Meddling In Governance

By

Leonard Zwelling

In a chilling op-ed piece in the NY Times on Saturday, December 17, Ariel Dorfman, a famous playwright and emeritus professor at Duke, describes how the United States in general and the CIA, in particular, interfered in the elections and governance of countries all over the world, from his native Chile to Iran. The title of this piece is “Now America Knows How Chile Felt.” He is referring to the latest revelations that the Russians hacked into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta and dropped information embarrassing to both on to the web. In so doing, the Russians MAY have influenced the outcome of the election, but that is not the point. The point is that a foreign power dipped into our election with impunity. Russia violated America’s freedom space.

Mr. Trump seems to be unworried about the Russians because he, like those before him, thinks he can deal with Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin only understands deals made at the point of a bayonet. There is no dealing with Mr. Putin. There is only the application of considered power that is greater than Russia’s own and the willingness to do so. We shall see if Mr. Trump has the right stuff in situations in which Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton seemed to have fallen somewhat short, particularly in Syria, Crimea and The Ukraine.

The faculty of MD Anderson has a similar challenge.

The process by which its leaders are chosen is free from any trappings of representative democracy or dependence on competence. In fact, one could easily argue that the past two presidents have shown themselves to be severely ethically compromised yet have maintained their positions of authority largely because the faculty members have no vote in their continued service. This is unfortunate and contrary to what the Chancellor had said he desired in “shared governance” but let’s be real. Just as the CIA went where it wished and did what it pleased, around the institution, Dr. DePinho and The Bobble Heads along with Mr. Fontaine run the place as they see fit and they do so with little accountability to anyone—including the Chancellor. How do you lose $111M in three months and keep your job?

No one likes the fact that outside influences affect their life. But alas, that is today’s world. Whether those influences do so with our acquiescence or even our input is a topic worth discussing at all levels of government, corporate or otherwise.

I believe that the MD Anderson community deserves a real answer as to why the budget deficits keep rolling up and don’t give me the hogwash about EPIC. It’s not just the EMR that is the problem. The business model is faulty and EPIC was just the final straw that unmasked the flaws in trying to franchise a specialty deliverer of cancer care. MD Anderson cannot be Starbucks and adopting that business model is likely to be disastrous. Combine that with the still unaccountable spending by the president and a recipe for deficits is patently obvious.

What the US government or the current President of the US will do about the Russian invasion into our electoral space remains to be seen. America’s response to this Russian aggression may never be seen by the American public. Only Russia needs to feel the pain.

At Anderson, a public accounting of the spending on IACS, the Moon Shots and all the rest of the non-revenue generating activities is in order BEFORE a plan is implemented to fix the deficit crisis.

Because of the regal nature of the manner in which MD Anderson’s leadership is named, the accountability can only be upwards. The Chancellor ought to act as a surrogate for the faculty and get some answers to the simple question: where the heck is the money going at MD Anderson?

Leonard Zwelling