Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (With Nepotism)


Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

(With Nepotism)

By Ross Turner

In The Moment

Nepotism is having a moment right now.  Arguably, this moment never ended, but it has found renewed vigor in the presidency of Donald J. Trump.  Nepotism simply means favoritism towards relatives, usually expressed by their appointment to unearned positions.  The word stems from the Latin nepos, meaning nephew, which during the Middles Ages became nepotismo in Italian. Nepotismo referred to the tendency of Popes and bishops to assign relatives to positions of power.  Since they took vows of chastity and had no sons of their own, these assignments often fell to nephews.  The word may be medieval, but the practice is as old as mankind.  We are biologically hardwired to favor our kin over strangers, but this doesn’t mean that family is always fit for the job.

The Nepos Scale

History is rife with examples of nepotism that highlight its often disastrous consequences.  From the formation and collapse of the Roman Empire, to countless mad kings lording over the realms of Europe, much bloodshed and tumult has occurred as a result of incompetent kin who never should have held power in the first place. Nonetheless, families can’t seem to help themselves and keep on appointing each other to run their businesses and countries (into the ground.)  So, in the spirit of family, let us survey the Trump clan and see how far nepotism has taken them.  To assist in our appraisals, I’ve developed a highly scientific metric called the “Nepos Scale.”  Zero nepos is billing your toddler for diapers; five nepos is promoting your toddler to Director of Operations.

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Jared Kushner Ego

D. S. Mitchell

A Changed Perception

In 2002, Elizabeth Spiers became the founding editor of Gawker.  Next Spiers became Editor in Chief of the N.Y. Observer, working for Jared Kushner, for 18 months, until 2012 when she resigned.  She is now a contributor to the Washington Post.  She tells us in a front page story for the Post that when she went to work for Kushner she believed he was interested in developing the newspaper and expanding it.  However, after less than two years Spiers, changed her view of Kushner’s mission and quit.

Past Experience

Kushner and associates tout his extensive business knowledge and experience.  He worked for his families real estate business.  No matter how big it was, it was not the size of the Pentagon, or the State Department. Spiers and I, both doubt that any skills Kushner learned in private business are transferable to public service. Jared Kushner ran a firm he inherited. That in itself is not necessarily an uncommon situation. However, the New York City commercial real estate realm is both “dynastic and insular” and in no way appears to build skills that are easily carried to government service.

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