Most Americans who supported President-elect Donald Trump weren’t expecting him to publicly declare outright his specific intention of depoliticizing the Department of Veterans Affairs by removing it from cabinet-level status. No, most weren’t expecting a logistical master like Trump to reveal his game-changing plan before he’s inaugurated as the 45th U.S. President. Yet, I, and may other patriots, were fully expecting him to immediately announce the much needed replacement of the current politically aspiring V.A. Secretary, Robert McDonald, who was appointed by Obama in 2015 for definite political reasons, and who is currently known as having been changed more in the preceding months by the political processes of the V.A. bureaucracy than he has changed the bureaucracy for the better. Mr. Trump’s astute and unprecedented nomination of an experienced and dedicated physician, Dr. David J. Shulkin, as V.A. Secretary, is a game-changer, since all previous V.A. Secretaries, since the year 1989, have been pure political cronies of the appointing presidents, starting with George H.W. Bush’s appointment of Ed Derwinski, who was a career federal politician.
It has been said at various times throughout the history of the American republic that when federal politicians aren’t kissing babies, they are stealing their candy. This sardonic caricature might be laughable to a degree, but it is unfortunately a truism that rings with a clarion call in an age when there are over a thousand federal regulatory agencies, administrations, and commissions, with their two million-plus federal employees, occupying Washington, D.C. and the federal workplaces through the fifty States. The V.A. currently has more federal employees than any other federal department, except for the Department of Defense, and this is not to be applauded to any extent. There presently exists so much mediocrity, redundancy, flippancy, and duplication of bureaucratic work processes in the V.A., that the egregious waste of the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money appropriated by Congress to the cabinet-level Department of Veteran’s Affairs (the VHA, VBA (Regional Offices of the V.A.), BVA, and the NCA) is occurring every fiscal year of V.A. Operation. Most Americans don’t realize that President Abraham Lincoln did not, in any way, make a promise in his second inaugural address to financially provide for America’s wounded veterans, and their widows and orphans. No, he didn’t! He didn’t because he did not have the unconstitutional money machine called the federal income tax in order to create the exorbitant appropriated federal money to do so, and the People, in 1865, loathed any mention of a federal income tax. When Lincoln said, in his inaugural address, “To care for him who hath borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphans,” he was not talking about federal care. He was, instead, speaking to the families of the veterans, to the States, to the churches, to the people in the States who had the resources and the moral reasons for caring for the veterans. I am sure that the honored Framers would have included stipulations in the U.S. Constitution for financing the care of military veterans if they had deemed it proper, but they did not. The soldiers and marines of the Continental Army and Navy deemed their military service during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 as something owed by them to a government that would ensure their liberty and freedom through the creation and enforcement of just laws. The patriots of the Continental Army were not mercaneries. They accepted the little pay that was given them by the Continental Congress as just compensation for their service. The families of those veterans, the many Christian churches, and the State legislatures did all that was necessarily done to provide care for the wounded and to help the widows and orphans.
There are currently thousands of V.A. employees, GS-9 through GS-13, who are miserably inept at doing their assigned jobs and should be immediately fired and forced to seek work elsewhere. Instead, however, these indolent and inefficient drones are allowed to keep their jobs, and their exorbitant salaries, while being shifted and shuffled around the V.A. organizational maze to other positions due to their proven incompetence. This duplicitous administrative process is accomplished through the efforts of shiftless V.A. managers and supervisors, GS-14 through GS-15, and is currently most expertly finagled by those managers and supervisors at the SES (Special Executive Selection) level who are equally inefficient at properly managing personnel and ensuring that V.A. appropriations are spent frugally, conservatively, and efficiently; a proper standard for the use of the sacred tax money of hardworking Americans. Some of these SES managers and supervisors even continue to receive unconscionable bonuses, in the tens of thousands of dollars, for performing miserably in their jobs; and to fire an SES-level manager has been made, by federal regulation, a long drawn-out process. Yet, the highest level of inefficiency found currently in the V.A. is among the career politicians, or political appointees, working at the apex of the particular V.A. departments, agencies, and administrations, who draw the highest salaries, but do the least work. The level of appropriation waste that occurs in the routine administrative drawers of the bureaus of the departments, or the departments within the departments and the agencies within the agencies, which create the positions for the thousands of employees who should be immediately terminated.
