The Billionaire

Thinking about yesterday’s NYT article on Trump’s taxes, it appears that not only is Trump not a billionaire, he’s hardly even a businessman. He has two enterprises – his image as a businessman, and cheating on taxes.

He doesn’t own the assets that make him appear wealthy, his businesses do. He doesn’t buy his haircuts or dinners, he invests in businesses that take a loss on them.

He’s hardly even a millionaire, given that his assets mainly exist to pay his personal expenses, his profits almost zero out, and his personal debt of $300 million far outweighs his profit.

On the whole the Trump Organization is a grift, a fake, an illusion, a con. It only appears to be a legit business because of the scale of the lie.

Update: Forbes makes the case that his assets are still at least $1B > his debt:

In fact, Trump is a multibillionaire, worth $2.5 billion, by our count. His portfolio, which includes commercial buildings, golf properties and branding businesses, is worth an estimated $3.66 billion before debt. The president has a fair amount of leverage—adding up to a roughly $1.13 billion—but not enough to drag his net worth below a billion dollars.

Chess Clock Meetings

What if meetings were like fast chess, where each player has a strict limit on total time? When you talk you start your chess clock. If you go over your budget you must be silent for the rest of the meeting.

You could also apply this to days as whole. You get 2.5 hours for all meetings together, and when the limit is reached you must say no.


Shortages are a distinctive feature of the United States in the time of COVID and in the Trump years as a whole.

They are a new thing. In my lifetime the US has always been a place of plenty. In Trump’s strongman capitalism the economy comes second to his hold on power.

Shortages were a feature of the Soviet Union. I witnessed the strange dysfunction of the market visiting East German in the 1980s. It was like nothing I had ever seen until now.

The causes of shortages included:

  • Trump’s trade war with China. Tariffs. Retaliation.
  • COVID-related manufacturing, farming and distribution shutdowns
  • Closing of the schools, related to COVID. Move to remote learning.

Here are some shortages that come to mind.

  • Chromebooks (trade war, remote learning)
  • toilet paper (COVID)
  • meat (COVID)
  • eggs (COVID)
  • bikes (caused by trade war)