Hit the ground running, and cleaning
By Daniel M. Ryan
Late Tuesday night, we saw the impossible realized. Donald Trump, facing at least as much bias as Barry Goldwater in 1964, won the election. The candidate that so many said would not win, won. He won against a media so hostile, they're now scrambling. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the in-trouble New York Times is so rattled that he sent out an apology letter (!) to subscribers who haven't already taken a hike.
Others are scrambling to figure out why they were so wrong. From what I read, they've learned very little. The only ones who have an inkling are the Bernie Sanders supporters. The rest have only figured out that they're part of a machine that's floated up in the air and become a flying echo chamber. They're slowly beginning to figure out that they're part of The Cloud Minders. In a very real way, 2016 has been the year that the looked-down-upon Troglytes found their champion and won.
Some of the pampered pets of the Obama years took to the Trump victory by rioting. Thankfully – this is a blessing of the partisanized times – the paid rioters tore up and harassed the citizens of blue cities. If you're ensconced in a red zone, you only saw them on Youtube.
One of the weak points of the Conservative mind is complacency in victory. I have to confess that I watched my share of meltdowns. It is enjoyable to think of the freaked-out opposition as spoiled children or big babies, while not wondering if they're more like unruly teenagers who need to be grounded. Part and parcel of this complacency is the Conservative brand of magnanimity: going out of our way to reassure the defeated that their scary nightmares are only figments of their imaginations. As much as some of us like to quote Conan the Barbarian, we act quite predictably when we hear the lamentations of their women.
This tendency of ours is so ingrained, it's always led to Conservative reform being muffled.
There's another reason, which Milton and Rose Friedman wrote an entire book about back in 1983. Although it's now a period piece, the central lesson of The Tyranny of the Status Quo is still relevant:
the uniform tendency in government [is] to reverse the declared policies of leaders whether left or right. In the first six to nine months following their election, Reagan, Thatcher and Mitterand too, initiated big changes. Soon, each was frustrated by the "Iron Triangle" which preserves the status quo. In the triangle's corners are the direct beneficiaries of laws, the bureaucrats who thrive on them, the politicians who seek votesThe takeaway of the book is that the system of government returns to an equilibrium after the first six to nine months of a new Administration. (The above quote comes from the dust flap of the hardcover edition.) The Trump transition team seems to be aware of this new phenomenon. According to the Daily Caller, construction of The Wall is slated to start in March. That's well within the six-to-nine-month timeframe. Since Trump sees The Wall as his new Wollman Rink, it's a safe bet we'll see The Wall.
In addition - an advantage due to him not being a conventional small-government Republican - he's going to benefit from active support in both the FBI and border-control bureaucracies. He's the boss they're going to love. So, in the areas of deportation and border control, the Trump Administration will have finessed the Iron Triangle. (It remains to be seen if there's enough residual patriotism in the Veterans' Administration for him to prevail there too.) President Trump will show us what it's possible for a President to do with a co-operative bureaucracy. Thankfully, he's businessman enough to know that the art of management definitely includes incentivizing and rewarding good performance.
But sadly, the above exceptions will reinforce the rule. The Iron Triangle, though bent, will not be broken. He'll see this when he tries to implement his promise to repeal Obamacare. I'm sure you can guess many of the excuses: "too radical," "it'll encourage the wrong people", "businesses already count on it," and so on.
It would be wise of Trump and the GOP to press forward and repeal it outright. There's a yuge trust gap between the Pubbies and the base: a simple bill – "The Affordable Care Act is hereby repealed" – will do a lot to narrow it. It would enable the Beltway crowd to return to the Heartland and say, "You see? We did get it done when we got the Presidency." I'm sure the Trump transition team will have a ready-to-go replacement by the time Mitch McConnell has to decide whether repairing tattered trust is worth invoking the nuclear option.
There are two other crucial reforms needed, which I'm focussing on because they're the kind of low-level repair work that's easy to slough off or go easy on. The first is crucial to another Trump goal – bringing back jobs – and the second is crucial to limit the vote fraud we all know is there.
Clean Up E-Verify
Remember the botched Obamacare Website? One of the reasons why it was such a mess is that the programmers had to create an interoperability hub that harnessed a whole slew of incompatible record systems – some of which didn't work all that very well. It's true that a lot of the blame for the botching belongs to the Obama Administration. But the important reason going forward is the creakiness of the underlying systems.
There've been a lot of folks demanding that E-Verify be made mandatory. If this legislation is to be part of the Trump Plan, then it's very important to make sure that the underlying database is cleaned up.
A long time ago, John Kenneth Galbraith quipped: "One of the uses of depression is the exposure of what auditors fail to find." Remember 2008-09? One of the problems that surfaced as a result of the real-estate collapse was the fact that the mortgage-title records were a godawful mess. Think about it: those records, the very foundation of all those fancy CDOs, were a shambles. In some cases, enough of a mess that the salvage squads had no idea what they were entitled to collect on.
Americans look up to entrepreneurial and action-oriented people. This gives America a huge advantage. But it comes with downsides, like sometimes forgetting the importance of "cost centers." At least one small brokerage firm went down in the bear market of 1970s because its back-office records were a jumbled chaos. Imagine yourself as a managing partner of a firm that's gone bankrupt without you even knowing it.
Given that record-keeping is unglamourous enough to overlook, it's a good mind-the-downside bet that the E-Verify records need a thorough and meticulous clean-up. Better to find the mistakes now than to find out the hard way should E-Verify be made mandatory.
Clean Up The Voting Records
Thanks to Project Veritas Action and a lot of public-spirited citizens, we've found out that voting fraud is all over the place. As with E-Verify abuse, voting injustices thrive in a swamp of shoddy records. The fact that Donald Trump and the republicans prevailed is not an excuse to let this slide: the opposite is true. Republican victories, both at the federal and state level, mean that it's more possible than ever to do something about this festering boil boiled over. Moreover, there are encouraging signs that some Dems are worried about the same problem. For one, this New York City Commissioner of the Board of Elections.
Cleaning up the voting rolls and ensuring their integrity, despite what trash talk you've endured, is a bipartisan issue. It's well worth every Pubbie in office to push it hard. If necessary, it can be sugared by opining that one of the reasons why poor folks don't vote that much is because they're afraid that their names aren't in the registry. A thoroughgoing audit would include getting in touch with them and assuring them that they are listed as legal voters.
Sharpen The Axe
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Now that the Pubbies have a chance to finally tackle all those festering growths, Abraham Lincoln's wise words are more needed than ever. Gavin McInnes recently said that even in a cool job like his, the bulk of it entails reading spreadsheets and overseeing minutiae like making sure the connector cables work. Accordingly, a great reform like cracking down on voting fraud will be a great botch unless a lot of time and care is spent on sharpening the axe. By Drs Friedmans' iron-triangle rule, the Trump Administration has six to nine months to get it started and rolling.
Happily, getting the records straight is something that bureaucracy can do without overturning it. Like better enforcement of the law and the borders, it's a policy that that's best effected by working with the bureaucracy corner of the iron triangle rather than banging on it. With this, President-Elect Trump's business talents will prove to be a real boon.
Daniel M. Ryan, as Nxtblg, is shepherding the independently-run Open Audi Initiative Prediction Market Shadowing Project. He has stubbornly assumed all the responsibility and blame for the workings and outcome of the project.