I mean sure, it’s easy to be a billionaire when you inherit a billion dollar fortune.
But let’s do a little experiment. Let’s ask ourselves if Donald Trump had not been born into fame and fortune, if he hadn’t been a millionaire by the age of two and a half, if he had been required to make his own way in life, without the gigantic advantages. Would he have been another Jeff Bezos or William Gates? Or would he have been just a regular guy?
Let’s assume that this alternate Trump, born to the middle class, had the same personality and personal qualities? Donald Trump is barely literate, a poor reader, almost no impulse control, full of manic impulses, lazy, loses interest, perpetually narcissistic and selfish, engaged in self aggrandizement, unwilling or unable to learn from mistakes, This isn’t an attack. It’s not flattering, but these are all traits that he has exhibited, and are the benchmarks of his erratic business career.
Given that, if he’d been born into a middle class family, he would likely have been an academic underachiever, as he was in real life. Lazy, narcissistic and self involved – not a good recipe for a student.
And these qualities would make a poorly motivated starter employee. In the middle class everyone begins as a starter employee. He would have been a great talker though, a manipulator and a shirker. He’d probably go through a series of starter jobs and low level employment, each time starting out great and rapidly wearing out his welcome.
I think at that point, his options are the family business, if this is an entrepreneurial middle class family. He wouldn’t necessarily be great, but family is family, and they’d put up with a lot.
Or if no family business to fall back on, he’d drift into scams and petty crime. Likely a low level college drug dealer. I think you’d see an erratic, almost unmanageable early career, a lot of salesman jobs, a lot of side hustling, borderline ethics. He’d be constantly getting hired and then getting fired, never his fault. But he’d always be bounding back with some great new scheme or investment, and talking people out of their money.
He has impulse control issues, so there’s a good chance of foundational alcoholism or drug addiction.
Young Trump would be quite flashy – terrific clothes, nice car, flashing cash. Definitely a ladies man. Looking to get into lucrative areas, I’d see him as a car salesman, maybe trying to jump into starting or owning nightclubs and bars. Likely several attempts. He’s also likely to jump feet first into whatever comes along – dry cleaning, consumer electronics, car washes, video stores. Basically, he’d always be looking for the buzz, for the next coming thing.
His pattern in real life to start out with showmanship, big and flashy, he overinvests and overenthuses, doesn’t bother to learn the actual ins and outs of the business, micromanages, and then as things go to shit, he gets bored and walks away. Oddly, for all his showmanship and overinvestment, he’s usually late to the party, jumping into a business with both feet after it’s peaked and going into decline. Applying that to middle class existence, what it means for an ambitious young man is that he’d reach out for a lot of financing – family financing, bank financing, and particularly small investors. And there’d be a lot of opportunism, great new business ventures, always looking for a trend or the hot new thing, a lot start ups, and a lot of failures. Of course, the failures, all of them, would never be his fault.
If he was really lucky, he could stumble into a business venture which was essentially idiot proof, and would survive his worst micromanagement and slipshod practices. That might last for a while, but it would either fade away or crash.
Another lucky outcome, best chance would be to be quickly or eventually be bought out by a more competent competitor for a good price, but given his personality, that seems unlikely. But if it worked, that might be his business MO – jump in to ventures, and then sell and leave town, leaving someone holding the bag to either make a go or absorb the mess.
Another possible lucky outcome, his best case scenario, would be to find a partner, or a senior employee with the skills he lacks – one who studies, knows the business, puts the work in and makes sound decisions. He does the flash and showmanship, the partner actually makes things function. He could get quite far that way. But those are two wildly different personalities, and I suspect his abusive narcissitic ways would drive any such partner or employee away eventually. There’s only so much shit people will take.
This describes the younger Donald and Donald in his prime. But he’s unlikely to learn, and if he experiences a boom and bust business career, he’s probably not motivated to learn. He jumps into dry cleaning, makes a lot of money, then loses a lot. He jumps into nightclubs, makes and then loses. Video stores, makes and then loses. That would be the pattern. He’d fall into the mindset of doing it over and over again.
But time moves on – we come to the middle-aged middle-class Donald, and things aren’t looking too pretty. One or two failed marriages, and serious marital property settlements and alimony/child support is weighing him down. More importantly, people are getting tired of his bullshit. His record of failed start ups is getting toxic. Banks and finance companies aren’t won’t touch him, the usual sources of personal investment are drying up, all the golf course buddies, the entrepreneurs, the families looking for a solid return, etc., he’s burned too many, and the word is getting around.
