It's been nearly four years since President Trump's election, and to make an understatement, his approach to the presidency has been unorthodox.

In an unprecedented break of presidential custom, he has refused to release his tax returns despite ongoing claims of fraud. In an administration led by one of the most recognizable names in the world, the decision to keep the president's personal finances secret has raised many questions, the most notable being: is it possible that Trump may be making money off his presidency?

Back in 2000, Trump made that very claim: "It's very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." In a macro sense, this is obviously based on the real estate mogul's simple maxim of "all press is good press," which the 2016 election made obvious with an estimated $2 billion of free media for Trump. Does all the additional coverage help his business like it helped win him the election?

Regarding Trump's many properties, the answer appears to point that way.

Although declining prices have likely hurt its worth, Trump's 11,000-square-foot penthouse in Trump Tower is now essentially a national monument and is positioned to sell for an additional $10 million simply because of an increase in the value of its main tenant.

Trump Hotels have also seemed to benefit, as President Donald Trump frequently uses his luxury properties for government business and leisure, prompting ethics concerns over a president appearing to promote his private enterprise at public cost. Government officials in Kuwait canceled a major event they had planned at the Four Seasons Hotel and switched their venue to Trump's hotel in D.C. under alleged pressure. The same luxury hotel has emerged as a political power hub and is at the center of a court case about presidential emoluments.

Regarding the president's infamous Mar-a-Lago resort, it has seen its membership fee double to $200,000 since Trump took office. Shortly after the fee hike was revealed, Barack Obama's former ethics lawyer said the increase is a "not very subtle exploitation of the fact that the club's figurehead is now president of the U.S." Forbes estimates the "winter White House" is now worth $160 million, $10 million more than pre-election.

Some of the profiteering is even more direct: Trump immediately launched his reelection campaign on the day he assumed office. Donor money has continually flowed since then, and America's first billionaire president turned more than $900,000 into personal revenue.

And we can't forget Trump's signature 2017 tax reform legislation, which will also clearly benefit the president. Forbes says Trump could save about 10% on business income, which based on his leaked 2005 tax return, could mean as much as $11 million annually.

Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the estate of Donald Trump, in Pa

However, becoming president has had its drawbacks for the businessman.

While his 2016 campaign's controversial marketing strategy helped Trump leverage media coverage to benefit his commercial properties and projects, Forbes reports that, so far, mixing politics and business has hurt him more than it has helped.

By some calculations, Trump's net worth has dropped from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion in the last two years, dropping the president 138 spots lower on the Forbes 400. In regards to Trump Tower, the net operating income dropped 27% between 2014, the year before Trump announced his run for president, and 2017, his first year in the White House.

In refusing to divest his tax returns, Trump has set himself up to be accused of perpetual conflicts of interests that may or may not be true. Forbes' suggests that Trump would be $500 million richer if he had liquidated his assets, paid capital gains tax on his fortune and created a blind trust to invest it all in the stock market.

At the end of the day, Trump has made money off the pedestal he's been given. However, he may have made more—and been better perceived—if he had thrown in the towel altogether.


Joshua Smalley is a New York-based writer, editor, and playwright. Find Josh at his website and on Twitter: @smalleywrites.



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Quiet Quitting is the latest trend among Gen-Z TikTok that encourages setting boundaries at work

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Toni Morrison has an anecdote about her first ever job, which was cleaning some neighborhood woman’s house. The young Toni arrived home after work one day and expressed her troubles to her father. But he didn’t provide the sympathy she expected. Instead, he gave her something better — his advice:

“Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

Years later, she wrote about this remarkable experience for the New Yorker and said, in hindsight, this is what she learned:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you

3. Your real life is with us, your family

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are

What Morrison so eloquently articulated was setting boundaries. I revisited this piece during the pandemic when working from home ramped up in earnest. Back when work was one of the few things that anchored my day.

Without a physical office, the pandemic shattered the work/life balance for many people. There was no more of that physical separation that Morrison talked about. There is no coming home from work physically. There is no real life to come back to — just a manufactured commute to your laptop in your makeshift home office.

But, par for the course, Gen Z are navigating this boundaryless era using TikTok. While internet gurus promote hustle culture and constant online availability since you’re not getting face time with your managers, there’s a trend in town — “quiet quitting.”


@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby


The trend arose from the depths of the pandemic. Layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs proved that their employers did not care about their hard-working employees.

The Washington Post dubs quiet quitting as a fresh trem for an old phenomenon: employee disengagement. In many cases, it’s a response to burnout. For much of Gen Z, it’s a way of establishing healthy boundaries in the office and resisting the pressure of the rat race. After all, why work yourself to the bone for a company that just proved it’s ready and willing to let you go?

Despite the term’s negative connotations, Quiet Quitting can provide an empowering shift in thinking for employees.

For far too long, employees have been indoctrinated with a slew of toxic workplace advice. Faced with these old misconceptions and lacking job security or clear paths for advancement, Gen Z is untethering their identities from work.

Quiet quitting — therefore — might be a bit of a misnomer. These employers aren’t completely disengaged. They’re certainly not launching Flight Club-esque sabotage attempts on their employers. NO. Contrary to media panic, Gen Z understands the value of a job — the fickle market they entered ensured that. But they also understand the value of life.

They’re doing what they’re being paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.

According to Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders, older generations should learn from this approach.

“Gen Z has already endured the largest seismic shifts to the career landscape than any previous generation, having started their careers in the middle of a pandemic that changed office culture forever and a gig economy that makes piecing together work more viable. They’re taking both those realities and therefore demanding more autonomy and flexibility than any other generation.”

Gen Z are less attached to job titles and statuses. They’re more concerned about their lives. Sure, this can lead to problematic outlooks on money and experiences — see the “I can earn my money back” TikTok trend. But it’s better than hustling for no reward. Besides, as some Gen Z-ers put it on TikTok, the office isn’t even a vibe.

“With the ability to work from anywhere and for more than just one place, Gen Z-ers are forging their own paths that don’t rely on old patterns set by previous generations and are redefining what “career success” looks like. Gen Z can take note, as more and more leaders are similarly pursuing multiple income streams of their own through the form of a portfolio career. The way in which work looks like and where it happens is evolving.”

With less single-minded focus on one job, some TikTok business gurus advocate shutting your laptops precisely at 5 pm. And then jump onto your side hustle. Do nails or lashes on the weekend. Become social media managers for your phone. Sell soap on Etsy (again … perhaps not in the Fight Club way).

But this valorization of side hustles is not about hustle culture, either. They say job security isn’t guaranteed. Learning new skills and develop an alternate income stream/s to keep you afloat. Just make sure you’re not left in the lurch. BTW inflation is here. So every little bit helps.

But where do you start? Watching TikToks can only get you so far. Try a course on LinkedIn Learning to sharpen up your skills and learn new ones that you can turn into a verifiable side hustle — or leverage in your job search if quiet quitting leads to … real quitting.

Learn on your own time with bite-sized videos or in-depth courses. Watch them after work, before you clock in, or on your lunch break. Then, after your courses are complete, you’ll have certificates prominently displayed on your profile that prove your skills.