How exciting to be in Washington right now and be one of Donald Trump’s new cabinet appointees! For the first time I can remember, one group (I hesitate to say “party”) has complete control of the federal government with a mandate whose extent is “do something different!”
So where to start?
It made me think: If I oversaw the United States, what would I do? Some thoughts follow.
1. Start to eliminate racial tension and gerrymandering by eliminating the race and ethnicity question from the U.S. Census.
This is seriously antiquated information that does not fit who we are anymore. You are either a citizen or you are not. The color of your skin should not matter at all. Sure, there will be pushback from communities who will see lost subsidies in one form or another. But you counter that argument with a genuine redistricting with racial data completely taken out of the picture. Fix gerrymandering at the same time so you are giving to these communities.
My mom, a staunch Republican, worked in Alabama for a Democratic state representative. The representative lost her seat, not by being voted out of office, but because her Democrat-heavy district was gerrymandered out of existence and replaced with a Republican one. Multiply this times 10,000 and you have a problem with people feeling unrepresented.
2. I would mandate that each hospital and nursing home floor, or by bed count on each unit, immediately hire and train young men and women to help nurses move people.
We have this amazing cadré of highly skilled nurses, a huge part of our workforce, who are getting injured every day by moving sedated patients around. As our nurses age, we want to keep much of their knowledge around as long as we can to handle the influx of the Baby Boomer generation. Simultaneously, there is no better training ground for young men and women from the street than to work with these caring nurses helping patients.
The local hospital in most communities is the No. 1 employer. I would do federal block grants for them all to hire staff to move patients. Easy, and a big manpower fix that touches every community.
3. I would double the deduction for charitable giving, but I would strengthen the standards by which charities are measured.
One of the best social-engineering benefits to our overly complicated tax code is the charitable donation. I believe more needs to be done to strengthen charities and involvement at the local level. I might even go so far as to incentivize 20 hours a year of documented charity time donation as a full $1,000 deduction to anyone.
I would also encourage that charity time donations might be a requirement for driver’s licenses. There is nothing better to get a young person looking beyond the end of his or her own nose than getting out and volunteering in the community.
4. Last, I would implement a nationwide sister-city program refresh, with American cities and towns paired with comparable-size entities around the third world. I have seen the power of the sister city program we have here in Greenfield with Kakuda, Japan, and I believe we should have a sister city in the Middle East or Africa also.
If all politics is local, then we need to start meeting people from around the world at home. Let’s start bringing city officials, police officers, firefighters, etc., here to our communities to see how we live.
What would you do if you were Mr. Trump? I am eager to see your ideas.
Kurt Vetters, a longtime resident of Greenfield, is a U.S. Army veteran, author and local businessman. He can be reached at email@example.com.