“Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.”
—J. Paul Getty
It’s often said that money can buy happiness. Some who give it more thought admit that it doesn’t necessarily buy happiness, but it enhances the chances of achieving happiness.
Regardless of what money does for happiness, it seems clear that money certainly increases the chances of you getting what you want. Nowhere is there a better example this past week than Donald Trump opening up the Trump International Golf Links in Scotland. Trump himself teed off with some golf celebs on July 17th, and the course officially opened up to the public on the 22nd. Using conceit and puffery as only Trump can, he stated “This is the truly greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Everybody knows it.”
The construction of this particular course was surrounded by controversy, and environmentalists protested loudly and clearly about their concerns. According to The Guardian, the course was built on 4000-year-old coastal sand dunes in Aberdeenshire. These were supposed to be protected by the Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest. In fact, both the government-funded Scottish Natural Heritage and even Trump’s own ecologists protested that the construction of the course—particularly the back nine—was unnecessarily destructive.
Despite the environmental sensitivity of the land, the course went ahead anyway. As is so common in the world, the economy of today won out over the environment of tomorrow. In November 2008, the Scottish government gave Trump permission to go ahead and build his course after concluding that damage to the environment was outweighed by the potential economic value of the resort.
Not everyone in the Scottish government was in favour of the course’s construction, however. Marin Ford, a Liberal Democrat councilor, voted against it. As he stated after the vote in 2008, “This is a very, very bad precedent indeed and sends out a bad message about the protection in Scotland of our natural heritage sites. It appears to me to be a vanity project. I don’t think we can claim this is a nationally important development, and it certainly did not need to be built on this site.”
And he wasn’t the only one to speak out against the project. A group of residents known as “Tripping Up Trump” didn’t want the golf course to be built. Also, an award-winning documentary made by the Montrose Pictures film company entitled “You’ve Been Trumped” was made about the project, showing the side of the protestors and their ultimate loss in the battle for preserving their environment. You can see the trailer for the documentary below.
One of the oddest footnotes to this story is that Trump is considering moving the course to Ireland instead. Why after going to the trouble of constructing the whole thing would he consider moving it? Turns out it’s because of wind energy. (The environment just can’t get a break when it comes to Donald Trump, can it?) Plans for the construction of an offshore wind farm only three miles away just aren’t good enough for “the world’s greatest golf course,” as Trump likes to refer to it.
He even testified before the Scottish parliamentary committee on Economy, Energy, and Tourism this past April to express his unhappiness with the idea, arguing that the wind farm would be detrimental to tourism. When asked to provide the evidence to back up that claim, he displayed the ultimate audacity by stating “I am the evidence.”
So first to destroy environmentally protected land for the sake of a golf course, and then to threaten to pack up your toys and go if wind turbines are built three miles away. Money may not buy happiness, but apparently it can buy whatever you want. If your name is Donald Trump.