Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

I hope by the time anyone reads this that Wilbur Ross is not a part of our federal government.

In the meantime, I hope my fellow West Virginians will join me in a true appreciation of our Commerce Secretary.

Yes, I take up my pen because Ross has shown once again that he understands nothing and he is incapable of compassion. Lucky for Ross he works for Donald Trump, the only man who could outpace Ross in lack of knowledge and compassion.

My brothers and sisters in West Virginia, before we take up Ross’ most recent headlines, please remember his great contribution to the West Virginia economy. He bought a small coal mine called Sago that would be the site where 12 of our miners died. So we know what his lack of knowledge and compassion can do.

As the shutdown continues (Editor’s note: The column was written before the end of the shutdown on Friday.), Ross is probably rubbing his bony hands together and thinking: I am glad there are no federal inspectors to come snooping around my properties.

If you have forgotten, back in the day when federal inspectors were working, they turned up at Sago frequently. They wrote out as many safety failures as they could find at Sago, and they found plenty. So Ross had warnings before he killed people that he owned a dangerous mine. Ross likes to distance himself from Sago, saying it was just a small company caught in his endless reach, and really he only “indirectly owned it through International Coal Group,” according to a quote in Wikipedia.

Please also note, Ross bought another company West Virginians will remember. Ross purchased the bankrupt coal company, Horizon Resources. After Ross had squeezed it tightly enough, another paragon of safety purchased Horizon: Don Blankenship.

But to return to Ross’ most recent comments. In case you missed his latest display of insensitivity, let me bring you up to date. Ross explained that it does not matter that 800,000 federal workers are without pay, the marvelous GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will not take a serious hit.

Now everyone knows I am not a math major. But if 800,000 workers will not dent the mighty GDP, I, non-math person, believe those 12 dead West Virginians did not even make it into Ross’ books.

Ross is probably Trump’s wealthiest cabinet member. He pushed his way into the rarified air by buying up bankrupt companies or “distressed assets” as Ross would say. He earned the title the “King of Bankruptcies.” Once he had those businesses in his clutches, he always made them more distressed by stripping away workers’ health care and pension benefits.

If you saw the Trump documentaries on Netflix, there is a picture of the two men together. That was in the 1980s when Trump was only bankrupting his own companies. Not like now when he is bankrupting the moral high ground we Americans prize.

You can see Ross’ turtle-like face near Trump’s orange glow. Ross is there as Trump’s palaces of consumption are on the chopping block. Now I am an English major. Having the two together so early in their shared history is what we English majors call “foreshadowing.”

Yes, the two together so early in life when Trump was just a young bankrupt and Ross had only picked over a few carcasses. But as each ripened with age, of course, they would meet again. Of course, Trump would want Ross on his team; he had seen up close how Ross could pull the meat off the bones.

Trump also saw Ross valiantly throw himself in front of bondholders on Trump’s behalf. Three of Trumps casinos were in foreclosure, but Ross kindly convinced bondholders to go easy on young Trump. The results of striking that deal allowed Trump to keep control over his dens of inequity.

Forbes magazine has also reported that Ross has reached across the pond, all the way to Russia, to pick up a company there. So, again, Trump and Ross have so much in common.

Ross also said he could not understand why federal workers did not go to a bank or credit union for a loan to tide them over during this period of “liquidity crisis.” That’s Ross-talk for no money.

When “this whole thing gets settled down,” Ross said. Settled down? Like children? Of course, I am forgetting his child boss started “this whole thing.”

If Ross is so money smart, does he not understand that no one wants to pay interest on the salary they are due? If you are paying back a loan with interest on your duly earned wages, you will quickly go into the hole.

So you have no gas in your vehicle to take you to your job that you are mandated to go to even though you have not been paid for more than a month, just get a loan, chump.

The Donald got loans from his Dad all the time to keep him out of the poor house.

And Ross used such techniques as lying, conflicts of interest and “grifting” to put money in his pocket, a stroll through Wikipedia will show.

Trump and Ross are also members of a Republican club that believes no one needs government, so the idea that government workers are out of work does not even register in their thinking.

We English majors also know that reading helps you become more empathetic with all people. As you read, “The Grapes of Wrath,” you can feel compassion for people who are working hard just to earn their daily bread, not a down payment on a third home.

The rich are different from you and me, F. Scott Fitzgerald told us. Yes, they are. But I would hope anyone, regardless of tax bracket, could understand the anxieties of people who are employed on paper, but who cannot buy food for their children.

My reading of Wikipedia also told me that young Ross wanted to be a writer. When his teacher required that he write 500 words a day, young Ross changed career paths. He protested he had “run out of material.”

How precious for an English major like me! I could aim 500 words a day just at Ross alone, and many more at his boss.

Williams is a retired Gazette reporter who lives in Falls View.

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