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How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The federal government is by no means a perfect organization. It mirrors society. Yet it is the only saving grace that prevents the collapse of society under the stress of capitalism. It funds the military establishment and provides socialist medical care to its veteran soldiers – and members of Congress.

The federal government also employs thousands of outstanding scientists, engineers, medical doctors, economists and analysts of all kinds of specializations. These talented people work for federal departments, national laboratories, or institutes.

Altogether, government scientists and institutions form a matchless infrastructure for the production of knowledge for the good of society.

This socialist federal government is an asset of great import. It invents new knowledge and technology, which it spreads to private institutions and businesses, giving them seed, funds and purpose. They, in turn, hire workers for the production of goods and services society needs.

When the president is wise and thinks and works for the wellbeing and protection of all Americans, the federal government becomes even more of a great ethical engine of democracy, international cooperation, innovation, social equity and human and environmental protection.

Franklin Roosevelt was such a politician. The destitution of the economic collapse of the 1930s and World War II helped him in putting to place policies and institutions that saved America from revolution. Roosevelt capitalism had a human and democratic face.

Just as fundamental for the future of the country, Roosevelt taxed the rich. He used that money for hiring millions of Americans for land restoration, conservation, family farming, parks, full employment, and health and social security.

Presidents after Roosevelt, however, started disrupting his great edifice of civilization, nation-building, and safety net. They triggered the Cold War in order to recreate the supremacy of the moneyed class. They claimed the rich paid too much, hence they deserved lower taxes and tax cuts. They also have been deregulating Wall Street and business.

Environmental protection had barely come to the attention of the public in the 1960s and 1970s with the founding of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. But starting with president Reagan in the 1980s, it slowly disappeared from any serious political discourse. Economists dismissed pollution and climate change by defining them as externalities, meaning nothing to worry about. The bottom line remains the order of the day.

This dangerous nonsense became the official dogma of the Trump administration that came to power in 2017. Enough with regulations is enough, the Trump agents of Wall Street said. Get rid of them. Climate change is a hoax.

Trump

I was thunderstruck Americans “elected” Trump. This is a thoroughly unqualified person for the office of the presidency. He is selfish and illiterate. He is the son of a real estate business man. He inherited money and real estate. His purpose is to enrich himself, his family and nobody else. There’s no public consciousness, ethics or patriotism in Trump. He would be happy in a guarded golf course.

An editorial of the Los Angeles Times (July 16, 2019) painted this succinct portrait:

“Trump is the most intolerant, mean-spirited, dangerous president this country has elected in years; insulting, degrading and polarizing Americans is second nature to him.”

Inequality is the trade mark of degradation and polarization. Once in power, Trump became the champion of inequality. He handed the rich minority of Americans a tax cut and less taxation worth billions. They (a few thousands who own most of America) in turn are funding his reelection with some of the ill-gotten public billions Trump sent them.

To get reelected and help his billionaire class continue looting America, Trump went to the playbook of Reagan. He appointed shady billionaires to run the federal government. They drafted Trump’s executive orders for deregulation, which means pollution goes back to being an externality: no problem.

Shutting down science

Second, to keep up with such silly but extremely dangerous farce of deregulation, Trump and his billionaire friends concluded they had to silence federal employees.

Thousands of those employees are scientists doing necessary climate and agricultural research or funding important research in a large variety of science disciplines. The findings of this national research guide the country’s domestic and international priorities.

Trump, however, has no need for science or climate or farm research. He does not have a clue of what agriculture or global warming are all about.

Federal scientists have been reporting the bad and emergency consequences of the burning of fossil fuels. This disturbs the oil, natural gas and coal industry executives profoundly. Some of the climate change findings of federal scientists suggest global warming is not good for food production.

This scientific evidence and the Trump administration pretense of business as usual is telling Americans and the world that Trump (and his coterie of billionaire advisors) are utterly stupid and selfish, putting their temporal wealth above the health and security of America and the world.

It’s for this reason that Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture shut down science at US Department of Agriculture. This is an animal factory and agribusiness executive by the name of Sonny Perdue. He eviscerated the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. These two organizations alone have been having hundreds of scientists and economists studying agriculture from a variety of perspectives. That includes learning as much as possible about the effects of climate change on food production.

Perdue ordered hundreds of these USDA employees to move to Kansas City or lose their jobs. The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing the scientists and economists of USDA, described this ruthless action as “catastrophic attrition.”

War on environmental protection

The other government department that suffered similar evisceration was the EPA. Deregulation did more than defang EPA. It destroyed the union representing thousands of employees under stress.

Jeff Ruch, Pacific Director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit organization for government workers, said:

“Not only is the Trump White House waging war on environmental protection, rolling back regulations and gutting enforcement, but it is targeting the dedicated professionals [scientists, engineers, attorneys and other specialists] laboring  through very difficult circumstances within EPA. Fear should not be the governing principle for public service.”

More articles by:

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of 6 books, including Poison Spring with Mckay Jenkings.

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