Thursday, January 19, 2017

My First Letter to Our New President

Dear Mr. President;

Please note that I have also copied my Senators and Congressman from my home State and District as well Speaker Ryan and two Senators (Sanders and Warren) whom I believe to be champions of pragmatic progressive ideas in the legislature.

I have spent the last many months, urging my family and friends to take up the mantel of placing phone calls and sending letters to their representatives, urging them to preserve and improve what is right and good about America’s current domestic and international policies, while hopefully continuing to improve them as we move forward.

There are dozens of things about what you, your cabinet appointees and many of your Republican colleagues have been saying since the election which concern me.  As to not dilute my message, let me hone in on five items that I feel are KEY to your success, the ongoing success (and pardon me, but Greatness) of America and the welfare and safety of not only Americans, but the world at large.

(1)   The Wall:  We are a nation of immigrants.  Three of my four grandparents were immigrants and the fourth one was a first generation American.  My wife and three of my five children are immigrants. Our son served in the Marine Corps for six years and did two tours in Afghanistan and was highly decorated.  He continues his service to our country to this day as a North Carolina State Trooper.  My uncle, the son of my immigrant grandparents died of wounds received on D-day.  Under President Obama’s watch, our Southern border has never been better protected and deportations of criminal elements are the highest and most permanent ever.  Wasting the estimated $450-$500 billion (including maintenance) to build a wall that is NOT necessary is in no way the best decision for America.  These funds could be used elsewhere (see below).

(2)   Repeal and Replace:  The ACA is not perfect.  Not to throw barbs, but part of its imperfections are due to compromises that were made across the aisle during the time of its birth.  However, the ACA is a good start and it works.  You have openly promised “something better and cheaper”.  Okay, I am all in for that !  Let us be careful about how you and we define “better and cheaper”.  Better, would mean that both access and ease of service for both patients AND care providers is improved.  Standards of quality control (which are among the best in the world) would not be lowered for service providers or pharmaceutical companies.  Better would mean creating a task force, swallowing our pride and benchmarking the successes of countries like Sweden, Denmark, France and even Cuba then incorporating both their expertise and their mistakes into our LEARNING about how to make our healthcare system better.  You claim to be a business person and that bringing that to the oval office would be your strength.  Well, I am a business person too and I know that in business you must benchmark, brainstorm and be very deliberate prior to rolling out new products or services.  I simply ask the same regarding healthcare.  Cheaper – again, relying our your alleged business acumen, make sure that you define cheaper in both terms of the “real and total” cost to each and every American as a % of their earnings to include ALL parts of the bell curve, from the impoverished to the middle class to the super wealthy.  Also, be mindful of the % of our GDP apportioned to healthcare.  Studies show that a single payer system is the most cost effective (administratively if not over all) and should be strongly considered.  Lastly, don’t just repeal for the sake of politics or vitriol against the former administration.  Be a mature adult and make for a seamless transition into the “better and cheaper” plan.

(3)   Israel:  Don’t move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  Our best hope of holding back (no one can ever eliminate radical Islam unless we eliminate dogma, illiteracy, poverty and war) radical Islam is by having a strong partnership with moderate, modern, middle class Arabs.  Provoking angst (anger) among the Palestinians is NOT the way to achieve this.  As has been said numerous times, Israel has a very tough choice ahead.  It can either be a Jewish State or a Democratic State, it can not be both.  I truly hope that the USA is on the right side of that outcome.  Support a Two State Solution.

(4)   The Economy:  The world in changing.  I have been working in manufacturing my entire career (since 1982) which started as an intern at a Steel Mill in Ohio while I was in school to become an Engineer.  I know first hand of the trials and tribulations of the Ohio Valley (was born in Wheeling, W.Va.) and the industrial sector (was raised in Canton, Oh.).  I now live in Darlington, SC in part because of the move of technology and industry away from high cost union centers toward more open, rural communities.  Unfortunately, I learned a stark lesson.  As the first college graduate in my family, I was both cheered on by my uncles and aunts and grandparents who were union members and even union organizers to “get out and do better, but remember your roots”.  I have seen first hand the greed of both the CEOs and the Union Bosses and the devastating impact on our local economies that this greed created.  However, the demise of the unions has stripped us of the apprenticeship programs and journeyman accreditations that were essential for us to prosper and be competitive.  Trade wars won’t solve this, only education can.  We need BOTH a strong Labor Secretary who will protect and preserve the rights of workers, earned by decades of blood and toil and an Education Secretary who realize that excellent PUBLICALLY funded and managed education and a safe, free, organized and focused labor force are the only means that we have of maintaining our strong economy.  Good workers are hard to find, not because Americans are lazy or stupid, but rather because American workers have been disenfranchised, under educated and ignored.  Don’t get cute with our economy.  Trust the fed.  Maintain STRICT controls on Wall Street and Corporations (trust but verify – re: Reagan, in a different context). We are creative, innovative and we don’t need lower taxes on profits or a path to steal from the middle class worker’s 401K or a loosening of environmental regulations to achieve ongoing economic greatness.  No amount of controls can quell the inventiveness of a properly educated and motivated American worker (often from immigrant parents or grand parents).  

(5)   NATO: While I absolutely agree that the NATO alliance sometimes operates on old principles that should be reviewed and I further agree that our military footprint in the world is too wide, too thin and totally unsustainable in the coming decades – we must not, can not, will not turn our backs on our European and West Asian friends.  Yes friends.  They are more like family than allies.  They are a key to our safety and security, our source of economic opportunity and as mentioned above a proving ground for healthcare and economic innovation.  Turkey is a tough nut to crack.  Influenced by Russia, infused by Islam, once one of our largest and most faithful democratic/secular allies.  We need to preserve and protect our relationship with them at almost any cost.  Read some world history about the “gateway to Asia” and ponder for a moment how important they are.  So, please consider responsibly pulling back resources where it makes sense (not in the Ukraine or Poland) and reduce our spending of treasure and lives on foreign soil, but do so systematically and involve both the diplomatic corps (life long professionals and experts) and the intelligence community (establishment) to guide you and your team in this endeavor.

In closing I wish to not just ask, but INSIST that you and my legislators read and re-read this letter then take appropriate and responsible action.  How dare I insist that you do so?  Well, you all work for me.  I am a loyal, involved, interested, voting and tax paying American who you serve and serve at MY behest (and the behest of all citizens) not the other way around.  That is how democracy works! 


George E Knapp – MBA, BS Met E.

Sen. Graham, Sen. Scott, Congressman Rice, Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren,
Spkr. Ryan