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20 Nov. 2016


Dear Friends and Patriots,


          I told you my next plan proposal would dwell on the budget, debt, and deficit, but it won’t.  I’ll save that discussion for last.  My head is elsewhere today. In my proposal, Part I, I advocated for shutting down functions and offices of the Executive Branch.  That’s a topic in need of expansion before I get into the budget discussion.  It’s all related.  And, while I’m on that tangent, I intend to wander even further afield.


          To that idea of shutting down executive functions and offices, recall I mentioned the review of enacting legislation?  I should have emphasized that as a vital element and the possible key to governmental improvement.  If an office or function exists with no solid link to enacting legislation it should be quite easy for the President to shut it down or reorganize its functions.  Those that exist due to specifics of legislation may require Congressional action to do anything other than review.  The bottom-up reviews should result in lists of functions, offices, and agencies the administration needs Congressional consent to change in a material way.  Those should all be bundled in reform legislation proposals and sent to the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader for consultation and legislative action.  Most of the mess we consider excess in one way or another is the fault of Congress, and in most cases, only Congressional action can clean it up.  How that can happen will be discussed in Part III of this plan proposal.


          One of my fervent hopes is Mr. Trump will attack and dismantle the shadow administration put in place by Presidents Bush 43 and Obama.  You  do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  If not, allow me to rant for a bit.  I’m talking about the highly paid appointed officials who wield power behind the scenes – the so-called Czars. 


          Czar isn’t an official title.  It’s something the press likes and uses, and it’s a hand way to think of the people in those positions.  They are tasked to develop and impose administration policies in very specific areas, and they don’t answer to anyone but the Executive Staff and the President.  My issue with the Czars is their complete lack of accountability to the citizens.  They aren’t elected, and many of them aren’t even interviewed by the Senate, much less confirmed.  They operate outside the usual cabinet structure.  Together they comprise the actual power of the Executive Department.  It’s a structure that has to be dealt with if our government is to become remotely translucent, never mind transparent.  Don’t look for transparency.  That’s not happening.  Settle for translucence and consider it a vast improvement, because it would be.


          Just to reinforce the point, here is some information related to the Czars. 


          The first such officeholders were put there by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He had 11 titled Czars and put a total of 19 people in those offices, with only two of them actually enduring a Senate vetting and consent process.  The number of Czars dropped after WWII, to a low number during the Reagan administration.  Ronald Reagan had just one Czar, and he underwent the Constitutional process of Senatorial advice and consent, just like a Cabinet or other high level appointee.  George Bush 41 had two Czar titles, and three appointees, but never sent any of them to Capital Hill for confirmation.  Bill Clinton ramped the number up to eight titles and eleven total appointees, and of those, seven actually were confirmed by the Senate.  After Clinton something dramatic happened.  It was one of those things that led me to understand George Bush 43 as a progressive.  He had a total of 33 titled Czar positions, and 49 appointees.  Of those 49, 28 underwent the confirmation process.  The latest numbers I could find for the Obama administration indicates he increased the number of titled positions to 38, and has appointed 44.  Of those 44 there were 35 who were confirmed, mostly in his first year in office, when Democrats controlled both houses of legislature.


          Now, let’s take a different look at the Czars.  Let’s admire some of the titles they hold and speculate a bit on what they might do for us. 


          There’s one called the Afghanistan and Pakistan Czar, responsible for formulation of all U.S. policy dealing with those two nations.  If you thought the State Department was supposed to do that, so did I. 


          Then, there’s the AIDS Czar.  That office seems to busy themselves with how our nation deals with AIDS in other countries.  I’m not sure that’s anyone’s job, and not at all sure it should be.


          We actually have an Asian Carp Czar.  I’m quite sure that’s supposed to be under U.S.D.A., but evidently Asian carp felt like they deserve more attention, so they have their very own Czar. 


          We have a person known as the Autoworker Czar.  Don’t ask me about him; I don’t have a clue.  It seems to be some kind of sop to the United Auto Workers union.


          I do know the Border Czar’s function, though.  That’s the person who ensures our Border Patrol has plenty of doughnuts to keep them busy instead of guarding our borders (Just being sarcastic, you BP guys.  You know I love you!)   


          There’s the Budget Czar, who mostly interferes with the Office of Management and Budget, who are supposed to be doing all that. 


          There’s the Global Warming Czar, who seems to be in charge of creating propaganda disguised as policy, intended to scare us into thinking man-caused global warming isn’t the hoax all rational people know it to be. 


          There’s such a thing as a Copyright Czar, who must exist to create policies to protect Chinese copyright thieves, because she doesn’t seem to do much else. 


          There’s a Cyber Czar, who seems to be doing a bang-up job of developing policy intended to protect us from all kinds of cyber threats.  Yeah, I know, how’s that working?  I thought that was the NSA’s job, didn’t you?


          We have a Domestic Violence Czar for reasons I cannot fathom, and don’t want to think about. 


          We have an Ebola Czar, who develops policies intended to either protect us from Ebola, or protect Ebola from us; I’m not sure which. 


