The greatest security threats to the United States are not from nuclear weapons but from cyber space and domestic terrorism. The Russian interference in the 2016 elections through email hacking and domestic terrorism by white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA are manifestations of the real threats to our security and the union.
Excerpts from my book, The Beltway Beast, published in 2014
While Washington continues to fight its previous, ongoing wars, the real threats of the 21st century will not be meeting us at the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Our greatest threats will come from cyberspace and domestic terrorism, not the ones we currently attribute to the Muslims, but the ones that we have not even started thinking about.
“Cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. In short, America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security,” President Obama said on May 29, 2009. The inescapable fact is that modern man has entered a new frontier, the world of virtual reality, where billions have 24/7 access to much of that is happening on the planet. The cyber world creates equilibrium among strong and weak nations, rogue elements, and non-state actors around the globe. Everyone with an Internet connection is on equal footing in terms of access—and can use it for either the benefit or detriment of humanity. At some point, the Pentagon will have to stop gazing at the rearview mirror and start looking into the 21st century, where the real world is now firmly planted. (more…)
The middle class is getting crushed. But there is hope. The most common argument about the middle class destruction is the declining or stagnant income, which is true. However, the main culprits are the costs of healthcare, education, and housing that have increased at a much higher rate, making it impossible for an average American family to attain a middle-class lifestyle (see chart below). Furthermore, the tax policies have exacerbated the problem by creating after-tax income and wealth inequality, favoring the non-working income taxed at a lower rate than the working income. Despite the doom and gloom about the middle class making headlines, there are three major forces working together—women, millennials, and technology, which provide hope for the future.
Our handling of the national debt is like a grand, inter-generational Ponzi scheme that’s destined to drown our children and grandchildren in red ink. Our leaders like to call their strategy borrowing, but it is really tantamount to stealing — from our children, worse yet. Why? Because we have no plans to pay the debt. None. We continue to borrow just to make interest payments that are estimated to be $5 trillion over the next decade while doing nothing to pay down a staggering debt of $17 trillion.
Equally alarming, perhaps even surreal, is that party leaders who can hardly agree on the color of the White House can be found nodding their approval at the fiscal fiction “that deficits don’t matter,” as then-Vice President Dick Cheney told a disbelieving Paul O’Neill, the treasury secretary at the time.
Fast forward a decade to President Obama, the anti-Cheney, who was telling George Stephanopoulos on ABC that “we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.” House Speaker John Boehner, considering the President’s comments in a separate ABC interview, concurred that the crisis is not immediate. This pervasive Washington attitude is reflected in Office of Management and Budget’s 2014 projections that show the national debt haplessly climbing skyward through 2020 with no sign of coming down.
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. (more…)
U.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.
A political treatise that laments how America’s democracy inadequately represents its citizens and calls for the creation of a third party.
In his debut effort, Moon catalogs a host of familiar ailments that he believes currently infect the body politic, including corruption, fiscal irresponsibility, a chronically under-performing educational system, monumental debt and partisan stalemates. However, he unconventionally identifies the principal political challenge of our time as the disenfranchisement of citizens, particularly neglected minorities. He marshals impressive statistical evidence in favor of his thesis that government aggrandizement has come at the expense of voter power. (more…)
According to a Gallup poll in October 2013, only 26% believe that two major parties adequately represent Americans, and 60% of Americans think a third party is needed. This book is designed to be a platform for the 74% of Americans who are yearning for an option outside of the two-party monopoly.
And so, Munir Moon succinctly states the purpose for his excellent, thoughtful book. There is a bit of a trend recently in books that look to re-invent the clearly flawed political systems in the Western democracies. (You may disagree with that statement, or at least the latter part of it, but do keep reading.) As I write this review, the number one best-seller in the UK is Russell Brand’s Revolution. Brand calls for a boycott of all established institutions, including a refusal to cast votes in elections contested among elite parties. So in many ways, both Moon and Brand are coming from the same place while heading in only slightly different directions. (more…)
The Beltway Beast: A Challenge to Our Democracy by Munir Moon is a concise look at a litany of problems with the American political system—and a glimpse at a possible solution.
Moon’s main goal is to argue against political polarization. Rather than pointing a finger at one party, individual, issue, or belief system, Moon attacks the beast that is Washington, DC: “the Military-Industrial Complex, multinational corporations, lobbyists, media, and Congress.” If it feels like a lot to tackle in one slim volume, it is; but Moon puts all these oft-discussed issues in one place in order to prime Americans for his proposed solution: a third party.
Moon asserts that The People’s Party of America could help restore balance. The PPA, as Moon presents it, would be people-centered, focusing on “equality, fairness, freedom, and justice.” Throughout the book, Moon presents practical details behind those abstractions—but he doesn’t provide all the specifics, as this is to be an open movement, a community rather than one man’s opinion. (more…)
One looming issue that President Obama did not address in last week’s press conference about the latest technical and bureaucratic snafus with the Affordable Care Act has to do with the act’s heavy reliance on America’s younger generation. Without young, mostly healthy people pouring money into the new insurance pool, the Affordable Care Act would not be, well, affordable.
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.