Do Trump’s appointees ask what they can do for their country, or what their country can do for them?

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resigned yesterday (31 January 2018). Her resignation exposes the real change in philosophy that the government is now going through.

Previously, the mission of the CDC, and for the government as a whole for that matter, had been to improve the lives of the people who live in the United States of America. Now, the mission of the government is being shifted towards maximizing the profits of businesses based in the United States. Dr. Fitzgerald figured that out very quickly.

In the first few weeks after she became the director of the CDC, she invested a lot of money in tobacco companies and drug companies with the knowledge that she and her fellow newly appointed government officials could increase the profits of those companies greatly (by removing any restraint on price increases for drugs, and policies that discourage smoking, etc.) These investments fly in the face of the CDC’s mission, because it knows that  “smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.”

Dr. Fitzgerald’s stock purchases took place during the divestiture process, which is when she was advised to divest of stocks that would pose a conflict of interests. Instead, her account manager used this time to “purchased some potentially conflicting stock holdings,” according to politico.com. The purchases include up to $50,000 in various stocks, including Japan Tobacco, which sells four tobacco brands in the United States alone. When the story broke, Dr. Fitzgerald (or someone in the administration) decided that her actions were too blatant, even for these times. She has resigned because she was caught, not because she admits it was wrong.

However, her resignation does nothing to deal with the underlying question:  Is government supposed to protect people, or protect capital?

Two days ago, a president who refuses to release his tax returns or prove he has divested of all his financial or corporation holdings gave his first State of the Union address. Today, a woman holding a lesser position has been forced to resign over lesser indiscretions. We must hold the Commander in Chief to the same standards as those who work for executive branch agencies.

On Tuesday, when Donald Trump talked about putting America first, it appears he was not simply advocating on behalf of the American small businessman, but rather himself. He and members of his administration are profiting from his relationships with foreign powers and control over various executive branches that are rolling back regulations intended to protect consumers?

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