You may remember, what seems like 15 years ago, when Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to offer a candy-related metaphor. In this metaphor, a bowl full of Skittles were refugees, but three of the Skittles were poison. There were many problems with this metaphor.
Trump is back at it with the candy-related metaphors, seeking to make a point about socialism using his daughter’s trick-or-treating haul from Halloween on Tuesday night.
And yet again, he doesn’t seem to have thought it through completely.
“I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home,” Trump Jr. declared. “It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.”
As with the Skittles tweet, Trump appears to have cribbed this idea from someone else. Alex Jones’ conspiracy-theory website posted something Monday featuring a video of kids having to turn over their candy in the name of “socialism.” “WATCH: Kids Learn Painful Lesson on Socialism with Their Halloween Candy,” reads the headline.
And as with the Skittles tweet, this one was met with plenty of skepticism and derision. There are clearly problems with it — not the least of which is that we’re now using cute little kids on Halloween to make political points and that Trump misspelled “too” while talking about teaching his daughter something.
It’s also a gross oversimplification, to be sure. Socialism is defined by the government controlling the means of production and the distribution of goods and services — not simply by high taxes and the rich sharing their wealth with the poor. In fact, our own system, via the graduated income tax, already leads to the wealthy subsidizing the poor through higher income taxes — and taxes in general.
Someone in the highest income bracket already pays 39.6 percent of their income in federal taxes — if you are counting candy collected as “income” — and in fact, the marginal tax rate for high earners in Trump’s home state of New York is already around 50 percent. So that’s actually about the correct amount of candy for Trump to confiscate, even in our capitalist country.
(Coincidental note and full disclosure: The “daddy tax” in our house just happens to be 50 percent — mostly collected in Dots, taffy, and assorted gummy products — but not because I’m teaching my 2-year-old a political lesson.)
There are certainly ways in which the wealthy avoid taxes — which many noted in response to Trump’s tweet — and income via investments is taxed differently. But the point stands that turning over a large chunk of candy would be expected from someone with the last name “Trump.”
And then there’s the inescapable fact that his daughter just literally accepted handouts from other people rather than earning the candy herself via hard work. As some noted, that’s pretty socialism-y.
“You literally took her door-to-door demanding free handouts,” tweeted G. Willow Wilson, a New York author.
Perhaps it’s time to stop boiling complicated issues down to sugary treats. What I think we can all agree on is this:
“Giving away candy to some kid stuck at home would be a really kind thing to do,” Sam Stein of the Daily Beast tweeted.
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix.
The Washington Post