The government in the United States is open and running again...at least for the moment. The man with the elaborate comb-over did not get his wall. In fact, he gained nothing and it would seem he has now lost the support of some Republicans. It also appears he may even have lost some of his base.
There is no question that Donald Trump had virtually no empathy for those who worked without pay for 35 days. He even talked about how those people were happy to do just that to show their support for the wall...never mind that a poll showed 71% of Americans felt a wall was unnecessary. Prior to his shutting down the government Trump seemed unable to think ahead enough to understand the potential negative impact on government workers...and the impact on the economy.
As the days wore on - with those workers clearly stating their concerns about being able to feed their families, put gas in their car, and pay the mortgage - the President of the United States simply crossed his arms and refused to open the government unless he was given a wall. Wilbur Ross, the President's Secretary of Commerce couldn't understand why those government employees would stand in line at a soup kitchen or at the food bank. He thought they should simply go out and get a loan. After all...they would only have to pay some interest on the loan. It seems fairly clear that Ross really does not understand economics...at least the economics that impact the average person.
Then there is Roger Stone, the man with Richard Nixon's face tattooed on his back. He was arrested and charged in a seven-count indictment at his Fort Lauderdale home...the 6th person close to President Trump to face federal charges. All of the six were active in Trump's campaign. One has to wonder about someone who idolized a person who was forced to resign his presidency.
It is not only some in the United States that might be a little short on empathy for others. A Halifax businessman, Hector Mantolino made some emotional apologies before Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Glen MacDougall on January 25th. However, his apologies were not to the 28 people he brought from the Philippines to work in his cleaning business...then cheated out of a portion of their wages. His apologies were to his family. He went on to say that “If I had known the consequences to what I have done, I would not have done it ever.”
What Hector Mantolino did was to drastically short-change his workers on their pay by a least $500,000 dollars. The reported salaries included that amount; however, the workers did not see that portion of the pay. Because his workers had to be employed for a full two years before they could apply for an open visa, the pathway permanent resident status and eventual citizenship, he found it easy to take advantage of them. If they complained about Mantolino's tactics they would lose their status and be deported.
Interestingly, defence lawyer Ian Hutchison feels Mantolino should be given a conditional sentence since “it was a choice by the workers to participate in this misrepresentation.” It might be possible that a defence lawyer would like to portray those workers as being as conniving as their boss-man. I don't buy it...and it is quite likely Justice MacDougall also might not accept Hutchison's argument.
The judge has reserved his sentencing decision. Come to think of it, a tearful apology to his family (while neglecting to apologize to real victims) could be seen as a ploy. If Mantolino can convince the court his family will suffer if he does prison time, he may win a get-out-of jail pass.
Here is my thinking. Humans who have empathy do not hold a country hostage to keep a stupid and expensive campaign promise. Humans who have empathy do not wonder why unpaid government workers simply don't go out a get a loan. Humans who have empathy do not steal e-mails in order to steal an election. Finally, humans who have empathy do not take wages from their workers...in order to line their own pockets.
Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.