For instance, there is a V.A. Secretary-level department, that was spuriously created by Secretary Robert McDonald, called “Client Relations,” which is located in one of the auxiliary D.C. office buildings used by five other V.A. and VHA administrative organizations, headquartered down the street from the V.A.’s 810 Vermont Central Office Building. This department, Client Relations, is staffed by an SES-equivalent director, a GS-15, and eight other employees, GS-9s through GS-14s. Why was this department created? It was strictly orchestrated purely for public relations, in order to do what the approximate 1,000 Patient Advocates at the 152 V.A. Medical Centers and clinics around the USA aren’t properly doing; that is, reaching out to assist the veterans who are patients at these medical centers and clinics, and all other veterans who currently believe that they are not receiving the V.A. benefits and hospital services to which they are entitled. The Client Relations group is doing the jobs of the patient advocates, GS-9 through GS-13 V.A. employees, who are obviously not doing their jobs properly. This is a prime example of the many, many wasteful duplications of work effort currently expended all through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, created by Robert McDonald. The really provocative fact of the matter is that, instead of firing these people and hiring master’s degree-level (GS-9) people from off the street who perform the job properly, the unperforming patient advocates are allowed to retain their jobs, receiving salaries they don’t deserve from the money collected from the taxpayers to pay them. One SES hospital director, who was directly responsible for veterans being deprived of hospital services, had the specious audacity to say that it’s better to keep a non-performing GS-12 on the payroll than to fire the person and make him, or her, an unemployment statistic.
An ultimately galling aspect of federal bureaucracies bloated with hundreds of thousands of incompetent non-performing employees is that these federal employees actually believe that the money taken from their salaries by the government, called taxes, is actually tax money, and they are no different from the non-government American workforce. A wise and practical economist, Adam Smith, rendered as the father of American capitalism, said in his book, “Wealth of Nations” in 1730, that, “Tax money paid as government wages cannot be realistically taxed, for real tax money must be taken, by government for government operation, from money produced as income by business interests.” British economic philosopher David Ricardo echoed this same general principle of sound state economics. Appropriations made by Congress in the form of federal income tax money collected by the IRS for government operation, if used as salaries and taxed again and again from this illusionary unending tax money, will eventually dwindle to nothing. This is the evil cruz of socialism incrementally imposed upon the republic by the minions of John Maynard Keyes, such as was Franklin D. Roosevelt. The fact that all federal money paid as salaries to these millions of federal employees, and for the operation of the federal government, is borrowed money, and that the federal debt is currently over 17 trillion dollars, should alert all informed voters that the bloated federal establishment, and the U.S. economy, are a precarious house of cards ready to collapse into total chaos; that is, in the absence of a restoration of the constitutional governance and fiscal balance. That’s why the money paid to all government employees, local, State, and federal from fairly collected taxes should be regarded as sacred money, which should be used with profound fiscal prudence. In other words, tax money for federal purposes should only be paid-out to employees, and for government operations, which are essential to federal government operation. That’s the way it was before 1913, when the 16th Amendment was, supposedly, ratified and the infernal federal income tax was born.
Currently the openly “suggested” hiring standards by the federal OPM tacitly require a GS-9 employee, hired off-the-street, to possess a master’s degree. Yet, federal regulatory agencies, such as the VA. are free to set their own arbitrary standards. As a result, approximately 60 percent of the V.A. employees receiving GS-13, 14, and 15 salaries don’t have graduate degrees, and approximately 85 percent of the employees receiving GS-9 through GS-12 salaries don’t have baccalaurate degrees. What is even more exasperating is the fact that approximately 48 percent of the SES-level managers and supervisors don’t have graduate degrees or any academic work toward such a degree; and about 25 percent of SESs don’t even have baccalaurate degrees, but have been advanced based solely on the political basis of who-knows-who. Why is this so? Political nepotism occurs during the hiring process on a regular basis in the V.A. due to the extreme politicization in a highly dysfunctional, and uncontrolled, network of V.A. organizations (VISNs, regional offices, a centralized, almost autonomous Board of Veterans Appeals, which is a veritable country club of veterans’ law judges). Essentially, the right hand of the V.A. does not know what its left hand is doing. These inexorable bureaucratic flaws have turned what should be a meritocracy into an illegitimate and poorly functioning culture of special interest; and I believe that this is due directly to its cabinet-level status and the gross number of political appointees currently working in the V.A. seeking to please an incompetent V.A. Secretary.
I believe and maintain that President-elect Trump, when he assumes the Office of the U.S. President on January 20, 2017, will begin immediately to down-size the tyrannical, bloated, and highly inefficient federal government; for Donald Trump is a businessman dedicated to efficient business operations within Constitutional guidelines. With a Republican Congress behind him, he will, hopefully, seek and obtain an end to regulatory federal government and return all policy making power to its proper source, the Legislative branch, or Congress, with the eventual approbation of a conservatively reconstituted U.S. Supreme Court. And the many incompetent federal employees in the V.A. and in all unconstitutional federal agencies will find themselves seeking employment in, either, State government (God forbid) or in the private business world, where they will be required to work much harder for a much lower salary. The swamp will, therefore, be drained over time and its parasitic inhabitants will be forced to find other accommodations.