It was election week in primary school. The year was 1991.
We had three school ‘houses’ – groups students would join so we could compete against one another in competitions: swimming, running, and debating.
This was the week students, right from kindergarten to year 5, could nominate a “captain”: a senior boy to lead the house.
Seeing the opportunity for power, and a colourful little button I could put on the lapel of my school uniform, I went home and began to work on my speech. We all got the chance to deliver a five-minute speech. It was an opportunity to sell ourselves, and what we could do for our house, and the students.
Like many other boys, I asked my parents for help. What should I write about? Do I talk about myself, or should I write about how I think I could lead our house to victory during school sports carnivals?
I produced a speech, and, nervously, delivered it. Then, the wait…. for the votes to come in.
Lunchtime was a chance to swap stories… who said what, who bombed, who produced some laughs.
What happened next has stayed with me since that day.
A kid from another house told us all gleefully that Jack – another boy vying for house captain – had delivered the best speech of the day.
What was in it?
He promised that, within weeks of being elected, he would have Coke coming out of the bubblers, and McDonald’s at the tuck shop.
We were speechless. After some initial outrage, we thought, of course, that’s genius! But how was he going to be able to do that?!
A lesson in politics
Of course weeks went by and … nothing. There was no Coke coming out of the bubblers, and the school canteen continued to serve up copious amounts of nutritious, healthy food.
The students, who were of course no fools, demanded to know when Jack was going to deliver on his promises.
“The teachers won’t let me!”
After an initial cry of bitterness and disappointment, he once again rallied the troops. It was now time to take action against the teachers for putting a stop to it.
Jack reminds me a lot of Donald Trump and his progress to date as president-elect, and president.
On January 25, a carefully watched Wall Street stock market index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, pushed passed the 20,000 market.
US stocks have enjoyed a strong rally following the presidential election, with the S&P 500 gaining more than 6 per cent since November.
The rally in shares has been driven by faith that Trump will make good on his promises. Those promises include tax breaks for corporations and infrastructure spending.
The break above 20,000 has largely been driven by better-than-expected fourth quarter corporate earnings (profits). That, incidentally, has nothing to do with president Trump.
Additionally, he has not announced any tax reform, or made any spending decisions.
He has signed executive orders making it easier for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline (a key bit of US/Canadian economic infrastructure) and for Energy Transfer Partners to build the final uncompleted portion of the Dakota Access pipeline.
But again, nothing close to the billions he promised to lift the economy out of the economic funk that it’s in.
Doesn’t add up
Not only has the Dow broken above the 20,000 level, but it’s also at an all-time high. This is happening while 43 million Americans (roughly double Australia’s population) remain on food stamps. It’s reflective of a staggering wealth inequality that currently exists in the US.
Trump has so far been ‘successful’. The voters, and the market, are looking for action, and he’s delivering it. The problem is that his actions don’t yet match up to what he promised the market. The market however, is showing no signs of turning its back on him.
The hard reality is that the market wants, quite desperately, I imagine, to believe in his plans.
Any sniff that he’ll make good on them and the bulls charge ahead. The more they charge ahead though, the further the gap will be between how much money is in the market, and how much money should be in the market. The higher it goes, the harder it could fall.
Jack’s now on Wall Street
The last time I checked, Jack was an investment banker on Wall Street. I did a quick social media search to find that out.
He was a smart man. He knew how to get elected, and he knew how to stay in power.
By the end of the year Jack had achieved very little.
As house captain, he led his group to some victories, but lost just as many. He then moved onto high school, where I imagined he kept making big promises.
To this day, I still can’t work out what surprises me most: the ambitious promises Jack made, or the fact people believed he would make good on those promises.