Sunday, March 12, 2006

2008 Cannot Come Early Enough



The presidential elections of 2008 cannot come early enough for me. I'm completely exhausted with George W. Bush and his merry band of henchpeople (politically correct as ever) driving this country down the metaphorical toilet.

Will it get better when he retires? I certainly hope so. The president has done significant damage to our economic future driving up the deficits to the ridiculous levels we have today. Last year, we had a budget deficit of $319B. This year, according to the Bush Administration, who in my opinion cannot be trusted, have said the budget deficit will be $423B. So, in the space of 6 years, The Bush Administration will have added an average of $70.5B per year. This is supposed to be the MBA administration, where the Bush team would use ruthless and efficient business operations and George W. Bush as the CEO would bring a "business-like" approach to running our government. It seems that the approach he has brought is more Enron than Walmart in terms of efficiency and operational effectiveness.

Why do people tolerate this incredible level of incompetence? My opinion is becasue we are afraid. Fear breeds very bad decisions. We ask for protection because we are afraid. What are we afraid of? We are afraid of terrorism. We are afraid of radical islamic fundamentalist who vow to destroy us. We are afraid of Osama Bin Laden and his sinister band of brothers who have executed terrorist operations against us, Britain and Spain. We believed that George Bush would protect us better than John Kerry would. We decided that everything else was secondary. We bought into the idea that "taking the war to them over there so we don't have to fight it over her". Fear is no way to pick your leadership. The president has vowed to protect us. He has done reasonably well in the fact we haven't had a terrorist attack in this country since 9/11. However, protection from terrorism is only one dimension of safeguarding this county and its people. The Devil is in the details however. The recent aborted deal with Dubai Ports World is an example. Was the problem that the company was of Arab ownership and management? No. The problem is that we have a terrible level of security at our ports. This is not new news. We've known this for some time. It however has been something that has not been acted upon. We have spent abysmally low levels of money on protection of our ports of entry into the country. This becomes problematic for the administration and their response has been to say "trust me". Well, the country doesn't seem to be buying into this. There is questionable legality on the surveillance the NSA and Bush Administration has been doing to American citizens. Most Americans, while o.k. with the idea of the surveillance, have not bought into the idea of unbridled Presidential power. Most Americans believe that everyone should abide by the law. The American people do not buy into the idea that we can trust an administration that will avoid the law because they think it would stymie their efforts. The polls regarding how well the administration is performing are consistently fallng, and the message is "We don't trust you". The American people are beginning to question how well the administration is truly protecting them. Now, there are other ares of concern relative to how well we are protected.

We have seen recently several areas not dealing specifically with terrorism that have highlighted the inability of this administration to protect its citizens. The devestation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita highlighted the ineffectual capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

The ever increasing budget deficits have highlighted the farce of an economic plan that the administration has been pushing. It is true, the base economic numbers are sound. Economic growth has been good. No doubt. Couple this however with our ever expanding budget and trade deficits, and you have an atrophied economy, with the key player in the economy, the consumer, suffering. Credit card debt is at an all-time high, and savings is at an all-time low. People are teetering on the brink if personal financial failure. So, what does the administration do? It supports a bill that makes it harder for people to file for personal bankruptcy protection. Was the bankruptcy deal a good idea? In principle yes, in terms of timing, absolutely not.

We must stand up and develop a plan that reduces and eliminates budget deficits. We have to get a level of backbone and discipline about our deficit. It starts with us, the consumer taking a stand to tell our elected representatives to stop spending money we don't have. We have to reduce entitlements and begin means-testing on things like social security and medicare. We have to reduce military spending. How? Bring troops home and stop invading other countries. We have to beginto build a cogent policy towards how get the job engine started again in this country. None of this will occur as long as this administration is in power. The Republican party has had almost 6 years of almost total control of the government and it hasn't gotten better for the general public. It has gotten significantly better for big pharmaceutical companies, big oil and gas companies and big service companies. Don't think so? Look at the legislation that has benefitted Merck, Exxon or Haliburton.

We are economically terrorized by the flight of job overseas and the amazing trade deficits we have. Our deficits and long term debt are becoming untenable and we may go the way of Argentina. China is growing at a pace of 8-9% of GDP per year. India is not far behind. The infrastructure within both countries is developing to the point that in 20 years, both of these countries may exceed the capabilities of the US from both a production and consumption standpoint.

The war in Iraq is dragging on and on with no foreseable end. The Bush administration has made consistent noise that Iran is now in the radar screen. Will we see an attack on Iran? Current estimates regarding the cost of the war in Iraq come out to about $19k per household. When will we say enough is enough? It's time to stop this madness and get out of Iraq and get out of the middle east.

This administration is easily the most incompetent and corrupt in years. The only legacy the administration has is Iraq. Iraq is failing and unless something turns around quickly, history will treat George W. Bush as many of us already know him. As a buffoon.

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