Is Trump a Competent Businessman??

After Wednesday night’s debate performance I hardly know where to begin. I was writing a piece about Trump’s incompetence as a businessman before the debate started. After he refused to say he would accept the outcome of the election at the end of the debate I finally realized the depth of his contempt for American democratic values. His unwillingness to endorse even the peaceful transfer of power, one of the very foundations of our democratic form of government, makes whatever other shortcoming he may have seem almost irrelevant!

Nevertheless for the record I offer the following:

The myth Trump promotes is that as President he will “make America great again” because he has outstanding business acumen. The reality is that Trump is a professional con artist. He has a long history of manipulating and stiffing his business partners, investors, workers, and contractors over the past 3 decades. He has gotten rich taking advantage of others. Given the chance he’ll use that same strategy on the American people.

Successful business executives must exercise soft power (participative leadership as opposed to dictatorial rule) in leading large complex corporate entities to be successful. That style of leadership allows businesses to compete in the marketplace, evolve as the business environment changes, and provide healthy financial results for their stockholder over the long term. Trump has none of those strategic executive skills. He is a ruthless authoritarian short term transaction specialist. He knows how to manipulate companies and people to make deals that achieve his own personal financial objectives while providing no value added or long term benefit to investors. Then he takes the money, gets out, and lets it all collapse.

In his entire career Trump has only managed one public company and that was a financial disaster. During his tenure as Chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts (originally known as Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts) he oversaw corporate losses of more than $1 billion. He dragged the company through two bankruptcies, in 2004 and 2009, and ultimately destroyed it as a viable business. The stock price dropped from almost $30 a share to effectively worthless on his watch. At the same time he siphoned millions of dollars out of the company for himself while he was fleecing his investors and creditors.

Now Trump is poised to try to execute his greatest con yet, if he can just dupe the American people into trusting him!! He is running for President! He says that if elected he will deport 11 million illegal aliens, build a wall on the southern border to keep more from coming in, bring back high paying jobs from other countries, defeat ISIS, renegotiate or abandon international trade agreements, dramatically increase the military, block foreign Muslims from entering the US, keep current US Muslim citizens under surveillance, all while cutting everybody’s taxes. The last person to make sweeping promises like that wound up exterminating 6 million Jews and eventually reducing his entire nation to rubble!

There are certainly many Americans desperate for a better life who like the sound of Trump’s words. That is understandable; these are hard times for many people. They want to believe he will bring good paying manufacturing jobs back from Mexico or China. Sadly, 85% percent of the manufacturing jobs lost in the last two decades have been lost to automation, not outsourcing. Those jobs are not coming back. They are lost forever! Trump knows all that of course. Unfortunately his confident but cruel pronouncement about bringing jobs back is just part of his con game.

The US President leads the most complex organization on earth. That requires the ultimate exercise of cooperative soft power to achieve even modest progress. He must have participative support from Congress and the courts to achieve almost everything he wants to do. So far Trump has demonstrated he does not work well with anyone (even including his own political advisors) who doesn’t simply yield to his dictates. He has already alienated virtually every constituency that a successful President must have, including many in his own Republican Party.

Based on the personal behavior we have seen just in this election cycle, there is no credible evidence that if elected he would even try to follow through on most of the things he talks about. His is the language of a world class flimflam man!

But if he did try to execute his dark vision that would be the worst of all possible outcomes. The commercial isolationism and disruption of international trade he promotes would bring about both US national and world financial catastrophe that would rival the great depression. Many more US jobs would be lost. At the same time massive amounts of capital investment would flee the US. Economic fallout won’t be pretty if Donald Trump is elected President!!

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