Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

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PONDERINGS

January 9, 2014

SNOWDON AND THE NSA

A short STRIB feature this morning raised a thought-provoking question as debate continues on the NSA and the FISA courts.

Apparently, the general consensus is that the Supreme Court represents some of the least tech-savy people in the country.  www.startribune/politics/national/239124211.html  Reading the article, it becomes clear why there is controversy over Snowdon as a whistleblower vs. a traitor, as well as a growing discussion on why similar activities conducted by commercial and corporate entities (especially world-wide-web participants) are acceptable but less-intrusive government data gathering is not.

Even members of the Supreme Court are suggesting a reliance on the Fourth Amendment to resolve this issue in cases currently bubbling up in the system may not be the answer to resolving these issues of the 21st century.

In a way, that is comforting as it does point out the wisdom of the founding fathers as they drafted the constitution to become guiding principles, but at the same time allowed for amendments as necessary to change it to cover unforeseen future circumstances.

On the other hand, can you imagine the angst, emotion, and drama that would accompany any movement to amend the Constitution to clarify this issue in our world today?  I am afraid it would rank up there with slavery, women’s rights and the civil rights movement in terms of tearing the country apart.

ISRAEL AND REFUGEES

Keep an eye on this one…at least on the surface, the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” mantra does not seem to be applicable – at least in all cases.

It is surely a complicated question that does indeed confront the Jewish state with key questions about its identity, who is a refugee, and do Jews have a special duty to be accommodating in light of their own history.

It does not appear to be a black/white issue; there have been attempts at accommodation; there have been concerns; and definitely there has been unequal treatment of Christian and Muslim refugees.

Sadly, as I read it, I could not help but draw some parallels to our country and our conflicted stance of  freedom and immigration – especially in view of the fact the US was also founded by early settlers often looking for refuge from persecution….and in so doing, created tremendous conflicts with the indigenous peoples already living in the land we wanted.  And yet, we are not always welcoming to those modern immigrants seeking refuge in what we built as a white man’s world.

 

AN ECONOMIC WORD GAME

A New York Times report on Obama’s comments yesterday following the Senate decision to debate the Jobless Benefits bill pointed out a truism that actually made me smile.

Yes, there is a careful “balance” going on in the 2014 message of “despite an improving economy, too many people are being left behind.”

The NY Times ended the article by citing critics calling it a “muddled economic message the White House has been delivering for years under Obama”.

And yes, the economic is not a right/wrong or black/white situation…it is a mixture.  There is not just a single“right” answer;  the situation is complex.

We are too used to right vs. wrong with no nuances depending on our own political leanings along with the color of our skin.  We forget there is truth and fiction in both.

So perhaps that is why I see Obama and the way he thinks as a mixture of white and African-as a good thing. He, like our world, is complicated.  He, like our world, challenges both sides.  That, in my mind, makes him a good leader.

Maybe we are so critical of him only because it is scary – because whether we agree or disagree, we cannot go backwards.   There is no winner in black vs white or left wing vs right wing.

The way forward for success in the future is collaboration – from which will come a better way than either stance today.

OIL, PIPELINES, TRAINS and the MIDDLE EAST

We’ve tipped the scale; most of our oil comes from within our own country today; North Dakota is booming; jobs are plentiful…all good things.

Enter the pipeline vs environment debates and the reality of unsafe trains causing concern over hazardous materials…one more time, proof there is often on easy answer to almost anything in today’s world!

Then another question popped into my head to confuse the situation more.  With our capacity increasing, it is creating more self-sufficiency in terms of fuel.  What is that impact on the US relationship with the Middle East?  As far as I know, we have not heard much discussion on that.

  But obviously, if we produce most of our own oil, we are not reliant on the Middle East and that could well mean less dollars are flowing there from us – despite  financial help to various countries in need.  We most likely no longer carry the mantra of Good Customer in the Middle East – we have become something else.  Are we SURE that it is the tensions of “Obama’s” US policy goals alone that has changed the tone and attitudes?    Food for thought as you listen to the next rant from your favorite commentator claiming Obama’s approach is not working well.

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LOOKING BACK: 2010 – the downside

December 30, 2010

This is the traditional week of the year filled with lists of the “best of” and “worst of” 2010, and like everyone else, I have viewed or read my share.

One such commentary saddened me as I listened to the pundits 2010 view on the Iraq war.  In 2001, as plans for it surfaced (BEFORE 9-11) in the Bush Administration, war was declared on “Terror” and we invaded Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden…all the while building up for the already planned invasion of Iraq, I felt like I stood alone in the world, as a naysayer cautioning that we would not succeed.  I was the unpatriotic one as I pooh-poohed the weapons of mass destruction theory and suggested it was limited to the biological weapons provided to Iraq and sanctioned by the neo-cons during the Reagan administration – so of course, they knew Saddam had them-they had come to be when the US was using Iraq as a weapon against Iran in the 80s.  I was chastised by friends for suggesting that Iraq’s Sunni culture stretched back over a 1000 years and that mixed with a heritage of warring tribes left little hope that in a quick invasion we could “save” them from their ways and create a democracy that would prosper, grow and become the model for bringing democracy to the middle east.  What in the world were those people smoking in the White House to be so deluded and dismissive of facts? And how in the world did they get a nation of reasonably intelligent citizens to go along with it? Oh yes, I was told I wrong in that thinking…after all, the one thing the US government does pretty well was WAR, I was told by a friend.  Not to worry, it would turn out all right.

And so it began…and did not go well as it not only contributed to a 10 trillion dollar shift in the deficit projections for 2010, created a tremendous tragedy of loss of American and Iraqi lives, and has not succeeded yet in establishing a solid democracy.

Projected positive balance in the early 2000s was $5 trillion by 2010 and thus provided the reasoning for the Bush tax CUTS in time of war.  Unfortunately, since the Bush Administration chose NOT to include war expenses in the budget for either the Afghan or Iraqi war, it took a while to realize that war was eating into that projected surplus – then the collapse of the teetering economy began in the early second half of the decade, and today we stand frightened to death of a $ 5 trillion deficit.  Congrats to the US; we managed between war and greed to achieve a $10 trillion swing that today still threatens the international economy.  We sure showed the world how powerful we are, didn’t we? Or did we just make way for the rise of BRIC?

Today, as we look forward to 2011, what are the projections?  Now the pundits mostly concur, the Iraqi war will not accomplish the mission – a victory we already celebrated years ago!  Sadly, we are seeing my projections come to be.  I fear this will be long remembered as a horrendous misstep by our government – making 19th century policies of Slavery, Manifest Destiny, and Extermination of the Indigenous Peoples look like child’s play.  And that does not even factor in the lost lives – not just of American soldiers who died, and those that were physically AND mentally injured, but the horrendous cost in lives and injuries to the Iraqis themselves-a loss much greater than our own.  No wonder I feel saddened. 

Add to that, Afghanistan, the Housing Crisis, the Economy, Lack of Jobs/job skills shifts, the worsening split between the political parties, and one could quickly experience a major sinking spell !

 Thank goodness, we can balance some ofthis with the oh so many positives in the world, our country and our personal lives that also surround us and keep us optimistic and moving forward!