Saturday, November 08, 2008

Obama's Approval Ratings Will Fall, unless ...

... unless he opens his presidency with (and continues) communicating directly with voters on the number and severity of problems facing the US. Too many people simply aren't aware of how serious the problems the US faces are, and their expectations will be (are?) far too high on what can be realistically achieved in a relatively short time frame.

As I consider it, there are many very serious issues that need attention over the next decade, and it's doubtful that even the most remarkable president would be able to fully turn "the good ship USA" around in that time on all of them. However, turning it does need, and if process can begin even on a handful of these items over two terms, then the future - which currently looks grim indeed will begin to brighten. By my count these items include:

  1. Global climate change initiatives - only the most idiotic "flat-world" person would argue that this doesn't exist, or need serious attention to ensure simple survival;
  2. National debt - now standing at around $80,000 per family and continuing to grow - this will continue to eat further and further into expenditures - a nasty "positive" feedback loop;
  3. Repair of the seriously decaying national infrastructure (don't do more of the "same old, same old", but consider in conjunction with point #1 above, to ensure that the right kinds of infrastructure gets built - i.e. mass transit, bullet trains, implementation of geo-thermal as standard heating for national building codes, etc.)
  4. Future style and cost of US intervensionism - perhaps using the military as a last resort is not that cost effective, and there are other ways to achieve the same goals, if a longer range view is taken (i.e. expect that policy decisions won't be immediately visible, but that total cost will be lower and long term results more satisfying);
  5. Social security and medicare reform (reform both so they are based on proper actuarial accounting, so that future users of the service are paying the correct cost today) - the current "pay as you go" isn't sustainable into the future and burdens tomorrows young people with an effective "tax" from yesterday's workers;
  6. Educational reform - approximately one-half of the nation’s entering postsecondary students do not meet placement standards and are not ready for college-level work and US students international performance is weak;
  7. Current economic crisis;
  8. Health care reform (any wealthy modern industrial country wherein 20% of its citizens lack medical coverage has to be viewed as a societal failure [please, think about the children before you add commentary about "choice"]);
  9. Growing income inequality (a major prerequisite for a long-term stable society is some level of income equality).

The current addiction to short-term fixes won't help in this instance - rehab is needed to face these challenges square on. Whether the US, collectively, is ready to look in the mirror and face them, is yet to be seen.

Well, that's my litany - for a 30 minute video from Juan Enriquez detailing some of these problems, visit this link.


The Confused Capitalist


Anonymous said...

Global climate change initiatives - only the most idiotic "flat-world" person would argue that this doesn't exist, or need serious attention to ensure simple survival;

I don't agree. I am a geologist and the geologic literature does not support carbon dioxide as a primary driver of climate change. Solar activity and methane hydrate discharge are far more potent controls on climate. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can control climate change by pursuing carbon dioxide controls. It is far more useful to put those billions of dollars into adaptation strategies.
Mike Nelson

Jay Walker said...

In my view, adaptation strategies fit into the climate change initiatives idea.


venter said...

Regardless of the debate over carbon dioxide, it is time to start weening ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels and exploring alternate cleaner sources of energy. Our highways are clogged and our air and water polluted. I am however against these carbon tax schemes, lets instead reward people and industries that reduce energy usage and pollution.

Jay Walker said...

One way or another, we've got to aim at sustainability.

To those who don't think global warming is either a) real or; b) man-made; I say let`s proceed as if both were true JUST IN CASE the 90% of scientists who say that is so, are right.


Joe said...

i would definitely say that this site should be renamed as i don't see many capitalist here. Mostly big government socialists. There is no evidence that a sustainable economy relies on asking an intermediary to do what you have no guts to do yourself, which is steal from those who have created wealth and give it to those who have not created it in sufficient quantities as to afford what those above them have. Please site me the real world evidence. I mean in America that is what we are talking about right? The actual statistical data does not show vast poverty in this country. Most "poor" people today have luxuries that the rich in the not to distant past could not even have. So what the heck are you talking about? I would really like to see the do gooders tax returns and examine how much they give to these so called poor people. How are we going to lift people from poverty if we say it's ok to be less productive, watch all the tv you want, concentrate as little on educating yourself and working hard because we'll give you a standard of living that takes for mast a lifetime to build. My parents, and most of the people i grew up with were legal immigrants who worked there butt off (as they should) all of my childhood for the meager standard of living we had. We had every thing we needed and very little we wanted. Now as they get older they have started to build a good nest egg and work less and have a much higher standard of living. They drilled into us, and again this goes for most of the kids i grew up with, hard work and roll with the punches. They were tough on us, and they did a pretty good job. I only can hope that i can be as grateful to them for hard work they put in to give us a step up in life. Those who work hard and spend judiciously will end up just fine, just don't expect it to come after one shift at Best Buy.There are too many 20 somethings roaming around believing that they are entitled to the lifestyle it took others a lifetime to achieve.

Jay Walker said...

Well Joe, I guess its my blog, so I like the name. The "confused" part comes from the fact that unfettered capitalism is a disaster too - witness the 20th century robber barons with little regard for worker safety - pour the toxins into the river, etc.

Yup, I think government is needed. One only needs to look at the unfettered blow-up of the capital markets today to see what happens when pendulum swings too far to free markets and "regulation-lite".

Balance is needed.


Loan Modification guru said...

its a normal scene..... the approval ratings of public officials always go down when one of their promises are not met by the poeple who voted for them..but they dont know how difficult for these public officials do these tasks...need a lot of patience and hardwork