Trump's Bottom Line

Donald Trump's bottom line in negotiating contentious matters is invariably expressed in terms of dollars and cents. It is the value system to which he routinely adheres, and there is no evidence to suggest he would act any differently in the White House.

Such behavior would pose a problem, especially for environmental concerns. To quote MIT Professor Nicholas Ashford: "Environmental regulation is not really an instrument of economic policy. It is an instrument of social policy concerned with the nature and distribution of industrial activity. Therefore, environmental regulation cannot be judged by economic criteria alone."

How would Trump handle regulations and international agreements geared to principles and goals that overshadow, and in some instances, are totally removed from the quest for profit?

Given Trump's propensities, one wonders how he would fare in resolving a dispute in which the opposing side considered corporate monetary interests subordinate to environmental protection.

Is his philosophical bent compatible with established federal policy such as the Clean Air Act? In that law, Congress determined that economic concerns were not to be considered in setting anti-pollution standards, only in implementing them.

Would the entrepreneurial Trump as president be able to resist something along the lines of a developer's proposal to construct a luxurious casino on the rim of the Grand Canyon? Put more bluntly, would he countenance commercial disruption of Grand Canyon National Park's majestic ambience that is widely regarded as priceless, and hence not subject to alteration?

Apart from the environment, there are ethical concerns, cultural traditions, public health priorities, or even aesthetics that can be of more importance than profit in resolving both domestic and foreign controversies. Would a President Trump be congenitally suited to negotiate effectively on such matters?

Trump's low regard for environmental values is illustrated by the saga of a state park bearing his name. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee purchased a 436-acre undeveloped tract outside New York City for $2 million and subsequently donated the land to the state as a public park.

Sounds like a very charitable environmental act, doesn't it? A couple of caveats emerge. Trump bought the property with the intent of building a golf course. When he could not gain permission from the local zoning authorities, he gifted it to the state, who in appreciation (and at his insistence) named the park after him. Meanwhile, Trump claimed an arguably inflated tax write-off for his generosity. It was generosity that incidentally did not include any contribution to the park's operational upkeep. No one else paid much attention to the Donald J. Trump State Park either. As a result of governmental budget cuts, the park fell into serious disrepair and was closed in 2010. Indignant, Trump didn't rush to the rescue but instead demanded (unsuccessfully) that the property be returned to him, presumably for another try at launching a commercial enterprise.

So much for Trump's commitment to his environmental "brand". It evidently wasn't compatible with his format for a "deal".