Buffalo There are conflicts and there are conflicts, some are real and some are optical, but the bigger concern is simply the corporatization of government, public and foreign policy. The old saying, thought to have long ago been rejected, of “What’s good for GM is good for the country,” and essentially in that order, is now about to be resuscitated unapologetically as what’s good for almost any business is going to be in the first chair with the good of the country somewhere else down the line.
That’s scary. It is a topline ideological and cultural shift that puts the national interest and common good beneath corporate and elite self-interest. This isn’t draining the swamp. This is flooding the countryside.
There was a picture in all of the papers of the technology summit at Trump Tower with the President-elect and the big hits from Silicon Valley. The Microsofts, Facebooks, Googles, IBMs and the like were all arrayed around the table. Twitter was too small to attend, despite it being a favorite. Trump and the VP-to-come were there of course, but so were all three of the adult children, Eric, Donald Jr, and Ivanka. Really, is that appropriate? What signal is Trump sending? Is it that there is no line between family and national business?
The announcement of how conflicts of interest are going to be handled in Trump has been postponed. A work in progress obviously. Nonetheless, the trial balloons floated were that the boys and maybe Ivanka were going to run the old Trump businesses, and were going to have some kinds of firewalls between them and the President. What kind of message was he sending though having a family meeting with the tech-stars? Seems like this was a message about connecting tech to the government through the kids? Am I missing something? I don’t think so.
All reports also indicate that none of the vetting process for all of the nominees that have been rolling forward to fill the key cabinet positions has included much in the way of financial and conflict of interest questions, even though it is an absolute requirement when it comes to the Congressional investigation and vetting process. This looks like a train wreck coming.
We of course have several billionaires or near billionaires at Commerce, Treasury, Education, Small Business and the like who all have hefty balance sheets. What might the conflicts be there with their departments and worldwide footprints?
And, then there’s Rex Tillerson the current chief poohbah at Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest companies and of course an oil giant with operations in 60-countries. Tillerson has been nominated as Secretary of State, if you can believe it? He already has some issues with his closeness to Russia’s Putin and the fact that working at Exxon, he always put the interests of his company way, way ahead of the country including making deals with the Kurds and others in advance of US interests. There are also problems with his own wealth of a couple of hundred million from Exxon and whether or not that and similar oil investments might be blinding when it comes to usual national concerns.
This isn’t a slippery slope. This is greased slide into deepest and darkest swamp.