Trump: I’m Rich, So I’m Great

Mar 10, 2016 by

Donald Trump“The Trump Show” is getting lots of media coverage even here in Canada. It’s more entertaining than anything else on cable, so why not?

Trump vs. Romney

Unless you’re living way off the grid (a lifestyle I’m sure the GOP primary campaign has caused millions to contemplate), you know about the recent dust up between Donald Trump and Mitt Romney. Trump spread his reply to Romney’s anti-endorsement across several rallies and interviews.

There’s no challenge in critiquing Trump’s innumerable loathsome qualities and viewpoints. And this is a personal finance site, so I don’t aim here to become part of the already overcrowded Trump-bashing industry.

But, because it is money-related, I do want to talk about a specific line Trump pursued over the course of his several commentaries on Romney. I could have chosen any number of videos, but the one below works pretty well. Start paying close attention at about the 1:00 mark.

Trump: I’m Rich, Therefore I’m Better and Smarter Than Mitt Romney

Trump responded to Romney’s criticism the way he always responds to criticism: by giving his rationale for why he’s a better man than the other, in this case, man. I want to highlight one thread in Trump’s attack on Romney, which surfaced in several forms in Trump’s speeches and interviews immediately after Romney’s condemnation of Trump’s candidacy. That thread is: because I’m wealthier than Romney, I’m better than Romney, and I’m right and he’s wrong, on everything.

The equivalency of wealth and respect in America has become so ingrained, we hardly notice it anymore. It’s an integral part of American culture.

But think about it: does Donald Trump deserve more respect, and is he right and Mitt Romney wrong because Romney’s worth “only” $150 million and Trump is worth, according to Forbes, $4.5 billion?

Forbes also rates the wealthy people it obsesses over according to what it calls a “self-made score.” Trump scores a 5 (out of 10), which means “inherited some or all of their fortune.” Inheriting money doesn’t require any smarts or business acumen.

Forbes puts Warren Buffet’s net worth at $65 billion. And Buffett’s “self-made score” is 8. I wish someone would ask Trump whether Buffett’s a much better man than he because he’s much wealthier, and because Buffett generated his wealth the old fashioned way: he earned it.

The Danger of Adopting Donald Trump’s Philosophy on Personal Wealth and Self-Worth

Trump personifies magnificently the well worn advisory about keeping up with the iconic Joneses. To him, it seems that all that matters in the world is how much he’s got compared to the next guy. If he has more, he deserves more respect than the other guy. (If the other guy has more, Trump doesn’t talk about him.)

Whether that philosophy works for Trump is not for me to say. But for most of us, rating ourselves and others based only on wealth is a catastrophe. I feel sorry for people whose self-esteem appears to be chained to their net worth and nothing else.

Sure, I respect hard work, persistence, and the success they tend to produce.

But I’m far more impressed by generosity, a curious mind, creativity, kindness, natural empathy, and honesty.

The Joneses who excel in those characteristics are who I aim to keep up with. If that means I’ll never have Donald Trump’s respect, I’m okay with that. 🙂

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