Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Edging Towards... Change?

It's coming.

We don't know what yet, but it's coming, and it might actually be a good thing. Assuming the polls are generally accurate (and the pundits are simply looking for ratings), next week is going to be something of a walkover for Obama.

The thing I expect from an incoming administration is, first, a lot of waffling over what can or cannot be done. There will be a certain amount of backtracking from promises. The economy will have a lot to do with that. If the Dems don't have a supermajority in both House and Senate (which is a possibility), then there will be push-back from the Repugs.

If we get a Democratic Congress, however, then I expect major changes to occur, and darn fast. Regulation of the financial sector in our economy has to be reinitialized. This whole sub-prime/inverse mortgage mess, with its derivatives and swaps, simply has to become criminal. Someone benefitted from all of this nonsense, and I fear that we bailed them out of their problems without putting any brakes on this sort of behavior in the future.

I expect that, once the financial crisis has been dealt with, our troops will begin to rotate home. Iraq has to rebuild itself. In the past, after Gulf War I for example, they managed to rebuild their infrastructure within the first year. The Iraqi government is currently sitting on something like $80 billion in surplus, so I think that would be a good start. I would also like to see, as the troops rotate home, an end to military contract outsourcing. The original argument held some water, that perhaps if a private company were to do certain logistical functions, the Pentagon might save some money, rather than having it all done by the soldiers themselves. This has not proven to be true, but perhaps only because of the way it was managed (really, really badly). 

And Blackwater should not be able to get a contract to defend even an Army latrine, ever again. Mercenaries have no place in a Democratic society, let alone as an uncontrolled arm of policy.

All of the demoralized agencies that have had their budgets gutted and their staffs stuffed with cronies need to be overhauled and modernized. This includes FEMA, the EPA, the FDA (no more letting the drug companies test and validate their own products!), the Department of Education, the DEA, and so on.

The War on Drugs must end. Mandatory minimum sentencing must end. NAFTA and the WTO need to be revisited and we need to withdraw from both. Subsidies for profitable industries make little fiscal sense. Tax breaks for outsourcing and off-shoring must end. 

Our infrastructure is crumbling, and the federal government has been telling the states to deal with it on their own, so many locales are rebuilding dying bridges and making them toll roads, which is a surefire method of making commuting more costly, while wages keep spiraling down.

Tie the minimum wage to the cost of living. I just don't see what's so terrible about that.

Finally, open the operations of government to the scrutiny of the people once again. Nothing our government does should be so terrible that we have to classify it forever. I understand keeping secrets from the enemy, but keeping things secret from the population, or worse, lying to us, has to stop.

The current administration talks a lot about being the government for the 21st century and a beacon of hope for the world. What they've actually been is a return to policies of the 19th century, and an angry bully. Let's make the next version of the government what the last one should have been.

1 comment:

Erik Hermansen said...

Man, you get a lot into one post, my bald, odd friend. A few comments...

"There will be a certain amount of backtracking from promises."

Yeah, definitely, but I think everyone is used to that. I've noticed that every presidential election has both candidates saying they will do more costly things and cut taxes at the same time. It seems that a certain number of Americans demand to hear the spend-more/tax-less crap during campaigns. And then they fall asleep until the next election. Everybody else that continues to pay attention just hopes that the president won't actually try to do what he promised, since it would be insane. (Dammit, Bush did in fact do exactly that.)

I have much doubt about Obama going over the federal budget "line by line" like he promised and finding buckets of wasted money to reclaim. I would guess that he's just not going to put into place all the costly programs he brought up.

Today, I read the new administration's goals will be to handle these things in this order:

1. Economic crisis
2. Energy
3. Health
4. Education

Let's see if he ever gets past #1. Don't get me wrong--I'm rooting for the guy. Voted for him, donated money and time. But I think we shouldn't expect too much, and what he can actually do as president even with a Democrat congress to back him up, is out of sync with the Messiah image the media is giving him.