By Joey Walter
After four courts have reviewed the constitutionality of President Obama’s ‘Affordable Care Act’ healthcare bill and have come to different consensuses, a Supreme Court showdown is all but inevitable. The implications of a decision regarding the law’s legality are far-reaching and focused far beyond providing affordable healthcare to citizens (as the bill would imply), with President Obama’s 2012 campaign depending on meaningful accomplishments during his first term. Arguably the greatest criticism thrown at Obama has been the fact that he has been unable to get anything important accomplished, with a call for change that has not yet materialized. The passing of a massive government healthcare bill would not only silence these criticisms of lack of action, but immediately place the incumbent among a timeless list of Presidents that have made massive reforms to social problems. These include Franklin D. Roosevelt with the New Deal as well as Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society. While the very nature of government spending at this juncture would undoubtedly add even more complaints to the side opposing Obama, his placing on this prestigious list would almost certainly help his chances heading into 2012. As far as the Supreme Court’s role in the process, it would be a paradox for the Supreme Court, our nation’s highest symbol of fairness, to hear this case in such a short time-span over more pressing issues solely to keep the issue of healthcare relevant in the November 2012 election.
Inherently, one thing the Republican candidates vying for candidacy do not have under their belt is accomplishing anything themselves that has sought to help the nation at this scope. Taking a step back, however, it is important to examine the fact that a decision rendered of illegality in the Supreme Court would have the opposite effect desired by Obama’s campaign. This outcome would damage Obama’s already struggling credibility regarding fairness and executive restraints, even if his underlying intentions were for the good of the people. Nonetheless, it is somewhat unfair for incoming candidates to criticize the outright success of Obama’s policies given his bleak circumstances, and he should instead be judged by what could very well have happened to the country under different leadership. While it is easy for any voter to believe every candidate’s conviction that their proposed alternative policy would leave our country in perfect condition, it is vital to recognize the burdens that have been placed on our current leader throughout the past four years.
The ultimate goal of helping American individuals who cannot currently afford life-saving healthcare must not be forgotten, and it is critical for everyone involved to remain focused on whether or not this bill is for the benefit of the people. In a few decades private healthcare could be a viable solution, however upon researching the topic it appears that private companies just aren’t ready or able to tackle the burden of providing healthcare to the extent that other nations currently can through a public option. Hopefully, private companies will be able to evolve and remain as an option side-by-side a government plan, so as not to disturb the free market system that has for so long been cherished in the United States of America.
By Kevin Yang
America is a great nation. We are a nation that has endured many obstacles but now we are faced with a dangerous and unique situation. Our growing dependence on foreign oil is eating America from the inside out.
The facts about this are ones that made my jaw drop, but they are the truth. The U.S. consumes about 19.5 million barrels of petroleum a day, making us the world’s largest petroleum consumer. Out of those 19.5 million barrels a day, we import 12.9 million barrels of petroleum a day. That number is projected to increase while our oil production is expected to decrease.
What does importing 12.9 million barrels of petroleum a day mean? It means we are spending $200,000 dollars per minute on foreign oil. If you do the math, that’s $249 dollars per American spent on foreign oil over a year.
Most of this money goes to the world’s most unfriendly and unstable regions like the Middle East. Most of the U.S.’s enemies on the “War on Terror” are nations with large oil reserves such as Iran and Iraq. This fact makes us more vulnerable, as we have become dependent on those who take hostile actions against us.
Besides funding our enemies, we are adding to the mountain of debt we already have. Currently the U.S. debt to GDP ratio is at a high 98%, the highest rate since World War II. Many experts agree that this unprecedented level of debt is a result of our dependence on foreign oil. We have already seen the detrimental consequences of trying to sustain a negative balance for too long. S&P, one of the three major rating agencies, recently degraded the U.S. long-term debt to AA from AAA. This is the first time it has happened in U.S. history, reflective of our fiscal irresponsibility and addiction to foreign oil. It has become incredibly clear that our greatest threat is not some terrorist hiding in a cave in Afghanistan, but ourselves-including our addition to foreign oil.
Economist Philip Verleger said oil prices took 15% out of our economic growth since World War II. This includes job losses, tax revenues, etc. Although foreign oil dependence is one of many factors damaging the economy today, it is one that we will have to eventually face, as drilling in American soil is not a practical solution. We only hold 3% of the world’s total oil reserves and will never be able to produce enough oil to meet our demands. In addition, the demand for oil is relatively inelastic, meaning that we will always have to buy it even if the price increases ten fold. The only practical path out of this problem is alternative energy.
There are so many ways to stop our addiction to foreign oil. Solar power, wind power, biofuels, and electricity are all alternatives to oil. We are living in exponential times. Developments in alternative energy technologies are happing faster than ever. It is essential that America capitalizes on this opportunity and invests heavily into alternative energy, an industry that is destined to become one of the largest industries when oil runs out, and it will.
The alternative energy debate has become more important than ever, as politicians at Washington have been stressing that our number one priority is now job creation. America is still one of the most innovative and competitive nations in the world today, despite its recent drop in rank to 4th from 1st as the world’s most competitive nation. We invented the automobile, created the airplane and now, we should strive to create the next “great” thing in alternative energy.
America has always been the leader in innovating new technologies. By leading the world in alternative energy we will be able to create American jobs and stop our dangerous addiction to foreign oil. Tackling our foreign oil dependence will be the first step to eradicating the fiscal cancer that has plagued America and threatened to take away the nation our founding fathers worked so hard to create.
