Patterico's Pontifications

1/11/2017

Trump’s Ethics Plan Is Unethical

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:44 pm

Allahpundit explains why. But nobody cares, so I am just noting it for the record. Commenters’ predictable defenses have all been aired already, and I see no reason to re-hash it, so I’m closing comments on this one.

UPDATE: Dana has asked me to open comments, and I am doing so at her request.

77 Responses to “Trump’s Ethics Plan Is Unethical”

  1. Comment away. Don’t expect me to respond. I already know what you’re going to say.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. It’s why character matters.

    The President is only required to be a natural born citizen and have attained the age of thirty-five years. (The other possible Constitutional constraint is the Emoluments Clause which I do not see covering Trump’s situation.)

    The only thing that could compel a President to follow the same rules in his financial dealings as all his underlings would be his own personal sense of ethics and seemliness.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. I’m increasingly inclined to just shrug and wash my hands of this whole thing. To quote the next president of the United States most recent Democratic nominee for president, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    Okay, yes, this arrangement is not exactly ethical, and Allahpundit does a great job of arguing that point. But it is predictable, and it is (from a certain angle) defensible — that angle being the argument that it is unfair to expect a man to divest himself of the labors of a lifetime merely to assume a public post. I don’t agree with that defense. But I can see how a person of good will could mount it.

    What bothers me is that anyone with half a brain should have seen this coming, which means that many people did — and then some of them no doubt voted for Trump anyway. And yes, I know what they’ll fall back on in the end…that no matter what you think of Trump’s problems, Hillary’s are worse, and they chose accordingly. Which is an argument we’ve had on this site ad nauseam, in a million different forms, and I don’t think a single person has had their mind changed. Including me, because I remain appalled that so many of my fellow citizens had well over a year to examine a combined major-party field of nearly two dozen candidates — and yet managed to pick the two worst, most dishonest, most unethical people that placed themselves before the body politic for consideration this cycle. Whichever way the people chose in November, the primary voters had practically ensured the general-election voters would be responsible for electing the most problematic president in history. And that’s down to the death of principle and civic virtue in this country, and who knows if they can be resurrected?

    All of which is my long-winded way of saying that I love you, Patterico, but with all due respect, I think you’re playing a sucker’s game here. Posting this will make no difference. It just gives one side of the argument more ammunition that the other side will continue to ignore.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  4. Can you clarify your final comment, Demosthenes?

    Are you saying it is a sucker’s game to criticize Trump, to expect people/Trump to care about ethics, or something else?

    DRJ (15874d)

  5. No, Trump’s plan is not unethical. You may believe that the arrangement means that Trump will be able to do something unethical, but I haven’t seen any evidence that he has actually violated any ethics.

    Allahpundit doesn’t meet that standard either. Yes, there is much fussing about what may occur in the future under this arrangement, but possible ethical violations in the future do not make Trump unethical today.

    Anon Y. Mous (9e4c83)

  6. @ DRJ, #4:

    Are you saying it is a sucker’s game to criticize Trump, to expect people/Trump to care about ethics, or something else?

    Would you accept “all of the above” as an answer?

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  7. Declaring all responses illegitimate in advance is one way of opening a discussion…

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  8. Patterico said the responses are predictable. Predictable and illegitimate are not the same.

    DRJ (15874d)

  9. @DRJ: Predictable and illegitimate are not the same.

    True enough.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  10. Demosthenes,

    Of course it is very likely that this will not change any minds, and I think we can be assured that our host knows this. What I do think, is that any stand which speaks to the importance and value of maintaining a high standard of ethics and principles is always a very good one to make. It’s a reminder that if we don’t safeguard them, this that we on the right claim to esteem, let alone live by, we diminish our unique standing before one another – as individuals, and as a collective group of Americans.

    That Trump did not select to go with a blind trust, as a practical decision as well as to example that his would be the the highest ethical stand he could make, this rendering him above reproach, is something of which to take note.

