Remember how vulgar and demanding but charismatic General Patton was?
By Nancy Thorner and Ed Clarke –
Ed Clarke lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and works as a consultant to high technology companies. During his career, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for three high technology, middle market, privately owned companies with responsibilities in accounting and finance, human resources, information technology, operations and contracts.
Before working as CFO, Ed was a consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. working on information systems and internal control projects. Early in his career, Ed was an officer in the US Army Signal Corps with tours in Vietnam and at the signal corps product development and research laboratory at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In addition to being a CPA, Ed earned degrees in Engineering from Harvard and Stanford and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
I first met Ed Clarke, the youngest of three children of Elizabeth and Edwin Richards Clark II, upon the death of his mother, Elizabeth R. Clarke. Here is the Link to my article published on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at Illinois Review, Heartland hosts tribute to Illinois conservative Patriot Elizabeth A. Clarke.
It was Ed Clarke’s early career as an officer in the US Army Signal Corps, with time spent in Vietnam, coupled with his career as a consultant and a finance and accounting expert, that prompted me to take seriously the unpublished articles Ed shared recently with me, articles which set forth original perspectives the public needs to know when voting in this very important November election.
Ed Clarke qualified to render judgment
As Ed explained in the first of his shared article, although he didn’t work for Donald Trump, he did work for people like Trump who were bombastic, egotistical, energetic, at times vulgar, but at other times generous and gracious, a person much like General George Patton. Ed reminded us to remember Patton’s signature look of polished riding boots, riding crop and pearl-handle pistols on each hip. Remember how vulgar and demanding but charismatic Patton was?
Trump, Patton and each of the people Ed worked for were charismatic in their own way. Ed then expressed surprise at the number of people who would leave the employment of such a person only to later return. The Trumps of the world are very demanding. They respect those who can hold their own and will stand up to them but had little time for those who would not.
Reflections of Trump as a businessman, entrepreneur and real estate developer
In the words of Ed Clarke:
The undeniable record of Donald Trump as a businessman, entrepreneur and real estate developer is that he found ways for contending parties to work together to accomplish goals. Think what it would be like to be a high profile real estate developer. Besides needing a vision of a market opportunity for a specific property and sketching out what that might look like with planners and an architect, the developer has to convince a planning/zoning board to approve it. She/he has to negotiate with suppliers who can deliver the products needed to the specifications, price and time-line required. She/he has to work with the building trades to get the building built.
Deadlines are missed, material is substandard, weather causes delays, there is contention and rancor among the trades, and there are always financial constraints and penalty clauses for being late. At each step, there is no “correct” answer and often no good answer. The developer must find a way forward that the contending participants support sufficiently to agree and carry it out.
Ed Clarke tells of how he once sat in on a construction meeting for a large building in which the construction superintendent had to navigate through the arguments among the trades as to who was responsible for what and how to prioritize the work when materials were not available on time. This is the world in which Donald Trump has been successful.
As such, Clarke believes Trump would do the same as President. He will get people from all sides of an issue together (including Democrats), listen to the opposing points of view and provide the leadership to find a sensible way forward.
About stiffing suppliers
We read that the Donald stiffed some suppliers. We cannot know all the facts. Certainly there can be many legitimate reasons for not paying a supplier everything billed. Construction is a rough and tumble business. It is probably true that Trump did not pay every supplier for everything the supplier wanted to be paid. There are at least two sides to every story. If Trump really made a habit of treating suppliers unfairly, no one would sell to him. But the reality is that lots of people do work with the Trump organization so these claims of non-payment cannot be as egregious as claimed.
About Exploitation of Tax Code
“Some people complain the Donald ‘exploited the tax code’ by deducting losses from around 1990 against income from later years. But you never read that the real estate market in the late 1980s had fallen apart, due largely to bad government policies. Most capital intensive businesses lost big money during those years,” Clarke said. He went on:
I was working for a building products company at the time. In one year, the business lost $100 million dollars on revenue of $450 million. The company could not give away an empty office building they owned in Texas. As for the tax code, Trump is vilified for following the tax code that was passed by the same politicians who are now claiming his actions are somehow wrong. In fact, the tax code makes lots of sense.”
As a CPA, I know that measuring profit is pretty arbitrary, especially in capital intensive industries like real estate development. Of course losses in one year should be offset against income in subsequent years! Writers who claim to be qualified on such subjects make it sound as though depreciation, as a non-cash item, is a subterfuge for reducing taxes that is only available to real estate developers. Such nonsense!
Of course depreciation is a non-cash item but the capital spending from which the depreciation is derived is a big cash item. All businesses, not just real estate, are required under the tax code to depreciate capital spending. Depreciation is just a way to spread the capital asset expenditure over a period of time arbitrarily defined by politicians. And of course losses in one business are used to offset profits in other businesses.
Instead of being vilified, Trump should be admired for persevering through this extremely tough time and finding a solution that worked for his creditors as well as for himself. Lots of people had to sign off on each step of the way. Trump is vilified for following the law and Clintons are excused over and over again for violating the law.
About Use of Bankruptcy
“We read that many of the businesses started by Donald Trump failed; some went into bankruptcy. That is what entrepreneurs do. They start businesses. If you don’t have some businesses that failed, you have not tried often enough. It takes vision, tenacity and often times luck. Rather than emphasize the failures, people should emphasize the successes. People that lost money on these ventures knew they were taking a risk. If what you are doing is not working ‘cut bait’ and try something else. We could use some political leadership that takes this approach,” Clarke said.
About Character as Reflection of Children
“Another measure of a man’s character is the children he has raised. The Trump children and their spouses are people to emulate: confident, independent, well-spoken and each successful in their own right and all very loyal and supportive of their father. Think how many prominent public citizens cannot say the same.”
Ed Clarke reflects on Trump’s national defense strategy
According to Ed:
Pundits make this way too complicated. Osama bin Laden showed us the way. He said that people will follow the strong horse. Makes sense to me. And that is what people in the Middle East have been doing, following the strong horses of ISIS, Iraq and Russia.
President Obama and the Democrats have chosen to ‘lead from behind’ (who likes a back seat driver?), dramatically cut defense spending, drive dedicated warrior-officers and religion out of the military and make the military into an experiment in diversity.
Talk to people who recently left the military and you will find that standards have been lowered, morale is down and good people are leaving. All this looks like a very weak horse to me! Obama deploys troops in just sufficient numbers to insure they fail.
Teddy Roosevelt is reported to have said the US ‘should walk softly and carry a big stick.’ Sounds to me like the same thing Bin Laden said. While Trump does not seem to have the patience to explain it this way, that is what he is advocating when he emphasizes rebuilding the military.
If the US were a “strong horse,” domestic Jihadi violence would decline, Clarke said.
“So would Jihadi recruitment. No one wants to back a loser. The best recruiting message for ISIS is Obama and Clinton.”