By Joey Walter
Over the past century, generation after generation has steadily experienced a change in which facets of Americans’ lives the government is responsible for protecting. While the majority of our current society views programs such as Medicare and Social Security as indispensible prerogatives of the government’s personal entitlement suite, recent federal decisions have seemed to maintain security as its fundamental goal. According to the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report, between 1984 and 2009 the American people contributed $2 trillion more to Social Security and Medicare in payroll taxes than was paid out in benefits. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for economic policy assesses that this surplus was used to finance the War on Terror. The report continues, “Neither the redemption of trust fund bonds, nor interest paid on those bonds, provides any new net income to the Treasury, which must finance redemptions and interest payments through increased taxation, reductions in other government spending, or additional borrowing from the public.” This supposed administrative deceit has not gone unnoticed among the omnipresent muckraking community, as Eastern Illinois Professor Allen Smith concludes, “the most reprehensible fraud is the systematic and total ransacking of the Social Security trust fund…in the upcoming years the American people will wake up to the reality that those IOUs in the trust fund vault are [nonexistent].” Of course, most Americans would not consider this borrowing of their tax money for urgent national crises to be an appalling crime or conspiracy, but our military’s justification for its recent security measures is another issue altogether. At the point where revenue fails to reach the causes specifically chosen by the taxpayer and is instead allocated to endeavors based solely on the government’s agenda, a failure of the democratic social contract as well as outright financial fraud have occurred. If the reality illustrated by these analyses is correct, it would unfortunately paint a picture that our government has lost a modicum of respect for citizen’s votes and earnings. Looking through the more relevant lens of our society’s economic struggles, citizens’ deprivation of the services thought to be entitled to them by the government and by their own payments will most likely lead to negative consequences for all parties involved down the road.
The chief goal of our federal government, as decided by empirical Supreme Court Cases regarding new entitlement programs, must maintain the priority of benefiting the American populous, and intentionally sacrificing a modicum of citizens’ freedom for the purpose of increasing their overall wellbeing may not be inherently bad or unconstitutional. Thus, the deeper question, perhaps, must be whether the administration choosing to tap into the citizens’ trust fund was covertly vying to support their own unwarranted goals or acting on honest risk calculations regarding the American people. Of course, no one ten years ago would have guessed that the very nature of borrowing, or increasing the present-day deficit by a sliver, could yield permanent consequences to the welfare of the United States.
By Bardia Vaseghi
On the morning of Saturday, May 14th, Dominque Strauss-Kahn submitted his official announcement to run for five years of office in France’s Presidental Elysée building. By Monday the 16th, Strauss-Kahn had been marched violently off a plane, arrested, charged with attempted rape and six other charges, given his rights and a phone call, and placed on suicide watch.
As the world holds its breath, Dominique holds firm against the charges and the relentless media barrage, attacks that could lead to at least seven years imprisonment. Never have I seen a downfall so self-destructive and abusive, that even if the charges are dropped, his life in the public eye is indubitably over. Despite his relevance in the international economy and France’s presidential election, the choices Strauss-Kahn made will affect millions and have a permanent impact.
Although clouded in a conglomeration of ambiguity and fallacies, the situation is well known. In his hotel room, Strauss-Kahn was accused of attempting sexual advances on a maid that had recently finished cleaning his hotel room. Soon, he was arrested on seven charges, the most imminent and surprising being the charge of attempted rape, which holds a minimum 5-year sentence. A few hours later, Mr. Strauss-Kahn announced his resignation as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Defense but maintained his innocence, claiming, “The charges against me hold nothing but the finest brand of fallacy.” Now, Strauss-Kahn’s future personal dealings and perhaps the tiniest sliver of professional potential he still possesses lie in the hands of a New York jury.
Whatever his personal failures, Strauss-Kahn was undoubtedly an outstanding head of the International Monetary Fund. With the onset of the global recession in 2008, investors were turning away from the auxiliary and unenforceable IMF, deeming it irrelevant for economic stability. However, through innovative litigation and cooperation with America, Germany, and other economic superpowers, the Fund played an integral role in global recovery and rebound through firm international regulation. Strauss-Kahn was one of the more public officials of the IMF – he gave a face to the institution. His political tactics, inherent instincts, and likeable personality quickly propelled him towards a bid for the French presidency, a door that is now closed as a result of his personal affairs. Without a doubt, Strauss-Kahn’s professional life has crashed and burned, regardless of the decision of the New York Court. It’s a shame to see a man known for integrity denigrate into abuse.
As the head executive cools his heels in a New York jail on sexual assault charges, there is widespread speculation on who will replace the forsaken manager. Protests from countries such as the United States and Mexico on the “traditionally European head of the IMF” have opened up possibilities for a representative outside of the United States. This new leader could bring the global recession to American perspectives, and help us play a bigger role. However, subsequent cries from the Eurozone claim that European leadership is necessary due to continued bailouts and bankruptcies from Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Ireland. If we want to see a quicker international recovery, there is a need to keep the leadership in Europe. Still, the odds lie with the Europeans, who need a leader who can coordinate and guide euro-area bailouts. Only time will tell if this new leader can live up to expectations, and fill the shoes of a remarkable leader.
The downfall of Domique Strauss-Kahn was appalling, and moreover, devastating. The world cannot deny the importance of the International Monetary Fund and even Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, but it is safe to say that the IMF requires new reforms and must be prepared for changes if it wants to survive into a new generation. Strauss-Kahn may be gone, but the IMF’s increasing role in the regulation of international economic output will continue.