U.S. Administrator of Standards

The middle of Donald Trump’s presidency might be a strange time to make a pitch for establishing a new cabinet position. Or it might be the perfect time. Either way, I have little to lose by suggesting the new job is needed and insisting I’m the best person to fill it. A more rational and reputation-conscious president might not give my ideas serious consideration. The Trump Administration is likely the best hope I have for acquiring short-term autocratic power.

I’m not interested in any of the existing cabinet positions. Those jobs are pretty much filled anyway, although some are “acting” cabinet members — and it’s understood the door is figuratively revolving at the White House and heavily treated with WD-40.

The various secretaries, directors, ambassadors and administrators who serve at the pleasure of the president are already busy at work to make America as great as it was at some undefined point in the past, and they aren’t really clamouring for my help, but I do have a few simple ideas that could improve America and the whole planet Earth for that matter, and I feel like it would really only take me until noon on my first day at work to sort those things out. That would leave plenty of time for cleaning out my already empty desk after hearing on the news about the tweet announcing the termination of my employment.

I won’t get into what credentials I have that might qualify me for a cabinet position, because that’s pretty irrelevant. The boldness of declaring myself the perfect choice ought to mean a lot to President Trump. And hey, no one else is in contention for this position because I invented it.

If Senate confirmation is needed, that’s no problem. Sure, I’ve done many embarrassing things in my life that could be dragged into the media and make me look unfit to serve my country, but I’m willing to claim none of those things really happened, so that’s no problem.

Therefore, I, Paul Lundgren, am seeking the nomination of, or preferably unilateral appointment by, President Donald J. Trump for the new cabinet position of administrator of standards.

What will be my duties? Quite simply, I will decide when anything is confusing or annoying in American culture and then render a decision about how it should be dealt with.

Will I have any regulatory power or ability to establish laws? No. That would be complicated. I’m here to simplify life and facilitate American greatness. People will just do what I say because they respect the administrator of standards. Yes, some people will resist, but I will have established some guidelines we can point to while labeling the dissidents as unAmerican losers.

Here are my central promises:

The standard price for a can of soda pop is 50 cents, the way the Lord God intended and the Michael Douglas character “D-Fens” so excellently stated in the 1993 film Falling Down. Selling a can for more than 50 cents is still legal, of course, but will rightfully result in scowls and outrage from consumers, who can now point to the established standard to justify their outrage.

Daylight savings time is finished. We will not debate this.

A lot of the standards I will be setting relate to language. I wouldn’t mind at all if the president chose to limit my powers and offered me the more specific position of U. S. Administrator of Linguistic Standards. Then again, from what I’ve seen of his tweets it might be wiser for me to downplay the notion of any language standards being held in the slightest regard. Also, this is not a time in history for suggesting limitations to one’s own authority. I am a bold and decisive leader who deserves great power.

The reason many of my decisions will be related to words is that I’ve been a writer and editor for more than 20 years and I keep seeing people write things like: “There will be a fruit tray at the party with Bananas, Grapes and Strawberries.” I just can’t even fathom why someone would capitalize the names of fruit. Although I will not have the authority to impose sanctions on that kind of thing, I think folks will fall in line after I shame them during my highly publicized press conference.

You might have noticed I didn’t use an Oxford comma in my example sentence above. Don’t take that to mean I’m killing it off. I’m not officially taking a position on the use of serial commas until I take office, because I know my decision will be unpopular with half of humanity. But I think the simple declaration that I will make a decision one way or the other ought to be universally popular.

On my first day in office I will release a list of acceptable acronyms to use in conversation. There will probably be about ten or twelve. You can keep saying things like “NFL” and “NASA,” but if you go around talking about “blah blah blah A.I. blah blah A.I. blah” you need to be punched in the face until you start saying “artificial intelligence.” This particularly applies to all that jargon from your job that you drag with you to the brewery and expect people who don’t work with you to follow along with in conversation. I mean, shit, the stuff you are talking about is boring enough; don’t make it confusing, too.

The swear word in my previous sentence is only partially gratuitous. It’s also an intentional segue into pointing out that people who don’t want to use swear words need to stop writing them with weird characters inserted as if it defuses the word. What the f&#k is that all about? Either use the word or don’t. Conveying it as if the idea of the word is acceptable but the word itself is not is absolutely asinine.

Next order of business: People who use the non-words “mindful,” “planful” or “impactful” will feel my wrath. They should be aware and plan ahead for how that will affect them.

Anyone who sends an email to the administrator of standards showing dictionary pages or other evidence suggesting “mindful,” “planful” or “impactful” are legitimate words will receive an automatic reply reminding them the administrator of standards’ decisions are final and he is also permanently out of the office and will never read his emails.

Digression: Setting aside this whole administrator of standards notion for a moment, it occurs to me that in my regular life I should set up an auto-reply for all my email that just reads: “Have fun with that.” It would save me a lot of time.

One more thing related to communications: English is considered the universal language, even though 80 percent of human beings don’t speak it. There really ought to be a language everyone can agree on, and it’s not going to be Mandarin Chinese, so let’s stick with English as a universal language. We don’t need any laws to crush other languages, but I’m here to tell you English has won.

And when the racist ethnocentric dimwits are done applauding my previous decision I’ll note that I’ve picked the metric system as the standard of measurement before I quietly slink out the back door.

Electronics manufacturers at home and overseas, take note: From now on the mute button on any remote control must be designed so it is as large as the average human thumb. It is the most important button, and America is going to start treating it that way.

What’s with all these breweries with “family friendly” environments and play areas for kids? That’s got to stop. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care at all about kids being in environments where alcohol is flowing. My concern is that adults who are worth drinking with shouldn’t have their kids around.

Next on my list is a matter particularly related to alcohol, but really ought to be applied to every product or service in the world. We are in an age when deceptive marketing practices should no longer be tolerated, so businesses need to stop listing items for sale at prices that do not include taxes. That is just plain annoying. Furthermore, if alcohol is involved, the price should always be a round number. I’d rather pay $6 for a pint of beer than $5.67, thank you.

Here’s a broader rule to cover scams: Hidden fees charged by any business can be quickly reversed by consumers with my new hidden-fee service charge. If you see something on a bill you don’t understand, just send an invoice in equal amount to the company that sent it in order to compensate yourself. And go ahead and tack on a little something extra for your effort.

I’ve got plenty of other ideas, but there’s no sense in revealing my entire platform all at once. There’s no better way to impress people than simply pointing out that I’ve got a lot of good no-nonsense ideas. Actually sharing too many of them would limit the appeal.

Of course, I can’t wrap this up without pointing out my first order of business as administrator of standards will be announcing I will not “serve at the pleasure of the president.” Although he will have the power to remove me from office at any time, there’s no need to use a phrase that suggests we have a dominant/submissive sexual relationship. Yuck.

Some readers might be upset I’m not using this space to complain about the president’s policies and ethics, but instead submitting to his power in an attempt to seek personal benefit. I would like to invite those people to say that to my face so I can tickle their tummies.

The Trump presidency seems like an opportunity for me to get some important work done for the betterment of humanity. Whether I agree with anything in the Trump platform is irrelevant. He just needs to agree with mine and appreciate my disinterest in public opinion or willingness to sit in even a single meeting and listen to anyone. The odds aren’t half bad.

SpowlRibbonPaul Lundgren is author of The Spowl Ribbon, a book released in 2010 that finally broke even in 2015. Publishing success!

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