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Trump's statement at the G7 summit on June 9, 2018:

“It’s going to stop,” he said, “or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it.” He added, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing — and that ends.”
Trump Refuses to Sign G-7

I understand that a piggy bank is a child's bank made in the form of a pig.

But what does it mean in that statement?

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  • Thank all. I'm sure now of the meaning of piggy bank. As a metaphor I judge it rather as an unhappy one for different reasons. some of them given in the answers. I'll just add another one: The USA has no piggy bank, just huge debts and deficits on the budget.
    – Sambenito
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 9:43

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At some level, the idea of "robbing a piggy bank" implies something along the lines of "stealing from children." There is a trope in U.S. popular culture of parents taking small sums from their child's piggy bank—for example, because they don't have enough ready change available for some immediate purpose. Normally the adults would be expected to pay the money back at some point, but in some cases the "borrowing" is permanent.

One consistent aspect of the current U.S. president's purported (and perhaps actual) worldview is the belief that generations of U.S. diplomats and trade negotiators have played the role of trusting, naive children who have been endlessly duped and swindled by their worldly-wise, unscrupulous counterparts from other countries, all of whom are wholly dedicated to maximizing their own national interests at the United States' expense.

This is not the place to discuss the merits or demerits of that view—so I will note simply that the statement "We're like the piggy bank that everybody's robbing—and that ends" invokes the imagined international exploitation of previous gullible U.S. administrations and the imagined unique ability of the current president to impose his notion of fairness on the rest of the world.

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  • He's insulting Americans if the image means what you say. That's the problem with the man, his images when examined make little sense.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 23:23
  • @Lambie: At the risk of politicizing an English Language & Usage page, I must observe that his entire presidency is premised on the notion that political, diplomatic, and scientific experience mean nothing—that expertise in these areas is a sham, and that a world-historic-genius man of the people can do better than all such experts put together. Of course, any such Great Man approach to governance encourages the further infantilization of the voting public, since their job is reduced to recognizing and applauding their leader's greatness and keeping faith that he knows what he's doing.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 0:16
  • I think you come very close to his rhetoric Sven . The guttural relation is the core, not the abstractions of words without memories. Another though of mine was that he wants voters to remember what it was like for your big brother or little brother to steal from your piggy bank and you had to go yell to mom to make them give it back... and it was an obsession when you were 5 years old that someone might come when you weren't looking and open your bank and take out some of the $2.28 cents you had saved up.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 3:40
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As usual the president is mixing his similes and metaphors from one context into another.

He's using the American-Engish language as a malopropistic melange from which phrases are thrown about like spaghetti to see which best sticks to the wall.

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piggy bank TFD In this case the American piggy bank (treasury), used in his talks at the recent G7 summit in Canada. Trump-NYT

  1. A reserve of money; savings:

As in:

"Washington is slipping back into one of its intermittent debates about whether it is time to raid the national piggy bank" (Matthew Wald).

and

[Trump] added, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing — and that ends.”

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Understand what a piggy bank is. It's an object, maybe 6-8 inches long, in the shape a pig. It is hollow, with a slot in the top through which to deposit money.

The earliest piggy banks were made of clay/porcelain and had no provision to open them up to retrieve the money inside -- the theory was that you saved money until it was full, then smashed it open and used the money for some good purpose or deposited it in the (financial institution style) bank. If you just needed a few coins for bus fare or some such you might try using a dinner knife to fish money out through the slot. Later versions of the bank, of course, came with some provision to remove the money through an opening on the bottom.

The idiom "robbing the piggy bank" could be interpreted several ways, but generally implied using the money for other than the originally intended purposes. And, if the image of the un-openable ceramic unit is in mind, it could imply a certain violent nature to the "theft".

Of course, in today's day and age many people have never even seen a piggy bank in use, and few are aware of the issues surrounding the ceramic unit. So the meaning and implications of the idiom are very vague, unless context provides a foundation.

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