Donald J. Trump: An extension of American corruption

“Corruption requires authority plus monopoly minus transparency.”  Author unknown

Marsha Shearer
Marsha Shearer

Corruption is dishonest or unethical conduct by someone entrusted with a position of authority to acquire personal benefit.  Simply put, it’s using that position of public trust for private gain.  And that’s who Trump is – a corrupt and morally bankrupt salesman/politician and unfortunately for the world, the most powerful person in it.

Consider that the country seen as “the shining city upon the hill,” an example of democracy and decency for the world to emulate, and where no one is intrinsically valued less than anyone else, has, at least temporarily, ceased to exist.  Living in such a moment should make us reconsider who we are, what has gone wrong and what has led us to this place.

Mostly, it revolves around lies.  It revolves around quid pro quo.  It revolves around prejudiced denigrating of groups of people.  It revolves around Trump using his position to enrich himself and his family.  Corruption thrives in a political monopoly with most Republicans in Congress closing their eyes and holding their nose while Bannon’s puppet signs off on their donor driven agenda. Executive power has gone unchecked and corruption has thrived.

It would take volumes to provide examples occurring over the past year.  So how about we look at just the past few days.

Congress passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” which Trump defined as a “middle class tax bill” with Pence gushing “it’s a middle class miracle.”  It isn’t.  Average people are not prime beneficiaries.  Businesses and the ultra rich get the most when they need it the least.  For the next eight years, those earning between $49,000 and $86,000 will receive a small tax cut.  A very small, non-permanent tax cut.  Bottom line: the top 1 percent gets 83 percent of the tax cut.

Trump said it repeals Obamacare. It doesn’t. The bill ends fines for those not carrying health insurance.  We make up the difference when 13 million people without insurance use the ER for non-emergencies. Meanwhile, even given constraints placed on it by Trump, this year almost 9 million people enrolled in this ‘dead’ plan.

Trump said “it’s the largest tax cut in the history of the country.” It isn’t. From 1918 to the present, it ranks eighth

Trump said “there’s a great spirit for it, people want to see it.”  They don’t.  Seems people have sussed out the tax break isn’t for them.  Polling varies, but between 41 to 55 percent oppose the bill. One poll had that number at 70 percent.

The biggest whopper of them all is that the tax plan “will cost me a fortune, believe me!”  We don’t and it won’t.  Just repealing the Estate Tax saves Trump and his family hundreds of millions of dollars.  And that doesn’t count all the other goodies for fellow swamp dwellers – you know those pesky hedge fund managers and real estate moguls, many of whom are donors to the party.  Trump campaigned on ending the carried interest loophole.  He didn’t.  No, Donald.  We don’t believe you.  You are a liar. 

One condition that allows corruption to thrive is lack of transparency.  If Trump wants to gain back a modicum of trust, a good place to start would be to release his tax returns.  The only justification for not releasing them is that the term ‘liar’ would again be fully proven.  And he chose not to have an end of the year news conference – again a break from the past and a finger in the eye of transparency.  He has had one solo press conference since his election. 

Now let’s look at quid pro quo.  It may be that the entire Russian “hoax” is a massive example that might go like, ‘Want to be the most powerful man on the planet?  I have information that can get you there.  And in exchange there are those pesky sanctions ….’  As to passage of the tax bill, several lawmakers stated that a major factor leading to its support was threats from donors; U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., stated the ‘unless the tax bill is passed, financial contributions will stop.” Lobbyists wrote much of the bill – with specific inclusions for themselves.  And then there’s Nikki Haley channeling Trump the Bully stating that money to the UN and humanitarian efforts around the globe is going to be dependent on other countries kowtowing their agreement with whatever the USA bully says and does.  And she had the chutzpah to call that ‘respect.’ That statement, approved by her boss, was worthy of a dictator. 

Most nations have their share of corrupt politicians; those feathering their nest while pretending to do the public good.  But there is a breaking point.  Government breaks down and bad things happen when public trust is lost. Combine that with – thanks to passage of the tax bill – ever increasing income inequality, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Citizens are beginning to recognize that democracy cannot exist, let alone thrive, under these conditions.

Villager Marsha Shearer is a frequent contributor to