It’s getting more disgusting by the day
Posted by hkarner - 19. November 2016
Source: The Economist
Subject: Conflicts of interest: Dynasty
The incoming administration has an inbuilt problem
DURING the presidential campaign there was much discussion about how the norms that govern American democracy were being ignored or rewritten. Those discussions have not stopped since Donald Trump became president-elect. His decision to put three of his children and one of their spouses on his presidential transition team, and the story, later denied, that he sought top-secret security clearances for them, has provoked concerns about what the roles of the president’s children and their spouses will be once Mr Trump takes office.
His mixing of public and private endeavours looks like a reversion to the way conflicts of interest worked at the presidential level before civil-service reform in the 20th century. Before then presidents frequently dabbled in business on the side. There are few laws governing what a president must do to manage such conflicts, but from the mid-century presidency of Dwight Eisenhower onwards most presidents have placed their assets in blind trusts. So far Mr Trump has declined to do any such thing.
The worry is not so much that Mr Trump’s children will be running his businesses while he is in the White House, or that Trump companies will find ways to profit from their association with the president—though both of those things could well happen. Ivanka Trump gave a small demonstration of what this will look like when her jewellery company used her appearance in the first televised interview with her father after the election to sell copies of the bracelet she wore.
Mr Trump’s companies do not have the market share or political importance that, say, Silvio Berlusconi’s television empire had when he came to power in Italy. Nor is America about to go the way of Ukraine, where oligarchs-turned-politicians manipulate laws to favour their companies.
Instead, one concern should be that people will conclude that doing business with Trump companies is a good way to buy influence, or at least the appearance of it—exactly the problem that dogged the Clinton Foundation and which Mr Trump denounced as crooked. A second concern is that Mr Trump depends heavily on his children for advice. When it comes to running the country, as opposed to a presidential campaign, they are not well-qualified to give it. Americans should be more worried about competence than nepotism.