WORLD POLITICAL ISSUES WHICH AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE FIRST WEEK OF 2012, AND KEY QUESTIONS THEY PRESENT:
Balanced Budgets vs. Maintaining Life in America
1) Would it help regain the trust of financial markets for American businesses to guarantee that present staff stays employed, while work hours or pay is made more fluid so that existing staff can keep present jobs? Should American companies work with unemployment services to create training programs that are free to taxpayers and businesses which allow the unemployed to receive training while collecting unemployment benefits?
2) Obviously, creative corporate and government number crunching exists regarding tax breaks and corporate loopholes. Many variables come into play, and lobbyists, “Occupiers,” and “The Tea Party” should focus on two questions: How does America establish tax rates that are inviting to the creation of new business, and what should those tax rates be? And, of the companies receiving major tax breaks or the ability to take advantage of sweet financial loopholes, which ones need to keep their current arrangements to assure that the cost of certain necessary goods and services do not drastically rise in price?
The Wall Street Journal, Friday December 30th, Gabriele Parussini – “Sarkozy Outlines Jobs Plan”- Program Modeled on Germany, Trades Pay Cuts for Employment Guarantees
“The unemployment rate (in France)- rose to 9.7% of the active population in the third quarter” and “The trade deficit is projected to widen to a record high of 75 billion euros this year.”
“The French government’s idea to increase work-time and pay flexibility is likely to meet much more resistance.”
The American Spectator, December 2011 – January 2012, Grover G. Norquist- “A Balanced Budget Consensus”
“For at least 30 years now, conservatives have been working to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Federal Constitution to prohibit or limit Congress’ ability to borrow money.”
The American Spectator, December 2011 – January 2012, Benjamin J. Stein- “Searching for a Way Out”
“We are in a classic ‘Keynesian Liquidity Trap.’ That means the Fed pumps more money into the system, it doesn’t get used for new plants or expansion, but just stays in the most liquid form, like the shortest term Treasury instruments.”
“We spend about $40 billion each day more than we take in at the federal level. We still have 9% unemployment, and a prostrate housing sector.”
The Atlantic, December 2011, Orville Schell- “How WallMart is changing China”
“With some 30,000 Chinese factories making things for WallMart, the companies’ future is tied to China.”
Think Progress, January 5th 2012, Pat Garofolo- “Corporate Profits have Rebounded to Pre-Recession Levels, But Corporate Tax revenue Hasn’t ”
“Corporate tax revenue has plummeted for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the growth of deductions, loopholes, and outright tax evasion that helps companies limit, or entirely eliminate, their income tax liability. 30 major corporations, in fact paid no corporate income tax over the last three years, while making $160 billion in profits.”
Domestic Fuel Production and Independence vs. Inevitability of World Conflict
1) While there is a strong push via world governing bodies such as the United Nations toward cleaner energy and a lower carbon footprint, how can America more easily take advantage of abundant resources it has such as coal, oil, and natural gas? Obviously, if needed economically, other countries, large and small use carbon based fuel sources without fear of penalty (Cap and Trade, Agenda 21), why can’t the United States?
2) The United States has the potential of being self-sufficient given the amount of fuel resources it has. How long would it take to organize those resources into a dependable infrastructure so that, more or less, America could be completely energy independent?
3) One can argue that the reason America allows itself to depend on foreign oil is because the transfer of American capital to oil rich nations keeps those nations dependant on American consumerism. It can be argued that this is beneficial because relationships are formed in places where militant radicalism can be tamped down. The question is, of these countries in which a consumer relationship has been formed, which countries should America remain friends with, and which countries should America point to as a reason for moving to become completely energy independent?
Financial Times, Friday December 30th, Friday December 30th, Samantha Pearson and William McNamara – “Africa competition increases for Brazilian company as rivals start to dig in”
“Over the past two years Vale has built positions in two of the most promising mineral areas in Africa: Mozambique and New Guinea.”
“However, the state-backed Chinese miners may well prove to be Vale’s most formidable competitors in Africa.”
New York Times, Friday December 30th, Editorial Staff – “Iran and the Straight” “The threat to block oil shipping is a sign of desperation and a reminder of Tehran’s recklessness”
“According to the latest report from United Nations inspectors, Iran has created computer models of nuclear explosions, conducted experiments on Nuclear triggers and completed advanced research on a warhead that could be delivered by a medium range missile.”
“Eighteen months have passed since the last round of Security Council sanctions.”
