The Origin Myth Debunked

My Recent Posts

taj-mahal-casino-256549__340

Once upon a time, there was a country unified by its mythology about the morality and heroism of its founding fathers and elected leaders. We all learned about the first President who chopped down the cherry tree, only to realize he could not lie when confronted with the accusation of cherrycide. We learned about the rail-splitter from Illinois who studied books by candle-light, always trying to better himself despite his poor circumstances. We learned about the bully hero of San Juan Hill, who fearlessly charged against the Spanish lines in order to overcome Spanish resistance. We learned about the Navy Lieutenant, who rescued one of his crewmen by swimming with him for four hours through shark-infested waters in the South Pacific, supporting him through a life jacket strap that he clenched in his teeth.

 

Someone else tried to add to the mythology of origin stories for our elected leaders. By parlaying a small loan of only $1,000,000 into a vast, world-class fortune and business empire, our current President deliberately encouraged this façade in order to emphasize his business acumen and brilliance. Alas, it now appears this myth-in-progress has been shattered beyond recognition, due to the investigative efforts of a failing representative of the press. It now appears that, despite assertions of penury, our Dear Leader has benefitted from decades of largesse from his wealthy parents. Loans? He’s had a few, including one year (1979) where he borrowed $4.7 million from his father in the first eight months of that year. I remember that year. Inflation was awful. That must have been the reason for needing that degree of cash infusion.

 

Instead of using his God-given talents to create his empire, our Dear Leader relied upon the fortune of his father to establish his presence in the Manhattan real estate market. And his father was available to bail his son out of innumerable tight situations, especially when the decisions made by the Dear Leader turned out to be, shall we say, less than inspired? Such as the decision to buy and finish building a third extravagant casino at Atlantic City where he already owned two other casinos that were funded on a pyramid of debt. The Dear Leader continually talks about his business acumen, and how he knows how to use debt better than anyone else. What the Atlantic City debacles (multiple bankruptcies, casino closures, an ever-shrinking percentage of equity) show is that when properties are leveraged far beyond their carrying capabilities, external factors can cause the collapse of the enterprise. Especially when you yourself create the external factor by cannibalizing demand for existing casinos by opening the Taj Mahal. Far from the wise use of debt to build useful assets, his companies continually tried to grow via the public debt market. Not even the father could rescue his son from his series of follies, although he did try that one time when he sent a messenger with a check for $3.35 million to buy casino chips the day before a loan payment was due, then the messenger left with the chips. The family obviously wanted the chips to fall where they would, preferably outside of the casino premises and unspent, enabling the loan payment to go through. It was telling that this blatant scheme caught the attention of New Jersey gaming authorities, who levied a $65,000 fine for the illegal loan.

 

It was also telling that Federal and State tax personnel were never able to penetrate and discern the degree of deception and deceit that girded the Trump family business empire. It was indeed a brilliant strategy born of a desire to minimize taxes by illicitly undervaluing properties when ownership passed within the Trump family. The failing media source describes multiple times when Trump tax documents show a relatively small value is declared for a property, only to have the same property sell for orders of magnitude more money within a few years of the ownership transition. Amazing how those things work. And always in the favor of the Trump family? The odds of that happening naturally (like if oil were discovered underneath the apartment buildings after the Trump siblings gained ownership) was astronomically small. But the Trump family is correct when it states that all of the transactions passed tax audit muster. For that, we must express our gratitude to the apparently understaffed tax compliance offices of New York and the IRS, since they were unable to detect any systematic bias in the values assigned to the transferred properties, thus reducing the tax due from the family by hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

The one single example that best demonstrates the venality and greed of the Trump family was the creation of a fictional entity whose sole purpose was to inflate the value of supplies and capital goods used to maintain the Trump family properties. This fictional entity, All County Building Supply and Maintenance, was equally owned by the Trump siblings and the manager of this entity, who was a nephew of Donald Trump. It’s sole purpose was to pay the vendors who supplied the Trump real estate empire with boilers, stoves, refrigerators, all manner of goods, and in turn provide invoices to Fred Trump’s businesses that overstated the value of the procured goods. The excess dollars from the inflated invoices went to the owners of All County, and over the course of a decade, managed to strip millions and millions of dollars out of the cash cache that Fred Trump accumulated over his career and transfer it to his children, free from gift or estate tax limitations. It would be very instructive to see if the monies thus transferred ever were declared as income, but since I am sure that the tax returns in question during the 1990’s are still being audited, we the people will never know if yet another layer of tax avoidance occurred.

