Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Post-Christmas Trump Thoughts

Donald Trump ushered the Christmas season in like this:

President Trump was in a celebratory mood on Friday night and told a group of his wealthy friends, “You all just got a lot richer” after he signed the tax cuts into law. Trump reportedly uttered the words to a group of friends who were having dinner nearby at Mar-a-Lago, including two friends who spoke to CBS News about the remark.
Anyone spending time at what has come to be known as the “Winter White House” is not exactly suffering economically, considering the initiation fee is $200,000 and annual dues are $14,000.
I love the tone-deafness.  A holiday centered around the idea of a young traveling couple who couldn't find a room at an inn but had to sleep in the barn where their child (Jesus) was then born, and our Dear Leader uses the occasion to rejoice with his rich friends over a successful plot to make the rich even richer, never mind the poor or the middle class.  Cue Ebenezer Scrooge.

I have written similar bitter posts about Trump's complete and utter lack of social skills, about his narcissism and about his very limited ability to understand the kind of behavior we used to expect from our politicians and especially those who are seen as representing the country.  But he probably just doesn't care, because he is a star, and a star can grab any pussy and act like an asshole everywhere.

We are now used to a president who tweets whatever nasty thoughts he might have, who attacks the free press, private individuals, celebrities and the FBI, and who lies more often than Pinocchio.

"Oh, that's just how he is,"  I've heard some say.   "A man of the people," I've heard some say.  "He's just talking back to the elites*, something we all wanted to do, and now he is doing it for us," I've heard some say.

And suddenly,  what used to be unacceptable for the president of the United States to do or say has become acceptable, even expected.  The unthinkable is now very thinkable, and not only in the way our Dear Leader uses his Twitter account, but also more widely.

The Republicans barely bothered to pretend that the tax reform was for the benefit of the middle class.  It was for the donors to the Republican Party, for the new oligarchy running the policies of this government.

And it was for the corporations.  It's beginning to look as if anything the "industries" ask Trump will deliver.  Lower profit taxes?  Sure!  Fewer regulations?  Certainly!

The latter seem to include lower fines for nursing homes which mistreat their residents and rolling back regulations on offshore oil drilling which were created after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster:

BSEE says that the cuts will save the oil industry $900 million over ten years. The proposal has not been made public, but the WSJ reports that some of the changes include easing rules that require the streaming of real-time data of oil production operations to facilities onshore, which allows regulators to see what is going on. Another rule that would be removed requires third-party inspectors of equipment, such as the blowout preventer, to receive certification by BSEE.

Getting rid of unnecessary red tape is not a bad idea.  But what if that "red tape" is all that is keeping some system from falling apart?  All that is keeping some predators from exploiting the frail elderly in nursing homes or all that is keeping the oil industry from maximizing its short-term benefits by increasing the risks its employees must take?

I don't see nuanced debates about how best to cut or shred the red tape or about the costs of doing so**.  Rather, what the industries want the industries get.

Which should be a little disconcerting, given that corporations don't yet have voting power in this country.

What is the point of this rant?  Perhaps that Trump's personal oafishness is catching and infecting our wider political system.


*  I find it ironic that the way "elites" are used in the right-wing information bubble carefully excludes the moneyed and corporate elites.

*  The latter include the potential future losses of life and potential future pain and suffering. The costs and benefits of less regulation should be compared to the costs and benefits of current regulation levels, and not only to the industries being regulated but also to its workers and its consumers.