Wealth Over Health: It’s Not Just a Trump Thing

A couple weeks ago, some people criticized United States President Donald Trump for trying to get the United States back to work, which would have defied what public health experts were (and still are) recommending about practices such as social isolation. Some friends and media have expressed shock at the president’s attitude toward the coronavirus, even dubbing it as a “wealth over health” type of attitude.

While I was angered and dismayed that Trump took such a dangerous attitude toward the coronavirus, I also recognize that attitudes similar to Trump’s, attitudes about prioritizing wealth and/or other results over health, is painfully common in society.

I’ve heard horror stories of people in numerous industries feeling that they have to sacrifice their health in favor of the bottom line. Some of my friends and acquaintances in the financial sector have told me stories of how they are expected to stay up late doing work, and then get up at ungodly hours of the morning to see how stock markets open in the Far East or in Europe. I have friends in government tell me about working 16-hour days, often at the sacrifice of self-care (both physically and mentally). I have friends in the nonprofit sector tell me about the work (as rewarding as it may be in certain cases) being so draining that it’s harmful to their physical and mental health. I’ve had friends in the business world who’ve encountered bosses who would work their employees until they are beyond ragged, all in the name of making every last dollar possible.

In summary, prioritizing wealth over health (whatever “wealth” may be, whether that’s money or certain other results) is not just a Trump thing. It’s an issue in many parts of American society, and Trump is only the most famous representative of the wealth-over-health attitude that exists in so many places.

So, if you think Trump’s attitude about the coronavirus was dangerous (I, for one, thought it was), don’t just get angry at Trump. Look at so many of the people around us, and as you look around, see whether some of those people have a Trump-like attitude about work.[1] You might be surprised—a Trump-like attitude about wealth over personal health is a lot more common than many of us realize.


[1] I’ve generally been lucky to have bosses who didn’t ask me to prioritize wealth over health. I am grateful for that. I know some who are not so lucky.