Sunday, January 09, 2005

A few things that I worry about (politically-speaking)

Politically Speaking
Right-of-center oratory (as I see it on cable news in particular) is quite effective for inflaming the passions and promugating a sense of self-rightousness but does little to help reach common ground and get working political solutions for everyone, not just the most impassioned and vocal lot.

Putting such passions in perspective, simply put, is that for the past 4 years the numbers just haven't added up under W. While cable news' fiery almost-sermons are worthy that of a Christian Coalition convention yet, in the end, can't negate several trends: We as a nation are weakening economically and militarily, our foreign policy is mostly a one-dimensional military push with no diplomatic or geopolitical prongs or depth, we increasingly can't compete in the global marketplace and we aren't planning or investing for the long-term.

On this blog, I try to focus on numbers, not name-calling, and more often than not, the numbers bleed red and show that we are weaker, not stronger, irregardless of the tough rhetoric W projects in sound bites or his admittedly memorable catch-phrases.

What I Worry About
I worry about competing against the likes of Indians and mainland Chinese that enthusiastically pump out 3-4x more highly-educated scientists and programmers from their schools than we do, to outsourced jobs and their aim at usurping our economic might patiently and methodically.

I worry that American job growth has been stagnant for the past 3 years, new jobs' wages that are almost $2/hr lower then before while we're working harder, longer (then even the Japanese now) for less then before, and with an increasing number of unemployed ill-equipped or insufficiently trained to compete for the technology jobs of the 21st century.

I worry about the budget deficit and our inability to finance the military that is leading to drastic cutbacks and basic education that puts us almost last among the G8 and the world.

I worry about our lack of an energy policy, relying on Saudis and the Middle East (home to the 9/11 terrorists and Wahabiist-Muslim extremism) as our main energy suppliers, doing little to promote alternatives.

I worry about tax cuts as being the primary economic policy of the US government to drive growth that mostly benefit the wealthy, who invest the bulk of their refunds back into their portfolios that are tied to global capital markets for higher returns, not spent domestically where it's needed to drive US economic growth and jobs.

I worry about the jittery bond markets and our undervalued dollar that is slowly losing its credibility as the world's de-facto currency arising from our enormous record budget and trade deficits.

I worry that this in turn may prompt Euro and Asian creditors to forgo our bond and debt instruments in the future, driving up prices for everyday consumer items (the majority of which we import) and our interest rates for credit cards, mortgages, and loans, thereby making already poor Americans (and businesses) poorer and richer Americans (and businesses) invest their money overseas for better rates of return.

I worry that we're not doing anything to alleviate poverty and promoting economic growth at political hotspots that engender terror and global unrest, and particularly, not engaging as leaders with full presidential involvement in a full-court press in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (especially now w/o Arafat).

I worry about ineffective homeland security (that is also cyber- and tech-smart) to protect ourselves and our children from even-smarter, more-patient and stealthier terrorists looking for cheaper, more effective ways to harm us en masse.

I worry about eliminating our complacency with national competitiveness that is inextricably linked to reforming education for the 21st century, in order for us to remain [at least one of] the world's economic superpower[s] creating new markets and new types of jobs.

I worry about paying down our debt and saving a surplus so our children won't have to deal with an unstable national economy and have to pay the burdens we incurred.

I worry about single-/two-issue Americans dominating our political discourse taking our security, as embodied today by Iraq, and moral values to be the end all, be all.

I worry that there is much more at stake for the United States to take the leadership role in but we're stuck with Iraq front-and-center, pumped daily by 24/7 cable news-cycle economics, leaving room for little else on the policy agenda.

Great statesmen in time of war would be the likes of Roosevelt who during WWII rallied the nation and the world (with Churchill) to wholeheartedly sacrifice in order to win the war against the evil that was Naziism. They had also laid out and executed a plan that kept the peace as well as led the largest successful rebuilding of the major nation-states of Western Europe and Japan. Or Lincoln who instituted land-grants to establish the nation's leading universities in midst of a mighty bloody Civil War.

In light of such historical greats, unfortunately, W is but a simpleton - whether in terms of long-term vision, pragmatism, or depth and breadth of leadership. The world is mighty complicated, and it requires more than one man's guts to run the greatest nation on earth, a man who based on his gutsy eye-to-eye meets trusted Musharraf (sp) and Putin, not realizing that both men have cataracts and stand for many things we Americans abhor.

Apparently, a lot of these things don't seem to be of much concern for those worried about our moral compass and setting the right direction for this great nation - and the world's singular role model for democracy. And it often seems like many Americans just don't care anymore.