In Trump’s family, the apple never really fell


The New York Times published on Tuesday a spectacular bit of reporting, stretching out to nearly 15,000 words, on how Fred Trump, the President’s late father, used aggressive tax avoidance schemes to get vast sums of wealth to his children, especially Donald.

The Times piece is the kind of massive story that few of us have time to read (the Times itself has even published some CliffsNotes versions of it.

In the rush to summarize and understand, the main takeaway in the media seems to be that the Times story is confirmation that Donald J. Trump is not, indeed, a self-made man, contrary to the story the President likes to tell. But that will not surprise too many; there has long been reporting about the family bases of the President’s wealth.

What should count as a main theme is not that Trump is not a self-made man, but rather that he is a man made, in considerable part, on taxpayers’ money. That is, all of us, not just Fred and Mary Trump, have played a role in both the myths and realities of Donald J. Trump, possible billionaire.

The very late British philosopher Thomas Hobbes was born when the Spanish Armada was en route to, presumably, conquer England (that didn’t end well for the Spanish), and he famously wrote that his mother gave birth to twins: himself and fear. Donald Trump’s twin was tax avoidance.

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