    Dana (023079)

  11. *thus*

    Dana (023079)

  12. @ Demosthenes:

    And that’s down to the death of principle and civic virtue in this country, and who knows if they can be resurrected?

    Those that want to hasten that death are the ones that try to stifle and shut down any efforts to make a valiant stand for principle. It’s ironic .

    Dana (023079)

  13. @Dana:That Trump did not select to go with a blind trust, as a practical decision as well as to example that his would be the the highest ethical stand he could make, this rendering him above reproach, is something of which to take note.

    Forgive my predictable response, but we already discussed last time why blind trusts make sense for patricians who own stocks and bonds but not for people who own their own businesses. And since Trumps’ business is largely licensing his name, he will never be “beyond reproach”, there will always be conflicts arising from that.

    As it is he is doing far more than than the law actually requires.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  14. Did you read the linked-to Allahpundit piece, Gabriel?

    Dana (023079)

  15. @ Dana, #10:

    What I do think, is that any stand which speaks to the importance and value of maintaining a high standard of ethics and principles is always a very good one to make.

    I agree. But that doesn’t mean everything I said can’t also be true.

    Or, to put it in literary terms, I think we’d see perfectly eye-to-eye if we both thought we were living in the last chapters of The Silver Chair. I’m just not convinced this isn’t Genesis 19.

    But, as you will.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  16. @Dana:Did you read the linked-to Allahpundit piece, Gabriel?

    Yes I did. The objections I raised are not disposed of there.

    When the media feels they have a license to peddle pee stories, I’m afraid I don’t quite take seriously their calls for Trump to destroy what he spent a life building simply so he can be, they assure him, above reproach.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  17. @Dana: Not only did Allahpundit not dispose of my objections, he did not even address them.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  18. The dubious argument Allahpundit makes in the linked article – he seems to specialize in dubious arguments; note today’s laugher about James Mattis – is that Trump is somehow a special case. Does anybody here honestly believe that Trump poses a greater corruption threat than Mrs. Clinton? Or Barack Obama? Or high profile politicians, in general? If anything the opposite seems more plausible: Trump’s longstanding and well document entrepreneurial skills would seem to make him less of a risk to use the presidency for self-enrichment than pols whose only skill is speechifying. Even non-prosecutors understand that besides opportunity, a convincing argument needs to be made concerning motive.

    The truth of the matter is that there are and have always been effective mechanisms to pay off elected officials. Why is this so? Because pols write the ethics rules. These people are looking for payoffs, while trying to make it appear otherwise. The fact that Trump isn’t a good fit for the phony ethics dodges employed by most pols is no reason for extraordinary concern. The fiction Allahpundit is peddling is that these phony ethics rules actually work. Sorry, but that’s turnip truck material.

    The Tim Carney argument, which Allahpundit borrows, seems especially weak. Carney’s argument is that Trump is especially easy to pay off or self-deal because he holds real assets. The idea that Trump can significantly enrich himself through the manipulation of federal lands policy got me laughing it seemed so trivial. Is that the best Allahpundit/Carney have?

    If there is an issue regarding Trump’s property portfolio it is that it makes Trump easy to blackmail – if the Blue cities or foreign countries where his properties are located want to mess with the President, they have the means to do it. Of course, those promoting the “ethics” meme aren’t particularly interested in the potential for victimization of the man they so hate.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  19. @ThOR:those promoting the “ethics” meme aren’t particularly interested in the potential for victimization of the man they so hate.

    I am more concerned about the victimization of people who entered into good faith agreements to license Trump’s name for their hotels, delicious steaks, etc, who would face severe financial repercussions if Trump did all that his unappeasable critics.

