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A service for political professionals · Tuesday, December 11, 2018 · 470,787,777 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

It's The Greed, Stupid

By Joe Rothstein — February 19, 2018

The other day, the host of NPR’s Morning Edition asked a Florida businessman how he felt about Donald Trump. The response was along these lines: “Well, I don’t like a lot of his behavior and personal things, but he’s a businessman and I can see where he’s coming from. I’d probably vote for him again.”

I’ve also been a businessman, and I, too, can see where Trump’s coming from.

Greed.

I’m not discounting ego gratification and Trump’s well documented childlike need to be the center of attention all the time. Those are personal characteristics, bizarre in a man of his age and dangerous in a man in his position of power.

Beyond a damaged ego, however, there’s another sickness, a compulsion to acquire ever more wealth, no matter how, no matter from whom, no matter the loss to others. Unfortunately, that sickness is hardly unique to Trump, and it’s the underlying cause of so much that is destructive in today’s society.

For Trump it explains why he continues to line his own pockets by frequenting Trump properties and sticking taxpayers with the bills. It explains why he says he “loves debt.” It allows him to borrow money with little intention of paying it back. It explains why he bilked so many trusting people who thought Trump University was actually as advertised. It explains why, after he proved himself such an unreliable deadbeat that legitimate finance sources cut him off, he had no moral qualms about taking money from Russian oligarchs close to Putin, and those associated with mafia sources.

If greed is your most important principle, everything else is negotiable.

But Trump is just an extreme and oafish example of the greed disease that’s overtaken much of our capitalist system.

The people who make and indiscriminately sell assault weapons certainly are aware that their products are being used as efficient instruments of murder and mayhem in our schools, churches and public places. The CEOs and executives of these companies have families of their own. You would expect them to have some remorse, some empathy, to express regret to families of victims, to join efforts to decrease the destructive power of their products. That’s what most of us would do if we in any way were responsible for killing and maiming others.

Instead, the arms dealers are focused on holding legislators hostage to resist any manner of reform.

What explains their behavior?

Greed.

Our jaws drop at the prospect the federal government under Trump will try to privatize precious national monuments and public lands, even up to the rim of the Grand Canyon, so that developers can mine coal. But look past the Trump-appointed enablers to those who are pressing for private leasing---company leaders who simply place profit over all values, business people who already make huge profits elsewhere.

For years the executives at Wells Fargo pushed employees to open bank accounts and set up loans for trusting customers who were unaware of what was being done in their names until they had to pay the bills.

In 2015, Turing, the pharmaceutical company, bought Daraprim, a 62-year-old medicine for a deadly parasitic disease, and immediately raised the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill. That became the poster case for an industry where price exploitation is all too common.

Volkswagen was finally busted in an elaborate illegal scheme to fool customers and government watchdogs about how much pollution their cars were coughing into the atmosphere.

A consortium of some of the world’s most powerful banks conspired to manipulate the rate borrowers pay in interest.

Amazon, one of the world’s richest companies, is squeezing cities and states for colossal subsidies.

Apple has a quarter of a trillion dollars in profits parked outside the U.S. so it can avoid paying its fair share to help support the country that made Apple possible.

There’s no end to examples of corporate greed. Profit first. Profit gold, silver and bronze. There are no other winners. Not the workers who create the products, the communities that provide the infrastructure, not the nation that enforces a just and protective legal system.

If it sounds as if I’m tarring U.S. capitalism generally with the same brush, I guess I am. I don’t hear much coming out of the the corporate world that indicates it wants to reform itself. Just the opposite. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and other major business groups either remain silent about these excesses or cheer the dismantling of the agency created to protect consumers. They line up for Trump’s tax giveaway but are AWOL as he tries to gut Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and sell public assets such as Dulles and Washington National Airports, dams and power grids.

And for all their fine statements about the need to combat climate change, I’ve seen no sign of a coordinated corporate effort to challenge Trump’s undoing of every federal climate change initiative.

Greed explains just about every major problem we face as a nation today. It’s the self-destructive byproduct of a capitalist system that has not, will not and cannot regulate itself.

Not long ago, the mantra behind successful political campaign strategies was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” That is so last century. Now, “It’s the greed, stupid.” And it’s going to take a lot of determined and courageous new people in positions of power to change it.

(Joe Rothstein is a regular columnist for USPoliticstoday.com and author of the acclaimed political thriller “The Latina President and the Conspiracy to Destroy Her.” Mr. Rothstein can be contacted at joe@einnews.com).



Joe Rothstein is editor of U.S. Politics Today. His career in politics spans 35 years, as a strategist and media producer in more than 200 campaigns for political office and for many political causes. He was a pioneer in professional political consulting and one of the founding members of the American Association of Political Consultants. During his career Mr. Rothstein has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA.