The Cost of Doing Business

After reflecting on the financial good news of last week, I can’t figure how much of the US economic recovery is on account of Obama’s old work, or from Trump’s new policies. I suspect it’s a little of both. I also suspect the removal of regulations has played a major part in our energy production, at least. In this case, it’s ironic that the administration is calling such production “sustainable.”

I have no problem with a booming economy. (And as my mother pointed out, we Democrats better be very careful about how we react to the boom—because we do not want to sound as if we’re rooting against the economy.) That said, I’ve got everything against my country getting rich to the tune of environmental and humanitarian degradation. Just today, I got an e-mail from the NRDC about how the Trump administrations’ drilling plans will threaten such areas as the Bears Ears National Monument. Last week, as the court-ordered border reunification deadline passed, CNN reported that 33 percent of detained children still remain separated from their parents. (How this detention ever affected the economy is beyond me—but the Trumpers claim that undocumented immigrants take their jobs, so…)

And here’s more behavior I reject: I reject Trump’s implication that America is a victim and that we’re just now reclaiming respect around the world. According to Gallup (from last January), the median approval of US leadership dropped 30 percent, among 134 countries, during 2017. Last month, tens of thousands of British protestors dogged Trump with—among other things—the Trump-baby blimp. Later in that same month, world leaders were still condemning Trump’s lap-dog routine with Vladimir Putin. And last May, while I was in Iceland, our tour-guide, who depended on tips, joked about Trump to a busload of high-end, excursion-booking, Americans. All of this is a far cry from President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

And let’s not forget that this victim talk is actually despot talk. Victimhood, such as it is, has been used to justify atrocity and tit-for-tattery from Carthage to Dachau to the border detention centers. Stalin used at least the threat of victimhood to liquidate tens of millions of his own people while his Soviet Union transformed itself into an industrial super power. (Hmm.)

And speaking of Russia… In his annual foreign policy speech, last October, Vladimir Putin said this: “The biggest mistake our country made was that we put too much trust in you [the west]; and your mistake was that you saw this trust as weakness and abused it.” Sound familiar? Putin says that the US humiliated Russia. (Just this week, Trump said that other countries have humiliated us.) Putin says that NATO has betrayed Russia. (Earlier this month, Trump called NATO delinquent.)

The script changes, somewhat. Obviously now, Trump and Putin are such good buddies that they have secret conversations. But the voice is the same—and the stance is the same. Trump sounds like Putin’s protege. And our economic growth, though welcome, is far too small a compensation for us embrace the same tradition of totalitarianism that we’ve resisted since the pilgrims fled it 300 years ago.