    Yes, we laugh at Trump steaks and neckties and the uncouth peasants who buy them. But those licensing agreements had value to the people who freely entered into them, as silly as we think that is, and they didn’t do anything to deserve having that value destroyed.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  20. Rage is an ugly thing. To the enraged, “collateral damage” is of little concern. We’ve already seen plenty of it; we’ll see lots more.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  21. Full disclosure: I own a Trump necktie. What can I say, I was in college, broke, needed a tie in a hurry and happened to be in Walmart.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  22. The hyperventilating about Trump is simply unbelievable. It seems the histrionics of Precious Snowflake coeds has become a new trans-cultural norm.

    I’ve been no fan of the man, but now my concern is that the rantings of his haters will lead most voters to discount any future criticism of the man, no matter how well justified. These people are making a big down payment on Trump’s second term.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  23. @ ThOR, #16:

    Trump’s longstanding and well document entrepreneurial skills…

    The product Trump has proven most adept at selling is, of course, himself. Which is the one thing he cannot under any circumstances divest, and which will be the source of numerous potential and actual conflicts of interest over the next four years. This obvious problem was one of the many reasons I thought he would never win. But then, that was back when I had more faith in people.

    @ Gabriel Hanna, #19:

    I am more concerned about the victimization of people who entered into good faith agreements to license Trump’s name…who would face severe financial repercussions…

    Gabriel, by contrast, is hitting at the root problem. We don’t agree on where the problem is, but we agree that it has to do with Trump’s name. That’s something, anyway.

    The most satisfactory response I can give to his actual concern is that sometimes we have to live with the consequences of other people’s decisions — which isn’t fair, but then again, neither is life. If Trump were really the nth-level business genius that his publicity people say he is, he might have given a little more consideration to the effects his campaign (and potential presidency) might have on his business partners. But then again, this is one issue where I really can’t fault the man for not thinking it through beforehand. I remain firmly convinced that despite his claims and bluster, his nomination…and then his election…was as much a shock to him as anyone else.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  24. I bet it looks sharp.

    Is it one of those red, power ties that were all the rage back in the day?

    ThOR (c9324e)

  25. @Demosthenes:. I remain firmly convinced that despite his claims and bluster, his nomination…and then his election…was as much a shock to him as anyone else.

    I agree with this, actually.

    But a business that is identified with an individual person cannot be really be meaningfully divested, and there it is. Oprah would have exactly the same problem.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  26. @ThOr: Is it one of those red, power ties that were all the rage back in the day?

    Nah. Black. With a textured pattern of little circles. It was the most restrained thing in the store–and then when I saw the label almost did not buy it, I didn’t like Trump back then either.

    I do not care for busy or flashy ties.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  27. @ Gabriel Hanna, #25:

    But a business that is identified with an individual person cannot be really be meaningfully divested, and there it is. Oprah would have exactly the same problem.

    On this point, we are in total agreement.

    Then again, I wouldn’t vote for Oprah either. And that would be one of the (many) reasons why.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  28. @ThOR: Almost like this but you have to picture circles and not squares.

    I did not pay $15 I’ll tell you that. Some of these ties seem to be doing land-office business now.

    It would be mean to buy them using Patterico’s link. Or would it? Guess he has to say.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  29. @Demosthenes:I wouldn’t vote for Oprah either

    With you there, but her business is not the reason. She seems quite a decent enough person. Can’t say that for the President-Elect we have, unfortunately.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  30. When the media feels they have a license to peddle pee stories, I’m afraid I don’t quite take seriously their calls for Trump to destroy what he spent a life building simply so he can be, they assure him, above reproach.

    When commenters peddle fake stories and generally troll the site, I’m afraid I don’t quite take seriously their defenses of Trump.

    (If you can paint with a broad enough brush to cover BuzzFeed and Allahpundit in the same stroke, then it is irrelevant whether you personally fit the description of the commenters I am decrying.)

    Patterico (c32ea2)

  31. @ Gabriel Hanna, #29:

    She seems quite a decent enough person.

