Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who would Hurricane Sandy pick for president?

Who would Sandy pick for president?

sandy and pres

I suppose it is how you look at it. I watched many politicians today say in so many words that, "we will rebuild". I am sorry to say that I do not necessary agree. I do not mind if people want to risk their personal money for this development. But, if people use government money, then I disagree. I did not agree when New Orleans was bailed out, and I will not agree when we bail out the barrier islands for uses that they were never meant to have. Of course, if any presidential candidate would say this, it would be political suicide. This may be the most unpopular post that I have ever created. I understand that many people will disagree with me. I have rented a house at the shore for the past 10 years on one of those barrier islands. We have hundreds of wonderful memories during our family vacations. I am not unsympathetic toward this desire to rebuild these areas. Who does not want the ocean breeze in their hair when they go for a walk outside of their home? I just question why the tax payer should assume the risk of this affluent lifestyle.


If we were to take a snap shot of these barrier islands in 1944 we would see a much different picture than the development of today. In earlier years people built changing rooms on the beach where day trippers could come to the beach and change their clothes without having to stay over. The residents of the area called them shoebies. They were day trippers who visited the shore with all of their belongings in a shoe box because they took the train. There were less houses, but these homes were not meant for every season of the year. My suggestion is that the current disaster of a Halloween Hurricane creates an opportunity to preserve some beach areas for parks and open space. Rather than saying we will rebuild, I would suggest we unbuild by dedicating some areas to open space. The tax savings would be fiscally responsible, and make the shore experience more enjoyable. The 6 billion dollars invested in rebuilding could help us put our fiscal house in order.

For these reasons the candidate who does not say "we will rebuild" may have my vote on election day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The last undecided voter! #debate, #Presidential debate, #Election 2012, #Romney, #Obama

The last undecided voter is wavering. At the first debate President Obama's moderate answers and desire to seek the middle ground won me over. In the Vice Presidential debate Paul Ryan's desire to clean up the mistake in Afghanistan with a gradual pull out that will protect our remaining servicemen won me over. In the town hall meeting Romney's lack of big ideas, but strong executive skills persuaded me that an executive without big ideas may not be such a bad thing. In this final debate I guess it comes down to this. Will I vote for an executive who will build consensus by getting ideas from others, and then build a compromise, or will I vote for a idealist who is more like me and proposes ideas that will win over people by the force of his personality?

This week my wife was discouraged. She  is taking a graduate course to complete her Masters in English. It is quite possible that what she is experiencing  is a bit of a generation gap more than anything else. I am 56 years young and she will not let me give out her age, but suffice it to say that I married a younger women who now has six grandchildren. I do not believe it is a generation gap. I believe it is more of a personality gap? My wife is an realist and I am more of idealist. She is a administrator and I am more of an artist. She asks a lot of how questions, and I am constantly asking why. Could it be that her colleagues in the graduate course are younger. more idealistic, and less pragmatic? I think this is highly likely. Winston Churchill once said, "Anyone who isn’t a liberal by age 20 has no heart. Anyone who isn’t a conservative by age 40 has no brain." I confess to having liberal ideas, and my scarecrow persona as in the Wizard of Oz has mellowed with age.

Now no one is entirely an idealist or entirely a realist. It is all a matter of degrees. I think however people have a first line of attack strategy for solving problems. The idealist will tend to push their ideas first, and then consider their advisers' ideas. Perhaps a much better strategy is to let the ownership of an idea originate from others when building consensus. In our current political environment of party polarization, this is much more important. I believe either candidate is savvy enough to see the need for idea ownership at the chief executive level to build consensus. I am only concerned that the split second decisions of the chief executive role could lead to more mistakes that could break deals between legislatures to solve our most serious problems.

For example let's look at the problem of energy. I live in Pennsylvania. I grew up in coal country in western Pennsylvania, and I now live in Eastern Delaware County which is very blue collar. Governor Romney has earned points from the coal caucus in my state. He has not done this by laying out an energy policy that highlights coal. He has done this by not setting a policy against coal. Here is a video created by some of the rank and file that mine coal in Ohio. 

