A new column suggests that Donald Trump would run the country like he did his casino business, meaning: into the ground. The Republican nominee’s only qualification for holding office would be his business acumen.
Jason Pack, a Cambridge University researcher and Libya watchdog, wrote a column for Al Jazeera examining how Trump’s turn as a casino owner helped to shape his attitudes about taxes, government regulation, and the global economy.
He sees America’s prosperity as akin to a gambling cartel’s monopoly – upheld via restricting access. Trump also preaches another philosophy that derives from the milieu of the casino: the worldview that one is either a winner or a loser.
As the hustlers’ saying goes, “If you can’t spot the sucker, then you’re him”, and in his businesses in Atlantic City, Trump became an expert at spotting and exploiting suckers: he bankrupted his investors (whose money he lost) and his contractors (who he defaulted on).
His outrageous promises that he will force Mexico to pay for the wall and demand that the US’ NATO allies spend more on [defense] are not mere bluster – they [epitomize] Trump’s “transactional” philosophy learned and perfected in his own casinos.
Pack details Trump’s effort to quell competition in Atlantic City, one that ultimately proved futile as all of his casinos failed. Relying on alleged connections to organized crime, his mastery of media to impugn Native American competitors, and other “questionable activities.” Pack argues that this strategy won’t change if Trump is elected President.
This gets to a larger argument that has been playing out in partisan politics since 2012, that America needs someone to run the government “like a business.” Of course, America is not a business and often the motivations of government should be the opposite of those that that drive business.
For example, Donald Trump often brags (perhaps falsely) that his new hotel in the Old Post Office building in Washington D.C. is “under budget and ahead of schedule.” In February, during a rally in Virginia, Trump said that it would be “nice” if the country was like that as well.
Of course, successful government programs often end up costing more money and run longer than expected. For example, remember “Cash for Clunkers?” The program was so successful that it spent its $1 billion budget in a month, and legislators quickly earmarked an additional $2 billion, and went longer than expected. In fact, the only real critique of the program was that it didn’t provide enough money to encourage people to buy hybrid or electric cars (which at the time were relatively more expensive than today).
Donald Trump walked away from his casino business enriched, but his investors and those who worked for him did not. One has to wonder if his turn in the Oval Office would be any different.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, reactions, and predictions in the comments below.