    I’ll take your word for it. I’ve never really paid much attention to her, because I’m not exactly in her target demo — only enough to occasionally mock “You get a car,” etc. But if she does decide to mount a long-shot celebrity candidacy in 2028 (because we all know that 2020 is Kanye’s time), count me out. I’ve had enough of trendy yet unreflective Chicago progressives to last me a full term of service in the Sea Org.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  32. I think you’re playing a sucker’s game here. Posting this will make no difference.

    What on Earth gave you the idea that I think posting this will make any difference at all? Did I somehow fail to adequately convey my sense of resignation to the likely responses to this post?

    Patterico (c32ea2)

  33. Gabriel,

    Mr. Trump applauds your determination to ignore all information provided by the running dog media. You are well on your way to being a subservient subject who takes all direction from the Great Leader. Congratulations!

    Patterico (c32ea2)

  34. @Patterico:then it is irrelevant whether you personally fit the description of the commenters I am decrying.)

    Very irrelevant, because I don’t and we both know it.

    Trump ties are available through your Amazon link, sir, and the prices are quite high at the moment. Could be a conflict of interest. He said, smiling.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  35. @Patterico:You are well on your way to being a subservient subject who takes all direction from the Great Leader. Congratulations!

    Excellent satire of the partisan thought process you decry and despise. That it matches so little to anything at all I’ve ever said gives it that nice Poe touch.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  36. @ Patterico, #32:

    Did I somehow fail to adequately convey my sense of resignation to the likely responses to this post?

    You did not fail to convey that, no.

    Please don’t take my initial comment as a criticism of you. I assure you, it was not so intended. More along the lines of “Does any of it even matter anymore?”

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  37. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Make America Great Again hat, but a Trump tie . . . Oh, the fun I could have with that at a Bay Area cocktail party!

    ThOR (c9324e)

  38. Demosthenes,

    I love you, man. Most of your comment was great. I should not have harped on that one little point.

    Patterico (c32ea2)

  39. @ThOR:Oh, the fun I could have with that at a Bay Area cocktail party!

    How convenient, you can use Patterico’s Amazon widget and do him some good, AND get your Schadenfreude!

    I am no connosieur of ties and I would have to read the label to know who made it. Bay Area is not much for ties either.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  40. How crazy are things in the Bay Area?

    I once wore a suit and tie to an interview for a real estate finance job. Afterward, I was told that they almost didn’t offer because of how I was dressed. Should’ve worn jeans and a t-shirt, I guess.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  41. @ Patterico, #38:

    Don’t worry about it. I shouldn’t have used the phrase “sucker’s game,” either. That sounds way too harsh on reflection. Let’s be honest, it’s just been that kind of crap year…and it’s only January.

    And with that, bedtime. Night all.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  42. @ThOR: I work at a place where it is “business casual” (oh Lord don’t ask). Anyway, before my interview I asked about dress code, and they said that the enterprise is business casual, but I better come in a suit.

    Did not, I regret to say, wear my Trump tie.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  43. @ThOR: You know it’s funny people won’t ask. Just say, what’s your dress code, and then regardless of what they say, ask if it’s all right if you wear a suit. If that’s the difference between being hired and not you probably won’t like it there anyway.

    Gabriel Hanna (61adec)

  44. The only person I ever knew who studies “Ethics” in college was an out-and-out sociopath.

    Near as I can tell, governments create ethics rules so that they can point to them and say “See, we have ethics.” And the rank-and-file employees toe the line and never take more than a $5 lunch from a vendor while their bosses live it up in Vegas after flying there on the corporate jet.

    Basically, ethics rules are for show, and for getting around (for those inclined to get around them anyway). Name the last Senator of Congressman tossed out of office for violating ethics rules.