 

The business practices of the Trump family, and thus the true facts behind the myth that the Dear Leader has fostered, show a complete disdain for the laws of this country. Almost as if the laws were never intended to apply to those of a certain wealth level and status. Almost as if a member of this family could act with impunity for any and all actions that he takes. It is certainly informative that in the first two years of his administration, the Dear Leader has shown zero concern for the fiscal realities of the Federal Government. Cut tax revenues by hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and shower the richest with the benefits of these reduced taxes? That’s great for America! (Please note that corporate tax reduction is a separate concern than the misguided transfer of tax benefits to individuals and pass-through businesses, such as the ones that the Trumps use.) Spend hundreds of billions more for defense? Great! More contracts for my friends, both corporate and personal. Kill regulations that improve the health of citizens and workers? Well, if it means that corporations can spend less and make more money, that is surely good for the nation. Spend money on those who need assistance due to the bifurcation of the income distribution in this nation? Bah! Humbug! Those takers need to take responsibility for their own situation, and go back to school in quantum physics instead of living the life of luxury on the public dole.

 

As an observer of society, I marvel at the ability of the wizard to keep the projection of competence and brilliance alive within his steadfast believers. Those of us who have peered behind the curtain, know with certainty that this empty shell of a human cares nothing for the population of this nation, nor of any other nation. No, the only thing that motivates this simulacrum of a human is adulation, since his delusions have shown to himself that no one has ever done so many good things in his short time in office. And we’d all better pay homage to him for his magnificence, since he will punish his naysayers. Unfortunately, my opinion of the intelligence of the American public does not bode well for a repudiation of this charlatan. I hope beyond hope to be proven wrong in November.

 

Source materials:  This week’s NYT expose on Trump family finances;  The Rise and Fall of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City Empire from Philly Mag.

 

Posted first on my blog https://evenabrokenclock.blog/

Comments

Stephen Hunter Added Oct 7, 2018 - 10:11pm
Well put together article Even. However his followers will just say this is all fake news. And his charade will continue. 
This back story is not unlike a lot of the '1%' business people who all try and convince us that they became billionaires by just working hard. Lie cheat, steal and intimidate your competitors is how it is done. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 7, 2018 - 11:02pm
One has to be a scumbag to be a multi-millionaire and a major scumbag to be a billionaire. 
 
This is news?
 
Speaking of news NYT clearly is NOT. 
 
My biggest laugh is about the "Populist Billionaire" bit so many have perpetrated across the globe. Talk about an oxymoron. 
Flying Junior Added Oct 7, 2018 - 11:30pm
A little mythology surrounding Washington can do no harm.  He was an honorable man, a wise and hardened general and a just politician.
 
The stories about Lincoln are exaggerated, but they are mostly based in truth and transcribed from accounts of hundreds of people who knew him intimately.  He did start his life as a penniless log splitter making money by pulling a raft across the Ohio River.  He worked in a general store where he was famous for being able to lift a barrel full of nails over a counter.  He really did get his start in Iilinois politics by volunteering to count votes.  And he gave one heck of a stump speech.
 
If I remember correctly Kennedy saved the lives of several men by finding a nearby island under a dark sky and towing at least one man in the classic lifesaving fashion.  After the torpedo hit the little PT boat, the crew was clinging to the wreckage of a ship broken in two.
 
Teddy Roosevelt cut a dashing figure indeed.  I will never forget his camping trip with John Muir.  The Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda in the New York Museum of Natural History paints an accurate picture of the man.
 
I don't think we will ever be able to teach our young that each president made unique contributions to our nation the way we did fifty years ago when there were only thirty-six presidents.  Most are all too human.  Perhaps there will never be another president who attains greatness in our lifetimes.
 
Meanwhile the lunatic fringe has already compared Trump to Washington and Lincoln quite favorably.  One nutcase even compared his greatness to that of Kind David!  lol
opher goodwin Added Oct 8, 2018 - 7:31am
Whoever worked to earn a million? Let alone a billion. There aren't enough hours.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 8:57am
When will these Americans get the fact that Donald Trump is just another face in the Presidential crowd with a scummy and corrupt background. Why don't these idiots take off their silly vagina hats and head to a library to do some actual research.  Read about the backgrounds of FDR, Harry Truman, George Washington, JFK, Nixon, Johnson, etc.  Some of these guys make Trump look tame.
 
Trump's problem is that he is a total showman that doesn't, and doesn't want to, understand the way the game is blamed.  JFK would have never announced to the world that he sunbathed nude at the WH pool in the summer time upsetting female staffers and employees. The staffers that complained were told to go pound sand.  Can you imagine if something like that occurred in the Trump Administration?
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 8, 2018 - 9:08am
This is a hit job on President Trump.  I am sure a similar but different hit job could be done on every president including President George Washington.  I read the requirement to be president that has been defined in the Constitution when it came into being ~ 1789.  So tell me where in the requirement is the one to be a successful private businessman.  How about a successful at anything.  The typical method is to make a two column list of successes and failures.  My guess is that no president will have a longer success list.
 
