If you are frantically tallying all the “terrific” things that President Trump is doing to improve your life, be sure to add this one. First, though, some context.
If you work and pay in to a “defined contributions” program (that’s a retirement program into which you put your own money instead of the old fashioned “defined benefits” program in which your employer funded your retirement out of company profits), Trump has now given you the freedom to select your investment vehicles (you may choose among several thousand) using your own money. Caution is advised when you exercise this freedom, however, because you and only you are responsible for the success or failure of the investments that will determine the quality of the final 20 or 30 years of your life.
President Obama worked six years to implement a rule under which investment advisers had a fiduciary (like a trustee) obligation to serve their clients’ interests. For example, if your adviser chose to put your money into investments that paid him a high commission rather than one that gave you good returns, Obama halted such practices. But as all men know, the Republican bible explains how that takes away your friendly investment adviser’s freedom to help himself to a bigger portion of your income. Trump has decided to restore that God-given right. Disturbingly, he failed to mention how that helps you, the prospective retiree looking forward to regular meals and medications in your golden years.
Cutting to the chase, this goes to the heart of what is wrong with populism. While anyone can learn, only a tiny minority of current Trump supporters understands how hostile laws and cancelled regulations damage them. Yet even now some are beginning to see the light. Corn farmers in the Midwest who sell to the Mexican market – mostly Trump voters - are waking up to the fact that they will lose billions of dollars if Trump revokes NAFTA as he has so often promised. But the damage may be done by the time they organize to oppose him.
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Populist politicians, who divide the citizenry for their personal benefit, take advantage of the well-known tendency of their supporters to stall as they ponder the greatness of the guy who agrees with them.
To date, everything Trump has done and everything he has declared he will do hurts those who aren’t already wealthy.
If you know any Trump supporters, please give them this letter and let them know that it will updated with additional proof that billionaire politicians mostly bestow benefits on other billionaires. To them, down-and-out Trump lovers are no more than collateral damage in the elites’ climb up the Fortune 500 list. If you feel this goes too far, please read some Ayn Rand to better understand how the super-rich came by their bizarre worldview and how desperately they cling to it.
Until the working-class victims of these economic atrocities grab their pitchforks to demand their fair share of the GDP pie, they will drift ever closer to the economic goal that Trump and associates are striving for: no-cost labor.
Didn’t we try that once?
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.