Monday, November 03, 2008

A Four Year Agenda for Changing the World

I don't know about you, but I am filled with hope and anticipation for tomorrow's elections. Even with all my cynicism and jadedness with respect to the American political system, I find that I am unable to stop myself from getting excited at the prospect of change. After eight years of a miserable and failed administration, I am hopeful that Barak Obama will be elected and will bring a new spirit to Washington and to the world at large. With that in mind, here is what I am hoping to see in the next four years:

Energy Policy - massive government investment in research and infrastructure for renewable energy; zero subsidies for oil companies; a gradual imposition of a carbon tax, the proceeds of which will be used to fund carbon reduction programs; end to corn ethanol subsidies; aggressive investments in energy efficiency programs and education; sharply increased fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, to phase in over the next decade; investment in public transportation systems; ratification of an international agreement that calls for dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions globally by 2050.

Trade Policy - more free trade! Completion of the Doha round of talks for the WTO, with the industrialized economies giving up their ridiculous farm subsidies.

Economic Policy - a balancing of the federal budget. If we can't pay for it, we don't buy it. A clear plan for paying down U.S. debt. Serious tackling and solutions for economic time bombs such as Medicare and Social Security. Dramatic simplification of the U.S. tax code (yeah, that's gonna happen...). For crying out loud - open the border to skilled workers from abroad so that companies are not forced to open offices overseas or outsource. Keep the jobs in the U.S.! Encourage international students to attend U.S. universities and remain in this country after their studies are complete.

Foreign Policy - end to Iraq war; aggressive pursuit of Al Quaeda terrorists especially in Afghanistan & Pakistan; Cessation of Iran's nuclear program, through the use of force if necessary; improved relations with Russia and China; cessation of NATO expansion; normalization of relations with Cuba; serious push for Middle East peace, talks with Syria, and serious action against Hezbollah.

Health Care - health care is a basic human right. No person should have to pay to stay alive. Government is the only force that can ensure that everyone is covered. Take a bold step!

I have many other items on my wish list, but if 40% of the ones I listed above are addressed (with energy policy at the very top of the list), I think we will be on the right track as a society. 

May the fates smile upon us all tomorrow, and may the Bush era fade deep into the history books.


Ren said...

Nice list. I wish I were as optimistic about even 40% happening. I do want to comment on a couple of the items:

"end to Iraq war" -- I guess this comes down to defining exactly what is included in "war". I do think we should take responsibility for helping to fix the problems we helped to create in Iraq.

"No person should have to pay to stay alive." -- I have some trouble with how open-ended this statement is. For basic or "standard" care, I think I have come to agree with this, but what about high risk procedures that are often very expensive? What about quality-of-life health care (I think lots of prescription drugs fall into this category)? Also, any universal health care plan is doomed to fail unless it also successfully tackles the continually escalating cost of health care itself.

ryan said...

on the balanced budget thing you might want to check obama's statements.

he said balancing the budget in his first term was not going to happen because he had some programs for working families he wanted to get in place first.

Shadox said...

Ren - on the Iraq war - I absolutely agree. Invading Iraq was a stupid, stupid decision, but now that we are there we can't just drop everything and leave. We broke it, we have to at least try to fix it. However, I wish the next administration puts together a time line and plan for withdrawal and orderly transfer of control to the Iraqi's themselves. Within 4 years, we should be out of there, period.

With respect to health care - I am talking about catastrophic coverage at the very minimum. I would also like to point out that most industrialized nations have nationalized health care - and they spend less on health care, not more, while covering their entire populations. Even though I am very much a free market capitalist, I have come around to the belief that health care, as an industry, inherently, is very difficult if not impossible to run as a free market business, while still respecting the principle that the right to life is a basic human right.

Ryan - there is no one in their right mind who would claim that balancing the budget will be an easy thing. I would be OK if there was a clear road or plan to a balanced budget, and pay as you go rules were restored.

Don't get me wrong, I do not support all of Obama's stated plans. In fact I think many of them are asinine, e.g. the plan to cut taxes with deficits skyrocketing. However, overall, I think Obama is by far a better bet on America's future than McCain - Palin (emphasis being on Palin).

frugal zeitgeist said...

I'm yanking the lever for Obama too, but even if he gets elected, we're in for a tough road. I don't think anyone is going to be able to get on top of this country's problems in four years, as much as I'd like it to be otherwise.

The polls open at 6:00 a.m. here, though, and I'll be lining up at 5:30.

Shadox said...

Frugal - 5:30 AM is something that happens to other people.

And yes, you are right, 4 years is definitely not enough to solve all the problems (or even a large part of them), but hopefully it's enough to get things moving in the right direction and change the tone of discussion. Optimism!

plonkee said...

Well, I think I agree with you, which surprises me but in a good way.

On healthcare, when everyone else does it differently and cheaper, you're probably doing it wrong.

Free trade would be awesome. Normally I blame the French for the EU Common Agricultural Policy, but in fairness I suspect the vested interests are from all 20+ countries.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Ha. Try 4:30. That's what time I got up to make sure I got to the polls early.

Shadox said...

Frugal - I would seriously recommend to you voting by mail / early voting... 4:30. That's practically un-American!

Plonkee - farm lobbies have tremendous power not just on the continent but in the U.S. as well. Agricultural policy is one of the biggest distortions in international trade today. These distortions essentially rob emerging market farmers from making a living by eliminating any economic advantages they may have from low labor costs. It's a shame and an economic travesty.