Re-boot Our Agencies and Build Peace
Even though nearly 43% of American voters think of themselves as independent, there is currently a lot of confusion about independent politics in America. When I tell people, “I am an independent candidate for President of the United States,” I have learned to add “Independent, not Republican, not Democrat, Independent!” Then, I usually launch into my 2-sentence overview:
My platform is Transform America by Transforming Government. I have a 7-track strategy to re-boot our agencies and build peace that begins by Cutting One Trillion Dollars of Waste.
More than a few have said, “I bet there’s more than a trillion dollars of waste!” They are correct.
Sometimes, people ask, “So you’re the candidate for the Independent Party?” and then I have to explain. There is no single “Independent” party in the United States though some political parties do use the word “independent” in their name. The rules for an independent candidate to get on the Presidential ballot are different in each state. The numbers of signatures needed to get on the ballot are different in every state; and different numbers are often required in the same state depending on whether one runs as an individual candidate or as the nominee of a specific non-traditional party. There are no scheduled televised debates for independent candidates and there is no national convention for independent candidates.
Still I firmly believe this: Only an Independent candidate can create a platform that works for all Americans. Only an Independent candidate can add together the best ideas no matter who says them and proven programs no matter where they are found to create a federal government that will deliver outstanding, 21st century services to We the People.
I am different from all the other candidates. I am not a politician. My Ph.D. is in clinical psychology and I worked inside the federal government as an organizational psychologist for more than 32 years. I know how our federal agencies operate. I know how to look under the hood and see what works and take that to scale. I also see what does not work and I know what changes to make and how to design citizen summits and conversations with America so that We the People not Big Money drive the purpose and priorities of government.
My first book (1988) was titled Peacemaking; my second book (2003) was about Reinventing Government; and my last book (2009) was about 21st Century Governance. My platform flows perfectly from who I am and what I know to be true. I see myself as both visionary and government mechanic.
I am different from all the other candidates. I have a vision for America based on an honest assessment of where we are as a nation and where our future can be:
- My vision is an America that works for everyone with no one left out.
- My vision is a government that restores trust and builds peace here at home and around the world.
- My vision is a government with a foreign policy and domestic programs based on this reality: We the People are wiser than warfare and We the People are wiser than community violence
- My vision is an America with a trusted and respected government that delivers outstanding services to all of us; and our government Of the People is a trusted and respected partner throughout the world.
With a vision like that, my goals for America are just as bold: 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years; free tuition at all our public colleges; free early childhood education; quality health care at a reasonable cost; community-based policing; a justice system that is truly just; a tax system that is truly fair; an immigration system that is compassionate; and an energy grid that is independent of foreign governments and does not poison our air, water, soil and food.
I will lead a government where all our agencies honor our commitments to our veterans, our children, our seniors, our Native American brothers and sisters and our truly disabled citizens. I will lead a government with a vision and a realistic transition plan to an economy based on 100% clean, renewable energy. I will lead a government that simplifies regulations while demanding accountability for behavior that promotes the health and well-being of our nation. I will lead a nation that knows how to balance the skills of the strongest military on the planet with the wisdom of diplomacy and peacebuilding.
I am more than a grand vision and bold goals – I have a 7-track strategy to accomplish those goals! I understand the mechanics of our agencies better than any other candidate and that’s why my strategy starts with cutting waste. Here is a summary of those 7 tracks; find details here.
Track 1: Cut One Trillion Dollars of Waste Out of Federal Agencies and Redirect those Dollars and Resources
Eliminate Duplication – Goal: Save $100 Billion
Duplication of government programs is widespread because no government office is responsible for coordination and oversight across agencies. For example, nine different federal agencies run 47 different job-training programs. That means We the People pay 47 different times for rent, utilities, staff, managers, desks, computers, supplies, contracting and grant reviews, paperwork and administrative support for the same programs. Duplication goes on and on. A strong President will demand consolidation and eliminate duplication.
Eliminate Fraud and Tax Evasion – Goal: Save or Recover $300 Billion
We spend about $125 billion a year on fraudulent and improper payments with about 75% of these improper payments in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Disability, and Earned Income Tax Credits. In addition, about $385 billion is lost to the “tax gap” which includes tax evasion, tax fraud, and lack of knowledge about taxes due. These numbers come from the most recent General Accountability Office (GAO) report although the GAO has issued similar reports for decades. The lack of respect for the quality of GAO analyses and recommendations is appalling! Only an independent President who understands the mechanics of our agencies will know what to do with these reports.