He’s got to work harder and harder to raise less and less money. Doors are getting slammed in his face. He’s not taking it so well. There’s a lot of blaming everyone but himself. He’s still playing the big shot, but there are rust spots on his sports car and loose threads on his suit. His rolex doesn’t keep time. He can make a terrific first impression, but the more you see, the less there is.
Blaming the small minded petit bourgeousie mind set, he leaves his old neighborhoods reinventing himself. Perhaps as a Texas oil guy, or a Calfornia real estate developer. New community, new circle of friends, new clubs, new golf courses, a new pool of small investors to sell new business opportunities. And that works, sort of. But he’s an outsider now, not a favoured son. He has to work a lot harder for the investment money for his ventures, and when they fall apart, people are a lot less forgiving. He relocates, and relocates again.
But the act is wearing thin, due diligence is happening, people are checking up on his old haunts. Investors are drying up. He’s middle aged and radioactive. It’s taking a long time to talk people into putting money into his ventures, and a lot longer between ventures. He’s recycling old ideas, probably bars, restaurants and nightclubs mostly. The promises grow extravagant, the results flop.
Middle aged Trump evolving into his new paradigm – why bother with the businesses at all, they all just fail. Why not just get people to give him investment money. More and more his lifestyle is supported by diverting investment money into it, and less and less the business ventures. The business fails – who is dissecting a bankruptcy to see where the money went. Easy to fall into the trap siphoning off.
Late middle age, and he’s broke all the time, but he’s still pretending to a lifestyle. The sports car has a knock, the flashy suits are out of date, he’s got a hairpiece. He’s a man ten or fifteen years behind the times. But he’s got his smarmy salesman/entrepreneur thing down. Mostly, people aren’t falling for it any more and he doesn’t understand why. He’s piling up debt and getting by on a trickle of investors who he is basically swindling. He’s become the punchline of a joke he doesn’t understand.
He’s getting desperate, so he moves back to his stomping grounds, he pretends he made it big, but really, he’s failed and falling back on his safety net. He bullies or begs family members to bail him out, ripping off his parents, brothers and sisters, in laws, ex-wives, grown children. They just find it hard to shake him loose. He’s borrowing money from them, trying to sell them shit. He’s still pie in the sky, telling them the big score is just around the corner and believing it himself.
Then the bottom drips out – any number of things. Fraud investigations or charges leads to jail, bankruptcy wrecks his life, loan sharks break his legs, best case scenario is that he’s pissed everything away and is penniless. A likely evolving drug or alcohol problem undermines function. Moves in with more stable family members, until he burns those bridges. Then rooming houses, motels, living in his car. Or if he’s already burned those bridges, straight to homeless.
Older Trump, destitute, with no friends and no resources, he faces the ultimate humiliation – he has to get a job. Luckily, he’s perfected his bullshit, so he easily talks himself into one job after another. But he sees jobs as beneath him, he’s lazy, can’t be bothered, his narcissism becomes toxic, he gets fired a lot, there’s sexual harassment complaints, suspicions as to where money ended up, there’s too many little schemes, too many grifts, too much drama. Word gets around, he’s forced to take worse and worse, sucking back his pride. He’s a seething cauldron of desperation and resentment.
If he’s very lucky, he finds himself some mid-level management job – night shift manager at a fast food place, or a grocery or something. Nothing prestige, which he hungers for. But someplace where all the real decisions are made by someone competent just above him, and the staff under him do all the real work and keep the place running, despite him. It’s a shitty demeaning job, to his way of thinking, but he’s got a staff to bully and tyrannize (they hate him), but he’s smart enough to kiss his boss’s ass.
There he’ll live out the rest of his working life until retirement, always trying to do a side hustle, run a scam, endlessly bragging about his glory days, and putting the moves on teen and twenty-something girls. He no longer fits into his expensive suits, but he still has the car, twenty years out of date and looking like a beater – but he’s convinced himself its still high end, and it reminds him of when he used to be someone.
If he’s not lucky, he steadily burns one bridge after another, eventually ending up at a bottom level job – mopping up cumstains in peep show booths, or his toxic cocktail of personality dysfunctions leaves him unemployed, friendless and penniless, diving into the bottle or unrestrained drug addiction, railing against everyone who betrayed or abandoned him.
That’s Trump’s trajectory if he’d been born middle class.