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Posts published in “Day: September 14, 2016”

Defense is over


Since the Democratic convention, I've been defending Bernie Sanders supporters from the characterization as entitled, spoiled brats. I too was very unhappy with the way the DNC & the media handled Sanders' campaign, and I too believe that had they approached it without bias we'd have seen a very different result.

But life being what it is, the result is that Hillary Clinton got the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie conceded – with a great deal of class and humility I have to say – and life goes on. As Sanders has said, our job now is to ensure that Donald Trump does not become our next president. And while I'm not Clinton's biggest fan, reason dictates that I support her in this election because there is simply no other good option.

And that's what I've tried to convey to the Bernie supporters that I have contact with. To support either of the minor party candidates, or to withhold your vote completely is a step toward nuclear war...because if Trump becomes president I have no doubt we're going to see one.

I believed, and hoped, that the vast majority of the Sanders supporters would eventually suck it up and come to the party.

But the lackluster support being given to Our Revolution (the framwork organization that will continue to support and promote Sanders' progressive agenda) – both by the media and by Sanders supporters has given me some real cause for concern.

Apparently Bernie's best line out of the entire campaign failed to sink in: “Real change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Our Revolution is our chance to begin the groundwork for change. But it appears that many of the folks who were so excited about Bernie Sanders weren't looking for real change – they were looking for someone to make the changes for them. From Baby Boomers to Millenials – a portion of every age group that supported Sanders seems to have seen him as their grandpa who would come in, give “mom and dad,” (aka: the current elected government) Hell, and straighten things out.

Unfortunately, that's not how life works and that's especially not how government works. And now, those folks who wanted everything handed to them on a silver platter are pouting because they didn't get it. So instead they're turning to people like the Green Party's Jill Stein (whose sincerity about making changes has been proven by participating in the vandalization of construction company equipment at the Dakota Pipeline site) and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson – who at least has some governing experience, but...have they really read the Libertarian platform??

Why? Because both Stein and Johnson are promising change without work. Like Trump, they promise to change everything if they get elected...but they don't bother to mention how that's going to happen.

One of the (I believe) significant reasons Sanders didn't win the primary was because many of his supporters simply didn't understand the voting process in their states. They didn't understand that every state is slightly different, that caucuses are an esoteric, complicated process, and that you can't just walk in there en mass and expect everyone to hand you the keys to the White House. They weren't willing to educate themselves or do the work in order to get the results they wanted.

So, I've reached the point where I'm done defending – or attempting to persuade – those holdouts. And I am sad to admit that yes, there appears to be a significant portion who are feeling entitled; who think that the system that they couldn't be bothered to understand has failed them. All of those kids whose parents' cars were plastered with “MY KID WAS STUDENT OF THE MONTH” bumper stickers are learning a hard lesson: In real life, “student of the month” doesn't count for much. You have to actually know how the system works.

Trump 56: Bad risk


A "good businessman" is one who succeeds in making his business stable and profitable, and hopefully growing. But that cannot include all of the definition. A good businessman should be ethical and deal fairly with people, whether vendors, customers, employees or others.

Donald Trump probably doesn't meet the "good businessman" definition sheerly on the criterion of making money, since - as analysts have pointed out without rebuttal for more than a year - his inheritance invested in an index stock fund would have outperformed his actual income growth. (The big difference is that he would not have gotten as much ego satisfaction out of it.)

But here let's talk about what a risky character he is to get into business with. Especially if your business is smaller than his.

The stories have circulated all over the place, but last June USA Today scooped up many of them into a collection of 60 lawsuits, "along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others."

These cases do not fall into one single pattern, rather running out over a broad range of activity which has in common a failure to pay people who are owed money.

There have been, over the last decade or so, a couple of dozen citations for minimum wage or overtime payment requirements. There have been upwards of 200 mechanic's liens filed against property on which they worked but were not paid. (At least one of these was in the $1 million range.)

USA Today reported, "On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.
The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether."

Here's another case that went even further: "One drapery factory owner, Larry Walters, told The Wall Street Journal that his company was hired to supply Trump's Las Vegas hotel eight years ago. But Walters said that the developer, Trump Ruffin, refused to pay when it demanded additional work that went beyond the original contract. Walters said that when he withheld some fabric, Trump Ruffin sued him and authorities burst into the factory and hauled the fabric away in trucks."

Trump hasn't denied such roughhouse - and obvious unfair - practices. The Wall Street Journal last spring reported him as saying "that he sometimes doesn't pay vendors and business owners if their work was merely satisfactory — 'an OK-to-bad job'."

Sounds from here like doing business with Donald Trump is a good way to lose a lot of money and maybe your business. (That's of a piece with why American banks have largely quit doing work with him.)

In my business I sell books, mostly for payment up front. Under some conditions, if I consider the buyer trustworthy, terms might vary. On some large orders, I've done half up-front and half on-delivery deals, and never got burned. But that requires at least a measure of trust. After reading about Trump's business history, I'd have to insist on full cash up front, no returns. He'd simply be too risky to do business with any other way.

Now picture him in charge of the federal budget. - rs