    It’s not like Trump is going to get away with anything since the media will print any accusation regardless of merit anyway and all the people who hate him will repeat it ad nauseum.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  45. When it is unethical for a DoD employee to accept a $7 coffee mug that says “Northrup” but IS OK for them to retire with a pension, then go to work at Northrup managing contracts for their old DoD group, you know it’s all a game to fool the rubes.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  46. Here’s the thing about Trump: There are many many reasons to worry about the man. He will do many thing I won’t like. However, not one of them will ever be found in a Democrat talking point, which come from a place of frothy hatred and little thought.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  47. Trump Ethics.

    Patterico does have a sense of humor after all.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  48. @ Kevin M, #44:

    The only person I ever knew who studies “Ethics” in college was an out-and-out sociopath.

    As someone who took quite a few courses in philosophy, including an ethics course, I don’t think I like where this comment is going — not least because of what many people would take as the logical implication.

    Near as I can tell, governments create ethics rules so that they can point to them and say “See, we have ethics.”

    And here you are, conflating the proper use of “ethics” (in the academic sense, meaning that branch of human knowledge that deals with the study of the good life, systems of moral principles, and texts about the two) with the bastardized corporate/governmental usage of the word (meaning a set of rules that one must live by to be considered in good standing in one’s professional endeavors). As you yourself seem to point to later, one can stay within the bounds of “professional ethics” while not actually being ethical. It’s hardly your fault that you made the mistake…lots of people do these days…but it’s still a mistake, and I’m going to come down on it whenever I see it.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  49. His plan is not unethical.

    What you are stating is that you believe his actions as President will be unethical and that he will use his private business to enrich himself and grant favors as President to people that do business with his properties.

    Two different things.

    NJRob (43d957)

  50. Actually what he did looks pretty good. While this relies on his keeping his word, he probably will. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be pretty glaring.

    There are some issues, like how do you calculate the profit made on occupancy of hotel rooms. Even if no net profit is made, it still could help cash flow, and better cash flow reduce interest paid, or allow more interest to be collected, so there could be some gain from the occupancy of hotel rooms that would not be fully accounted for. And he didn’t do it for the golf courses. But he says he’s not going to be involved in details so he won’t know when and if that’s happening or not happening.

    It does help shield him from unintentional conflicts. I noticed in fact in his press conference that Trump wasn’t so concerned about conflicts of interest. He really doesn’t have so many. The Trump Organization is not one big business; it’s around 600 small businesses (each golf course and each building or group of buildings is separate) None of them probably have any gigantic conflics, and they are more affected by local government than national. Which is a problem still, because he’s a national figure whose decisions can impact everywhere.

    The Wall Street Journal says this resembles what Michael Bloomberg did when he became Maor of New York. Bloomberg didn’t have 600 small businesses with varied and minor very specific conflicts – he basically had two big businesses – the Bloomberg terminals, and Business Week. Somehow he managed without questions being raised.

    I noticed that Trump was mostly concerned not about conflicts but about another thing, which is perhaps more realistic and easier to happen: Exploiting the presidency. Although he could also lose through boycotts.

    Anything more than this might preclude him from taking office, and the Office of Government Ethics doesn’t work that way with appointees. One thing they do, though, is have someone recuse hmself from some matters, but that doesn’t make sense for a president most of the time.

    He can’t sell the Trump Organization. He can’t sell it to his sons. They’d take on debt. To someone else, there would be a concentrated conflict involving the question of was he being overpaid. And there would be the issue of loans, and if he allowed whoever bought it to pay over time, he’d still have an economic interest in the business.

    He can’t go public. It takes too long, and has conflicts of its own till it’s done.

    This could be improved if he entered an insurance contract with many many insurance copanies splitting the risk. He would pay a premium and in return the insurance would guarantee that he would make at least that amount of money. If he made more, it would be given to charity, and the charities would be selected by members of a board he aappointed, sort of like the Olin Foundation.

    It would be a test drive for a will.

