The sordid details of Donald Trump’s tax evasion are finally in full view, and add to our understanding of what a self-serving and dishonest individual he is. But there is a larger point going mostly unmentioned in the larger news media: Trump’s behavior is the norm among the One Percent!
All Trump and his family of con-artists have done is make a spectacle of what the billionaires of our ruling class do every day: manipulate state, national, and international tax laws to avoid paying anything beyond token taxes. Trump and other capitalists regularly write off “losses” years into the future, enabling them to claim no income for years at a time. They pay family members as “consultants,” allowing them to avoid gift taxes. They buy properties that bring in revenue, yet are claimed as losses because they “depreciate” in value. We could go on.
Yet most, if not all, of what Trump has done is completely legal! As one economic journalist said recently, “If you’re a big enough family in real estate, and you’re paying income taxes, frankly I’d tell you [that] you should sue your tax lawyer for malpractice.” In other words, he and others in the One Percent operate in a system rigged to let them maintain and grow their money without doing an ounce of work!
Trump isn’t the exception. He’s the rule!
And guess who helped the Trumps of the world rig the system? Politicians like Joe Biden, whose home state of Delaware is the base of many banking and credit card institutions which have dominated state politics for decades and enriched themselves through lax or nonexistent government regulation! Don’t expect him to change the system when he is tightly connected to those same interests.
Trump’s tax behavior is certainly reprehensible. What’s even more reprehensible is the system that makes creatures like the Trump family possible. And just getting rid of Trump and his offspring won’t solve the problem unless we take aim at the system that created them.