink and partay’ during the weekend rather than reading and philosophizing. Donald Trump is perhaps the best reason to suggest educational requirements for many positions of leadership; at least to meet the minimal requirements of recognizing one’s own scientific and cultural heritage.

The institutionalization of moral hazard

The term “moral hazard” is not what you think it is; in some ways it has nothing to do with ‘morality’ or ‘religion’, but rather with accountability. It is all too commonly seen that businessmen are not held up to be accountable to the consequences of their decisions and actions—at least not in the United States anyways. Corporate CEOs get away with murder, literally, and yet nothing happens. During the 2008 financial crisis, caused by well known inflated valuations of mortgage lending and hedge fund management, the business collapsed; bankers sold paper which they knew well in advance was worthless. And yet, in spite of the collapse of the US economy, none wen to jail. This is to be contrasted to the 1980s Savings and Loan (S&L) crisis, where many bankers who had perpetrated similar crimes spent time in jail.  Businessmen should not feel that they have the right to do anything they please; they do not hold ‘blank checks’ to be writ large. This has to change…

The story repeats itself

Yet these are not new issues, as noted by the famous debates between John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley Jr.  Buckley argued for privatization and ‘trickle down economics’, to which Galbraith pointed out that corporations had grown so much in size that they no longer could be considered ‘private’ as their decisions now impacted millions.  The story of Trump as President of the United States is an echo of a noxious trend where corporations have grown enormously in power size and influence—something about which US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis worried enormously. It is valid to hold a ‘laissez faire’ policy when most of the companies that exist are relatively small and are all competing with each other on a relatively equal basis. However, the enormous growth of the modern US corporation has drastic implications for social policy. Brandeis, as well as many others, wanted to introduce regulations to keep the modern corporation in check-something which he (as we all know now) was unable to do. However, reading the debates of the era makes one realize how different the business landscape had been in the past, and how persistent the noxious trends we see (ie case “Citizens United”) has been over the course of history. 


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