Of all the dumb, platitudinous, tone-deaf things said by putty-faced coffee lord Howard Schultz last night, one that stood out to me was his refusal to say that he would sell all his Starbucks shares if he somehow became president. Perhaps there should be some... rule about this?
It is perfectly logical and reasonable to impose the most stringent possible ethical conditions upon the job of President of the United States. It is the most powerful job in the world. You want the most powerful job, you meet the most stringent standards. That is how proportionality works. Nobody asking to assume a job that wields direct power over 300 million Americans (and billions of others around the world) should whine about the application process. Fucking do it and shut the fuck up.
Here’s a good rule: When you are elected president, you sell all of your investments and businesses. All of them. Any holding of a financial stake in a specific business or industry, even if it is held in a blind trust, is a conflict of interest when you are going to be holding a job that oversees our entire national financial system and economic policy. Period. It doesn’t matter if, as in the incredibly pathetic fig leaf case of Trump, you say that someone else is controlling the business while you’re away, or someone else is watching over your investments. The mere fact of holding such investments creates the potential for a conflict of interest, which, as conflicts of interest go, is in fact a conflict of interest, which is why we create conflict of interest rules to rule out potential conflicts of interest.
You can’t just be like “No I’ll serve the American people first no matter what.” That’s not how it fucking works moron.
After we liquidate the holdings of the person elected president, those holdings will be deposited into the US Treasury. For good. Now they belong to America. Congratulations, rich guy, you now have a real stake in the system. Go forth and rule wisely.
What might some side effects of this rule be? Primarily, it would make extremely wealthy people mad. “This would mean I would have to sell my entire huge stake in my business, which will cost me a significant amount of money,” billionaires like Mike Bloomberg and Howard Schultz would say. That’s right motherfuckers. Sell that shit. If this rule made extremely wealthy people unwilling to run for president, all the better. If you’re not even willing to eliminate financial conflicts of interest in order to hold the world’s most powerful job, you don’t deserve it.
It is insane that this is not a rule already. We just allow rich people to waltz into the White House and pull the world’s strings knowing full well that they could be doing so to enrich themselves, and being unable to eliminate that possibility, because we do not have stringently enforced conflict of interest standards. Trump, with his hotels and global developments, is again the poster boy. But it could just as easily be any wealthy person, all of whom have large amounts of wealth impossibly entwined with entities that rise and fall as a direct result of the government policies that the president will have a hand in. It is very stupid and lax that we allow this situation to exist.
Of course, we won’t just leave our valued presidents hanging. At the end of their presidential term, on the way out of the White House, they should receive a check in the amount of the median wealth of an American citizen. That’ll be enough to get you started, big guy. The rest is up to you. And if you have a hard time, don’t worry—there are always food stamps and Social Security.