Disclaimer: About the time someone starts to pay me to research these topics is when I give more definitive answers. (Or better still, will pay someone else to research these answers, as have done my esteemed colleagues.) Sufficed to say, the answers here, while tentative in nature, do indicate the direction of my proclivities. Besides, it’s a whole lot more fun to shoot from the hip rather than to be thoroughly versed on an issue.
It is a shame upon America that gas prices are often manipulated by oil companies under the premise of market fluctuations. To see prices daily swing by 10 to 20 percent reflects an artificial supply and demand mechanism influenced by stock market burps and hurricane swipes. This makes my blood boil because I feel that it is borne of “speculation” and greed, which is economic oppression at it’s worst. Hence the need for government intervention.
In my more extreme musings, I would like the see the United States start a government owned oil company that would sell products at modest mark-ups, and, which competing oil companies would have to match or lose business. Less radically, there could be a return to the government price regulated days of the sixties.
But in my kinder, gentler moments, I would pass a law that would require a 10 day notification period for any price increases. Like my “stock market stabilization initiative” below, this would cause oil companies to think twice before gouging and would likely encourage them to invest in ‘shock absorbers’ like more storage facilities and strategic partnerships borne of mutual benefit rather than simple resource development.
[This is dated material but I am allowing it to remain to show my sentiments about the subject] Is there ANYONE on the planet that does not want the US out of Iraq or Afghanistan? And since this is such a universal sentiment, why are we still there? Well? Anyone? No answers? Well, I’ll tell you why. If we leave immediately, there will be civil war and bloodshed that will be 10 times the scale of the sectarian terrorism there is now.
I will not carp as to why we are there, but now being there, we have little choice but to stay until these governments are stable, a seemly impossible task in this era of religious intolerance. So now I will make my first challenge to Islam, if it is a religion of peace, cause peace to reign in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the US will be out so fast that “shock and awe” will be the only words that can describe it.
Now to the mothers who have lost sons and daughters, to the sons and daughters who have lost limbs and suffer scars of mind and body, I offer this small, very small, consolation. For every life that an American has had to lay down on Iranian soil, there have been a hundred lives that have been saved from civil violence of a nation left without its harsh ruler, namely, Saddam. The world is a better place without him, but the void is showing itself a hard one to fill. Likewise Afghanistan is in a death struggle with the Taliban whose mandate is oppression and intimidation. Who, if not us (meaning we and the coalition forces), will stand in the gap?
I blame the imams and the US. The imams for using their influence to fan the fires of hatred. The US for using its power to advance its economic agenda to the disregard of the sovereignty of nations, traditions, and religion, which has earned it the just condemnation of the imams and the world. Both need to stop. Both need to change.
If this were just a war about oil, we could leave now (especially Afghanistan). There are plenty of places to get oil, and now that prices have spiked, alternative energy sources are coming online daily. Nor is it just a war of strategic positioning. That might have made sense in a prior age of cold war and cheap energy, but in this modern world of globalization and the internet, EVERYWHERE is strategic, it is only a matter of resource exploration and development (tho I advocate partnerships). PS – The Chinese understand this, that’s why you see them everywhere in developing nations.
No, this is primarily now a war of liberation: liberation from cruelty, from fear, liberation from injustice and intolerance. I don’t really know if we can complete the task before us. Until Islam, all of Islam, from Sunni to Shiite, from Senegal to Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, becomes part of the solution instead a component of the problem, the future looks bleak indeed. But I do know that if we quit, if we pack up our toys and go home, that what is left, if it not under the rule of law, will dissolve before our eyes. I believe that. And I will not permit that.
PS – Did you know that 10 times as many Iraqi’s have killed each other as have killed Americans? This has been a constant statistic throughout the intervention. So how many Iraqi’s will perish without a US presence and without a stable government?
The State of Israel and the Palestinian Question
Am I the only one who thinks the idea of a re-gathered Israel to be a cool idea? Sure, the execution of the idea leaves a lot to be desired, but you might be repressive too if everyone else around you wanted you dead. The only way I see a solution to the Palestinian question is the for Islamic world to celebrate the phenomena of a renewed historical homeland for the Jews, AND, for the Jewish world to embrace the religious diversity of the same. If these two miracles were to happen, the question of borders and districts would dissolve and everyone would be a citizen of Israel, Palestinian and Israeli alike, Christian, Jew, and Muslim together.
And if I could dole out a few more miracles, every nation in the world that recognized the state of Israel would have it’s citizenry as possessing dual citizenships, one of their own country, and one for the nation of Israel, because Jerusalem belongs to the world, not only to the Jews. But that’s just nuts, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, lines will be drawn, separations will be made, and hard feelings will flourish. And the state of Israel will be a rock of offense for the world, but one which I as your president will defend.
