The billionaires Charles and David Koch are the big winners of the 2016 presidential election. Nearly every member of Trump’s emerging administration has close ties to the two radical right-wing brothers. Mike Pence, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Andy Puzder, Wilbur Ross, Mike Pompeo, Becky DeVos, Rick Perry, and Rex Tillerson are either current or former members of the Koch brothers’ ultra-conservative donor network or politicians who have taken their money. Consider Scott Pruitt – he’s a Koch boy. And because he’s a Koch boy, he hates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But Pruitt may be leading the EPA in little over a month. No one doubts that his main task at the EPA will be to strip it of its oversight authority and so demoralize its administrators that the institution will no longer have the ability to regulate the heavily polluting Koch Industries. But gutting the EPA will come at a steep cost to the American public. Air and water quality are sure to suffer under Pruitt.
Then there is Becky DeVos – a member of one of Michigan’s richest families. Betsy’s father-in-law founded Amway – a company accused of being nothing more than a sophisticated pyramid scheme. DeVos, who is slated to head the Department of Education, doesn’t believe in public education. Like Pruitt, her primary job will be to act as a wrecking ball. Public school students, public school teachers, and the teachers unions are going to be the big losers under DeVos, while the richest Americans will be the winners. If DeVos gets her way, the rich will be paying less to send their children to exclusive private schools. In addition, her voucher scheme will divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools and toward independent schools, including those run by the Catholic Church.
The most pathetic cabinet appointment has to be Rick Perry as the head of the Energy Department. When Perry served as governor of the Great State of Texas, the columnist Molly Ivins referred to him as “Governor Goodhair” because his dyed hair was always so darn perfect. I doubt there is one person in the U.S., other than maybe Donald Trump, who actually believes Perry is up to the job of Energy Secretary. At a crucial moment in world history, when the United States should be rapidly shifting toward renewable energy sources, Perry, a man long beholden to oilmen, will keep the U.S. dependent on climate-changing dirty coal, oil, and gas.
Most of the individuals filling the ranks of the Trump administration have spent their lives enriching themselves at the expense of others. So get ready for the plundering of America. Trump is going to be a boon for the richest of the rich and a bust for “we the people.” But Trump’s administration will have more than just dire economic repercussions for the majority of Americans. His presidency is going to contribute to the deaths of untold numbers of American citizens over the next four years.
The diminished air and water quality almost certain to result from Trump’s assault on the EPA will foster a rise in cancer rates and respiratory diseases. The repeal of Obamacare will leave approximately 20 million Americans without insurance. Unable to afford health insurance, those 20 million people will be less likely to seek preventive care, which will increase their chances of a premature death. How many will die from a lack of access to affordable health care during a Trump presidency is unknown. But the federal government recently estimated that the insurance coverage provided by the health care law, and the increased access to health care stemming from that insurance, saved approximately 24,000 lives a year. Take away Obamacare and 24,000 people a year will likely die – unnecessarily; that adds up to almost 100,000 Americans after four years of a Trump administration, which surpasses the number of U.S. servicemen and women killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined.
Let’s hope that during Trump’s reign a Katrina-scale hurricane doesn’t strike the U.S., or that the U.S. doesn’t suffer some other natural or man-made catastrophe, because the soon-to-be-revealed incompetence of Trump’s cabinet picks, and Trump’s hands-off, nonchalant governing style, and his unwillingness to receive daily intelligence briefings, is going to get innocent Americans killed.
By choosing people such as Scott Pruitt, Becky DeVos, and Rick Perry to serve in his administration, Trump has made it clear that he has every intention of going to war against “we the people” – that is, the 54% of the population of the United States who voted against him in November. He will wage a war, and people are going to die, and they are going to die so that the wealthiest in America, who are already obscenely rich, can get even richer.