Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Trump Inheritance

"It [setting out for the Yukon during the gold rush] allowed him to get together the nest egg he'd come to the United States for. Whether he could've accumulated that much money somewhere else, in that short a period of time, as a young man with no connections, and initially not even English, is certainly .. unlikely."
"Owners whipped horses, donkeys, mules, oxen, and dogs until they dropped. The bodies were not buried or even moved. Travellers ... had no choice but to walk over the remains [through a notorious mountain pass]."
"A frequent dish [served at the Trump canteen in the Arctic] was fresh-slaughtered, quick-frozen horse. [Trump] realized that the best way to get [rich] was to lay down his pick and shovel and pick up his accounting ledger."
"The bulk of the cash flow during his years in the Canadian Arctic operating the Arctic Restaurant and Hotel] came from the sale of liquor and sex."
"The boom was over, Frederick Trump realized. He had made money; perhaps even more unusual in the Yukon, he had also kept it and departed with a substantial nest egg."
Gwenda Blair, author: The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire
Friedrich Trump lacked his grandson's combover, but shared his lust for lucre. His White Pass eatery served the finest food, with a slice of sin on the side.
Friedrich Trump lacked his grandson's combover, but shared his lust for lucre. His White Pass eatery served the finest food, with a slice of sin on the side.

That old adage -- that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree - is a folk observation that scrutiny and experience supports. The American businessman who has single-handedly done what no one else before him succeeded with -- making an international laughing stock of American politics through his adroitly manoeuvring of himself as lying, conniving, notorious tax dodger, bankruptcy artist, workplace abuser, misogynist, as a master manipulator who had the wherewithal through sheer effrontery to rid Washington of all its privileged insiders -- creating of the mass of the electorate a polarized confusion.

In the process of appealing to a huge swathe of middle-class and working-class Americans who feel hard done by through the succession of national administrations playing musical chairs between the Republicans and the Democrats, he promised the angry and the disillusioned that he would remake the Republican Party in their image, allowing them through the strength of the polls, to lay waste to the Democratic Party that catered to the moneyed and the privileged and the celebrity demographic that had it all anyway. What he did do was destroy the Republican Party and horribly blemish the very belief that the majority of Americans are intelligent and perceptive.

His grandfather, it seems, began it all, in his search as a German immigrant, to enrich himself quickly and use whatever means it would take to reach his objective. In 1885, aged 16 and an apprentice barber, the young man from the Kallstadt region of Germany whose surname was Drumpf, Friedrich Drumpf, sailed off to New York where he anglicized his name to Frederick, moved to Seattle and opened a small restaurant. By 1897 news of an "New Eldorado" gold rush in the Yukon struck him as an opportunity not to be missed. Selling whatever he owned, he headed to the Yukon.

Once there, he hiked over mountains and to the Yukon River with a boatload of personal supplies. Along an arduous route that included a dangerous mountain pass, the young man opened a canteen to take advantage of gold rush enthusiasts' need for nourishment as they wended their weary way north. Rumour had it that he made good use of the carcasses of animals that had died on the route, readily replenishing a food pantry to produce all manner of  fine tasting dishes his customers had little idea of their constituent parts.

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A caravan of prospectors arrives at Chilkoot Trail to join the great Gold Rush. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

"For single men the Arctic has the best restaurant, but I would not advise respectable women to go there to sleep as they are liable to hear that which would be repugnant to their feelings and uttered, too, by the depraved of their own sex", wrote a Yukon Sun reporter of the backroom events. The North West Mounted Police, from whom the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arose, tolerated the general rowdiness with some exceptions. If people cheated at cards, created a loud public display or partied on Sundays, they would face banishment from town. The atmosphere was, if not the Wild West, then certainly the Wild North.

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A line of gold miners climb a mountain using a rope during the Klondike Gold Rush. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Grandfather Trump, in a business partnership with another investor, became cook, bouncer and waiter in their shared establishments. But by early 1901 the North West Mounted  made it clear that prostitution, gambling and liquor were set to be clamped down on. Frederick Trump, the current Donald Trumps grandfather, parted with his business partner, returning to Germany with a substantial nest egg for the times of $582,000 (in today's currency). Germany deported him and he boarded a ship back to New York with a pregnant wife.

Frederick Trump died in 1918 of pneumonia and his son, Donald Trump's father, inherited real estate that Frederick had invested in. Frederick Trump's son, inheriting his father's real estate holdings, built the Trump empire, which his son, the grandson of Frederick built into a global brand. It is that global brand, however besmirched by its eponymous owner who has hitched his gigantic ego to his ambition to achieve instant power, in the position of the most powerful individual on the globe, the President of the United States.

And it is a great relief to the international community that of two dreadfully flawed candidates for that position, the win will go to the marginally lesser flawed, with the hope that the maniac of egos will slink away from the political spotlight to nurse his grievances in private as a man who detests infuriating personal slights.

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