A Con Man With No Empathy

Explaining the trade war from POTUS point of view:

“Something we need to understand about Trump is that he is, at his core, a con man with no empathy. It’s what has driven his success, and his ruthless, non-politician style is what so fiercely magnetises his base. He assumes that everyone he deals with is also a con man with no empathy, and that every exchange of goods and services that exists in this world is, on some level, a con.

“Let me try and explain. Trump assumes every transaction in the world – between people, businesses, nation-states, even between two different agencies of the same government – has a winner and a loser, a scammer and a sucker. He believes if you’re not ripping someone off, you’re getting ripped off. From an economist’s perspective, this is of course complete nonsense. Unless there are major information asymmetries or distortions of market power, and often even then, most transactions are generally to the mutual benefit of both parties. Otherwise, no deals would ever get made, so it’s a constant battle with reality to believe that deals struck only ever benefit one party.

“But Trump – the same man who created an illegitimate university, made stiffed contractors, hired the mob, filed for bankruptcy six times, and has slogged through two divorce settlements – cannot believe his. So he goes out of his way to cherrypick how he sees the world, so that everything we do looks either like a ripoff or a steal. It’s not simply that Trump doesn’t think the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, TPP, NAFTA, or luxury cars from Germany are a good deal for America. It’s that he can‘t think that. It’s an alien concept to him that a deal other people want with him could also help him.

“To Trump’s mind, the mere fact other countries sought out these deals with us, and that their own economies benefit, is unassailable proof that he got ripped off. He can’t see the evidence they helped us too. His mind will only cherry-pick potential ways it could be bad for us. This is why Trump will never, ever, be able to negotiate with the rest of the world. He doesn’t believe in mutual benefit. The second anyone tells him, “This is your end of the deal”, he’ll rip it up. He believes only one party can have an end of the deal, and it shouldn’t be him. I hate to tell you this, but he’s only getting started. He will forego billions, maybe trillions, of dollars in world trade. He will renege on bilateral security agreements. He will walk away from the table the moment he senses equilibrium. And if he ever gets something from another nation it will be by force.

“Which brings us full circle to my conclusion: You’re fucked. And not just on the level of foreign policy, but domestic too. Think about the last few months in particular: it explains his behaviour over DACA, spiking two bipartisan deals even though they fulfilled what he asked for. He assumed if Democrats were willing to talk, his deal wasn’t ripping them off, ergo it would rip him off. That implies if Democrats win Congress, we are going to enter an all-out legislative standstill like we’ve never before seen. The American political system is entirely reliant on compromise, but compromise isn’t compatible with Trump’s beliefs. America will struggle to pass even basic reauthorisations. This nightmare is not going to end until this pathological con man is thrown out of office.

“He is not just bad at being president, he has a defective way of seeing the world that is not compatible with being president. And the US, along with her frustrated allies, will pay for it.”

Full discussion in context.






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