Monday, April 06, 2009

Looking for Answers

Okay, I will take off my sarcasm hat for a moment and ask some serious questions of my liberal readers--all two of them.

  • What will (or should) President Obama (or liberals currently in power--assume this addition for all) do to improve the economy and the unemployment problem?
  • What will President Obama do to ensure positive outcomes in Iraq in Afghanistan?
  • What will President Obama do to address America's concerns about illegal immigration?
  • What will President Obama do to protect America from Islamofascist terrorists?
  • What will President Obama do to ensure America's energy independence?
  • What will President Obama do to improve American students' participation and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math?
  • What will President Obama do about America's space program?

Now here's the catch to answering (you didn't think it was going to be that easy, did you?): Your answers can NOT include any rips on George W. Bush or the United States in general. I am interested here in positive policy suggestions only. Anyone who decides to include a zing will either have their response edited or deleted. I'm offering you folks the floor: think positively. I want to understand the liberal "ideal state." This is called "opening dialogue."


Unknown said...

Interesting. I will take a turn, though at least one answer will tread dangerously close to a rip on "the United States in general," so fair warning (I honestly can't answer it without it seeming unnecessarily snarky).

Also note that most of these are "shoulds," not "wills"...I don't think Obama's got the political capital to do some of these things 'my way', and there would be enough hue and cry that it is politically inopportune to do others.

1) I think the plan to invest in infrastructure, along with the "job creation" portions of the stimulus, are a solid plan for both short term and long term economic improvement. I actually *like* the New Deal, so this is perhaps no surprise. For a technologically leading society, our power grid is in most places archaic, and this needs fixing. See also bridges, communications backbones, etc. This will have some positive effects on the unemployment numbers as well, I imagine. That said, unemployment will get worse before it gets better.

Aside from (some portions) of the stimulus effort, I'd like to see a long, hard look at re-regulating finance in this country. Leveraging 35:1 or worse is not just shaky, it's (pardon the language) bugfuck insane. See also pretending that insurance policies and mortages are stocks to be played on the market.

Does this increase the deficit, short term? Absolutely. Does that bother me? Not a whit.

2) "Positive outcomes" in Iraq and Afghanistan...I honestly suspect it's too late in the former, and too nebulously defined in the latter. Iraq needs to be left to its own devices, sooner rather than later. Stately enough in departure to avoid chaos, but departing nonetheless, seems the sanest option. Afghanistan is a thornier problem, because we actually have a sensible objective there. But most of the targets are in Pakistan. Keep harassing the border to keep the Taliban on the defensive, basically. I don't see any other options. Wipe out AQ/related org training facilities where possible (though there aren't many left).

3) Immigration: America's concerns on the issue are overblown to the point of hysteria, frankly. If INS weren't such a howling Charlie Foxtrot of an organization, more people might pursue the proper channels. But when 30 years and a 4-year military career can't get your paperwork through (to cite an anecdote near and dear to me), what chance does anybody really have? So, what should the Prez do? Streamline the process or throw sufficient manpower at INS to get applications on a 6-month turnaround, maximum. Also, ditch the ridiculous fence, as it's a huge boondoggle.

4) Islamofascists: Many changes here are needed, I think. Improve real security via air travel/train/whatever, while reducing the ridiculous "security theater" approach that currently does little but inconvenience legitimate travelers (also wrecking the airline industry). Put a leash on Israel. Get out of Iraq. The statistical threat of islamic terrorism is miniscule, and always has been. One successful attack does not a global threat make. Americans have conducted more succesful terrorist attacks on Americans than Islamofascists ever have.

5) Energy independence: invest in alternative research, heavily. Put some conditions on auto-industry bailout money re: fuel economy in forthcoming model years, availability of hybrids, etc. Our current fossil fuel dependence exists almost entirely at the behest of the Big Three and their lobbyists, so make 'em pay the piper. I'm sure many will find this as unfair as expecting Wall Street to actually suffer consequences for their mismanagement/greed/etc., but I'm happy to be the target of their ire if it means shit gets done.

6) American education: stop teaching to tests. Stop pegging school district funding to property taxes. Provide any possible economic incentive to enter the teaching profession, either directly or via funding education sufficiently that teachers can hit something like the national average for other degree-holders in their field. (This last I don't know is even possible, but a guy can dream) Find some way to prevent local schoolboards from tying up districts for years debating scientifically accepted theory in favor of thinly-veiled New Earth Creationism.

7) Space Program: Give it a leader and *fund it*. The program budget bloats and problems that have frequently beset NASA stem from hosts of unfunded mandates and insufficient resources to accomplish the mission. At this point, I'm not particular about what the mission should be, though I feel it should strike a balance between manned an robotic exploration, NEO, and continued Earth-monitoring research.

Bart said...

Good answers, Doc. Unfortunately, you snuck one line in there that I wasn't able to delete and which I STRONGLY object to:

-->Americans have conducted more succesful terrorist attacks on Americans than Islamofascists ever have.<--

What on God's Green Planet are you talking about? Oklahoma City?

The only other item I would seriously take issue with is your solution for education. If anything, I'd call for MORE local control. Here's why: we know the education system in general is messed up. The education is controlled primarily by mandates from the Department of Education and the National Education Association.

Local control means that parents (generally) pay for education that makes their kids just like them, though a little bit better. Multiple jurisdictions means multiple experiments in education. If some experiments are bad, you put your kids somewhere else. You offer vouchers and allow private and public schools to compete based on performance.

I appreciate you taking the time to take the questions seriously.



Unknown said...

Oklahoma City, Teddy K, Anthrax mailings. Those were the big three I had in mind. In terms of body count, they don't rival the 9/11 attack, but number of incidents outdoes 'em.

Re: education. I'm fine with local control, if we can decouple the funding from property taxes, which basically means rich areas get good schools, and poor areas get crap.