Demand Accountability – Save $150 Billion
The White House itself recently estimated that 28% of federal programs are “non-performing” which means they do not achieve results or cannot demonstrate that they will ever achieve results. In other words, American taxpayers spend about one trillion dollars per year on programs that have no positive impact on anyone, anywhere! My first-year goal is to eliminate 15% of non-performing programs and redirect dollars and staff to higher priority programs.
Stop Funding Stupid – Save $200 Billion
The federal government “buys stupid” in three different ways:
- We buy stupid things such as research on how to roll up beef jerky or market alpaca poop. We fund outdated programs such as selling reports to other agencies that can be found online for free. We spend $25 billion maintaining empty federal properties.
- We buy important things in stupid ways. Incompetent acquisition and contracting includes $10 billion wasted on failed efforts to modernize our tax systems. A program to convert plutonium from nuclear weapons to commercial nuclear fuel started at $3.8 billion and may now cost $47.5 billion and the only customer for that nuclear fuel opted out in 2008!
- We spend a lot of money in great confusion: Why do we spend $20 billion on nuclear weapons? Why do we spend $2 billion on private prisons when crime is at historic low levels in most cities and public prisons have empty wings? Why can’t we cut even 5% of the $1.75 trillion cost of regulations and save our citizens and businesses $87 billion?
We will stop buying stupid only when a focused White House imposes greater discipline on agency acquisitions and invites the American public to help determine the purpose and priorities of our government agencies!
Require Financial Responsibility at the Pentagon – Save $250 Billion
The Pentagon is the only government agency that cannot pass a financial audit. Efforts and systems to track spending, soldiers, weapons and supplies are billions over budget and years behind schedule. Let’s consider just four items:
- The Commission on Wartime Contracting investigated $60 billion wasted on fraudulent, improper and abandoned contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- A government audit found that 95 weapons systems had a combined total of $295 billion in cost overruns.
- In 2014, the Pentagon announced it would spend $1 billion to destroy $16 billion worth of outdated or banned ammunition.
- We are about to buy outdated weapons systems and related facilities adding up to $100 billion over 10 years.
As many have noted, a Department that is brilliant on the battlefield yet cannot track taxpayer dollars is inexcusable. We the People deserve better, the Pentagon knows better and my White House will demand better.
Track 2: Multiply Solutions
I will use the first $200 billion from cutting federal waste to jumpstart new jobs in infrastructure, green energy, public health, education and training, neighborhood-based jobs so we have mentors and peer group support so many of our citizens need, and new categories of 21st century jobs in agriculture, housing and transportation. I will expand national service programs that teach job-related skills – especially AmeriCorps, JobCorps and CityYear. We will find programs with measured results and take these programs to national scale. For example:
- Iowa creates and supports partnerships at all Iowa community colleges with local businesses for certificate programs that lead to 21st century jobs.
- The New York City Model of Probation is reducing re-arrests, crime and violence by providing a full range of neighborhood-based services to people on probation and providing probation officers with new training including mentoring and building community partnerships.
- In May 2015, the state of Wyoming with environmental and conservation organizations along with oil and gas industry leaders set new standards to reduce air pollution and improve air quality that include retrofitting old equipment with new technologies.
We have the solutions – the problem is not the solutions – the problem is the federal government gets in the way of the solutions. In my administration, we will support programs that deliver results no matter where those programs are found. We will do this in a new spirit of partnership with non-government organizations.
Track 3: Re-boot the Purpose of All Our Agencies
To create a trusted and respected government that delivers outstanding services, we must start by re-defining the purpose of every agency and do this with broad public input. When an agency mission is messed up then priorities, programs, policies, budgets, staffing and metrics are all out of whack! For example:
- Three words jump out at me in the mission statement of the U.S. Department of Justice: enforcement, control and punishment. That mission will never reduce over-aggressive policing, mass incarceration, inhumane juvenile justice systems, the “school-to-prison pipeline” or the injustices done to people of color. A new mission statement must highlight community partnerships to reduce and prevent crime; and that mission must honestly recognize the need to restore the full faith and trust of the American people in our police departments and justice systems.
- The mission statement of the U.S. Department of Energy is unbelievable. No one agency can possibly balance responsibility for nuclear weapons and lead our nation towards a future based on renewable energy.
