One of the things that the mainstream press have done is focus on Trump’s outlandish statements, particularly his empirical statements. For example at his press conference today Donald Trump said that “I guess it’s the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan”. I don’t blame the media for doing this as there is only so much time in the day, and such a statement is easy to disprove, but given the scale of the lying by Trump, I have decided to avoid these little things as much as possible. At the end of the day whether Trump’s win was the biggest ever or the smallest ever doesn’t really matter because he still won. Instead, I’m going to look beyond the stupid statements of the President, and highlight the horrible things the GOP are doing. And this starts right now.
President Trump signed his first piece of legislation on Tuesday, and it appears that corruption shall be the name of the game. In the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which is commonly known as Dodd-Frank, there was a rule that stipulated that payments from oil companies to foreign governments had to be disclosed to government authorities. Initially this rule was resisted by the oil industry, but, after a lengthy court battle, the SEC were given legal authority to fully introduce the rule, and they did so in June 2016.
The rule’s purpose was simple: by disclosing all payments to foreign governments, oil companies could be investigated for bribery and corruption. The rule was overturned by Congress on 1st February, but Trump’s acceptance of the bill illustrates that the executive branch will do nothing to counteract clear corruption. A coincidence that leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State and former CEO of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed on the very same day as Congress voted to oppose the law. Secretary Tillerson was also one of the most vocal opponents of the rule, and so I’m very sure that he will happy that Trump has signed this legislation.
This action from the Trump administration and the Republican Party more generally, illustrates that some politicians are so craven that they are completely unconcerned with ethics and good government. Further, they do not care about the prospect of corruption in the pursuit of accumulating large amounts of natural resources. When I first came across this story I saw the word ‘oil’ and immediately that the issue was that the GOP spend their weekends bathing in the money the oil industry gave them. Actually, it’s something much more nefarious: the GOP have no problem with corruption.
There is no other explanation for the GOP’s actions other than a laissez-faire approach to corruption. Obviously at a base level the problem is the power that oil lobby has in Washington DC, but I believe this is a new level of corruption because it involves ignoring ideological principles. The defence offered by the GOP is that this rule is another burdensome regulation that prevents the free market from roaring free, and thus the American economy is held back. But, even by free-market capitalist logic, this isn’t the case.
One of the key premises of free-market capitalist is that the government should be out of the way of companies so that they can freely compete with one another. The competition mechanism, therefore, will make products cheaply and this will benefit consumers. But another key premise is that the playing field of the marketplace is level. If an inefficient company starts with an advantage, they may win and this will not benefit consumers. The rule that the GOP has repealed will benefit large corporations that have the resources to bribe foreign governments to win contracts.
I’m not a capitalist, and nor will I ever be, but the reason I made the above argument was essentially an appeal to the Right. The Left already oppose Trump’s actions because he’s not their president, but the Right voted for Trump en masse. The rule that Trump has just struck down should not be seen through the lens of ‘burdensome regulations’ but through the lens of corruption.
People on the Right and myself disagree on political issue because we have different principles, and it’s okay to genuinely disagree. However, I do not think for one second that anyone who is committed to principles I oppose is tacitly in favour of corruption. Again this is an appeal to the Right, Trump is creating crony capitalism and literally everyone other than those who stand to benefit are against this. It takes courage to admit that the person you like is doing something wrong, but when stories like this come up I expect principled people to stand up. The GOP has shown themselves to support the corrupt dealings between oil companies and foreign governments. This cannot be allowed to stand.