As far as the starting paragraph,  I am retired and do remember the 'myth' being taught in school but know that it was not being taught even in those time in College.   And not teaching accurate American History and replacing it with socialism has reached pre-school.   
 
So let me suggest that we need to through out all of Trumps business experience and anyone's because as Obama tells us and he is the expert, "he [Trump] didn't create his business!!!!"  
Stephen Hunter Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:32am
Just because other Presidents or Business people followed similar paths, is no reason why we should accept this type of behavior moving forward! Drain that friggin swamp! 
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:37am
Stephen - I think that DJT is atypical among the nation's billionaire class. I think his and his family's long-standing disregard for all of this nation's laws is beyond the pale, and it is playing out in his ghosting of the different functions of the federal government that citizens of the US depend upon to protect us. Do you know that there are still 350 slots in the government that require Congressional approval who have not been installed? Most of those vacancies have never even had someone nominated. But you are right, those who believe will not believe these facts. Their medulla oblongatas were already made up (I don't think many of them have frontal cortexes).
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:40am
Jeffry - agree with you about the oxymoron of populist billionaire. H. L. Mencken was unfortunately very prescient when he said in 1920:  "We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
 
Took nearly a century, but his prophecy has been fulfilled.
Stephen Hunter Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:40am
And is the American economy really doing that well, or is the increase in debt not factored in anymore to how well the economy is doing? When the economy was doing well under Obama, the debt was all we heard about. Not a peep now!
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:43am
FJ - the best mythology is rooted in truth. The examples I gave were all true except for the cherry tree. But over time, those examples become a part of our nation's common heritage.
 
The blatant attempt by DJT to join that crowd with his ersatz origin story deserved to be exposed. I'm still waiting though, for karma to catch up to him.
Bill Kamps Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:47am
What I want to know is how someone can go bankrupt running a Casino?  You have guaranteed profits! 
 
The mob successfully ran casinos in Vegas for decades.  Many of them didnt finish high school, none went to college.  They stole money off the top, they gave away food, drinks and rooms, and the casinos STILL made a profit and prospered.  This is not a business where it is challenging to turn a profit, Trump wasnt running an airline, for example.
 
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:48am
Opher - it is possible to gain a fortune of at least a million, but you have to be fortunate to be in a STEM field for a company that values those skills. Then you have to be willing to trust in the investment markets through thick and thin.  And you have to be willing to forego instant gratification by putting a significant portion of your income away. All three of those conditions go against the tendencies of much of the population, which is why only a relative few people can reach those goals of affluence.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:52am
George - there is absolutely no doubt but that the rules of the game have changed over the decades. Look at how FDR was shielded by the press from presenting the reality of his paralysis. Having said that, I do think DJT is different. He appears to have an extremely low empathy reservoir. He works hard to divide, and divide based upon tribal characteristics, which makes his believers ecstatic. I recall no former president that tried so hard to vilify his opponents. And everything is all about HIM!
Bill Kamps Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:56am
Clock: . I recall no former president that tried so hard to vilify his opponents
 
Not publicly, I would agree.  However, in private, with operatives many politicians and Presidents have done hatchet jobs on their rivals.  These same people would be all smiles and complementary in public.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:59am
EAB do some research.  Presidents like Truman and even JFK were just as rude, at times ignorant, and divisive as Trump.  Again, the big difference is that they knew how to put up a public persona, aided by the national press.  The core of Trump is anything but new.  However, the public image has changed and technology only amplifies that many times over.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 11:05am
Thomas - thanks for your response. It was clearly written. I will admit that it was intended to take DJT's reputation down a notch or two, but it was his fault for presenting himself as this self-made business genius. To have that basic origin story blown to pieces by excellent investigative journalism is maybe that bit of karma coming back at him.
 
I am a bit curious though at your refutation of my describing the actions of the heroes of our past. Are you saying that Lincoln was not a self-educated man who overcame obstacles? Are you saying that Teddy was not a dashing leader who exhibited great personal courage in his military career? Are you saying that Kennedy did not rescue his own crewmates after the PT boat under his command was struck and split in two by a Japanese destroyer? I'm amazed that an educated man would have been ignorant of these basic facts of American history. Oh, and can  you give a citation as to how socialism is being taught in pre-school? Maybe that was a lesson in sharing that you have taken as being socialistic in nature.
 
