Equity Theory

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Last Wednesday Donald Trump finally got what he wanted: a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.  The passing of the bill was celebrated in front of the White House, with speeches by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.  Ryan praised the president for his ’exquisite’ leadership, McConnell said that never a president has achieved so much during his first year in office, and Hatch, who is clearly losing his marbles, said that Trump was everything he could dream of in a president, and that he probably would become the greatest president ever.  During a cabinet meeting in the White House Mike Pence did all of them one better,  by, at Trump’s invitation, praising the president in language that in Evangelical circles is normally reserved for God the Father.  Trump took all the praise that would have made any normal person say ‘stop, please’ – and that would have made even Kim Jong-un blush – in stride, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.  The usual insanity was dripping off his face, and in his own speech he repeated all the lies he has been telling about the tax bill since its first inception.

Instead of being a Christmas gift for the American people the tax bill is a scam.  The bulk of the benefits goes to the richest one percent of the population, while the working poor and the middle class get some crumbs that fell off the table – and that only temporarily.  Not surprisingly the bill is very unpopular, but Republicans hope that when American workers see a small increase in their after-tax wages they will start appreciating it.  They misjudge the situation, however, as do the pundits who believe the bill is simply unpopular because Trump is so unpopular.  Republicans think that people only look at what is in it for them individually, and if they get a raise, no matter how small, they’ll be satisfied, but in an elegant theory formulated in the 1960s J. Stacy Adams showed that workers are very aware of the balance between their own efforts or ‘inputs’ and rewards or ‘outcomes,’ and compare that balance with the balance of other people’s inputs and outcomes, a comparison that will determine if they’re satisfied or not.  Therefor, when someone with a middle class income receives a minimal raise while a retired investor gets a windfall, dissatisfaction is the inevitable result.

So while the tax bill won’t generate public support it succeeded in destroying some reputations in congress.  Susan Collins was bamboozled by McConnell, who promised her that Obamacare subsidies would be secure while they are not, but voted for the bill anyway, with as result that she’ll never be taken seriously anymore when she pretends to take a principled stand.  ‘Deficit hawk’ Bob Corker accepted a $1.5 trillion increase of the national debt in exchange for a golden handshake for his real estate business.

And Trump may pretend to be happy about the tax bill but Robert Mueller’s investigation must be keeping him awake at night.  More proof is emerging that the president knew Flynn had lied to the FBI before he asked Comey to go easy on Flynn, and there are signs that next to collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice Mueller is also investigating money laundering by the Trump organization.

Flynn’s guilty plea and cooperation with Mueller started a host of overt and covert attempts to discredit the FBI and the Department of Justice, as a prelude to eventually fire Mueller.  Mark Warner gave an impressive speech on the senate floor warning for the constitutional crisis such an action would result in.

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