War on Terrorism
I hate what we are becoming, namely, a surveillance society.
I hate the propagation of suspicion. I hate the justification of ‘security’ at the expense of privacy. Now my heartfelt solution is unacceptable to the world, namely, non-resistance. If you take my life, you take no great thing. There will be plenty of people left to carry on. But such is the sentiment of a true believer. The world wallows in unbelief, and so must be protected from its fears. So what to do?
I say let’s treat this thing as if it were a war indeed. Not a war on Islam. (God forbid.) Not even a war on Fundamentalist extremism.(I’m a Fundamentalist;I’m at home with extremists.) But a war on political activism through violence.
- Request voluntarily black outs of all the world’s news media about terrorist attacks. The attention they get is half of the reason why they do it.
- Subvert or destroy all propaganda outlets. Al Jazeera has got to go. I like the idea of an Islamic CNN, trusted and
I hate the idea of malcontents boasting of their latest killings and giving glory to Allah in the same breath. This goes for websites advocating the same. The same goes for books and newspapers too. Political action is a worthy occupation. Death threats and taunts are for bullies and cowards, and will not be tolerated.
- Terrorism is not limited to Jihadists. We should actively pursue anyone who would use violent means to influence and persuade others. One wonders about infringing upon the rights of free speech and free thought. Let me put it this way: When you suggest that an act of violence upon a person or a person’s property is politically (or religiously) justifiable, YOU become an enemy of society (and God) and have surrendered your rights. Note: An “act of violence” is one that is committed without the prior approval of a court of law. Bringing to justice and executing justice are far removed from vigilante justice or justice approved by one’s religious leader.
- Meanwhile, legitimate injustices should be addressed. When egregious injustices are allowed to remain, people like myself go on ‘missions’ until the foe is vanquished or we are. Understandably this takes time and cooperation (a willingness to follow through), but if there is no initiative on the part of society to address these, then guys (and gals) like me will go to war. Thankfully in my case, I can never justify taking life to prove my point, no matter how “right” I feel I am. Even in all these active interventions, NO ONE must be hurt, much less tortured, much less killed.
The “war” will be considered won when our public buildings won’t need to use their metal detectors, altho I fear that the surveillance cameras will continue to roll. We love to justify invading privacy for the sake of security.
I must have missed a memo. Am I to understand that there is a move to allow illegal immigrants to acquire legal status, albeit inferior legal status, and thus circumvent the normal immigration process. Speaking as the husband of an immigrant, I view this as a slap in the face of all those who sought citizenship the right way. It took time. It cost money. But it was worth it. Don’t make it easier for the sake of those who have knowingly broken the law.
Perhaps you need to know that almost anyone can immigrate into the United States if they have a “sponsor”, meaning someone who will guarantee that they will not become a burden to the government or society. Is this such a difficult requirement? And if the majority of immigrants are Mexican, won’t a few of the 26 million plus Mexican-American US citizens be willing to do this?? Oh, Did I fail to mention the even many more advocates in churches who would do the same?
Don’t change the immigration laws except to simplify and refine procedures. Make it easier for the immigration officials, not the illegal immigrants. PS - Profiling Stinks! See the link for "Revolution" for a better idea.
There’s no way around it. Healthcare needs a fix before the Boomer’s start to clog the system. This is one where I would like to defer an opinion until I can survey the options more carefully. Saying that “all Americans need coverage” misses the point. Medicare won’t be able to keep pace with an aging, ailing, whopper of a demographic that the Boomer’s represent.
I am dubious of Obamacare because it allows the game to proceed under the same system of insurance company rules and hospital
bureaucracy. My suspicion is that not national healthcare insurance, but a national healthcare system of hospitals and clinics may be an answer.
Add to that centralized ordering of medical equipment on a scale that mass production efficiencies can cut costs in half or better.
Add to that also shipping this reduced price equipment as foreign aid for developing countries.
Add to that negotiated bulk purchasing of drugs.
Add to that library based (or other) computer health terminals where one can go to get a virtual check up, but with a live physician or nurse practitioner on the other end.
Add to that Hospitals to license (like a franchise) and inspect community portals which have sick beds, on-site drug disbursals, nurse practitioner on staff, dedicated broadband connections to the hospital for patient monitoring, doctor consultation, and triage.
Add to that government subsidies for reduced rates (instead of national health insurance).
Add to that ramping up in-home monitoring arrays, cost effectively, again with broadband connectivity.
More than this I would need to investigate, negotiate, and legislate any other fundamental improvements.
The polls say that the economy is more on the minds of the voting public than the war or healthcare. OK, so how would you like your government to meddle in the affairs of business? Oh, you want guaranteed, good paying jobs? Me too. Oh, you want inflation to slow down? OK, so? Oh, you worry about exported jobs, diminished manufacturing, and the sub-prime crisis. So does the whole world. How to “fix” it? Read on.
