By Joey Walter
As we enter into a new decade rife with challenges, the single country that offers us the most opportunity for meaningful alliance is the newly sprouted Eastern powerhouse, China. The mutual benefits to both of our economies are irrefutable, the existence of “mutually assured destruction” non-ignorable. With that said, this same nation certainly offers the most cause for apprehension, with the United States serving as possibly the last roadblock in China’s path to international hegemonic and military dominance. Thus, a vital question needing to be examined for the sake of our future policy options is, Do China’s actions serve more as a threat or as a sign of future alliance?
The first arena that offers essential evidence on both sides of this issue is the economy. Currently, China stands as the 2nd most powerful nation economically, with The Economist projecting it to have overtaken the top spot by 2020. Of course, this rise to the forefront would not have been possible without the United States acting as the primary buyer of its consumer goods, however America also serves as arguably China’s greatest burden by owing $1.16 trillion in securities that may never see the light of day (following our recent raising of the debt ceiling). Whatever the motives, many suspect that China has begun to engage in covert attempts to undermine U.S.-Sino economic ties through intentional devaluation of its currency. These efforts would yield severe repercussions on America’s economy, and prevent domestic industries from becoming competitive in the global market. Thankfully, economic advisers John Tamny and Dan Celia came to the simultaneous conclusion that “China does what many, if not most, of the countries in the world do. I think we’re doing the same things with quantitative easing…We’re keeping the value of our dollar down, [and] that’s helping our exports.” Thus, remembering that China is not the sole nation with personal interests may help to keep domestic paranoia at bay. What’s more, the very shifting of China’s principles from primarily communist toward a free-market, capitalist economy suggests a clear intent to assimilate itself into Western society in order to further amiable relations.
The second sphere in which China has made astounding strides and devoted considerable efforts has been in human space travel. Over the past few years, following China’s announcement to commence its aspiring human spaceflight program, U.S. policy has served as a narrative of how two contrasting strategies can lead to opposite results in the field of multinational relations. First, NASA administrator Michael Griffin professes, “The Bush Administration’s past failure to approve overtures for U.S.-China cooperation led to a very high level of suspicion and was the direct cause of China’s ASAT demonstration involving the shooting down of a satellite to send a pointed signal to the U.S”. This led a CRS report for Congress and George Washington University Professor Yi Zhao to reach the simultaneous conclusion that “cooperative efforts from the U.S. are necessary to prevent future escalation of direct-ascent satellite attacks towards the U.S.” The Chinese most definitely did not receive the unilateral, one-sided policy President Bush pushed during his administration positively; still, most analysts would agree that today’s situation reveals a nearly opposite tale. After President Obama revised the National Space Policy to include cooperation as a primary goal, numerous steps in the right direction have taken place. Harvard professor of Geology and former astronaut Harrison Schmitt assessed, “With China’s ambitious and difficult human space program focused on exploiting vast quantities of resources on the moon, the U.S. decided on pursuing a cooperative, synergistic effort such as In Situ Resource Utilization that would be necessary for their mission to be a success.” Indeed, the director of China’s National Space Administration himself asserted, “only under the cooperative principle of ” mutual benefit and common development” could China achieve its primary goals in space.” The absence of further tumultuous events beyond the atmosphere has proved America’s strategy of appeasing China to be a success, and is the key for attaining future mutual benefits as well as constraining the rise of a potentially hostile actor in the field of space militarization.
Thus, while China’s surpassing of America in two major areas might not be all that worrisome if we make the right decisions, it would surely still be comforting to know that America retains a strong overall lead in innovative capacity and China has a “long way to go” to close the innovative gap. Keep thinking, America.
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 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.