At year’s end, three puzzlers remain

Some stuff doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve puzzled out two or three items for several weeks now — in fact, some of them for several months. But they still don’t add up.

A pair of them are political. The third is — well, call it behaviorist.

NUMBER ONE: If Donald Trump and his team didn’t collude with Russia before and after the 2016 election, why don’t they cooperate with the investigations by special counsel Mueller and congressional committees?

If they’re innocent, as they claim, why not just call up Mueller and the House and Senate investigating committees (I think there are three committees on the hunt, but there may be more)? Tell them: “We’d like to clear the air. Ask us anything you want. Ask us questions, ask us for documents, ask us for timelines. We’ll tell you and show you anything you want to know.”

Trump and his people have plenty of governing to do. Governing the United States is not easy. It takes time, planning and getting educated about how the government works.

If they’re innocent, there’s no need to stonewall.

The effort they’re putting into drawing out the investigations for months, maybe longer, is totally unnecessary. Just turn over all the emails, the phone conversation records, the travel schedules, the financial documents and whatever they’ve got tucked away in their memories.

Cooperating would end the investigating slog much quicker. It would leave the Democrats, the media and other doubters looking foolish. I would think Trump, the Champion Negotiator, could see that.

The only explanation for turning it into the teeth-pulling exercise it’s become is that the investigation’s targets have something to hide. Suspicion continues to mount in the public’s perception, and Trump’s approval rating continues to drop. And now he and his Fox News and congressional supporters are trash-talking Mueller and the FBI.

It doesn’t make any sense.

NUMBER TWO: If the recently enacted tax legislation is designed “to help hard-working middle-class Americans keep more of their hard-earned money, which they know how to spend better than Washington does” — sound familiar? — why did wealthy Americans get most of the tax breaks?

Congress could have drafted the bill to give breaks just to middle-class and poorer people. There’s no law that says the wealthy have to get most of the action. They don’t need it.

I’m not talking about the provisions that benefit corporations, although that’s a topic worth pursuing. I’m asking why the top tax rate for individuals who earn more than a million dollars a year drops from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

That’s a cut of 2.6 percentage points, or $26,000. Why does someone earning a million dollars a year need a tax break of $26,000?

The new tax structure will boost the federal debt by a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) over the next 10 years, even after the economic growth benefits of the act are factored in. It’s not as though the government, and those who benefit from its programs, can’t use the money.

The share of American wealth owned by the top one percent has grown today to its highest level in many decades, while that held by the bottom 90 percent has shrunk proportionately.

The new tax structure makes the situation worse.

It doesn’t make any sense.

Finally, NUMBER THREE: Why do men in positions of power commit sexual harassment?

One of the lessons of history is that power is an aphrodisiac in our society. If a wealthy, famous or influential man, married or not, wants to have a fling, he can probably find one.

This is not to condone such activity.

It’s rather to question what drives powerful men to inflict their unwanted attentions on less powerful women, all too often ruining the victims’ lives for decades, costing them their jobs, driving them into therapy.

There are degrees of harassment, of course. But it’s not right to make a woman choose between acquiescing and losing her job or her dignity.

A man who treats a woman with courtesy, thoughtfulness and respect is surely more attractive than one whose unwelcome words and deeds intrude into someone’s life.

It doesn’t make any sense.

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