First, if things get slow, if money gets tight, then people will start to live more within their means and forego unnecessary expenses (read, buying stuff just to be buying stuff). This country could use a good dose of frugalness.
Second, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs or investment capital, and during the next 20 years there will be a renaissance of small business start-ups. (“How can you say that, Simmons?” Well, the Boomer’s have got to do something with all that extra time and money on their hands. I’m guessing that they will either travel or start a business.)
Third, if we can eliminate unemployment via “work-fare” programs, the real jobs will have to offer security, benefits, and satisfaction to stay competitive. (Work-fare trumps welfare and minimum wage laws for elevating the employment market.)
Fourth, achieving economic improvement via tax cuts or stimulus payments or taxing the rich even more or all the other ways that politicians think will sway the voting public are STUPID! Americans don’t want to pay less taxes. We want to know that our tax dollars are being well spent. I can double the taxes on everyone if I want to, and everyone will love me, IF, universal healthcare, guaranteed employment, free college education, and eliminating the federal deficit were an achievable goal by such an increase. But both I and the American public have to believe it first. So the first step in economic reform is being sure that our tax dollars are being well spent, then we can go on to tinkering with the economy.
Fifth, and this is a Biggee, restructure the stock market to promote “investing” and discourage “speculating”. These ridiculous spikes and plummets must end. They are too disruptive of business and banking. The solution? Slow down the trading system. Perhaps require that only one trade per day per person can be made. If that doesn’t do it, then one trade per week. Whatever it takes to slow down the beast will have the best long term effects for stabilizing the world financial markets.
Sixth, find a good trade off point and peg the Dollar to the Euro. How wonderful if the
Yen, Rupee, and Ruan were to follow suit. There’s nothing that businesses like better than predictability, and constant ‘exchange rates’ can lead to this.
Again, speculators hate this, but the world needs this.
Seventh, enforce saving. Require businesses to deduct 5% (10%?) from wages to be put in a federal savings account which cannot be accessed except by using it to pay income taxes or investing in CD’s or other investment instruments. Of course, if an individual wants to just save for retirement, shelters and tax breaks abound. Of course, if a business wants to match funds as a perk to keep that employee happy, 401(k)’s and the like also abound. But the point is to start saving, not spending until we are broke. Knowing that you have little money set aside can sometimes calm the most anxious fears in a weak economy. Being broke and not having a safety net is a load of worry for anyone in uncertain times.
No bio-fuels. I am flabbergasted that we should think it wise to grow crops to power cars instead of feeding an overpopulated world. Does anyone else see that the politicians are not wearing any clothes? How can anyone be in favor of this?
Actually the task of achieving energy efficiency and independence is being propelled along quite nicely for us by the stupid high prices of gas, and the attendant rises in all the other of fossil fuels. Hybrid cars will inherit the earth. Alternative energy sources will finally be brought to bear. People will insulate and monitor consumption. Power (and product) distribution will diversify to new levels. Thanks OPEC.
I will have more to say about energy strategies under “ZELE and beyond” and also "Energy Ideas" in the Idea Bin.
I'm green, I guess. I just hate to spend lots of money to get there. Rather than mandating pollution levels and carbon credits by enforcement, I would just insist on new construction be to conservation standards, something like the ADA requires. Businesses must be coerced a little (by taxes or fines), people must be encouraged a lot. Most people want to “save the whales”, we just don’t want to live in caves to do so.
Nevertheless, global warming IS a problem. Science and technology might solve the situation, but I’m not holding my breath. I’ll just recycle, watch kilowatts, and try to cut down on waste and excess.
But do you know what I think? I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think that those trash heaps are undiscovered gold. I think that at some point, people will be paying to get your trash. Divide the organic waste from the inorganic waste and you have the beginnings of a zero waste / zero pollution society. Silly me.
Here I am going to give short answers because the longer your answer, the more the “other side” hates you. Who needs the grief? Tell you what. Find me a discussion group where each side actually respects the other side and will admit to their having good points, and I’ll join in. Till then…
Abortion – No, with a few exceptions
Gay Marriage – No
Death Penalty – No
Stem Cell Research – Not with human embryo’s
Euthanasia – No
Gun Control – No, with a few exceptions
Creationism in the Classroom – Not till each side respects the other’s observations and evidence
Human Cloning – Absolutely No
10 Commandments in public places at public expense – No, unless you want to post other religious lists as well.
(May I suggest that we post these in our hearts first.)(Challenge: Can you even recite the 10 Commandments?)
That’s all for now. Note: This was composed at a single sitting.
I guess there are more things that could have been mentioned. And some of them will be on other pages. Till then, vote for me.