Thomas Peterffy is a Hungarian immigrant who has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising on television. Peterffy is the 189th wealthiest billionaire in the world with a net worth of $5.4 billion. No one is manipulating him to run these ads. He is a self made man that has made his wealth by employing his wit and cunning at the core of our capitalistic system. His fervent belief in the free enterprise system is at the core of his ideals. This man grew up in a socialist country. In his own life time he has lived the American dream. Would this have been possible in Europe? Mr. Peterffy does not seem to think so. He is spending this money because he believes that this system is in jeopardy. Can we protect and defend our middle class by a top down strategy? At the right time I believe so. My question is this. Is now a better time to protect the middle class by promoting initiative, and building consensus by those ideas from the bottom up instead of from the top down?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The last undecided voter

What should a president be good at? Should he be an idealist, a visionary, or should he be more of an executive who knows how to harness the ideas of others around him? Should he be a visionary who comes up with the ideas for his staff to implement?

Tonight there is a great debate in a town hall format. When the candidates are forced to answer questions of specific constituents, then big ideas will be secondary to practical advise. Big ideas are better put before sweeping systems housing large swaths of people. To focus on one individual will test the communication skills of any administrator. The town hall meeting is a test of withholding solutions over revealing the process of relationship development. Every year my students take part in this exercise in our annual Student Government Town Hall Meeting. It is a great activity because it helps connect students with the practical application of government.

Another application of government is being able to negotiate bipartisan deals. This pragmatic exercise is what our country needs right now to solve our most difficult national problems. Here is my speculation on the two very different and equally effective processes. Governor Romney will solve this problem with an implementation strategy. He will give the problem to the idea people, and let them solve it by objective. This is why he has not been forth coming about the details of his 20% tax cut. President Obama will try to solve this problem by coming up with a new idea that will balance the competing forces of republicans and democrats.Which is better? I am a still not sure, and that is why I am still an undecided voter.

I like the ideas of President Obama. I respect the executive decisions of a successful businessman, like Governor Romney. Tonight I stood in grocery line, and the cashier asked me if I would like a free bag with my groceries. She said she would not charge me if I voted for President Obama. When I asked her why she said that, she said no rich man was going to help us in Upper Darby. I did not have time to discuss this with her because I had to run to a meeting. I look forward to continuing this discussion. Perhaps like the town meeting tonight she will finally convince me of what I will gain from the upcoming election.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#VP Debate Who won?

I watched the debate tonight. I couldn't help feeling like a patronizing older man was lecturing a defensive congressman. I think that both candidates made good points. Most of the questions were stacked against Ryan and in Biden's wheel house. Ryan held his own as an underdog. I guess that alone would give him the nod, however what really persuaded me was the question about the soldier left on the front lines in Afghanistan. This is a question that I feel very strongly about. I think that Paul Ryan had the better answer, and for that reason he wins the debate.

What Paul Ryan did not say is what his plan would be to with drawl troops. I wish he had said that we should determine with drawl as close to the action as possible. I wish he had said that soldiers had to with drawl, but only if they felt they were not placing their comrades into harms way. Paul Ryan felt that we should let the commanders on the ground make the call, and I agree with that, but I also would make sure that the lines between these commanders and their command was clear. At the risk of being accused of being a micro managing commander in chief I would test and see if my directives were making it through to the rank and file.

I really want to believe the bipartisan rhetoric of the Romney Ryan ticket. Tonight I found Ryan more believable than Romney, so he won the debate.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I would vote for the president if... #debate #Romney or #Obama

On October 4th. in 1945 President Harry Truman ordered the Navy to seize the oil refineries where 43,000 workers were on strike. This action was heroic because the workers were unionized, and traditionally organized labor has backed the democratic party. In essence he was throwing members of his own party under the bus. Truman did this because he was protecting the country. He weighed his options and decided that the partisan benefits of giving in to the union was nothing compared to the threat on our national security from an oil shortage. Last night president Obama said that, "the first role of the American government is to keep its people safe."

Mr. President, I would suggest that our people are economically unsafe. Our deficit and accumulating debt threaten to lower our standard of living and divert resources away from vital services. Mitt Romney would say that we can not afford to cut defense spending. I would suggest that the economic war that we are currently fighting is more significant than any missiles currently aimed at our shores. The only thing currently holding up our standard of living is our currencies dependable reputation. When our currency becomes devalued from ongoing borrowing, then our standard of living and domestic tranquility will be jeopardized.

