Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Thoughts on the 2011 SOTU address

I thought it was pretty okay. After two years at the helm of a once sinking ship that is America, one cannot really expect anything spectacular out of our commander in chief at the annual State of the Union address. Obama appears to be a resolved man, a man who realizes that he only has two years left to do all that he promised to do. With a new congress that promises to be even more incompetent that the last (if that is even possible), I think the president is going to stop pushing his own agendas down congress' throats and try to work with everybody. He has to really, because the last congress barely passed anything (Democrats, you had absolute iron clad majority in both houses and all you pushed through worth mentioning was a flawed health bill?) other than the lame duck December period (still no Dream act, really?). That is why the president mostly spoke in absolutes, things that both side agree on in order to leave a positive impression.

I have no idea why congress is even spending time trying to overturn the health bill. Everybody knows it will get dead locked in the Senate. And even if somehow someway it pass the senate, Obama said during the address that he will for sure veto it. This is our tax money at work my friends. I understand Republicans that this is what you promised as you retake the house, but I am sure they also realize that it will just never happen. What a fine use of time to grand stand and uphold a moot point. I think they should just move on with it and pass bills that fix the flaws in the health bill and let it be. Unless Republicans get absolute iron clad majority in both houses and a Republican president, overturning the health bill is just not going to happen.

The whole "Sputnik moment" (I bet a good chunk of Americans don't even know what that is) and waxing on about the ability of China was an absolute back handed compliment to the Chinese. Clearly the US sees China's rise from developing industrialized nation back to super power status (before European imperialism, China once had the world highest GDP) as a threat. All the modernization, infrastructure, economic, and military growth the China has been experiencing are seen by the US as taunts and pea-cocking. Since when were the two countries enemies? The World's stability on all fronts depends on US and Chinese relations and PROSPERITY.

What Obama said during the address basically confirmed to me that the US thinks of China as Russia of the cold war. That the US cannot risk China getting ahead of us (I am sorry, China owns you in math, and they built a 26 mile bridge in 4 years while the Bay Bridge took a decade plus and it is still not finished). That is why the President made the reference to Sputnik. Don't get me wrong, I think the US should definitely step its game up on all the fronts the President indicated, but at the expense of relegating the Chinese to a subservient level? Does it have to be the cold war all over again, that China have to go bust and back to a developing country status (the huge economic bubble in China notwithstanding)? Again, I think it does the two countries and the world good if US and China are on the same level. Besides, China will never "threaten" the US, US owes them too much money.

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe Obama is just using a metaphor poorly in order to push congress and the American people to start catching up to not only China, but the rest of the world. In that case I think he has a point. But I think he himself knows that it will take such a monumental paradigm shift that it will outlast his presidency, even if he is lucky enough to get a second term. Because transformations like that are count in decades, not years (who wants to tackle education, anyone?).

Lastly I want to say to the Republicans rebuttal on how Obama wasted tax dollars on the stimulus and unemployment is still high. I am starting to think that there are no economics graduates within the GOP ranks. Because anybody with any sort of economics education will understand that the stimulus (including the BUSH ones, which Republicans so conveniently forget) was absolutely necessary to keep the economy from going into a depression. Credit was absolutely dried up so practically the government was the only entity with enough power to keep it relatively flowing. The US is a consumer economy, and credit must be abundant and free flowing for it to thrive. Do Republicans not realize what will have happened had the Obama administration done nothing?

The GOP also likes to harp on the still high unemployment rate. Again, anybody with an economics textbook can tell you that unemployment is a LAGGING indicator. Meaning even when the economy rights the ship and starts booming again, the unemployment rate will still take some time much later before it follows the same trend. I think it is wrong for Republicans to criticize the Obama administration for something that is economic fundamentals.

Do the government need to cut back on spending? Sure! I would like to see who has the BALLS to touch Social Security, Medicare and Mediaid, Defense, and food/oil subsidies. I guaranteed you that the congress that does it will not get voted back in. Too much lobbying power these groups have.

So my hope for the US government in the next year? Compromise and at least get SOMETHING meaningful done.