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Terry H. Schwadron

Congratulations on your new job, Ivanka, I hope you do well with your new boss. Otherwise it might get nervous at your Seder table. Is Dad attending? He might be amused to see that there are questions at the heart of the night rather than declarations or tweets, as well as caring for others.

He seems proud that the two of you are worth $750 million and want to help him keep in touch with the commoners. Or maybe with ethics laws that he himself apparently can shun. A New York Times analysis yesterday outlined the difficulties you could face.

Jared, I see that Dad wants you to head up a new White House effort with what’s called sweeping authority to overhaul federal bureaucracy in the mode of an efficient American business. I thought I’d chime in before you get too far down the path of throwing government services out the window for sake of say, profit, or as we now call it, efficiency.

The idea seems to be for you to look at care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction by taking lessons learned from the business world. It’s a good role for you — once you finish testifying about having worked to establish good relationships with Russian bankers and diplomats. I’d hate to conclude that this announcement is really about trying to change the subject of discussion in Washington.

Ivanka, since no specific duties are listed for your job, perhaps you can whisper that it makes poor politics for Dad to sponsor a women’s empowerment conference at the White House and then sending Mike Pence the next day to break a Senate tie on an unneeded bill to allow the states to “de-fund” a group that exists to provide women health care. Also, perhaps you should know that most women I know can’t pay for child care through tax credits.

Jared, I’m probably not the first one to point out that government isn’t consumables or hirable services and taxpayers aren’t consumers in the business sense. Or that you and your father-in-law are not the first ones to go after this White Whale. But let’s set that aside.

If you were a business, for example, you might look at the VA, with its long waits for appointments with an underfunded staff, and, as a businessman, say, “Lets serve the right number of people, and not be responsible for more people than we can afford.” Your recommendation, therefore, might be to limit the number of veterans who could come in for treatment, to right-size the services for the number of people you feel that you can afford.

That would mean telling Dad not to engage in sending more young men and women off to be maimed and injured in a faraway war. Or selecting who among the returning veterans over whom you have no control could actually receive treatments — sort of a must-have-broken-limb entry policy. That would lessen the numbers of veterans seeking services, and make the operation more efficient.

Or you could do the more reasonable and logical thing and start at the other end, by right-sizing the staffing for the VA according to the numbers of people coming in for service. Of course, that might cost more, and run a bit counter to Dad’s philosophy of cutting huge quantities of money so that we can buy more ships, planes and attack helicopters — so that we can count on having more veterans.

Or you can simply outsource the health care of veterans to the vast numbers of doctors and hospitals around the country, with your consumers, er, taxpayers, picking up the open-ended tab. Wow, that sounds a lot like health care for all, the exact opposite of what Dad has backed even in a losing effort.

You see the problem.

Maybe it is all about computers. The early word on the White House Office of American Innovation, is that it will focus on updating computers across the government. That’s a good idea, of course, just as in business. All the service providers in the government should be able to call up information across the government, right? Of course, as a modern business leader, you know that the computer services needed by the VA might not be the same as those needed by the Department of Education, and you might want to know how many computers you’re going to need at the EPA, for example, once Dad clears out more than 30 percent of the employees.

Computer systems are important. So too are the people who might use them to collect, sort and analyze data. You won’t need any of those computer programs tracking weather patterns, the heating world climate, polluters or consumer protections, because all the people working on those types of projects won’t be there, and their collected research will not be looked at again for the remainder of Dad’s term.

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Mr. Trump explained. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

Good thinking. How about you also think about the effects on people? How about you think about what it means to be ethical?

Is this efficiency anything like providing a health care bill that strips 24 million people of their insurance and raises proposed health costs for seniors and those facing actual illness?

I raise this because the other project specified is an approach to burgeoning opioid addiction. Just as you have immediately come up with a new approach to Middle East tensions, Dad seems to think you have a business-like approach to addiction. Think this has anything to do with health care? Joblessness? Homelessness? The lure of escapism?

Again, my advice is that to be efficient, we ask all opioid addicts to line up starting next Tuesday at four centers around the country so that we 1) can assure that they actually are U.S. citizens, 2) have appropriate paperwork to show that they are addicts, 3) sign contracts with the government to stop their addictions in return for methadone, 4) agree to take jobs building the Wall so that they are off the streets and gathered along the Southern border.

I will say that it is very efficient that you can remake bureaucracy at the same time as you both work behind the scenes to drive foreign and domestic policy, advise on presidential personnel and serve as a shadow Secretary of State on trade, multinational agreements and peace in the Middle East. In fact, you are so efficient that you can manage government and private company participation in government affairs at the same time. And you both even had time to go skiing while Dad was going down in flames over the health care bill.

Yours in Efficiency,

Terry

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terryschwadron.wordpress.com

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Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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