Real leadership happens when a president decides to attack his own party in the interest of solving a problem which jeopardizes our security. There are examples of this on both sides of the isle. Teddy Roosevelt took on business interests when he purchased land for national parks. Both Truman and Roosevelt's' actions could have easily cost them a second term. If Harry Truman were debating Teddy Roosevelt on the deficit I would like to believe that both of them would give in to accomplish a greater good. In this age of partisan politics I hope that Romney and Obama can reach out across the isle and work together to solve this problem. It does not matter who won the debate last night. This debate was about competition. The real debate right now is with our Chinese competitors. They value cooperation over competition. If we are going to compete in this current economic war we had better learn to compete against their state capitalism with bipartisan cooperation. In this previous post I suggested further dividing the powers of the president over the issue of the deficit. Click here for this post.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#debate Divide and conquer the deficit & health care reform.

I like Romney’s entrepreneurial spirit. I do not like his tendency to make every decision his discretion.

I like Obama’s commitment to the middle class. I do not like his propensity to solve big problems with bureaucratic solutions.

Republicans empower people who value their individual liberty. A personal liberty can neglect individuals that can not stand up for them selves.
 Democrats solve problems of inequality. They use central planning to maximize resources, and also reap bureaucratic inefficiency.

Both parties have strengths and weaknesses. I am a Republican because I value my individual liberty over equality. My value is based upon my desire to please the God that I serve in all that I do. I know that everyone does not share my faith. I feel that both parties have perspectives that must be shared and considered when creating and implementing public policy. Equality is one of the founding values of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, Republicans have taken equality for granted. In some cases this is because of their faith, and in other cases they choose selfishness.

The Democrats have an advantage over the Republicans when it comes to creating systems to save the middle class. Democrats are in a better position to create a system, and Republicans can better manage it. Many of the liberal think tanks are filled with bright people with great ideas. I read and listen to many of them. The two parties must work together to solve these difficult problems. At this point I am sure I have alienated many of my friends who would call me a wishy-washy moderate. Democrats should create systems to save the middle class and let Republicans implement it. What is an example of a system that needs to be created?

Medicare is the #1 entitlement problem in our country. Senior citizens are the fastest growing, and arguably the most easily exploited group in our country. We need to use the $700 billion saved from Medicare Advantage, and plug it back into the system. We need to let the Republicans manage that money and implement its execution. I understand that this kind of scenario would turn American politics on its head. But, if this means that we have increased domestic tranquility, then everyone would be for it. When people in other countries jealously look at our country what is it that makes them jealous? Is it liberty, equality, or even freedom that they long for? I have traveled around the world, and I do not think so. I think they want our standard of living. They want cell phones that talk to them and automobiles that do not use gasoline. They see the large number of people who have access to these conveniences, and want them as well. I worry that it won't be long that I will be longing to be in another country because they have what I want.

So today I am advocating for changes in our government. The values of our two party systems are too good to not have them in play at the same time. I have a dream of a shared and collaborative government. I am proposing that the Democratic Party run the legislative branch of our government and the Republicans execute it. I sit and write this as I watch the speeches of the Republican National Convention. The speeches are inspiring, and it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of the moment. I know however, that in another couple of weeks I will be equally swept up by the speeches of the Democratic Convention. I like big ideas with conservative execution. We need the power of both parties to solve the problems of our deficit. I had high hopes for the Simpson Bowles commission. I followed their progress, and as a grandfather myself I embraced their love for their grandchildren. I was crest-fallen when our legislature and the president could not come to an agreement to solve our deficit. I have lost confidence in my government, and I believe that we must try something new to grease the polarization and unite bipartisan solutions through the introduction of different political structures. My wife tells me that I am spitting in the wind. I love my country, and I am grateful for the life it has provided me. I can talk freely about the things that I truly care about without the fear of reprisal. I feel a mounting dissatisfaction with our government, and its lack of action. I am ready for drastic measures of self correction. My hope and prayer is for a radical moderate force of citizens who will have the courage to execute a moderate idea of realistic compromise.