A philosophy to live by.
A philosophy to live by.
The Middle East is a mess. Rivalries between Shiite and Sunni nations, notably the powerhouses, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are a cause of never-ending international security problems. The world’s supply of oil is largely dependent on these two highly corrupt, antidemocratic, inhumane regimes. To make things worse, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only become worse. What if there was one more war and BIG political bargain that would finally remove the US from the Middle East, so we can downsize our military and focus on East Asia?
Well, there is one possibility. President Bush famously declared North Korea, Iraq & Iran as “the Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address. This title was interpreted that the Bush Administration would pursue a “New World Order” free of anti-Western rogue states. The Republican Party, as well as many Democrats, had long proposed removing Saddam Hussein from power. Saddam had invaded Kuwait and threatened order in the Middle East. Saddam had had a nuclear program at that time and was required to dismantle it completely. However, UN peacekeepers eventually stopped monitoring Iraq’s nuclear program, and many became worried that Iraq would develop nuclear weapons that could kills millions of Israelis, Europeans or Americans. The real reason that, after 9/11, this became so much of a concern was that Iraq, a rogue state dictated by one man, would use the opportunity of terrorism against the US or our allies. To many, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Considering that Iran was Shiite (meaning Al Qaeda hated Iran) and that North Korea was atheist and, more importantly, in a region that could not be militarily disrupted, the US believed that Iraq would supply nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda to be against the US. In a time when a few airplanes killed thousands of Americans, the idea of a nuclear attack on Manhattan or DC had to be prevented at all costs. Some believed-to-be-valid intelligence finally gave the US the green light to invade Iraq (the US ruled out other options like sanctions, which don’t work on a dictator who can leave the burden on his people, creating a Kurdish rebellion, which would’ve pissed off Turkey, and other lowly plausible scenarios). The US, therefore, removed Saddam from power, but poorly managed the War in Iraq, resulting in almost $1 trillion in military operations costs (as well as $2 trillion more in external costs like interest on financing for the war and long-term military health care), mediocre results, and finding that no nuclear weapons had existed to our knowledge.
The moral of that story is that regime change is not as simple as it sounds. Recently, Arab nations have established democracies voluntarily through peaceful and/or violent revolutions in the Arab Spring. Unfortunately, that can only go so far. The powerhouse of Iran, which could very well be developing long-range nuclear missiles, will require more punch to be eliminated. Libya’s Qaddafi was, in fact, removed by popular revolt, with help from the US. The first part of my grand solution is to assist Syrian rebels with airstrikes and military financial assistance to remove Assad. Simultaneously, the US, NATO, Sunni Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other possible international partners would invade Iran and remove the theocratic government. We would establish a transition in both Syria and Iran to democracies that respect international laws. The Iran mission would require many more troops than Iraq, many of whom I believe should be contracted from more developing nations and lead by a NATO and Sunni Arab coalition. These two major military missions would be expensive, but they would be an investment worth making to reduce long-term costs.
At the same time, there would be a grand bargain for the order of the Middle East. The US would require Sunni Arab nations to establish a military union, which would cooperate with the US. That coalition would be required to improve human rights in their own nations. In return, the power of the Middle East would be handed to this coalition, granted that it respects the rights of other Muslims and minorities as well as Israel’s right to exist.
The Sunni Arab nations would likely request that a Palestinian state be established. Whether or not Israel likes this, it would be necessary to every nation’s security. A semi-large portion of southern Syria would be allocated to Palestinians and the rest of current territories would be transitioned into a Palestinian state. Israel and Palestine would be bound by treaty to respect each other’s sovereignty. Palestine and Israel would not be allowed to unilaterally attack each other or they would be heavily sanctioned. Jerusalem, to appease Israel, would be technically part of Israel, but almost all political power in East Jerusalem would be vested in Palestine, and that power would not be altered unless agreed to by the United States government.
After this transition period of Sunni-domination, human rights, and regional stability, the US would provide funds to the Sunni Arab military coalition in return for compliance with a treaty. Any significant violations of the treaty would result in sanctions by the US and all of its allies. The international community, both the UN and NATO, would continue to supervise Sunni control of the Middle East with ground troops for a 10-year-period, and then that number of troops would be heavily reduced. This re-ordering of the Middle East would put an end to America’s responsibility to lead, and it would heavily weaken the influence of Russia (as much as possible, Russia would be militarily isolated in the agreement, as well.)
After this, the US will heavily reduce defense spending and focus on maintaining order in East Asia and the Pacific. The US would remove many military bases in the rest of the world, and encourage other nations to take responsibility for their security. I believe this is a risk worth taking for the world’s collective national security and well being.
Throughout the history of human civilization, people have attempted to solve the world’s economic problems. After proving failure of aristocracy, Communism, socialism, direct democracy & protectionism, the world is now attempting to perfect capitalism into a resilient, fair system.