    Sammy Finkelman (9fe80b)

  51. The problem with the analysis is that the Ethics statute can’t apply to the office of the President.

    The reason for that is that such a statue sets up a “condition” for being President that is extra-constitutional. If folks want to interpret it as saying that coming into office a President must be free of conflicts of interest as defined in the statute, under threat of some form of statutory penalty, then its extra-constitutional because the qualifications for the Office of the Presidency are defined in the Constitution, and can only be added to by a constitutional amendment.

    So, it might be a “good government” standard, and Presidents who cant/won’t comply with the standard might be subject to criticism – or under the right circumstances “impeachment” — whether Trump’s plan is “ethical” or not under the statute is irrelevant.

    shipwreckedcrew (56b591)

  52. Demosthenes,

    My point is that Ethics, as a philosophical discipline, has no relation to “ethics” as a legal construct. The point about the sociopath is that a person with no natural understanding of the term took courses in it mush as an immigrant might take an ESL course.

    The conflation of the discipline with the legality isn’t mine — it’s the world’s.

    I am reminded of the LA city-council-written city charter amendment that 1) “imposed” “new” ethics rules on the city council and 2) oh, by the way, added an additional 4-year term to the council’s term limits. You don’t often have such a fine juxtaposition of “ethics” and the lack of “Ethics.”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  53. In short, I have utter contempt for “ethics” rules and always feel my pocket is being picked when I hear the term.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  54. Question:

    What set of ethics rules does one suppose would rein in a completely unethical person, while still allowing ethical people to function?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  55. Question:

    Suppose instead of Trump, we were talking about Mitt Romney. Assuming that Mitt had the same entrepreneurial family business, would you be demanding the rules be applied?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  56. Yes.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  57. This isn’t hard.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  58. “So, it might be a “good government” standard, and Presidents who cant/won’t comply with the standard might be subject to criticism – or under the right circumstances “impeachment” — whether Trump’s plan is “ethical” or not under the statute is irrelevant.”

    – shipwreckedcrew

    “Impeachment” and “irrelevant” don’t really belong in the same sentence.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  59. Kevin M (25bbee) — 1/12/2017 @ 10:52 am

    What set of ethics rules does one suppose would rein in a completely unethical person, while still allowing ethical people to function?

    Any job that Bil or Hillary Clinton wouldn’t take.

    Sammy Finkelman (643dcd)

  60. @Kevin M:would you be demanding the rules be applied?

    What rules are these? Because for the office of President there aren’t any.

    All I’m seeing so far is rules made up on the spot by people who don’t know what they are talking about–for example how a “blind trust” can possibly resolve a conflict of interest by selling off the rights to license Trump’s name–which is most of what Trump owns.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  61. You cannot put an entrepreneurial business in a blind trust. It isn’t like George HW Bush, who could let some bank deal with all his stocks and bonds. Old money can do blind trusts. New money can’t.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  62. Well, anyone who willingly admits that they need to hire a Ethics Adviser is highly suspicious out of the gate anyway. Trump’s in effect implying that he’s not ethical enough on his own, he needs special counsel for that.

    Tillman (a95660)

  63. At least he hired one. Hillary never saw the need.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  64. @Tillman:Well, anyone who willingly admits that they need to hire a Ethics Adviser is highly suspicious out of the gate anyway. Trump’s in effect implying that he’s not ethical enough on his own, he needs special counsel for that.

    Kafkatrap. If he refused to hire an ethics advisor you’d claim that was proof he was intending to be shady.

    Pretty much every large organization has someone who advises on ethics, or compliance, or both. Are they all shady? No.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  65. @Kevin M:Old money can do blind trusts. New money can’t.

    Exactly, but it won’t stop people invoking “blind trust” as an incantation.

    The thing Trump owns that has value is the right to license his name. A blind trust would have to sell that off–to who? And how would that entity not create conflicts of interest for Trump every time they exercised it, since the brand is identified with the person?

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  66. Again it is exactly like Oprah. Oprah profits from being Oprah, and she can’t stop being Oprah. She can either beggar herself and her licensees, or try to navigate the conflicts in an ethical manner.

