President-elect Donald Trump should end the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It summarizes high-level intelligence and analyses about global hot spots and national security threats as seen through the eyes of the director.
The PDB is suitable for the President of the World. It is a distraction for the President of the United States. POTUS is elected to advance the interests of American citizens, not to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. Under the U.S. Constitution, sovereignty lies with “We the People.” The president is only a temporary steward of their liberties.
Except to create an invincible self-defense against actual or imminent aggression against the United States, all of President Trump’s time and focus should be on providing Americans a fair opportunity to develop their faculties and pursue their ambitions. Among other things, President Trump should champion infrastructure like libraries, schools, hospitals, highways, airports, and universal Internet access to all the great books of the world. Equally important, President Trump should put a knife in the back of the morally corrupt crony capitalism industry that is arresting economic growth.
The time-honored engine of prosperity is uncomplex, i.e., a marketplace where the touchstone of success is satisfying consumer wants through skill, foresight, industry, and innovation. In this system, business geniuses rise to the top the top based on building a better or more affordable mousetrap or inventing new products or ways of doing business like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, or otherwise.
The essential fact about capitalism, according to renowned economist Joseph Schumpeter, is the process of Creative Destruction: incessant product and process innovations or inventions by which new production units replace outdated ones.
Crony capitalism, in contrast, rewards a business executive’s political shrewdness in skewing business decisions to benefit key members of Congress who hold decisive influence or control over the economic fortunes of the companies they manage. Lockheed Martin’s nearly $400 billion price tag for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — about $140 million per copy — is emblematic.
Companies from 45 states are involved in production. It is no accident that Texas enjoys the lion’s share. Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Kay Granger, also a Texas Republican, is vice chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. In 2015, the F-35 program comprised 20 percent of Lockheed’s total revenue of $46.1 billion; and U.S. government orders made up 78 percent.
The economic costs of crony capitalism are incalculable: The wholesale diversion of the nation’s business genius from satisfying consumer wants to satisfying political imperatives. Consumer demand seldom if ever converges with the political needs of a member.
President Trump should begin his attack on crony capitalism with an executive order requiring the chief executives of all federal government contractors to certify under oath that none of their business decisions have been or will be compromised to benefit the district or state of any U.S. representative or senator.
The PDB should be discarded as the misbegotten child of the American Empire. It has been defined for at least 70 years by presidential quests for global domination and legacies as narcissistic and useless as pharaonic pyramids. The interests of American citizens have been slighted as if they were extras in a Cecil B. DeMille cinematic extravaganza.
To defend the United States from aggression, the president does not need to know the economic destitution of Zimbabwe, political upheavals in Burundi or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the strength of the Euro, or the implications of Brexit for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The president needs to know that our troops in the United States are seamlessly defending our borders, our sea lanes, our air space, and our cyberspace from enemy penetration.
President Trump can begin to make America great again by consigning the PDB to the trash bin of history.