Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Character Of Donald Trump

Image result for trump

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” - Søren Kierkegaard

We admire good character: directness, openness etc. We ask about politicians whether or not they in fact act, in their personal and professional lives, up to the character they work hard to display to the public.

Donald Trump is a building speculator who started with inherited wealth, repeatedly went bankrupt and was repeatedly bailed out, his debts cancelled by the laws of a tolerant society. He is a man who was bailed out, an interference with free-market discipline, and who also claims to support conservative principles of no interference with free market discipline*. Hypocrisy is evident, that is, bad character. Much, probably most, of Trump's wealth was acquired acting in TV shows*** and licencing for profit his name, activities which make use of the show of character, not actual character, and certainly do not make use of business genius unless business genius, contrary to conservative free market principles, means profiting from claiming business genius without having the reality. Trump went bankrupt in 1991, 1992, and 2004 prior to his TV acting career, with his bankruptcies continuing in 2009 and 2014 during his acting career. Even if he had business genius, use of it in speculation in housing for the rich is not admirable or creative behavior, and does not benefit anyone other than himself:
Drawing from a deep well of data Piketty found that for almost all recorded history, those who are rich enough to be sitting on a pile of cash and assets will get richer just from the returns on their capital at a faster rate than the economy can grow as a whole. In other words, if you don’t start with capital, you can never close the gap with the rich, no matter how hard you work; whereas if you do start with capital, you’ll get richer and richer whether you work or not. Over time this leads to greater and greater inequality. (from The London Review Of Books)

Trump talks of "our people". It is natural to care more about people you know than those you don't. That however does not make it a sign of good character to irrationally hate strangers or act without information and judgment in defense of "our people". Indiscriminate bombing of terrorist enemies in foreign countries, which Trump recommends be intensified, has caused the United States to go from having a limited number of enemies in one small corner of Afghanistan to having tens of thousands of enemies in dozens of countries all over the world -- the kind of result to be expected when show of character substitutes for reality.

Further Reading:
The Impeached President & Applied Mathematics
* Trump, in fact wildly inconsistent in his economics, has made a point of putting himself on record to be in favor of free market principles (for example with regard to health care). However, being wildly inconsistent in economics is typical of free market conservatives who in practice mean free markets to be for the poor, and socialist protection to be for their sponsors, the rich. Trump, like did his fellow "our people first" nationalists the Nazi party in Germany of the 30s (the National Socialists), for the sake of getting elected, as a bribe temporarily delivered, for the time being is including the poor electorate in the promise of spoils of "free market" economics normally reserved for the rich. 
** No major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump's businesses in the last 30 years. See this article in CNN Money.
*** The exact amount Trump has been paid for his TV performances is in dispute. See this article in the The Hollywood Reporter.