We’ve been told lately by commentators Right and Left that, whatever we may think of The Donald, we must be sympathetic to his supporters, to their legitimate concerns about demographic and cultural changes, and to their economic anxieties.
I’m not buying it, and neither is Damon Linker (at The Week):
What Trump's supporters appear to want is someone to rail rudely against economic, racial, ethnic, and demographic aspects of contemporary American life that they find distasteful, dangerous, and unfair; to place the blame for these trends on somebody besides themselves (immigrants, liberals, big business, stupid people, Muslims, big government, the media, the president); and to promise a magical fix brought about by superhuman feats of commonsense competence. Trump gives them all of this, and his followers love him for it. That makes him a textbook example of a demagogue and them a political force that everyone from Aristotle to Alexander Hamilton would recognize as a mob.
To put it even more bluntly: Donald Trump is a pig running a barnyard campaign, and all the media lipstick in the world won’t change that.
Meanwhile, Obamacare continues to be a disaster and must be repealed:
More than 17 million people have acquired coverage under Obamacare and the uninsured rate is the lowest ever recorded. Competition in the fledgling Obamacare marketplaces is robust. And HealthCare.gov, after a disastrous rollout, has become a reliable vehicle for Obamacare customers to shop for coverage. More broadly, Obamacare’s supporters argue that multiple provisions of the law…are fundamentally changing the economics of health care by paying doctors for quality, not quantity, of care. The 2016 enrollment season is off to a good start, with more than 8 million signed up, and may well exceed admittedly modest expectations.
Naturally, Congress has reacted to these developments by “postponing” some of the scheduled Obamacare taxes, thus ensuring that the program will be underfunded and that its reduction of the federal deficit will be less than previously estimated. Even more naturally, opponents of the law will then blame President Obama himself for the problems.
Finally: there’s nothing like being told by a millionaire that money is overrated. I’d like to appreciate David Heinemeier Hansson’s wisdom (as when he says that Expectations, not outcomes, govern our happiness), I really would, but I’m afraid he lost me with this:
For the first few months [after becoming a millionaire], I barely touched any of the money. Sure, I bought a big-screen TV and more DVD box sets than I could hope to consume, but it wasn't like I couldn't have done that before anyway. It wasn't until near the end of that year I finally drew down on the account of clichéd purchases: a yellow Lamborghini! While it was all very nice, very wonderful, it didn't, as we say, really move the needle of deep satisfaction. 1
Who among us doesn’t identify with the failure of luxury goods to “move the needle of deep satisfaction”? Well, maybe those of us who have never possessed such luxury goods in the first place and who wouldn’t mind giving them a try—after all, maybe they could at least move the needle of superficial enjoyment!
To his credit, Mr. Hansson--who seems like a decent man--concludes:
Once you've taken care of the basics, there's very little in this world for which your life is worth deferring. Whether you know it or not, you've likely already found or at least seen the very best things. Make them count.
I think that’s good advice, but I also think that it’s advice I could get from any number of non-millionaires. Hansson is seen as credible precisely because he’s become wealthy and can therefore tell us, first-hand, how hollow are the pleasures that money can buy. I’m sure he doesn’t intend his counsel to come across as condescending, but that’s how it reads to me. I’m fine not having much money, but I really don’t want to hear “The best things in life are free” from a guy who can buy pretty much any damn thing he wants.
1 There are many models of Lamborghini from which to choose; the first one I looked up online is priced “from” $397,000. That’s a lot to pay for an existential disappointment. I suggest Mr. Hansson trade in his Lamborghini for a Ford Fiesta and stop whining.