“We strongly support applying maximum economic pressure to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But we think Washington penalizing foreign companies for engaging in otherwise lawful commerce with Iran is not the right way to go about it and could backfire, alienating European allies at a time when they are preparing to impose their own stronger sanctions. President Obama can limit the damage by making full use of a waiver, which allows him to block the penalties if they would threaten national security or cause oil prices to soar.”
New York Times, Friday December 30th, Mark Landler and Steven Lee Myers- “Healing a Rift, U.S. Agrees to $30 Billion Fighter Jet Sale to Saudi Arabia”
“The Obama administration announced a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, saying it had agreed to sell F-15 fighter jets valued at nearly $30 billion to the Royal Saudi Air Force.”
“Timing is laden with significance, as tensions with Iran have deepened and the United States has withdrawn its last soldiers from Iraq.”
“Saudi Arabia will get 84 new F-15SA jets.”
National Revue, December 31st , John Yoo- “An Unavoidable Challenge”
“Iran will soon join the ranks of the world’s nuclear powers . Because of the Obama administration’s reluctance to confront this looming threat, others- such as the Republican presidential candidates- must begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Iran might respond by attacking Israel, Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, and oil shipments in the Persian Gulf.”
“Containment…would involve constant, significant conventional and nuclear presence on Iran’s perimeter.”
“The…craving for international approval may lead the administration to put off military action against Iran before it is too late.”
The Atlantic, December 2011, Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Ambinder- “The Ally from Hell”
“Pakistan makes its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists in order to hide them from the United States.”
Business Insider, January 5th 2012, Robert Johnson- “IRAN: The US Is Sending Thousands Of Troops And Missiles to Israel To Start A War”
“PressTV says the drill will begin in January, but the Israeli announcement claims the ‘largest ever’ missile defense exercise will commence this spring, largely in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Big Government- “Must versus Trust”
1) While the U.S. Government has many bold ideas regarding American safety (National Defense Authorization Act 2012), health (Affordable Care Act), financial clarity and transparency (Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley), and increasing revenue from the housing market, when does the size and power of government defy the trust of the individual citizen?
2) If the U.S. government were to take over foreclosed houses and market them to individuals, and groups of people, there is no doubt that it could translate into greatly needed revenue to pay off debts and deficits. However, is it not possible that lack of ownership and independence could be threatened as well? If the government is allowed to own and rent foreclosed housing, what is to stop them from defining their own rules, and unreasonably demanding higher rates in the future? Where will the checks and balances come from if the government is allowed to create its own rules in regards to housing, drastically undercut the present market, and raise rates and terms in the future? Is this not the same argument America is quarreling over in regards to healthcare?
3) Americans need to get up to speed regarding the National Defense Authorization Act, 2012. The Patriot Act, and other functions regarding the functions of Homeland Security can be debated. After all, freedom and security do come at a price. NDAA however, gives arresting officers military power, and the ability for authorities to apprehend individuals who they think are a threat to United States. The qualifications warranting such arrests are not clearly defined. Couldn’t this mean that whoever raises protests against the current government be detained in a military court? What are the chances that this provision is abused? Doesn’t this amount of undefined power eclipse any notion of privacy and free speech in the Constitution? “Hey left wing socialists, NDAA looks great now, but what are you going to say if Donald Trump or Rick Santorum is elected president?”
Business Insider, January 5th 2012, David Seaman- “National defense Authorization Outrage Continues To Grow Online”
“The NDAA is a radical and dangerous bill — which Barack Hussein Obama quietly signed into law on New Year’s Eve…”
Author Naomi Wolf, with a warning for Congress: “I never thought I would have to write this: but- incredibly- Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process.”
Business Insider, January 4th 2012, Simone Foxman- “Ben Bernanke Offers A Game-Changing Recommendation To The Housing Industry”
“In the release, the Fed suggests that the government find a way to convert a significant segment of the stock of real estate owned properties (REOs)-essentially, properties held by banks or other institutions after foreclosure-into rentals.”
The Fed sates: “The challenge for policymakers is to find ways to help reconcile the existing size and mix of the housing stock and the current environment for housing finance. Fundamentally, such measures involve adapting the existing housing stock to the prevailing tight mortgage lending conditions–for example, devising policies that could help facilitate the conversion of foreclosed properties to rental properties–or supporting a housing finance regime that is less restrictive than today’s, while steering clear of the lax standards that emerged during the last decade. Looking forward, continued weakness in the housing market poses a significant barrier to a more vigorous economic recovery… Absent any policies to help bridge this gap, the adjustment process will take longer and incur more dead-weight losses, pushing house prices lower and thereby prolonging the downward pressure on the wealth of current homeowners and the resultant drag on the economy at large.”