Sunday, January 1, 2012

12 Questions for 2012

1.  Now that U.S. troops have withdrawn from Iraq, do those who supported the war, with its huge cost in blood and treasure, feel the effort was sufficiently warranted and successful to invest their retirement accounts and other savings in Iraq?  Are they concerned about ethnic cleansing of Christians?  Do they still believe in nation building in the Middle East?

2.  Why does anyone think we can teach democracy to other countries when our democracy includes voter fraud, the politics of personal destruction, negative (dishonest) ads, corrupt funding, cash for favors, and so on?

3.  Americans have to earn a living to support themselves and also pay taxes to support the government.  Why is working in the government called “public service (giving back to the country)” while working for oneself is private or selfish.

4.  Why are firms and individuals punished for fraudulent accounting and insider trading when Members of Congress and government accounting agencies are not?

5.  Why does anyone take seriously 10-year projections of revenues, expenditures, and deficits when economists cannot accurately predict next week’s unemployment claims, last month’s BLS employment report, revised GDP, and so forth?

6.  Why is it a crime for individuals to lie to Congress when it is not a crime for Members of Congress to lie to Americans?

7.  Why do two unrepresentative states–Iowa and New Hampshire–continue to play such an important role in selecting presidential nominees?

8.  How does issuing more debt, whether in the U.S. or Europe, solve the long-run debt problem?

9.  What happened to the sanctity of the Social Security Trust Fund to pay retirement and disability benefits?  Is a holiday on the Medicare payroll tax the next government assault on elderly beneficiaries of medical care?

10.  How can the U.S. compete with China given the poor performance of our K-12 public schools, especially those serving minority students in inner cities?

11.  Major Hassan (allegedly) killed 13 and wounded 29 American soldiers in an attack in Fort Hood on November 5, 2009.  Will he ever be tried?  Or will the trial be postponed until after the election, and then he declared unfit for trial so that those who passed him up the ranks need never tell why?

12.  Who are America’s real allies?  Saudi Arabia?  Turkey?

1 comment :

Anon said...

I'll take these in order:

1. At this point, with the exception of veteran’s post war health care costs, America’s participation in the war represents a sunk cost. Are there myriad lessons to be learned? Sure. Yet for all the debate about the opportunity costs and long term geo-political effect of America’s participation in the war – given what we know now about America’s (and the world’s) economic meltdown and an increasingly dysfunctional Congress and overall inefficient and government bureaucracy, would that treasure have been better spent?

2. What is the alternative? Hussein, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, any number of African continent leaders, etc. American democracy is not perfect (and there is much to be improved), but given the social and economic diversity of the US, it is still the best system around for producing economic and social opportunity. It is not the teaching but the means by which we teach our democracy that is at issue.

3. This is a purely a “who serves whom” dilemma. The American government believes that its citizens work for them not the other way around. This country has slowly created a political elite with a bureaucracy (many of which are union) that have formed a (largely unproductive) symbiotic union. The growth of government will only perpetuate this distorted view of “public service” and all of its perverse outcomes.

4. See #3

5. If you are talking about politicians, than this is simply a product of garbage in, garbage out and a #3. What mechanisms are in place in our electoral system that ensures we get the most qualified people to address all of the issues faced by our country?

6. Politicians can’t restrain themselves from politicizing “truths”. Do we really want to open a “can of worms” here. See #5 and start imposing term limits.

7. With all the talk about the US being one of the most free countries in the world, it is increasingly constrained by status quo, sacred cow institutions (Congress – no terms limits and two year terms for Senators, tax code, unions, defense spending, Medicare, BCS system, etc.) with all their self-preserving rules and regulations that over time have not only become outdated but whose continued existence contributes to the perversion of our economic and social systems leading to bad outcomes that will only become increasingly difficult to unwind.

8. It doesn’t, but in the political life of a Congressman or President (or any politician) it does solve the short-term reelection problem

9. Make SS and medicare a defined contribution of the minimum wage and let everyone else contribute based on a flat tax. SS should be a budget line item every year based on pay-out forecasts.

10. Macro problem – unaccountable teacher’s unions. Micro problem – race.

11. You seemed to have answered your question here.

12. No comment.