The primary business success of DJT has been his personal branding. Most of his other business enterprises have vanished over the years due to his incompetence. Trump shuttle? Gone. Trump casinos? Gone. Trump steaks / vodka? A faded memory. Trump University? Discredited and fines paid for deceiving his students. All that is left is the real estate holdings, and the management of other Trump-branded properties. That, and the myth of DJT as an uber businessman who could never do any wrong. That is why this repudiation of his origin story is so important.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 11:20am
EAB if you've read some of my writings I have said that even some of the most sinister men to hold office did do some great things.  Since you mention JFK.  His father funneled millions to mafia members to fix the 1960s election (JFK just turned a blind eye to what his father was doing).  JFK turned the WH into a brother and put the Secret Service agents careers at risk as they would be blamed if spies were used as prostitutes (which they were.)  Decades later as these agents retired their stories came out.  FK had sex with under aged teenagers but in the 1940s and 1950s that was something that was glossed over in society.  In reality Trump's background wasn't much different.   The difference is that we know about Trump's background.  
Bill Kamps Added Oct 8, 2018 - 11:47am
George, exactly.  The good deeds were done, and used to burnish the image, but behind the scenes was some pretty ugly stuff.  The brothel in the WH was likely not the worst of it for JFK and family.  What happened to Marilyn? we wont ever know the long list of nasty stuff that went on in those days. 
 
In many ways we are better off with Trump, no one is calling this Presidency Camelot, there is no myth or fairly tale here.  What we see is who he is. 
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 12:03pm
And that Bill scares the hell out of the establishment, particularly the political establishment. Anyone running for President now will have any and every unsavory part of their past put on public display. You don't get to the top whether business, politics are even religion being a Boy Scout.  Yet too many Americans want to hold onto this idea of benevolent leaders that are pure as the driven snow.
 
Really, there is this just totally silly argument on WB that we should have world government and only the kind hearted working only for the good of masses would run the show.   As long as adults have the mentality of a child's storybook we will have people believing the total bs statements put out by politicians, despite clear and concrete evidence to the contrary.
 
Again, if people would simply do some easy research they's find Trump quite mild compared to other Presidents.  AFAIK Trump never tried to join the KKK.  He hasn't taken the CIA/Secret State to a level previously unimaginable.  Truman and Eisenhower, respectively, did.
 
Trump's bigger problem is that he is not a deep thinker and doesn't listen well to others more knowledgeable on topics than he.  He has horrible interpersonal skills.  He isn't a very good communicator.
Ken Added Oct 8, 2018 - 2:58pm
With no Kavanaugh to lie about, the leftist hatefest of Trump drumbeat ramps up again.  Big shockers here.

 
What I want to know is how someone can go bankrupt running a Casino?  You have guaranteed profits! 
 
This statement is a travesty.  5 different casinos closed in Atlantic City alone between 2014 and 2016 bringing the entire city to the edge of bankruptcy.  that is almost 50% of the 12 casinos found there.  but they have guaranteed profits, right?
 
If is also easy enough to find that many LV casinos have shut down, others have been sold, others sold and replaced.  There is onthing guaranteed profitable about a casino
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:07pm
From what I've read and seen Trump clearly didn't know what he was doing or wouldn't listen to others that did.  However, Trump is a PR marketer (or if you'd like bullshit artist) to a level rarely seen.  In many ways his instincts are uncanny and right on the mark.  While clueless, memo driven robotic HRC was spitting out prepared lines in a voice that was as genuine as a $3 bill Trump was telling Americans what they knew and wanted to hear.  
 
Trump was warned ahead of time that for a number of reasons Atlantic City would never replicate Las Vegas, and it never did.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:16pm
Even a broken clock (is correct twice a day), I said, "The typical method is to make a two column list of successes and failures.  My guess is that no president will have a longer success list."  Even Lincoln received significant criticism while he was president.  And in the primary to the 1860 election he had many opponents.  My guess is the public found out about many of them.  Just as Trump did with his gaggle of opponents.    Thomas Edison is not remembered for the 999 failed attempts to make a light bulb, and with the assassination Lincoln's failure seem unimportant.   To be successful you have to strive to accomplish something and no one is 100% successful.
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:21pm
Would you say that being good at branding is why Donald Trump is president.    Successful people do so by hiring other to help with the things they are not good at and let them free to do it.  That appears to be the approach followed by all presidents.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:24pm
One thing successful (or at last seemingly so) Presidents had in the past was their ability to effectively bullshit.  FDR got the American to believe for eight years and over another two reelections that prosperity was right around the corner.  Starting with Truman through RR Presidents got the American people to be very afraid of the Russians.  Years later that was just silly.  The Russians had no desire to invade the US and take away "our way of life."
 
In all of those cases a complicit press helped keep the propaganda (at best) believable.  Today alternative forms of news have blown the lid of cover off propaganda, or at least for anyone that has enough brain cells not to listen to the overpaid and over glorified carnival barkers on CNN, Foxs or MSNBC.  
Bill Kamps Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:24pm
Again Ken, nothing leftist about me.  Just because I criticize Trump doesnt mean Im a leftist, or is he too perfect to criticize?
 
Yes there was some sarcasm in the comment that the mob could run a profitable casino with a high school education but Trump could not.
 
