We Do Not Want a Deadbeat Employer in the Oval Office

Withholding wages from the middle class is no game.

Withholding wages from the middle class is no game.

Just yesterday on this here blog, I was talking about toxic employers. I discussed McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, which are two of the all-time classic examples of the form. But there are plenty of bad employers out there—the kind of cheap SOBs who lower the bar for employers everywhere—and they’re not all doing business under a pair of golden arches or behind smiley faces. Why, a great USA Today report about a particularly bad employer just hit the internet today. His name is Donald Trump:

Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades – and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.

Lots of people—myself included—believe that if you want to know a person’s soul, you should watch the way they deal with their servers at a restaurant. If a person yells at, mistreats, or stiffs a waiter, they’re likely not a decent person. Along those lines, Trump is proving with this story that he’s a terrible employer. Which probably means he’s a terrible person, and which definitely proves he’s not a good leader.

I mean, really. Do you want a man who doesn’t fairly pay small businesses for work they’ve done for him to be in charge of the federal government? Do you believe that someone who stiffs the middle class out of what they’re owed should be Commander-in-Chief? Say what you will about Mitt Romney, but he at least held to his contracts. As a businessman, Trump is the worst kind of bottom-feeder: he uses unethical standards in business because it helps him get ahead. He relies on everyone else to behave honorably so that he can twist the rules and exploit decent people to his own advantage.

Aside from the embarrassing fact that Trump uses scummy tactics to get ahead in business, he demonstrates in this story a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy works. We all know that the middle class is the true creator of jobs in the 21st century economy. Do we really want someone who exploits the middle class as a matter of course in the White House? Doesn’t this practice, of taking money from the 99 percent and sucking it up to the wealthiest, reveal Trump to be the ultimate trickle-downer?

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.