When Pride And Greed Meet

It’s Tuesday morning and I sit here with the TV muted and tuned to C-SPAN2 as I begin this article. Led by Manslaughter Mitch McConnell, Republican Senators are taking to the Senate floor spewing partisan rhetoric. The subject matter is the latest proposed coronavirus response legislation. Let’s explore.

Most times in politics the expedient course of action is to compromise and approve a measure that accomplishes many of your goals without doing too much harm. On a few rare occasions you find yourself confronted with a “hill to die on”. What I mean is a situation where you cannot morally compromise and you have to hold out until you either win or “die” trying. I have “died” on a few of those hills over the years and I would do it again!

The current version of this legislation has one of those provisions. Basically the bill calls for a $500 billion slush fund to be administered at the discretion of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to aid big business with no strings attached. To make things even more opaque the executive branch would not be required to disclose who received the funds for six months.

When questioned by a reporter about this during Monday’s Trump Comedy Hour (which lasted almost two hours) Trump replied, “I’ll be the oversight.” What could go wrong when we have a man whose track record includes multiple bankruptcies in the casino business, impeachment as president and the continued hiding of his own financial history from the public?

My background in the classics is lacking but one book I remember is Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales and it reminds me of this situation. I often think of Trump and McConnell as two Dons with a turf sharing agreement to control D.C. If you want to understand the Trump administration I content that you have to view it as an organized criminal enterprise. In his book Chaucer outlines seven cardinal sins; two of which are pride and greed and apply here.

Trump is guilty of both. He actually thinks he is the smartest guy in the room on all occasions. (I believe that to be true when the room he is in is otherwise unoccupied.) There is no question that with the possible exception of the cardinal sin of lust – which is not applicable in this particular situation – greed is Trump’s prime motivator. If he is successful in obtaining a half-trillion dollar slush fund it will be the heist of history.

In his Monday show Trump gave indications that he will soon use his influence to lift the social distancing measures sporadically in place around the country. This is insanity taken to the nth degree! If he finally does so, the justification will be that saving the economy is more important than saving a few lives of senior citizens. He is wrong on all counts!

Even in the depths of the Great Recession the demand portion of the American economy was 70% consumer demand. The coronavirus will spread exponentially if we interact more closely, people will get sick whether they ultimately die or not. How do you staff your business if a significant percentage of your workforce is ill? Do you think the stores will be crowded if people are ill? If you are passing out the money to big corporations and the workers are too ill to report to work where is their discretionary disposable income (DDI) coming from. If they receive sick pay that won’t last forever and a sizable portion of the labor force is hourly or gig workers.

It is not just senior citizens that are dying. All Trump needs to do is have someone honesty read legitimate newspapers to him to prove that point.

What happens if we lift social distancing when the next spike hits and our health care facilities are overwhelmed? They will be.

A competent president with some luck can rebuild the economy (i.e. FDR); no president can resurrect the dead.

Trump’s pride (overestimation of talents combined with ego) makes him unwilling to give up the starring role in his daily TV show. He envisions himself as a modern day Winston Churchill but he is perceived more like Baghdad Bob.

My favorite role in life is that of grandfather. I would gladly give what is left of my life to save the lives of any of my six grandchildren. Right now the biggest threat to their lives is the temporary beneficiary of government housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue not the current Trump Recession or impending Trump Depression.

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