I do not believe in karma. At least, I do not believe in it the way it is so often popularly portrayed, as the all-avenging universal corrector of wrongs and ultimate punisher of the wicked. I have seen too many good people fall prey to unearned, undeserved hardship in my life, and too many evil bastards get away with their evil, to credit the notion that justice is a thing that will always come to those who wait. This notion is best summarized for me in a photograph. If you’ve seen the Kevin Carter, 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, “Struggling Girl,” you know exactly what I am referring to. It is a picture of a tiny, African toddler, dying in the tundra, with a vulture patiently waiting nearby. You people with your glib karma memes need to explain that one to me. If that picture doesn’t break your heart in two, then you are not human.
I do, however, believe in poetic justice. And by that I mean, justice that comes every now and again to the deeply deserving, served up in a way that is perfectly, situationally apt. Poetic justice is justice that is, at times, so perfectly suited to its object as to be worthy of being celebrated in verse. Hence the “poetic” part.
I am referring to what very well may happen to Donald Trump on January 21, 2021, if we can successfully jettison him from office, and the very thing that Trump fears above all else. No, I’m not referring to prison. Putting Trump in prison will be the icing on the cake, but the actual cake is called “RICO.” If you’re unfamiliar with it, RICO is an acronym that stands for, “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”
According to Wikipedia, under RICO “those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count.” Here’s the part that frightens Trump: “In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.””
Donald Trump’s criminal conduct, the illegal activities of his organizations and his corrupt abuse of high office certainly qualify as racketeering. But it even gets better, because, again, according to Wikipedia, “When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, they have the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to temporarily seize a defendant’s assets and prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. This provision was placed in the law because the owners of Mafia-related shell corporations often absconded with the assets.” In other words, the second Trump steps out of the Oval Office, all of his possessions, including trust funds, bank accounts, Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street, Mar-A-Lago, all of his golf resorts, stocks and bonds, cars, boats, jewellery, personal items of value – everything – can be seized and held “temporarily” (which, often as not, means “permanently”) by the federal government or the state of New York. (New York is one of the 33 states to adopt RICO as law. Unlucky for Trump.)
In other words, not only will Donald Trump be poor, he will also look poor. He could literally qualify as homeless if he falls far enough, particularly if upon departure he has also been impeached and convicted. One very real possible consequence of impeachment can include the loss of the presidential pension.
The problem we need to worry about is that Donald Trump is frightened right now. And a frightened, stupid, cowardly cretin with no impulse control and virtually limitless power is a very dangerous thing. If Trump falls in this manner, I, for one, still won’t believe in karma. But it will become for me the best example I can think of for poetic justice.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.