Saturday, November 05, 2016

Make American Selfishness Great Again?

I've laid out in many posts the most serious charges against Donald Trump's policies and character. But, here are two lesser points that rankle.

1. What sort of person wants the poor to subsidize them? I've had some hard financial times in my life, but I've never wanted to grab money out of the hands of people much poorer than I. Still, that's what the "make Mexico pay for the wall" Trump boast is about.

Mexico is so much poorer as a country than the United States. I know that by per capita adult wealth the U.S. isn't the richest nation in the world (we're number 4 at $352,996 per adult). But statistics lie. The United States is hands down the richest country in the world. Mexico isn't even close. Nor are any of the countries Trump wants to beat on trade deals. When is the last time you heard a trade tirade against the wealthiest nations?

1. Switzerland
2. New Zealand
3. Australia
5. Iceland
6. Norway
7. United Kingdom
8. Sweden
9. Luxembourg
10. Singapore
11. France
12. Belgium
13. Denmark
14. Canada
15. Italy

So, who is supposedly eating our lunch? #53 Mexico at $25,949 (NAFTA!), #59 China at $22,513. It's hard for me to work up anger at trade policies with countries that have 6% per adult of what Americans have.

I lived in Brazil #73 for awhile. I have nothing but compassion for the many poor in that country. For the kids begging on the streets. The people living in favelas. People who pull junk carts around on hot days up and down hills trying to make a living. People who work hard.

I just can't work up a feeling of being victimized by people who have a tiny fraction of the wealth that I have. I am so incredibly rich compared to the rest of the world even though my net worth is in the bottom 20% in the U.S.

2. Punishing American companies for taking manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. to much poorer countries.

Much worse are the people like me who send money to charitable agencies that give money to the poor in those countries without making them work for it. Right? No, but isn't giving people a job what we want? Not only for the poor around the world, but for the poor in our own country? We don't want people on welfare. We want them working. Work builds character and gives self-respect besides adding goods and services to the local community and beyond.

It seems these two positions above of Mexico pays for the wall and no American company jobs abroad support the "it's all about me" selfishness and entitlement mentality that is pervading American culture. It's make American selfishness great again.

It's like complaining that the disabled get too many special benefits and privileges. Ramps, parking spaces, social security benefits. Who would argue for leveling the playing field so there are no special accommodations for the disabled?

In the Old Testament, there were special rules for the poor. Their "surety" was to be given back each night. They were allowed to glean after the first picking on other people's land, and land owners were told not to go back over their fields but to leave what was left for foreigners, the poor and animals. Actually, that's part of the story line of the book of Ruth.

A society that doesn't value self-discipline and sacrifice is a society in collapse. A society that looks on the goods of the poor with greedy eyes is despicable.


MAX Redline said...

If they want to immigrate here legally, no problem. If they want to hop the border, disrespecting our laws and potentially endangering public health and safety, problem.

I don't care how hard working they are if they fall into the latter category.

I've worked hard as well. And I know people who immigrated here legally who are incensed at the border-jumpers.

Sorry, but it's not too much to expect people to respect our laws and to integrate with our culture, if they want to come here. Likewise, it would be nice to see those who hire illegal aliens bankrupted. Take away the jobs, and you take away the problem.

T. D. said...

I agree 100%, Max, that people need to follow the laws. Just because you're poor doesn't mean you get to steal or defraud or break immigration laws and make other people victims.

I'm talking about forcing someone significantly poorer than me to pay for things that are not their responsibility. And gloating about it like it was a win. I also despise salespeople and telemarketers who talk people into buying something they can't afford. (Trump University?)

When my dad's wood fence started to deteriorate he replaced it with a chain link fence. One neighbor pressed $200 into his hand. That was nice as that fence kept his dogs in on that side. But dad did it for his property not for his neighbor's property. The other two neighbors did nothing. It wasn't their responsibility. It was our fence on our property.

The U.S. border defenses and wall aren't Mexico's responsibility. Their border restraints aren't our responsibility. To be gleeful about forcing someone to pay or do something because you have power over them is my definition of a bully. One of my dad's neighbors was an elderly woman easily confused. It would have been easy to pressure her, but scummy. My dad always taught us to protect the weak, like elderly widows, and look out for them not take advantage of them.

That's where I'm coming from on this post.

MAX Redline said...

The campaign rhetoric has been a bit much, TD. Ferret's not going to build a wall and "make them pay", and Pantsuit's not going to see her "dream of open borders". It's all been pretty disgusting, in my view.

T. D. said...

Of course, you're right (as usual!), Max. It's just disheartening to hear all the cheering for a policy only a scumbag would to to their neighbor.

MAX Redline said...

He would if he could, but he can't so he won't. ;-)

I'm so glad the election's over tomorrow, but frankly, I'm more interested in seeing how the election for sheriff in Grant County, Oregon goes than I am in the presidential one.

If Glenn Palmer wins, the "Patriots" will be galvanized.

T. D. said...

In the midst of what others are depressed by, you always have a unique and upbeat view, Max!

MAX Redline said...

Depression's not productive, nor good for the soul, TD. Positivity is underrated. ;-)

T. D. said...

Yes, there are so many more blessings (at least in our lives) than trials. Good reminder, Max!