Trump's Tax Dodge Shows Indifference To Others

If you were angered by the recent revelations in the New York Times that Donald Trump probably has not been paying his fair share of taxes, you've got a lot of company.

Even though I think the Intercept has been unfair to Hillary Clinton in this election, the Intercept's Jon Schwarz does good work in laying out precisely how Trump might have avoided taxes for years. He interviews David Cay Johnston, whose 2007 book, "Free Lunch," I just happened to pick up. Johnston writes in the book that "Donald Trump benefits from a tax that was enacted to help the elderly and the poor, but part of which was diverted to his casinos." The examples of Trump looking out only for himself compound to the point of redundancy. Yet they're very important to understanding how horribly he would run the country.

Schwarz writes, "(I)n 1995, Trump created a company called Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, and sold stock in it. And Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts became the legal owner of his casinos, not Trump himself. So, Johnston believes, Trump kept the upside (i.e., the losses he could use to cancel out future income and avoid taxes) while transferring the downside (the more heavily-taxed casino property) to the company's shareholders."

What is the rationale for Trump avoiding his responsibility to give back to the American public? Oddly, he says he wants to help entrepreneurs. Schwarz continues, "Just as importantly, Trump shows no sign that he believes the government should protect shareholders from ruthless businessmen willing to screw them. In fact, just the opposite -- his core belief is that we need to get the government off the backs of long-suffering entrepreneurs like himself."

As far as the plight of entrepreneurs goes, you'll find a lot more cutting-edge ideas in the social sciences and hard sciences than in business schools. As Joseph E. Stiglitz has put it, many of these hardworking scientists who come up with game-changing discoveries aren't being paid like the CEOs who profit from their ideas.

I've written recently about the politics of responsibility. While it may be necessary for the left to rework our stance on responsibility to understand the factor of individual agency, it is ironic how we expect the poor, minorities and disadvantaged to be so responsible when not all white collar businesspeople are held to the same moral standards.

Additionally, whole systems of algorithms are now being used to oppress vulnerable groups that can't afford outside counsel, as Cathy O'Neil describes in her book 'Weapons of Math Destruction.' She writes about the case of Duane Buck, a man whom authorities sentenced to death after using a recidivism prediction tool. As Nick Kristof writes, "Duane Buck ... was sentenced to death after 'expert' testimony that he was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he was black. What can that be called but racism?"

As more and more decisions are being made to punish poor people and minorities through complex formulas online, via electronic purchases and through societal indifference, increasingly only rich people like Donald Trump can hire experts to work through complex tax code, which he claims to want to fix because he understands it so well. As the person who filed Trump's 1995 taxes, Jack Mitnick, said, Trump did not understand the tax code at all: "Nor would he have had the time and the patience to learn the provisions. That's a lifetime of experience." And his experience in bilking the public and the poor should show us what kind of leader he'd be.