Monday, January 28, 2008

State of The Union : Analysis 2008

Now that Congress has finally stopped applauding (lol), and the State of The Union speech has commenced, and concluded, we have all heard what United States President George W. Bush had to tell us after his first 7yrs, as he addressed the 110th Congress here in early 2008.

Not surprisingly, he jumped right out and tackled some of the high-level Economy / economic issues, briefly mentioning rising competition in the World Economy, and global trade, etc. There was a lot of political phrasing of grand concepts like "The power and resilience of America's self governance", and how "Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time."

But, according to the President, we also need to open more markets overseas too (is the the empowerment he's talking about?) Break down trade and investment barriers around the world and pass more free trade agreements - Columbia, Panama, South Korea, etc. 100 million extra customers supposedly. But, it seems unlikely to me (though, even with Panama and South Korea being more "upper end" economies), that the flow will net out to anything in America's favor. As for Columbia, and how GW proclaimed them a "friend"... gee, well,... drug friend perhaps and money dump "fighting a war on drugs" friend, but what else? It seems that the first thing we need to do is quit dumping Billions on this "war on drugs" - that alone would set the trade-balance with Columbia on the right direction, though we'll never have enough trade with them to offset the Cocaine-cash flow to the country from American drug sales, regardless of whether the illicit drug trade is "being fought against" or not. Sorry, I'm rambling!

Then, we were told how we should trust people with their own money and empower them to grow out economy. 52 straight months of job growth are behind us, and job growth is slowing but still exists.
But, even as job-growth slows, he pushes for foreign workers that "we need to come here and support our economy" (presumably to do those "jobs Americans won't do" - like, construction, which used to be a damn good job here!). Wages are growing, but so is inflation. So.... what do we do about it? Tax incentives / relief / rebates of course!

Tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment was one thing President Bush mentioned quickly, calling the current bi-partisan (apparent) economic stimulus package (ala a tax-rebate and tax-break gift set courtesy of Washington), a "good agreement that will keep our economy growing". (I doubt it - history shows otherwise, and I can't help thinking the BULK of the "rebates" will end up going to China since most goods are made there now!)

Of course, President Bush kept making the pitch for his tax cuts (capital gains and such from a few years ago) to be permanent. Don't (paraphrased quote) "allow tax relief expiration... Make tax relief permanent!", and so forth. He made the claim that 116 million tax payers would experience an $1,800 average tax increase if the existing "tax relief" was allowed to expire. OK, so you're telling me that the government would instantly get an additional $209 Billion). Yes, do the math, 116MM x $1800 = $208,800,000,000. Gee, I look and that and say, "wouldn't that cut our deficit in half" (to which anybody that feels compelled with just say "it'll slow economic growth"). I can't help thinking that much of that money

And, even though the Federal Government (per GW's direction) should not take in that $209 Billion/year, the President says that there will be a budget surplus by 2012 with his proposed budget - yeah, right!! How many times / years have we heard this crap, and NEVER seen a balanced budget (please, don't post comments saying Clinton balanced it or had a surplus - just check the US Treasury's own numbers on debt held by the public/government historically - it NEVER decreased in all of President Clinton's years). Our government is debt-addicted just like all of its citizens, and this will never change. In fact, I'd argue that the people of the United States learn their debt addition behavior from their own government - but, that's another blog topic.

Then came some medical discussion (a topic of concern with most Americans), with things like... Empowering people with better info/options (medical), and make it more affordable/accessible to all Americans... Make decisions about your medical care in privacy of your doctor's office - not the Halls of Congress (uh, whatever that rhetoric means!) How?... you guessed it: expanding consumer choice, not "government control". Sure GW, like that'll ever work or like it has worked at all yet! The ONLY thing that I heard that made (some) sense was the part about allowing EVERYONE to write off health-insurance. Confronting the epidemic of "junk medical lawsuits"... well, I'd like to see proof that if lawsuits were decreased that we'd see our medical insurance costs go down. Fact is, our medical costs / system is so unbelievably broken (and our government is complicit in this mess with special interests and lobbyists literally writing any legislation that would impact them), that nothing is going to change.

Indirectly or otherwise, the government is "owned" by these medical lobbyists when it comes to policy, thus nothing will change (well, not in any way that will help you, the average American consumer, though I wouldn't be surprised if more legislation giving additional corporate handouts, welfare, and guaranteed profit make it into law -- sorta like the Medicare prescription drug plan that prohibits our own government from negotiating lowest prescription prices like all other major Nations can do!).

Education: "no child left behind" was called a success. Supposedly we have recently posted the highest math scores on record last year, and reading scores on the rise (since when!!!??? everything I read about World standings in these areas shows the USA slipping.) Now, education for adults... Displaced workers will learn new skills and find new jobs. Sure, what jobs? Oh... maybe some in these sectors...

What is up with Energy security and President Bush's sudden public (show at least) of wanting to be "green" and climate friendly? Slow, stop, and reverse greenhouse gases... -- yeah, and this is GW speaking, whose administration has done everything to avoid it. Now acting "green". I don't buy it. Confronting global climate change and reduced dependency on foreign energy. Sure, right, since when? Now? I don't buy it.

We heard how the "Genius of entrepreneurs and scientists" needs to be trusted and used to get "green" power up... then, a minute later came the REAL push -- COAL (and a bit of nuke energy perhaps). Advanced battery tech and renewable fuel (read: ethanol! of course; i.e., competing with your FOOD for energy). But, I can nearly guarantee what the REAL agenda is, and where all the money will be focused: CARBON. COAL, OIL, ETHANOL, etc. NOT SOLAR, NOT WIND, but CARBON. This is where the big (existing) lobby money is, and where the government will focus their money because of it. We won't do what we need: i.e., implement a MASSIVE push to get energy independent via distributed power (solar, wind, etc) that could create tons of new jobs for installers, servicers, etc. Instead, the focus will remain appeasing the interest of big energy. Mark my words. I need a whole other blog on this topic too!

Well, the 2008 State of The Union speech is over. Where does it leave me regarding my opinion of the "state of our union"? Simply put: America has some severe issues that I fear won't be addressed in any MEANINGFUL way, and the same old thing will continue and lead us further down a hole we can't get out of. Massive government spending and debt, personal debt levels beyond compare, a financial system in disrepair (thanks to greed on all levels) and spiraling / rising inflation in energy, food, and medical care, all spell disaster.

A fundamental change needs to occur, but I doubt it will. Maybe you got something more optimistic out of this Presidential speech, but I detected the same old government politics (you could see the divided nature of Congress clearly as one side sits, the other cheers). Please, government, wake up and do something for your citizens (not just your lobbyists) and focus on long-term solutions that will help us remain the great country we are (or were and can be).

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