All the games at the casino guarantee a profit for the house. It is not like they have to create something, design something,  build something or run something complicated.  Trump was not trying to build Teslas, he was running a gambling hotel, where their share of the return is known in advance.  It is not difficult to find someone competent to run a hotel, there are 1000s of hotels in the country.  If the money is subsequently misspent, then the owners are not running a sound business.  The mob stole and pissed away millions and their casinos still made money.
 
Atlantic City couldnt replicate Las Vegas, because AC was a shit hole before the casinos moved in, and remained one after the casinos moved in.  Two blocks away from the casinos, the city was a dump. 
 
Just because a casino in LV is sold, or closed does not mean it went broke.  The mob  sold out the to corporate types in the 1970s because they couldnt raise the money needed to build the new larger fancier casinos.   That took Wall St, and the SEC took a dim view of the mob as obvious owners of public corporations.
 
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 3:55pm
Bill people forget that Las Vegas was a totally manufactured city in the middle of nowhere.  Fly over (like I did Saturday night) or into LV and you quickly are amazed that there is nothing outside of the lights of the city.  The expressed purpose of LV was gambling.  It was successful because it did not have the stigma that New Jersey did.
 
Trump was warned not to build huge multi million dollar casinos to rival LV because the market would never be there.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:19pm
Bill and George - You can make a cogent argument that DJT disregarded many changes that were occurring around Atlantic City before he more than doubled down with the Taj. The monopoly on gambling that existed on the East Coast was eroding. Then as the Philly magazine noted, DJT ended up cannibalizing business from the other Trump properties. Instead of creating a critical mass, which probably was his intention, he diluted his earnings by trying to increase his market share of a dwindling market against his own holdings. That's how you can lose at casinos.
 
When the state became the partner of the gambling world through lotteries and state gaming commissions, it may have cut down a bit on the illegal market, but it caused the state to be a partner in the bad social effects of gambling. But now the state governments are hooked on the gambling revenues.
George N Romey Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:23pm
Look at most gambling venues outside of LV.  They are nothing much more than converted warehouses.  Its actually about low overhead.  Trump was warned he would not be able to recreate something that had been built years before within a specialized situation.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:28pm
Thomas, I would definitely say that DJT is excellent at branding. As the post shows though, that brand was built upon a false narrative. He never was a self-made man. I encourage you to read the full NYT story as it shows just how dependent DJT was upon his father's real estate empire and its cash flow. We'd never have heard of him had he stayed outside of Manhattan and he would have made a lot more money than he has with his various ventures.
 
As far as arguing that DJT is good at delegation, just look at the menagerie of characters he has delegated to. A fair number of them have already pled guilty to criminal charges, others have been expelled from the cabinet due to extreme greed, and a few like the Cruella Deville automaton running the Education Department are doing real harm by openly supporting the for-profit education system at the expense of the students who were victims of the fraudulent "colleges" offering worthless paper that wouldn't open the doors to many jobs after college. Then there's Wilbur Ross. What a beauty he is. No, he has not chosen competent people to delegate his operations to. Besides, don't you know it is all about him? Didn't you see those cabinet meetings where toadying was elevated to an art form? No? I guess it must be the biased media I keep relying upon for my information.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:34pm
Ken - as you noted, the beat does keep going on. This Supreme Court charade was merely a small distraction from the real battle, which is to convince the voters of this nation that the abomination currently occupying the White House needs some restraints applied to him and his administration by the legislative branch of government. Surely you can see that the Republicans have morphed into the TT party - The Trump Toady party. How else can you account for their behavior after the vote on Saturday? SNL put on a parody, but it was probably just a little bit of exaggeration compared to the real celebration on the Hill.
Bill Kamps Added Oct 8, 2018 - 4:36pm
Clock agreed.
 
First the original comment was partly sarcastic, but then again.....
 
Sarcasm being under appreciated in WB since everyone wants to jump your case for being on the left or the right.
 
The larger point that DJT is not as great a business man as he would  like us to believe is true.  He created a brand, which has obvious value, but many of his businesses and properties did not do very well.  Casinos generally make money, Atlantic City has proved to be more difficult for many reasons.  DJT should have known better. 
 
The mob made money, because they were good businessmen, though in a less savory way.  They controlled their competition, and didnt over build LV.  They created a city, an experience, and a destination.  Obviously if no one went to LV, then it wouldnt matter if the games of chance gave the odds to the house.   Atlantic City failed to build a destination that was attractive to people in NYC.   Just putting up a gambling hotel, it not enough.  It might have been enough in the 1930s, but not by the time the AC casinos were being built. 
Dino Manalis Added Oct 8, 2018 - 7:16pm
 The Trump family has expertise in tax evasion, while Donald invested the money to create billions of dollars for himself.  Bravo!
Thomas Sutrina Added Oct 8, 2018 - 10:07pm
EABC, Trump is not a politician and made the best choices to someone without political connections to get a staff to run a campaign.  Reagan replaced many of his original cabinet. 
 
