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Bruce Bialosky

What the Trump Presidency Has Given Americans

A smart friend of mine reminded me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Very few Americans are aware of the pyramid of actualization that Dr. Maslow developed, but when explained to them they would see it as common sense. They would also recognize that for many Americans the Trump Presidency has allowed them to reach the top of the five levels.

In 1943, Dr. Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs that humans experience. He went on to refine it, but the pyramid defines how modern life works. Obviously, the goal is to work your way to the top. Going through the levels, we can see how Trump has gotten more Americans to level five than his recent predecessors.

The first level is physiological needs. Those are your basic human needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc. Few Americans are challenged at this level. The homeless in urban environments are a recent development as to whether all Americans fulfill their needs at this level. Think of third world countries where people lack the basics such as a clean water supply. Our country has risen above that as have other first world countries. Once you don’t need to worry about those basics, you go to the other levels.

The second level is safety needs. Here you fulfill the needs for personal security, gainful employment and maintain levels of health. This provides a level of emotional security. Most Americans have achieved this level and exceeded it. Some who are far beyond this level revert to not having emotional security, but this is driven by first world challenges as opposed to third world-like realities. During the Trump Presidency, more people have achieved employment than ever. That is just a step along the way.

The third level is social belonging. Here our society has reached levels of being challenged. The vast majority of Americans have family and friends which allows them to have a level of intimacy. The age of the internet has brought a level of disconnect that we need to collectively reverse. Yet most Americans have reached and passed this level.

The fourth level is self-esteem. Many Americans would say we focus too much on this level. Young Americans are given false encouragement for non-existent achievements. This has to do with recognition, freedom, status and respect. Most Americans have not achieved this without reaching level five which has occurred in the Trump years.

That is self-actualization level. There are few people in modern society that provide people the freedoms America does just by being a citizen. They experience multiple levels of freedom. You are never totally free unless you have the freedom of economic choice. Once you have that you can achieve self-actualization.

What Trump has provided every ordinary American is the ability to do — as Johnny Paycheck so aptly memorialized — “Take this job and shove it.” If there were a time when every American could do that as they can today, it is unclear when. Certainly few living Americans have had that freedom.

Virtually anyone can say to their boss “I am out of here.” They can get another job the next day. I know plenty of employers who have experienced that from the other side (business owners). How many people do you know who have been able to change companies for a better position because of the economic times we live in? That is self-actualization personified.

For well over a year we have had more jobs than we have people to fill them. Over seven million available. We are at the lowest unemployment rate in fifty years. In the early 1960’s, we defined full employment at 4%. We were told that is because of people in work transition. We have been hovering below that for a year and a half. In the 1970’s we were told full employment was 5%. Talk about defining deviancy down. Our economy was not producing the jobs to achieve full employment so economists refined the definition. We don’t need that now.

You can think of every person who can walk out of their entry level or higher jobs and start singing the Johnny Paycheck song. Or all those people stuck at a job not having any upward mobility who can change companies and obtain a better position with more pay which is more fulfilling. At the low level positions wages are raising at the faster level than at the highest levels giving people an even greater opportunity.

Or seniors who can continue working, giving them a feeling of self-worth. They might even start a second career that gives them experiences that provides them an accomplishment that add years to their lives in a positive manner.

Then think of all those people who can take the risk of starting their own company. Become their own boss. Do something for the economy that might give more Americans greater opportunity. That is self-actualization that allows people freedom at the highest level.

Some may say that the Obama Administration had a fine job record. Yes, it did. A lot of that was a natural recovery after the job losses at the end of the Bush Presidency. The problem is Obama burdened the economy with higher tax rates and greater regulations, Americans were never able to fulfill their true potential.

That is what Trump has done – free the economy. Economists told us if people made more money, inflation would rage. That has not happened. We are experiencing the best economy Americans have lived through. There is no recession in sight and there is not an aspect of the economy such as a housing crisis that should cause us to have anything other than a mild recession when a recession inevitably occurs.

Trump’s opponents will tell you that not everyone has a positive existence. Of course, a great economy will never make everyone happy or be distributed equally. That will never happen. The Democrats have to deride the current situation to justify a change in leadership.

Americans know what is happening to them. They know their life is better and they have a more positive existence which not only benefits them, but their family and friends. We know economics is not all of life. Health and family and community are important elements. But work that is a better experience, where you make more money gives you a good base to fulfill everything else. Certainly, a sense of self-worth (Level 4).

Instead of thinking about all the noise, think of how you and people around you are reaching the top of the Maslow hierarchy. Trump didn’t do it. He did get the government out of the way for us to do it. Don’t you want more of that?