On Reform

There’s tons of articles about Trump’s character, how he won the election, obstructionism then and now, and so on.  Yesterday the media message was all about fake news; right now the big thing is his cabinet confirmation process, and tomorrow there’ll be something else, depending on what people choose to be scandalized about.  But in the mean while, things will be happening, and we shouldn’t lose sight of them amid all the hype.

So let’s boil it down to essentials:  We’ve got a brand new president coming in, and his platform was Reform.

It’s not going to be a minor thing, either.  Judging on past performance, it’s a fair bet that there are big sweeping changes coming, most in the direction of perceived efficiency.

Note that word “perceived”:  It’s not going to be about substance, for the most part; it’ll be about appearing to have substance.  Because that’s how populist reform works most of the time, and this time there’s guaranteed to be a lot of publicity.  Why?  Because Trump, that’s why.

Thing is, we know this is about to happen, but everyone’s still in shock over the election, and we’re not discussing what, or how, or what we actually want to happen.  And we should, especially if we want to have any influence over what Congress decides to do. So here’s a short list of the things that I’m predicting will get addressed in the near future and why:

  • Healthcare:  It’s been the hot-button issue for eight years.  It has got to be addressed; the public demands it.  Everyone’s concerned about this, one way or the other.  What will happen, I couldn’t tell you; what we want to have happen — that’s complicated.  But it’s going to happen.
  • The Veterans Administration:  Scandals and horror stories and nastiness have been the norm for as long as I can remember.  In my opinion, how we handle veteran’s care is one of the most important things in government, but inefficiency has crippled the agency.  I want to talk about “a debt of honor” and so on, but I won’t; it’s enough to say that most of America is outraged and horrified.  And many of those people voted Trump.
  • Food Stamps:  It’s a tiny program in the big scheme of things, but it’s the target of continual outrage.  This is an easy target but a hard fix.  My bet is, it’s going to be talked about a lot at the very least.
  • Agency Elimination:  Several federal agencies with cabinet-level administration are about to get eviscerated.  DeVos for Education and Perry for Energy are two examples of cabinet nominees that shout this as a goal; there are others.  And it’s an easy target for a president; all he has to do is cut federally and shift the costs to states and he can point at a massive savings on paper without even a dime less getting spent.
  • Immigration:  “The Wall” was a major campaign promise.  So was deporting six million people.  Something’s going to happen; God knows what or how much.
  • The United Nations:  Trump also ran on a nationalist platform.  A lot of the public expects he’ll be doing something about USAID and the massive annual contribution we make to the UN; they’re easy ‘fixes’ that cost money without an apparent bottom-line return.
  • Copyright Law/China Trade:  We think of these as separate issues, but our overall trade imbalance is exacerbated by minimal international recognition and enforcement of American copyright law.  But right now, China is moving toward a position of economic confrontation in the Pacific, and already Trump has made first moves in that diplomatic game.  Something’s coming, but again — God only knows what.
  • The Middle East:  It’s easy to criticize the foreign policy of the past two administrations, but exactly what is the new guy gonna do?  The words “magic wand” have been mentioned.  I guess we’ll wait and see.
  • The War On Drugs:  Trump’s supporters and the far right wing are traditionally about law and order in the guise of tougher penalties and harsher laws.  On the other hand, the American people are clearly ready for marijuana to be legalized.  Additionally, international commissions have declared that the War On Drugs is over, and we lost.  Again, something is going to happen — and, if Trump is serious about saving money, he may actually consider legalization.

There’s other things I haven’t mentioned, mainly because the potential for reform is so very huge.  Government waste is proverbial — though, to be sure, a lot of it exists in myth more than practice; the four hundred dollar ashtray is a good example.

But it is likely to be apparent reform and perceived fixes that we’re about to see.  Some will have real impact, of course, and some may even be unexpectedly good.  We really don’t know right now.  The one thing we can be certain of is that, whatever it is that gets ‘fixed’ first is going to be a major talking point in the news.

So let’s start discussing reform ourselves right now and get a head start on everyone, shall we?

Expect more articles in the next few weeks — especially if you encourage me by commenting.

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