There is a lot going on in that 30 second clip. The condescending sneer on Trump’s face. The obvious disdain for Clinton. Is it because she is telling the truth? Is it because he thinks women are at best, second rate humans? Is it because he knows that even as Clinton spoke, his gremlins from the Kremlin were hard at work making sure that when the counting was done, Trump would be president?
One could make a case that all of the above are true based on what has become painfully obvious in the past 20 months.
With the release of the New York Times story on the Trump family criminal tax fraud, we also can put some sense around his snarky comment when he interrupted Clinton and stole some of her time to say he was “smart.”
Despite Trump’s extraordinary efforts to hide his financial information has and will continue to slowly drip out. Every little bit that drips out will reveal more and more that Trump is not “smart” but merely a crook.
Some folks may think that only the “little people” pay taxes and when folks like Trump can get away with not paying taxes then all the better for him. However, when you look at fraud in another light it is plain and simply theft. Hillary Clinton points that out in that short segment. Paraphrasing what Clinton says is that when Trump pays zero, he is paying zero for the troops, zero for the veterans and zero for America’s schools.
This is not “smart.” Were he not now being investigated for fraud – huge fraud – he still thinks it is “smart” to give nothing back to his country while taking advantage of laws, norms and a justice system that has allowed him to thrive (although it seems “thrive” may be a stretch for Trump).
Which brings me to a couple of points. The first is America’s obsession with wealth and the characteristics we automatically assign to those who are wealthy. If someone is wealthy most Americans immediately think that person is smart or else he or she would not be rich. We are so enamored with the rich that we even give them more in the form of tax cuts for the wealthy that have and will continue to plunge this country into massive debt.
The cost of the tax cuts that have been enacted both at the state level in Iowa and at the national level will be borne for the most part by the poor and middle class. These costs will come in the form higher fees for what were once more reasonably priced services from the state or by having some services no longer available from the state. In those cases a person would either have to purchase such a service from a private company or do without.
One example of this became a national story eight years ago when a citizen in Tennessee who had not paid for fire protection had the local fire department watch his house burn down while they kept a neighbor’s house from burning down. The neighbor had paid the fire protection fee.
This is a small example of where we may be headed. At the federal level the debt will get so big that paying interest on the debt will simply eat all our tax money. Say the Debt is $40 Trillion and the interest is 5% for the purpose of easy calculation. The interest will be $2 Trillion per year more than twice the bloated military budget. Cuts will be made and they will not be geared toward the political donor class.
At the state level, since the state can’t go into debt we will simply have more of what we have now, cuts to programs that hit the most vulnerable first and hardest. Cuts to education will continue thus degrading Iowa’s once proud public school system and more and more parents will be forced to figure out how to pay for private schooling. Post secondary education will soon be out of reach for most Iowans.
So back to Donald Trump. Is he smart? Or is Mr. Trump and his ilk the class that steals the future of other citizens for their own profit? As a state and a country we hold some things in common, such as the environment, the education of the young, our health, our defense and a system of justice and the infrastructure for commerce that benefit all of us.
When Trump and others cheat the system or rig the system to their benefit they are not “smart.” They are stealing our future plain and simple.
Now to what Adam Smith had to say about our worship of the wealthy and despise of the poor a couple of centuries ago that still rings true today:
“This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.”