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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 12:16 am

Pulling a con on the people

Donald Trump hates you. But don’t take it personally; he hates me, too. The billionaire’s antipathy is not directed at us as individuals, but as users of publicly provided services. He sees no need for them, apparently unaware that the great majority of people clearly do need, use – and want – more of them!

Jim Hightower
PHOTO BY LARRY D. MOORE

But being The Donald has always meant not caring (or even noticing) what common folks want or need. As we’ve witnessed again and again, his presidential policies routinely reject the public interest and the people’s will. Instead, they’re based on his narcissistic desires, personal biases, insecurities and assorted right-wing furies screeching inside his head.

All of those psychic forces have been in play again as Trump and his gang of GOP accomplices have quietly but intently pursued an aggressive policy of taking as much of America’s common wealth from the public domain as they can. In less than two years in office, they’ve already laid siege on such public assets as:
Our national parks, trails, historic sites, etc. They’ve whacked park service budgets, forcing reductions in hours, staff, amenities and basic maintenance work. And various Trumpeteers are pushing, both publicly and privately, to open these spaces to everything from fracking and uranium mining to luxury homes and private resorts.

Public lands. Trump’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has drastically shrunk the size of several national monuments, and he ordered that fracking must be allowed on all federal and tribal lands. Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has unilaterally opened America’s national wildlife refuges to biotech pesticides and GMO crops. A 2017 Trump order allows new offshore drilling in nearly all coastal waters, endangering not only the environment, but also thousands of local fishing and tourism businesses.

America’s social safety net. While Team Trump has been working tirelessly to save corporations from the “burden” of treating people with a modicum of fairness, they’ve simultaneously been working to impose truly onerous personal burdens on people needing the most basic public help. Trump signed an executive order to require that someone getting a typical allotment of $134 a month in food stamps must first take a job.

And so-awful-much more: Even as the need for public housing has grown greater than ever, the Trump budgets have slashed funds for maintenance and construction, and housing secretary Ben Carson has proposed tripling the rents paid by the lowest-income residents. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, set up to be a fierce watchdog policing the greed of Wall Street banksters and predatory lenders, has been taken over by Trump’s budget director, effectively turning the consumer protector into an industry lapdog.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin quietly ruled that super PACs will no longer have to reveal to tax regulators the names of the “dark money donors” who corrupt our elections.

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