Muller was hunting for people to flip on Trump.  Considering that no one had anything to flip means he did a good job.   Muller and the other people charge those people because of Trump otherwise nothing would have happened.    Many examples exist of people that have done the same thing with nothing happening.   And the typical period where the government would have gone after a person passed until they had a reason, Trump.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:42am
George - I can speak to the appearance of gambling venues at least in my state. There we began with one of the last greyhound racing tracks that was built in the '70's. Then, as different forms of gambling were legalized, this expanded into slots, and table games, and poker, all with expanded bars and restaurants. Latest expansion is into sports book. New hotel gracing the facility, it is a nice, self-enclosed place to lose your money. I even go there every year or two.
 
Now, we also have video poker places, and they are typically bars that have no windows, look like holes in the wall, and all serve alcohol. That's the flip side of the legalized gambling equation in our state.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:47am
Bill, we made it to Las Vegas once. If it hadn't been for a convention that turned my wife's expenses into a tax deductible trip, we'd still probably never have visited. We stayed in the last of the old large hotels (the Riviera), that now is just a memory. The corporatization of LV is complete, and the adventure of the mob days is long gone, replaced with the America that decides to appropriate culture from all other countries, since ours obviously is not worthwhile.
 
It was a lot easier to make money in the mob days. The original Ocean's 11 movie was maybe the epitome of what life was like at the end of the original founders era in LV.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 9, 2018 - 9:54am
Thomas, I think you said that the only reason why Mueller prosecuted those around Trump was because they wished to get at Trump. Is that what you meant?
 
If so, let me add that you are probably correct. There is so much illegal activity that prosecutorial discretion plays a large role in determining what is pursued. Some of this illegal activity is due to the excess number of laws that make so much behavior illegal. But a lot happens because the risk / reward ratio is skewed to trying to get away with it. If I lose, and I'm a financial big shot, then the most I can expect is to pay a fine and maybe be prohibited from doing some activity for a while. That's why it was so egregious that no one went to physical jail for the crimes leading to the financial crisis.
 
The NYT article showed how pervasive the behavior of the Trump family was over decades. And they didn't get caught for activities that viewed in hindsight, were clearly illegal. If they'd gotten caught, they'd have paid a fine and maybe interest. Surely it was worth it to them to push the boundaries of what they put down on their tax forms.
Katharine Otto Added Oct 9, 2018 - 3:17pm
Clock,
Good article, along with background information.  I would claim that Trump is a valid symbol for the hypocrisy that the US is and always has been founded on.  Call me a disloyal traitor, but even the early "Framers" went glassy-eyed over the fortunes to be made in this vast, virtually untapped wilderness.  Everyone from Washington to Hamilton, to Jefferson and Franklin were empire builders who wanted to claim power and glory for themselves and their insider cliques under the guise of "freedom."  The US has not been built on freedom but on license, and Trump is just the latest example.
 
Is there a lesson to be learned from Trump's competing with himself in the gambling business?  Seems to be competing with himself in the government business, too, and we'll see how it plays out.
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 9, 2018 - 4:15pm
If Donald Trump got over on Uncle Sam for taxes I say GOOD ON HIM.....and anyone else who can do the same. The NYT article reeks of desperation and if you can't see that you are a fool.  Come Nov. 8 and the months that follow you better learn to sing a different tune or you're going to look like an even bigger fool
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 10, 2018 - 4:40am
You are enough of a student of American politics to know that the 20% percent or so in the middle are key. There are rough equal numbers, varying by 1 to 2 percentage points who will identify as D or R no matter what. I suspect you reside in the former.
 
Do some homework. Go back and look at results in key elections where republicans won. In every one of those cases you will find a plethora of columns and reports from democrat pundits warning the republicans " you'd better tone down your rhetoric or you will alienate the moderates and drive them right into our (dem) camp."
 
It seems that the projection that dems practice on a daily basis extends even to their fantasy life.  Who in their right minds would believe that democrats actually give one wet fart about what is in the best interest of republicans? And so why would your opposition heed that advice? Democrats are trapped in a paradigm they can not escape and becoming more unhinged every day. I'm enjoying watching the richly deserved meltdown. You have your own selves to thank for Donald Trump. Most of you will refuse to see it and those that do refuse to admit it. I don't feel sorry for any of you. Not one god damn bit.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 10, 2018 - 9:55am
Katharine, I think you have tapped into a part of our national myth, that everyone has an equal chance to become a tycoon and become fabulously wealthy due to their own hard work. What is really true though, is that only a very limited few have that ability to create unlimited wealth for themselves within a generation. Then it falls back to those who had ancestors who made it, and whose ancestors didn't blow the original fortune but kept building on it. Those are the ones who run the "system", whose attorneys ensure smooth transitions from generation to generation. The Trump family siblings are the second generation of wealth, trying to pass it on to the third and fourth generations now.
 
