President Obama, recently named in a Quinnipiac University poll? as the worst president in 70 years, used lots of meaningless words to introduce his new Veterans Administration director.

Good luck to Robert McDonald. Our veterans deserve his very best.

The VA is a vast, inefficient bureaucracy of 340,000 federal employees with 1,700 facilities serving the nation’s veterans. Estimating an average employee cost of $125,000, taxpayers are footing a bill of about $42 billion per year. That does not include the cost of the 1,700 facilities around the country.

How many are there here in Maine?

One has to wonder how many of these 340,000 people, many of whom are unionized, are caregivers versus administrative and security people, janitors, consultants and nepotists.

The VA mess, crisis (call it what you will) is a good example of how a huge bureaucracy with central control in Washington, D.C., just does not work well. And, in this case, is causing untold suffering and even some deaths among some veterans.

McDonald should consider setting up some trial areas to:

— Close and/or sell some of the 1,700 facilities;

— Develop plans to have veterans receive care from local caregivers; and

— Incentivize private caregivers to absorb the best of the VA people.

I have to believe that the competitive private sector (once we get rid of the Affordable Care Act) can deliver much better care at a lower cost than unionized federal employees who are sometimes impossible to discipline or fire.

George Jones, Otisfield


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