Monday, July 3, 2017

You're not really surprised, are you?

I really don’t know why everyone is so surprised by Trump’s actions, or the actions of anyone in this entire administration.  I know the overall intelligence level of the United States has been declining over the last few decades, but I didn’t think things had gotten so bad that we, as a nation, could not have predicted some of this.

Trump is, without apology, a shrewd and successful business man.  Business.  As in “corporation.” As in “Big Business.” 

If you look at what makes a business (NOT A GOVERNMENT OR A COUNTRY – A BUSINESS) successful, there’s no reason for us to be surprised at what’s going on in the White House right now.  Especially when you define successful as PROFITABLE, and Trump has always defined success that way.  

Make America Great Again.

I genuinely think that meant something totally different to Trump than it did to most people who heard him say it and cheered.   I’m sure some of his ardent supporters understood perfectly, but most people had a very different understanding.

Let’s first start by saying that America is a pretty great country – it really is.   Democracy,  market economy, capitalism,  entrepreneurial enthusiasm,  personal freedoms and rights.  These are things you don’t always find in good measure anywhere else in the world.   The United States of America has indeed contributed to the planet some truly wonderful and wondrous things.  
Are things perfect here? No – and they never have been.  Homeless families, obesity, infant mortality, the squandering of natural resources, serial killers, depression, racial inequality, cancer, child labor, religious scandals, a gridlocked education system,  slavery, medical malpractice, internment camps, gender inequality, mass hysteria, secret societies, government cover-ups, corruption, and the genocide of this continent’s native people.  No, we are a long way from perfect.

IMHO, the (mostly white) (mostly male) people who cheered when Trump announced he would “make America great” understood him to say he would return our country to the relative peace and prosperity they knew growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Think about life for the average American back then.  A bit of a break between world conflicts.  Low unemployment, the rise of industrialism.  Low crime rates overall.  Low cost of living in most places.  Simple times in terms of technology, plenty of human interaction, more nuclear (heterosexual) families than at any other time before or since.  Honesty and truth and justice prevailed in most parts of the country.  This is what was ‘great’ about America. 
What a lot of Trump supporters were NOT exposed to during those times were things like true poverty, racial and gender struggles for basic rights and fair treatment, foreign culture in any measurable amount, and mass casualty events on American soil (natural disasters or terrorist attacks). These things were still occurring, but they were happening to “other people.”

IMHO, when Trump said he was going to make America great again, he was thinking like a business man.  He was thinking about money.  He was thinking about success as he defines it, and he was thinking like a CEO.  A CEO who is used to the finest things in life because he climbed the success ladder to get those things.
A successful, profitable business does a few things differently than other businesses.  It has a product or service that is better than its competitors.  It maximizes profits by minimizing business expenses.  Those expenses – the costs of doing business -  include wages, employee training and benefits, supply costs, manufacturing costs, and taxes.
Successful, profitable (great) businesses MINIMIZE these things.  Reduce. Cut.  Eliminate.   
So why does it surprise anyone that the first things in Trump’s reign to get reduced, cut, and eliminated are insurance and other kinds of benefits? Why does it surprise anyone that Medicare, Social Security, basic health insurance, and education are not  priorities?  If America was a business, the benefits we offer our citizens are a cost of doing business, and need to be reduced to the bare minimum for the majority of the citizens.  In traditional successful businesses, the top of the pyramid gets (earns?)  all the goodies and the bottom section is expendable and replaceable.   

But America is not a business.  You can’t treat it like a business because it just won’t work.  A business is not based on philosophies like fairness, equality, opportunity, open communication, and tolerance.  

A country should be. 

The constitution does not make mention of products, services, profit, sustainability, competition, costs, or anything associated with a business.  Because this country is not a business.  It is a living organism made up of living organisms.  

Here’s another analogy.  Let’s say there are two human beings, and we treat one like a business and one like a country.   The ideas and thoughts are the products and services being provided by both humans.
For the Business Human, as long as the ideas are being produced, the Human is valuable.  But the Human is expensive – it needs food, sleep, shelter… we can still get ideas if we provide the minimum amounts of those things, however, so that’s all it gets.  The bare minimum.  Wait, the brain still functions if the Human doesn’t have limbs, so if we cut those off we could provide even less shelter, less food and still get the ideas.  If we cut the limbs off, we can have two Business Humans in the space the one used to occupy and get twice the ideas for the same cost.  They can alternate sleeping and we can get ideas 24/7.   Wait, if we figure out a way to make the waste system more efficient, we can have even smaller Humans and get four in the same space as the two larger ones… so let’s eliminate the lower half of the torso and replace it with a pump system… Wait, if the brain can survive on an IV of glucose and synthesized proteins… 
The Country Human is seen as a total package.  The entire Human is required to make sure it functions as well as possible for as long as possible, and is as sustainable as possible.  Ideas are not going to be mass produced, but the ones that do get presented are magnificent.  They are the result of successes and failures, of experiences, physical movements and changes, of the range of emotions a fully functioning Human is capable of.   The Country Human would never be mutilated to save space or maximize profit, because profit is not the goal.  The goal is to have eyes and ears, hands and feet, arms and legs, brains and intestines all working together to come up with something wonderful.

IMHO, if people really follow Trump, we may end up a bunch of brains in jars hooked up to IV’s.  It would be efficient and profitable, but not a whole lot of anything else.

If Trump learns how to treat America like a country…
The photographers take pictures that make us smile and cry, the authors turn an overheard conversation into novels we talk about for months.  The comedians and actors have us cheering “Bravo!”  The sewers and sowers and surgeons and scientists make wonderful, beautiful, helpful things that leave us warm and satisfied and whole and healthy.  The managers and political leaders guide and protect us, encourage and defend us.  The construction workers and police officers and judges and bus drivers carry us where we need to go and shelter us once we get there.  The athletes and mail carriers bring us shared joy and shared frustration.  The inventors and sanitation workers and teachers and coroners push us to learn and change and clean up after ourselves. 

We are all one body.  Many parts, one body.  Each part is critical and must be cared for.  A thorn in the paw can bring a mighty lion down.    Clear the thorns, and care for the parts that don’t work so well.  Step up, step in, and help each other succeed. 

That is what makes America great. 

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