Interesting thought about him competing with himself in the government business. We'll have to watch that play out.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 10, 2018 - 10:01am
Burghal - I'm not used to seeing this type of anger from one of my favorite WB authors. Actually, I do agree that the Democratic party is more concerned with gaining power rather than raising a coherent strategy to improve this nation. Part of the reason for that is that there is zero appetite within the body politic for hard choices. On the Republican side there's the Grover Norquist faction, decrying any and all tax increases, and on the Democratic side it is the belief that they will be seen as the party of tax and spend. Well, both parties are in favor of spending, it is just that the taxes do tend to get raised during Democratic administrations to rein in the excesses of Republicans in destroying the revenue side.
 
I do have my own qualms about this mid-term. I would hope that the American people would have come to their senses and rush the polls to turn out the idiots in charge, but I also believe fervently in the stupidity of the American public, and therefore fear that the current status quo will remain.
Bill Kamps Added Oct 10, 2018 - 1:21pm
I think you have tapped into a part of our national myth, that everyone has an equal chance to become a tycoon and become fabulously wealthy due to their own hard work.
 
Everyone certainly does not have an equal chance to become very wealthy.  In addition, luck often plays a very large role in those situations where individuals became very wealthy within their lifetime.  People are often in the right place at the right time,  sometimes not knowing it, sometimes only partially knowing it. 
 
Having said that, the US offers better odds of climbing the rungs of wealth than most other places. 
 
Katherine is correct that our Founding Fathers were not a bunch of benevolent guys, working farmers, store keepers, and craftsmen.  They were the richest guys in the Colonies, and were trying to create a place where they could become even more wealthy without the interference of a King. 
George N Romey Added Oct 10, 2018 - 2:18pm
Its also clear to me that the Founding Fathers wanted government to decide what they considered good for the little folk (those often unable to vote.)  The entire Founding Fathers wanted "small government" is a load of crap.  A Republic means government will decide laws and policy not the people directly.  That form in itself can and will only lead to "big government."  People should stop thinking what they read in their 6th grade history book as correct.  
wsucram15 Added Oct 11, 2018 - 2:09am
EABC..if these were the only laws the man broke it would be awesome.  But he was protected and able to do things within his profession that many are unable to do. Also his initial deal was financially backed by the Hiltons among a few others. His big game was the loss of money and I think there is something to that. He lost too much to very important people, not just banks. Also very influential people lost huge sums to him, putting him in financial binds.   That is what got him into trouble with the NJ gaming commission, he couldn't cover the rent and I think his father covered it with winnings.
Also I would not be surprised if some of this money belonged to others.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 11, 2018 - 10:51am
Bill - your point about luck being a significant factor as to whether someone becomes obscenely wealthy is very true. For instance, think about the third founder of Apple, Ronald Wayne. He decided for whatever reason to sell his initial 10% share of Apple for less than $10,000. But for that decision .....
 
The reason I call it a myth is that the belief that you can become one of the landed gentry is so strong, the Republicans have used that belief in the myth to continue to hack away at the estate tax. Excuse me, the death tax. Time and again they insist that the estate tax represents double taxation of wealth. But instead, in the case of someone founding a company and then never selling the stock, it would represent the first taxation of that wealth at the time it becomes income to those who inherit it. They have been masterful at their branding of this attempt to enable family dynasties to continue unabated.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 11, 2018 - 10:52am
George - I'm not certain that the founders were in favor of big government. I don't think they could even conceive of the future world that we live in with its increase in complexity. I'll have to think more about your comment.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 11, 2018 - 10:55am
Jeanne, in this target-rich environment, I have to focus my posts to just a few things or else they would expand well beyond my self-imposed word limit. I agree with you that there is much, much more dirty laundry out there that will find its way to the light. I also think that none of it will matter to his core supporters since they refuse to accept any information that comes from outside of their own bubble.
George N Romey Added Oct 11, 2018 - 11:12am
EABC/Jeanne maybe not directly but by setting up a Republic that encourages big government.  The Founding Fathers didn't want the people to rule but elected officials to do.  So what happens?  We dump all of our social ills on government to solve.  Now you are very correct our Founding Fathers could not have imagined a 1900 world let alone a 2018 world.  In no way could they have thought of small or big government in any modern conventional sense (now matter what the righties like to espouse).
 