    Because another thing we’re seeing here is that conflicts of interest are being portrayed as evidence of unethical behavior merely by existing, which is completely false.

    A conflict is a conflict, it does not mean one has done wrong or intends to, it means the possibility of wrongdoing exists and the situation deserves extra scrutiny.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  67. Gabriel, But he could hire or fire his ethics adviser at will. The most it will do is allow him to find legal loopholes to slither through to get his way in the first place. What other president has needed to hire an Ethics Adviser?

    I suppose that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, among other existing organizations, doesn’t provide Trump with the answers he’s looking for. So he wants to hire his own “Yes-men.”

    Tillman (a95660)

  68. Question:

    Suppose instead of Trump, we were talking about Mitt Romney. Assuming that Mitt had the same entrepreneurial family business, would you be demanding the rules be applied?

    ==============================================

    He would, but there’d also be some heavy lawyerese, clauses and non-performance LDs referencing Robot Overlords and such.

    Colonel Haiku (6c3d91)

  69. Oh – So that’s why Hillary claimed to be dead broke before setting up the exploratory committee.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  70. We’re headed to the movie, and I have the radio on. The news guy talking about the divestment Trump is going through to be the President.

    Not paying attention to it really. Then my sister who hates talk radio and politics in general blurts, “They’re taking all his money before they let him be president? What a rip off.”

    papertiger (c8116c)

  71. In addition to the stock and bond investor class, I think there are some entrepreneurial businesses that could be put into a blind trust should the need arise. Someone who owns a whole bunch of Taco Bell franchises for example, or a farmer/rancher/landowner, or an owner of a substantial amount of units of rental properties across cities or states. All of these could be temporarily put in trust and competently managed professionally by someone else without stopping either the revenue stream, causing total divestment of the property or damaging the value of the investment.

    The Trump and Oprah ventures are not in a category of businesses that can be put into a blind trust for all the reasons written about today and on all the previous threads where this same discussion was had.

    elissa (27bbc2)

  72. @elissa:All of these could be temporarily put in trust and competently managed professionally

    Then it would not be a blind trust.

    A blind trust has to hold assets that are unknown to that person. The first that that blind trust has to do is sell everything off and buy new stuff that the person can’t know what it is.

    Gabriel Hanna (26d43f)

  73. @Tillman:I suppose that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics

    Which is clearly doing a bang-up job. Do they have any business expertise? Do you know, or care?

    The answer to all these is “no”, of course.

    Gabriel Hanna (26d43f)

  74. He would, but there’d also be some heavy lawyerese

    The point being that I’d expect Mitt to follow actual ethics, even if they were more strenuous than the written rules, and I’d expect Trump or Hillary or nearly anyone in Congress to evade the written rules in any way possible/

    I’d also expect the Democrat side to get away with it and the GOP side to get called on it.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  75. i’d buy them tacos

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  76. @ Kevin M, #52 and #55:

    My point is that Ethics, as a philosophical discipline, has no relation to “ethics” as a legal construct…The conflation of the discipline with the legality isn’t mine — it’s the world’s.

    Then we are in total agreement on that point, it seems. I apologize for any uncharitable misinterpretation of your words.

    Suppose instead of Trump, we were talking about Mitt Romney. Assuming that Mitt had the same entrepreneurial family business, would you be demanding the rules be applied?

    I don’t know if this was directed to me, but if it was, I’ll answer it. I would hold Romney to the same standard as Trump…albeit with far more confidence that he would meet it. Having said that, Gabriel Hanna (@ #60) has the right of it when he says that Trump’s actions do not fall afoul of ethics rules. Unfortunately, they are merely unethical, which is a much harder situation to deal with — since there are few solutions for dealing with an ethical problem that has nevertheless stayed on the right side of the law. The only surefire cure I know is to kick the one causing it to the curb, and that will not be an option for several more years.

    Demosthenes (09f714)


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