Understanding Other People

The last 11 years have proven that Iraqi leaders are not willing to work together. Yet, we are still telling them to do so. Never mind that the Shiite-Sunni conflict has existed for over 1000 years. As former Defense Secretary and the architect of the Vietnam War Robert McNamara said, “I don’t think we understand the Moslems – Moslem fundamentalist, I don’t think we in America understand the Chinese, I am not sure if we understand the Russians. For God’s sake try to understand other people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom to Choose our Leaders

2014-09-07-IncumbencyHouse19642010OpenSecretorg.jpg 2014-09-07-IncumbencySenate19642010OpenSecretorg.jpg

We are supposed to be a democracy “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” U.S. lawmakers are all for more competition–just as long as they do not have to compete. This reality is underscored by the incumbency rate of almost 80% in the House and the Senate since 1964, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Glass Ceiling in U.S. Congress

2014-09-15-CapitolBuilding.jpg

There has been a lot of talk about a glass ceiling against women in business and corporate boardrooms. This week’s block by the Senate for a bill that would strengthen equal pay for women is a good example of the challenges we face regarding this issue. Moreover, very little has been discussed about women’s representation when it comes to making policies and laws. The U.S. Senate, one of the two legislative bodies, is represented by a small elite group of rich old men. Women comprise 20 percent of the Senate and 19 percent of the House of Representatives even though they make up 51 percent of the population. Sadly, the U.S. is ranked 91 in the percentage of women in the national legislatures, according to a report by American University, Men Rule – The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Flip Side of the Minimum-Wage Debate

2014-09-03-FlipSideofMinimumWageBattle.jpg

Something that Washington does not want you to know about and hopes that nobody else will discuss during the minimum-wage debate is take-home pay after taxes for low-wage earners. Washington claims that Americans should be paid living wages so that they can live a decent life. However, it is not willing to give up its share of the booty that it would collect from the same low-wage earners it claims to help.

For example, the federal government will collect at least 15 percent of the increased income from those low-wage earners through payroll tax. In other words, if the minimum wage goes up by a dollar, the federal government will take away, directly or indirectly, at least 15 cents of that additional dollar from the working poor.

Asking large corporations, which are in business to make money, to pay additional wages is like asking them to be saints. Government mandates do not have a major impact on large corporations, since they will figure out a way around them. After all, they can rent lawmakers; one former senator famously declared, “My vote can’t be bought, but it can be rented.” On the other hand, politicians do not pay anything from their pockets either. They will just give the money to one group and take it from another, but not from the special-interest groups that finance their campaigns. Read the rest of this entry »

Intended Consequences of Iraq War

Iraqi Map by ethnicityYou break it you own it,” warned General Powell to President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq. Well, the previous administration, in its hubris of Shock and Awe, decided to break Iraq. The American public finally realized that they were either deceived at best or lied to at worst. Thus, we demanded that they bring our troops back home. However, some of our elected leaders instead of accepting their mistakes, want us to get back to Iraq through military engagement. For years, lawmakers have been unwilling to admit their part in breaking Iraq. Instead, they continue to blame whatever political punching bag is popular that week. It is only reasonable to ask our elected leaders who voted for the Iraq war to take responsibility for over 20,000 American soldiers who were killed or wounded while stealing at least $2 trillion from our kids to pay for it.
Read the rest of this entry »

Reducing Tuition Will Make College Affordable

College_TuitionU.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is one half of the legislative duo who recently introduced a bill designed to ease the pain of repaying college costs by bringing in Wall Street. Yet, this is another typical Beltway response — treat the symptom with a legislative Band Aid when what is needed is a major surgery on the entire structure of higher education to cut the exorbitant cost of college. Until we address the root cause of the problem, students will continue to graduate with big debts that not only burden them, but create a drag on the economy as a whole, as I explained in my previous blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pay Off $1 Trillion in Student Loans by Closing Overseas Military Bases

2014-03-18-StudentDebt.jpg

Financial bailouts seem to have become a favorite policy of the U.S. government. Banks, insurance companies, the auto industry, the solar industry — all have been major beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s largesse. Moreover, Congress is busy giving out money we don’t have to Ukraine, Egypt and others instead of taking care of problems at home. One may not agree with how or why every billion-dollar handout takes place, but if we’re going to come to the rescue of big business, or even other countries, why not extend a similar helping hand to our children? I’m talking about millions of college graduates saddled with the debt they had to pile up to graduate from college.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do the Math: Obamacare Won’t Change the Number of Uninsured

President Obama

We were led to believe that the Affordable Care Act will take care of 47 million uninsured Americans when it comes to their healthcare. According to the 2010 projections by the Centers for Medicine and Medicaid Services (CMS), 14 million Americans will enroll in 2014 in the new Health Insurance Exchanges. That would still leave 33 million Americans uninsured by the end of this year.

Yet even that modest forecast has already been reduced by half, with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projecting that just 7 million Americans will enroll this year. So that will leave some 40 million Americans uninsured. These figures are well short of the goal of delivering affordable health care to all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Time to End U.S. Obsession With Iran’s Nuclear Program

Now that a short-term deal with Iran about its nuclear program has been reached, the timing is right for the U.S. to turn over the lead on these negotiations to China, India and Russia, who live in the neighborhood. When the wrangling over Iran’s nuclear capabilities began a few decades ago, in a very different geopolitical landscape, it may have made sense for the U.S. to play helicopter parent. However, that time has passed, especially with so much to do here at home, from rebuilding the economy and creating jobs to fixing the debt problem. In the meantime, here are some thoughts worth pondering about Iran’s nuclear program as an imminent threat to the U.S.

Read the rest of this entry »

Time for a Holiday That Brings Full Employment

Friday’s unemployment figures of 7%, while perhaps slightly more cheerful than expected, still mean that roughly 11 million people are out of work and that the U.S. economic recovery remains stubbornly sluggish. That’s why it is truly the season to take the long-overdue step – remarkably a simple step, really — that would bring over $1.5 trillion in offshore corporate profits home. By removing the Scrooge-like obstacles embedded in the tax code, this exiled cash could be fueling our sputtering American economy instead of creating jobs and investments in China or Vietnam by American multinational corporations.

Read the rest of this entry »