          President Obama created an Ethics/Transparency Czar.  Yes, that’s the person who keeps things completely opaque.  Now you know; someone actually has a full-time job keeping the people from knowing what the heck is happening.  It’s not just the media.


          We have a Faith-Based Czar.  Please, don’t get me started.  Isn’t the First Amendment clear enough?  Do we actually have to have a Czar to know what’s right and not regarding the free exercise of religion?  Someone thinks we do.


          There’s a person with the title of Great Lakes Czar.  What?  Some single individual now controls every aspect of the Great Lakes?  Really?


          Have you heard that we have an Iran Czar?  Do the Iranians know?  Is that the person who helps Iran find materials they need for their nuclear program, or does he just create policies aimed at helping them while appearing not to?  I give up.


          President Obama has a Manufacturing Czar.  Wow!  That guy has done a magnificent job in the past eight years.  Policies he’s promoted have ensured more manufacturing jobs than ever have gone to needy Mexicans and Chinese.  I wonder how he’s paid?


          President Obama also has an Urban Affairs Czar.  I wonder what policies that office creates.  How to have a successful urban affair?  No, really, what are they doing?  Our large cities are a mess, with high crime, overly expensive and sub-standard housing, growing numbers of homeless people, decaying infrastructure, murder rates out the wazoo, and extremely high unemployment rates.  So, what exactly does the Urban Affairs Czar do that make the office worth keeping?


          Did you know Obama has a War Czar and a Weapons Czar as well?  I won’t elaborate.  It’s just not worth it.  Nor is it worth it to comment on the Weapons of Mass Destruction Czar or the Weatherization Czar.  It just gives me a headache.


          So, why did I beat you senseless with all that mish-mash of stupidity?  Because, otherwise you wouldn’t know, and you need to.  You need to know the people in those positions are on special salary scales and many get paid more than our President.  You need to know they’re there, and that they’re almost completely unaccountable.  You need to know in almost every instance there’s a part of our government that already has the mission to do the Czar’s tasking.  By law, that’s not supposed to be legal.  By federal statute, no duplication of tasking or mission is allowed.  This is our shadow government.  It has to end.  The Trump administration should take swift action to bring all those activities into full daylight, then keep what’s useful and shut down what’s not.  Useful functions should be incorporated into the Executive Branch departments, where they always should have been.


          Let’s move on.


          The new administration will need to appoint or re-affirm all of the diplomats operating our embassies throughout the world.  It’s a big task, but one that’s vital for each administration.  Ambassadors are the face of America in foreign lands.  They must be chosen with care to represent the interests of our nation while they reflect the will and policies of the administration they work for.  It may take a year to get the entire diplomatic corps turned over.  The sooner the better.  Hopefully the Trump people will choose diplomats who aren’t from the “We Owe These Guys” list, like many other administrations have done.  They must ensure Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg gets bounced out of Japan very early.  She’s eaten more than enough sushi and I know the Japanese were tired of her even before she arrived on their islands.


          The new administration should establish downsizing goals.  While it’s true other administrations tried to downsize, almost all failed.  The best attempt was actually Bill Clinton’s, but the effect of his efforts was to shift money and bodies into the support contractor sector, so in the end it was almost a zero-sum game.  The federal workforce is not just actual civil servants, you understand.  For each one of those there are as many as three support contractors who “help” government people to get their tasks accomplished.  Think of that total number, actual govvies plus support contractors, like a balloon.  Clinton’s cutbacks were like squeezing one end of the federal labor force balloon.  He squeezed some government workers out, but the other end where the contractors dwell, that only swelled.  What we need is a smaller balloon.  It’s not crazy to say our government workforce could be reduced by 30% over a four year period if the administration could only get control of the budget.  They should do it by function and office, not by percentage.  Other administrations did across-the-board cuts, which didn’t affect overstaffed operations at all, but starved many chronically understaffed offices that provided necessary functions.  For once, government cutbacks should be done with some intelligence.  It’s not that hard.


          There are a myriad of functions the federal government should stop doing.  Some need to cease outright.  Others should be doled out to the states and let them figure out if they want to continue on with them or not.    The philosophy that should be used to do this is simple.  If the function isn’t specified in the Constitution, doesn’t exist to protect a right guaranteed by the Constitution, or has no relation to defense of the nation from external threats, it should be relegated to the states to deal with.  Most functions of our current government deal with laws and regulations intended to control the behavior of citizens.  Most of those are either unnecessary or can adequately be dealt with at the state or local level.  If our nation is to learn how to live within a budget again it must stop doing unnecessary things.  While that idea sounds simple, it’s not.  And, it would prove very painful.  The waste in our government is much like heroin.  Just as with heroin addiction, to stop and do without, to go “cold turkey,” is a very painful prospect.  But, the survival of our nation begs us to do just that.  The Trump administration must be the one to tighten the nation’s belt and get us weaned off our addiction to federal largesse.


          I think I’m ready for that budget discussion now.  Next time!


In Liberty,