Today’s bit of business comes from…. business. Specifically, the person behind the president. Who is Donald Trump beyond a businessman?
That’s shockingly difficult to answer, because so much of his existence is inexorably tied to his business interests. He has spent the better part of his life as a businessman, viewing friends and family through the lens of his company, and ultimately became President by using ruthless, aggressive techniques that are successful in for-profit settings.
All over the U.S., businesses gain more and more power. They invade sectors of life that are not made better by a for-profit, free-market, competitive system. Private schools are free to exclude whom they please. Health insurance and hospital bills are nightmarish mine fields that could ruin a person more than an injury ever could. Private prisons and security forces are popping up around the nation, bringing with them rights violations wherever they go. It should be no surprise, then, that similar problems arise when you elect a businessman as your President.
The question must be asked: should for-profit models be banned from public service programs?
This might be difficult for some Americans to wrap their heads around. What is life, other than earning the right to pay for things you want and need?
Here, look at what Finland is doing with a basic income plan. To people who hold the free market and business interests close to their hearts, this must seem shameful. “They’re giving freeloaders a chance to stay lazy! They’ll have no motivation to do anything productive!” I’m not here to argue whether it’s a more efficient move than allowing homeless men and women to live in abject squalor (although it totally is), I’m here to point out that giving people access to basic necessities because it’s the most efficient thing to do is not the point at all.
Americans have become so cozy with business ventures, that we have failed to see the problems just beyond it. Sometimes a beneficial thing is more costly, yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Business thrives on competition of resources, but that competition is only healthy above a certain quality-of-life threshold. This is the reason why for-profit ventures should be barred from entering nonprofit realms and transforming them into businesses; the view that following any opportunity that creates a new, untapped competitive market that stimulates growth is not only short-sighted, it can be seriously damaging. Just ask the people left in the steady, destructive rise in health care premiums since the 1950’s. Or the various booms and bubbles in the housing market. Or even bottled water.
“Bottled water isn’t just more expensive than tap water – it’s a lot more expensive. According to the IBWA, the average cost per gallon of bottled water – not counting imported or sparkling waters – was $1.21 in 2013. That doesn’t sound too bad until you look at the cost of tap water, which is $2 per every thousand gallons, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That means that, priced by the gallon, bottled water is more than 600 times more expensive than tap water.”
This is what happens when you create a new market inside something as precious as a basic necessity. A competitive market actually increased the price and sabotaged the quality. For-profit motives made drinking water objectively worse for their own gain. And bottled water is a simple, clean-cut example of how wrong that can go. Imagine many, many layers of capitalist motives stacked on top of each other, stretching all over every walk of life, reducing the quality, increasing the cost, benefiting few, and leaving massive problems after the collapse of the honeymoon phase.
This is what Trump represents on the global stage. Not fighting for the little guy, but the little guy’s assets. Not for the good of the People, but the people’s business ventures. Not what’s good for America, but what’s good for American companies. So many people can’t see that, because they can’t divide people and businesses to begin with.