As far as corruption.  In the summer of 1974 when Nixon resigned I was going on age 15.  I remember all the adults around me saying the only difference between Nixon and the rest is that he got caught.  Even back in those supposedly golden days Americans had a distrust of their national politicians.  With all what has been released over the past 45 years from retired government officials we now know this wasn't just hyperbole at the time.  Its not that Trump is a slime ball, he is. Its that he isn't any materially better or worse than every President since at least FDR.  In fact, with all the research and reading I've enough (versus most people on this board that just run their uninformed mouth) Trump is one of the "least immoral."  
Bill Kamps Added Oct 11, 2018 - 12:55pm
clock:  But instead, in the case of someone founding a company and then never selling the stock, it would represent the first taxation of that wealth at the time it becomes income to those who inherit it.
 
This is a complicated subject.  For example, suppose the kids inherit the company but dont choose to sell it.  Why should this be a taxable event?  They would continue to be taxed on the earnings, and taxed on the sale of company or stock when it happens in the future.  However, to tax them for inheriting it, often means they have to sell it to pay the taxes.  
 
In the past this often happened with farms, which are usually not corporations where it is easy to sell stock, they had to sell parts of their land to pay the tax.  Many other small businesses do not have stock, so it is not easy to sell a part of the business while continuing to run the business.
 
It may not be double taxation, but the government is forcing a taxable event when normally it wouldnt exist, and it may damage the business.   
 
It is complicated, because yes for the very wealthy your comments are correct.  This is why there is a threshold under which there is no taxation, to protect small businesses. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Oct 11, 2018 - 1:37pm
I jumped the Trump part. I don't know the founding father myths, but which one did you pick apart now? I'm confused.
wsucram15 Added Oct 11, 2018 - 6:45pm
EABC..you asked me to pick a side, you really did.  On Trump as a human being and therefore leader..I can do that.
I still dont like talking about him though, it gives him more credit than he deserves.
wsucram15 Added Oct 11, 2018 - 6:47pm
George..you have a point, but he is NOT cleaning it up and never had any intention of doing so, at least the others before him are smart enough not to cause a revolution.
George N Romey Added Oct 11, 2018 - 7:29pm
Jeanne he never had any intention of "draining the swamp" any more than Obama had the intention of "changing Washington."  These jokers will say anything to get elected and once elected pander to their big money donors.  Do you know what a Congressman/Senator does five hours a day?  Call big money donors for bucks.  Many of them hate doing but its reality to staying in national politics.
 
And since there's just another seven hours in a 12 hour day guess who's concerns take priority?
 
Once you accept we gotten to a system that is funded and serves only the needs of the .01% then you can let go and just laugh.  All throughout my horrible 5 years government did essentially nothing for me.  I'll never vote again, at least with the current paradigm.
 
Only a total massive fail that hits the .01% where it hurts, the wallet will count.  It did in the 1930s and its one reason FDR got New Deal legislation passed (among many other factors.)  Sad but true.  Lots of suffering before this corrupt narrow serving system gets aborted.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 12, 2018 - 11:04am
Bill - I too think that the increased exemption for the estate tax is in general a good thing since it does exempt the vast majority of businesses. But the argument in general from the side that wishes to abolish the estate tax is that it represents double taxation. In any case where a business was built by a single family and is ready to pass onto the second generation, there never was a taxable event. Taxes were imposed only upon the earnings, never the inherent value of the enterprise. So the premise of the supporters for abolishment of the estate tax is false.
 
Besides, according to the firm BDO, you can convert an enterprise into a trust, and transfer 4000 acres of prime vineyards without incurring the estate tax. Haven't you seen their commercial? My point is anyone with sufficient assets to incur the estate tax should be able to afford legal and accounting expertise to minimize the cost impacts. The only thing I can think of that might be a problem would be the transfer of a NFL franchise. That would undoubtedly trigger a taxable event.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 12, 2018 - 11:06am
Benjamin, the first paragraph contained the national mythology (Washington, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK). Some of these were fact-based, some were fictional like Washington and the cherry tree. DJT tried to add his own origin myth into this mix, but the Times story kind of blows his story out of the water.
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 12, 2018 - 11:09am
Jeanne - yes, I remember Which Side Are You On? back in the WV teacher's strike. I know that for him, any publicity is good publicity, but one of Katharine's latest posts is all about emotions vs. logic, and writing about this President is my own way of decompressing and releasing my emotions so I don't become this moldering volcano of pent up emotions. LOL
Even A Broken Clock Added Oct 12, 2018 - 11:13am
George - your comment on the supremacy of money in campaigning is exactly why we need a legislative means to overturn Citizens United. That decision essentially unleashed unregulated and unaccountable money to flood our airwaves and internet feeds with all manner of despicable advertisement. Ah well, though. After another 3 1/2 weeks it will cease for a while - until the 2020 campaign begins to heat up. I give us about 3 weeks of freedom from political campaigning.
George N Romey Added Oct 12, 2018 - 1:05pm
And name me one Democratic Congressman or Senator that has proposed legislation to roll back CU.  Its not gonna happen.  There is no way national politicians are going to give up those big checks.