[Note: This is the second in an occasional series evaluating the remaining presidential candidates and their views on economics and liberty. You can find the first article here.]
In the previous article in this series I explained that the key to understanding Donald Trump’s economic policies is the recognition that, for him, policy and principle are secondary to process. The overriding concern for Trump is not money or wealth but deal-making.
“I don’t do it for the money . . . I do it to do it,” wrote Trump in The Art of the Deal. “I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”
This flippant disregard for money is the type of thing that is only said by saints and trust fund kids. And Trump is no saint.
Trump started out in business with a loan from his father worth almost $7 million in 2016 dollars. He also inherited between $40 and $200 million when his father died in 1999. As a rich kid, he’d be fabulously wealthy even if he never worked a day in his life.
Because he has never had to be concerned about earning money, he has always treated it as a measuring stick. For Trump, dollars are the main way that “deals” are measured. The more dollars you can extract from someone else, the more you “win.”
This may sound like the normal process of capitalism, but it’s not. In a free enterprise system (at least in an ideal one) “deals” are mutually beneficial to both parties. The deal may not be equally beneficial to both parties or even beneficial in the same way, but each side must believe they are better off for having entered into an economic exchange. If they did not, they would not have agreed to the deal.
There is a way, however, to “win” at a deal without everyone involved agreeing that it was mutually beneficial: get the government to redistribute someone else’s property to you.