Capitalism’ success is largely derived from its promotion of innovation and the individual initiative. Capitalism in its purest form is not practiced in modern society, considering government programs such as food stamps and social security. Austrian economics proved to favor oligopolies and widespread poverty, and therefore the need for minimal government regulation has been proven. Keynesian economics, however, has proved to be largely ineffective in the long-term. For example, the stagflation of the 1970s was in direct violation of the theory that high inflation and high unemployment could never live side-by-side. More importantly, modern political systems will allow expansionary fiscal policy in times of recession but will reject paying for such medicine in good times, due to partisan opposition against tax rises or cuts to social programs.
In my opinion, of all theories, monetarist policy works best with a combination of other theories. Raising interest rates cuts inflation, while lowering them boosts unemployment. Ronald Reagan’s tightening the money supply allowed for inflation to lower and for employment to recover. No doubt, the part of Reaganomics that had the most positive effect was changes to monetary policy. The Reaganomics theory of low regulation and low taxes definitely made an effect, although much financial and industrial deregulation was done by President Carter and Reagan’s tax cuts were never offset by spending cuts. A major downside of supply-side economics is that it helped those at the top the most. The government can be small in a way that helps the common man and not just the rich.
My general theory is that economic growth is result of innovation and human capital. The US must continue to solve problems through business, and we must have a work force ready to do so. Investments in research and development as well as in education will foster significant economic growth. Also, investment and risk taking must be encouraged by ending taxes on capital gains, dividends & interest and instead taxing exotic goods and property. There should also be a federal incentives for the working class to invest money, likely through income tax cuts. Corporate taxes should be significantly lower as well. To pay for all this, our national defense must be reformed for the 21st century, entitlements must be significantly changed, and overall, non-growth-promoting spending must be reduced across the board.
In the long-term, a low-regulatory, low-tax environment will foster economic growth, largely without economic intervention. However, in times of recession when investment is stifled, the government must take fiscally-driven steps to encourage investment from all income levels but more importantly provide generous tax cuts to the middle- and working-class to spend money to stimulate the economy (such a system would tax personal income and luxury goods progressively in times of crisis or not). Economic growth should not come from government spending, but from private-sector spending of those who need to spend the most.
A combination of these economic policies will always the US to grow and maintain its leadership in the world. Let’s create a system that rewards hard work and risk taking and, in times of need, helps stimulate consumption from the middle and bottom. Let’s stand up for growth that benefits all.
I am not a socialist. I am not anti-consumerist. I am not against the American way. All I am against is people buying crap that makes them unhappy and want more crap.
People have a right to a majority of their paycheck, and people should have to pay for things they need if they can afford them. Only those truly in need should receive help. Otherwise, you’re on your own buddy. Sorry if you can’t afford to go to Paris, but that’s life, my friend.
Now, let me return to my main point: materialism is no way to live life. Instead of sitting at home and staring at your plasma screen, playing on your iPad, listening to your Bang & Olufson speakers, eating expensive chocolates every night after working 10 hours, why don’t you instead go somewhere and do something? Why don’t you work really hard for 5 solid months of the year instead and just travel for the rest of the year? Why don’t you experience what you can on your time on earth? Dearest, you don’t need a new iPhone every year because, frankly, the new one does exactly the same thing and that new A6 processor won’t do you any favors either. On that note, have only two electronic devices: a reliable phone with a great camera and device for long-term studying and writing. If you like to reduce the reading bulk, why not spoil yourself with an eReader while you’re at it, my pumpkin?
Let’s stop focusing on stuff and start focusing on life. Pay your bills, send your kids to college, and then with the rest, live it up (with experiences, that is…) Remember: life is not about filling landfills, it’s about filling passports.
Chick-Fil-A has done nothing wrong by voicing its opinion against marriage equality. Every person (or a company, which is technically also a person) has the right to believe what he or she chooses to and, more importantly, put their money where their mouth is. Money is a form of speech, and Chick-Fil-A has every right to monetarily support traditional marriage. However, Chick-Fil-A is wrong in its opinion (in my opinion, that is.)
First, it isn’t government’s business to make people unhappy. Two individuals that love each other cannot be content without the legal recognition of their commitment to each other. In fact, restricting the happiness of 10% of Americans is a form of tyranny.
Second, by not allowing a church to marry same-sex couples, the government is violating the First Amendment by dictating the ceremonies of that church. Government should allow each religion and each denomination to make the choice itself whether or not to wed same-sex couples. Most importantly, the federal government has no right to dictate marriage policy, as one could determine by reading the Tenth Amendment.
Third, America is progressing. Social conservatives once stood only for the white, straight, Christian male. As time goes on, more Americans will understand the humanity and common sense of allowing any two individuals who love each other to share wedding rings.
I am not against Chick-Fil-A, rather I disagree with it. I hope people respect each others opinions, but I desire for people to step with me into the 21st century by supporting marriage equality. I hope you make a stand for the individual’s rights as given by our Republic by voting NO on the marriage amendment in the 2012 Minnesota ballot.