- The mission and strategic goals of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development demonstrate that when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. What does this Department do? Where was this Department during the housing crisis? Where is the vision and plan for eliminating homelessness? How exactly will this Department build partnerships that will dramatically expand affordable housing?
Transforming America by Transforming Government begins by re-booting the purpose of all our federal agencies through Conversations with America.
Track 4: Build Partnerships
We know in the real world to get anything important done we need cooperation and partnerships. The same is true for government. Good government requires communication and coordination across all agencies; across all levels of government including state, regional and tribal governments; and with non-government partners. The problem is federal agencies plan, budget and work in isolation – in silos and cylinders. We have laws and policies that prevent cooperation across agencies even for fighting cyber terrorism. When agencies try to work together, there is no place in the federal government responsible for unified mission or integrated funding.
My White House will re-structure the Office of Management and Budget so agencies work together to achieve national priorities. We will eliminate barriers to partnerships and build enduring mechanisms to coordinate across those partnerships.
Track 5: Communication
Many aspects of our federal government need to adopt the technologies of the 21st century. The place to begin is with communication and all of its tools, from personal to digital, citizen summits and plain language rules! We are not having the right conversations in our nation: the federal government and the American people are not talking about the big issues. I don’t mean screaming at each other or watching people on television scream at each other. I mean dialog – listening to each other and creating common ground together.
We have the tools for genuine and useful national dialog. We need to begin now.
Track 6: Measure What Matters
Government data does not measure what matters to most Americans so federal programs and policies are based on bad data or no data or misleading data. One result is that no one trusts much of what the federal government says especially when it does not fit with the reality of everyday life. The best example is unemployment.
We hear that the unemployment rate is 5.1% but this does not count people who have given up looking for work or are not working the number of hours they want – that unemployment number is 11.2%. We have 14.3% of young Americans age 16 to 19 neither working nor in school; that jumps to 31% for African American youth. We have 15 Native American tribes with unemployment over 80%. If we can’t get the jobs numbers right, we will never understand why 46 million Americans live in poverty or why 48 million Americans struggle with hunger every day.
We must measure what matters or we will never see improvements and the American people will never truly trust our government.
Track 7: Build Peace
The entire culture of the federal government is tilted toward protecting turf, building an empire, doing battle and making war. The values of cooperation, the activities of peacebuilding, the psychology of peacemaking and the expertise of mediators and specialists in conflict resolution — even diplomacy — are missing from our foreign policies and domestic programs.
I have already written a comprehensive strategic plan for justice reform in America that addresses social violence through six components: purpose and policies; face-to-face dialog; programs and best practices; training and education; economic development; partnerships and performance measures. In this summary, I want to outline 5 basic principles that will tilt our foreign policies toward peacebuilding and begin to turn anger and hatred to solutions:
- We must be strong to build peace. That means I want the strongest, best trained, best equipped and most respected military on the planet.
- The power of face-to-face dialog is enormous and untapped. I stand for ceasefires and peace talks here at home and around the world and all the conversations and meetings that lead up to ceasefires and peace talks.
- No one can sweet talk a bully and no one can negotiate with psychopaths and sociopaths and murderers that cut off the heads of living beings or burn people alive. They have crossed a dark line and are lost to us forever. They will participate in our ceasefires; they are not part of our peace talks.
- The best foreign policy decisions are based on systems thinking. Right now our foreign policies have a military bias. In my administration, our foreign policy decisions will have a military strategy plus a diplomatic strategy plus an economic development plan plus input from cultural experts and regional historians plus input and coordination with our international partners.
- We the People are wiser than warfare. Our government spends 12 times as much making war as building peace. Our foreign policies are based on aggression, confrontation and invasion; those policies alone do not work. A different option is to operate in the world on consistent principles that de-escalate tensions, disarm nuclear weapons, demand diplomatic solutions and always include plans for reconstruction after we stop dropping bombs.
Yes, there are real and dangerous conflicts around the world and there are certainly people out there who want to do us harm. We must always counter those threats and protect our homeland. More than that, in the 21st century we have the opportunity to turn away from a future of forever war. We can do this. We are wiser than warfare.
That’s my vision, my goals and my 7-track strategy to Re-boot our Government and Build Peace. This is the only path toward a future that works for all of us with no one left out. This is how we will Transform America by Transforming Government. If that’s your vision and those are your goals for America, then I’m your President. I invite you to join with me and create this future together.