Conflicts of Interest

Vox has been compiling a list of all of Trump's known conflicts of interest. It prompted me to a thought experiment wondering if corporate involvement in foreign economies doesn't cancel out at some point.

Consider a President who was secretly completely motivated by personal greed. If that President had 1 foreign investment, that 1 investment would determine his actions whenever they were threatened (or, inversely, could be grown). That's an obvious problem for us as Americans.

If he has more than one, however, there might be at least some cases when there are opportunity costs. Taking this action would benefit that investment, whereas the alternative action would benefit another. There might be important facts about the size of the investment that would rule, but the overall effect of multiple conflicts of interest is to reduce the power of each on his decision-making process if (and only if) they conflict.

With a small enough set of foreign investments, such conflicts should be rare. However, as the set grows, conflicts become more frequent. An adequately diversified President, even the totally corrupt one of the thought experiment, might eventually be as unmoved by his conflicts of interest as a president with no foreign investments at all.

This isn't to defend Trump, whom I think really should take seriously the conflicts-of-interest problem. It's just interesting to realize that adding many new ones doesn't make the situation worse: arguably, it makes the situation better.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I'd rather have rulers who were out to fleece us than out to fix us. The CS Lewis Quote from God In The Dock has been quoted a little more each year, hasn't it?

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I will also note that this is very much a blindness of the left, to think that money is the only hidden motivator that should be recognised. Status, power, honor, admiration, security, revenge - all these have long histories as motivators of evil men, or the ruin of good ones. All of them mean more to me than money. How many of Shakespeare's heroes fall because of money? How many Greek dramatists focus on filthy lucre as the only sin of bad men?

Three guesses why those questions are not even asked.

This brings up a question I will address immediately at my own site.

Eric Blair said...

Dude, you're reading Vox? Quit wasting your time and do something productive, like banging your head against a wall.

Ymar Sakar said...

Crony Capitalism was always better than social democratic welfare capitalism. So said the robber Baron Democrats at least. Then again, Trum being a 70 yo NY Democrat fits in there with the Rockefellers.