People Like Donald Trump Know That Economic Predation is Often Mistaken for Free Market Capitalism
Has anyone even bothered to notice that Trump is a landlord?
What I find so remarkable about former President Donald Trump isn’t just his loyal following. I’ve corresponded with some of his fans. If I should happen to mention that Trump is a card-carrying member of the Rentier Class, they just shrug their shoulders and say, “That doesn’t matter. He’s a good guy. He’s done great things for America!”
Trump is a landlord. He collects rent from tenants. He’s a copyright holder with gobs of intellectual property. He’s a magnet for litigation with access to an army of lawyers and accountants who know how to write off legal expenses in his tax returns. He knows how to buy influence in city hall, the state legislature in any state where he does business, and of course, Congress. Yet if you listen to his most outspoken supporters, he’s a champion of the free market.
There seems to be a strong correlation between fame and rent-seeking, and Trump is the most famous rent-seeker I have ever seen, anywhere. There isn’t a thing that he touches that does not seek or extract rent somewhere from someone. I have another name for rent-seeking: economic predation.
I recall the narrative when he got the Trump Tax Cuts passed. I recall the arguments over the tax cuts and how much good they said those tax cuts were going to do. Since then I’ve seen many economists analyze the Trump Tax Cuts and found the effects were temporary, they went almost completely to the top, and they weren’t the same thing as a raise.
Meanwhile, student debt, medical debt, and real estate debt continued to pile up. The rate of debt accumulation accelerated in the wake of the pandemic. The government cut checks to help keep the economy from cratering more than it did, and millions of people used that money to pay down debts. But debt continued to grow. How do we know?
Rents continued to rise at incredible rates. Whatever extra money we got, the rent-seekers were there to take it. Prices went up even though nothing had fundamentally changed except the supply chain. The supply went down, demand hadn’t changed. And now that the supply chain…