America is addicted. We see this everyday as 100s of Americans die from drug overdoses. The opioid crisis is a national emergency yet the government’s response is insubstantial in comparison to the problem with their most substantial act to declare and reaffirming the national emergency. Critics would suggest it was a media strategy to manage appearances rather than an attempt to change the reality of the crisis.
Americans are addicted to opioids because it provides welcome relief from the chronic pain, both physical and spiritual, that they experience. Life in America has become harder and harder but not simply materially. Many Americans live a life of comparative luxury with a prosperity that is often the envy of the world. Yet, American life is harder because the gap between rich and poor, haves and have nots has widened both in a relative and absolute sense. What is different is that social media magnifies the gap to make it visible and ever present.
The opioid crisis could be treated; but it will take more than Trump’s media strategy to deal with it. Claims of a national emergency and wanting to execute drug dealers sound good and get the Twitter trends that Trump craves, but it does not change anything. For Trump this does not matter since to appear to have acted so he can claim success for his response and blame any failure on those who oppose his preferred option. Unless he plans to start killing pharmaceutical executives and physicians, executing drug dealers will not have an appreciable effect on addiction rates or overdose rates. However, none of that is important so long as he can gain headlines and *appear* to be doing something *tough* and *unpopular* with those his base dislike.
Trump’s concern with appearances brings us to Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. These companies are part of the FANG group of stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) that makes up almost 10% of S&P500 and therefor a sizable part of the US economy. Trump has famously become “obsessed” with Amazon because its founder and CEO is a critic. He is a critic with a difference since he wields great economic power and owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. Trump makes public statements about Amazon’s tax advantages and the way they use the US postal service and these have an impact on Amazon’s share price. However, they have no content since there is little that Trump can do about Amazon’s dominance. Even though he wants the appearance that he is doing…