Saturday, November 29, 2008

More On Change

Some time ago, Big Jay suggested I post about changes I believe will happen under President Obama. Given the fact he'll have a very cooperative Congress, I think we will see some rather large changes. Jay did a great job of outlining some changes he expects and hopes to see in this post. One of the things that's held me back on posting my own is that I wasn't sure what I could add, so at least part of what I write will be a response to his post. Jay is also much more concise than I am, but I hope the following will be worth your time.

Changes I Think We'll See:

I believe Obama really will try to implement a civilian security force built on a core of his most ardent socialist supporters. From a speech he gave in July: "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." While it's clear we can't afford a structure "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as our military, he'll build something, and I anticipate them being used to shut down opposition, much as Wilson Woodrow did with his thug squads.

I believe we will see a reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine, a misleadingly named regulation that would end the profitability and thus viability, of talk radio. The legislation will be constructed such that conservatives will be powerless to demand equal time on PBS, NPR, MSNBC or other unabashedly liberal outlets.

I believe the divide between conservatives and liberals will become critical, perhaps degenerating into actual violence. If the lead up to the election was any indication, both parties have learned that keeping the nation ideologically divided prevents us from focusing on our real problem: them. The differences between the two major parties are now little more than window dressing, and if the average American realizes it, a viable third party might actually put them out of business. I would much prefer to see Americans talk to each other without rancor and discover how very popular moderate philosophy is, whether it leans a bit left or a bit right. I have long hoped we'll see more unity (see this post for details), but doubt that will happen.

Jay felt oil companies would find it harder to do business in America, and I think that's true, but would expand it: I believe all companies will find it harder to do business in America. This is directly linked to the next point.

I believe we'll see serious tax increases in America as Congress tries to pay for promised but impossible to fund programs. This is already happening in California, causing people who can to flee to other States, much as has happened in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Obama's promise to lower taxes for 95% of Americans was a flight of fancy (see the WSJ article on it here). That simply won't be affordable. If he wants to prevent outcry, he'll wait for the tax reductions put in under Bush to expire in 2010, giving us back the Clinton Tax rates. See this post for why I think that's a problem. By the way, the rhetoric about taxing the "wealthiest Americans"? What the politicians don't tell you is that the people they're talking about aren't just people, but also small businesses which have incorporated and filed a "Small Business Election" with the IRS. That means they're taxed at the same rate as individuals. Raise the taxes on small business, and they'll have less money to invest in continued growth, which will cause even more job losses than we've already seen. I would really like to digress further on this one, but will avoid it. Suffice it to say I think raising taxes is a bad idea and massively cutting Federal spending is a much better solution to the problem.

I think we'll see many, many Obama supporters who didn't really know what they were voting for and have unrealistic expectations will be sorely disappointed and become more realistic in their views on government.

The 2nd Amendment will be trampled upon. We will at least see Clinton-like restrictions on ownership, which are similar to California law. We may see even stronger restrictions. The goal is not to make America safer, but to make it more pliable. Many previous posts outline my position that gun control is much less effective than criminal control, and that the arming of lawful citizens with appropriate training makes society safer from those bent on harming it.

We will leave Iraq. No credit to Obama on this one, it's already in the works and planned for completion by 2011. I fully support getting our troops out.

Energy will get very, very expensive. Note that I'm a strong supporter of alternative energy technologies. I simply recognize that most of them are variable producers and as such, require more traditional energy sources to back them up. The cleanest and cheapest is nuclear, which I don't believe Obama fully understands or supports despite its proven track record in Europe, Japan, and even right here in the U.S. It is a pity one Jane Fonda film has had such an impact on such a vital power source.

We will see promised cuts in military and weapons programs, much as we saw under Clinton.

We will see less respect for the unborn and less respect.

We will see less respect for the system of government designed by the founders of this nation. See this post for more extensive thoughts on the last two points.

Changes I Hope We'll See:

I hope we'll get out of Afghanistan. As I've heard it put, it's an "ungovernable hellhole." Striking the group that supported Osama Bin Laden was just and defensible. Trying to make a nation out of a patchwork of tribal regions is ludicrous, as we've demonstrated. It's time to stop throwing money and lives away in the attempt.

I hope we'll see full decriminalization of marijuana. This is my libertarian streak coming out. Note that I don't use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or any other illegal mind or mood altering drug. I remain entirely unintoxicated through personal and moral conviction, not through government mandate. While I will never use marijuana, approaching this from a practical standpoint, the current ban is not worth the blood or money we expend to enforce it. By maintaining a ban on more dangerous controlled substances and dropping it on marijuana, we underscore the importance of avoiding the harder drugs and take marijuana out of the hands of dealers, who use it as a gateway to get more addictive substances into the hands of casual users. I do not support the decriminalization of heroine, cocaine, methamphetamines or illegal drugs, as I believe the harm they can do to society justifies the cost of their continued ban.

I hope Obama will live up to his recent speech promising cuts to unneeded government programs. I fear Congress will demonstrate he hasn't power to back up those statements. I fear that where he succeeds, only more conservative programs will lose funding.

I hope my thoughts on Obama will change as he demonstrates himself to be the moderate President many feel he will be instead of the extremist I fear we may have elected.


Big Jay said...

I liked the part about how the purpose of coming 2nd amendment restrictions is to increase the pliability of the populace. That's a good choice of words.

Agree with you about the marijuana.

Increased Taxes -- I'm pretty much on the same page as the libertarians in regards to taxes. I don't mind regulation if it is designed to promote better market mechanisms, but it's real easy to screw up. The demographics we're up against virtually guarantee that a LOT of the promised obligations in our society will not be met. I have been saying for years that employees of the Big 3, and anyone else with a defined benefit pension plan should be very very nervous. Up until about 3 months ago, people looked at me with either shock, or outright disbelief when I said that, as if I was out of touch with reality. I don't get that reaction anymore. Home prices have a long way to fall in California before they land. That means a lot of pain for banks on the horizon, and a lot of pain for you people out in California. For the next 4 years, I will count myself lucky to stay employed in a job like the one I have. I do count myself lucky to not be living in California right now. Even though I love it out there.

Big Jay said...

Energy is still a big problem on the horizon. The current recession will be somewhat of a blessing in that regard, because it slows demand for commodities. But the problem isn't going away. I'm fairly confident about Obama changing people's minds about this one. In my view, it depends on how in the pocket of the coal, oil, and natural gas industry he is. I'm pretty sure the fossil fuel companies are kind of losing their grip, and they're really the ones putting a stop to Nuclear.

I never really understood the whole "I support Afghanistan, but not Iraq" point of view. I also still do not understand why the Bush administration never came out and said that we went to Iraq to make sure their oil gets to go on the open market. Well, I guess I understand. But count me in the camp that thinks we went to Iraq because of the oil, and thinks it was a good idea.

Also while I'm shooting off my opinions, count me in the camp opposed to Guantanamo, and enhanced interrogation techniques.

Big Jay said...

As for the fairness doctrine... I'm not sure I know enough about that to even have an opinion.

I like Rush okay, but am surprised so many people listen to him. Don't like Hannity's radio show. Really don't like the Savage Nation. You know my kind of radio? NPR. But I would like to have a conservative counterpoint once in a while. Like when they interview a feminist tenured Columbia professor, and a Nun from Higleyville North Dakota, and have them debate Abortion on the air. It would be nice if someone would like, point that out.

On NPR they don't interrupt people. I guess that's the biggest reason I like it better.

Andrew said...

Excellent comments. Again, I really hope the darker things I've thought of don't come to pass. So far, Obama's speeches have been very promising, including plenty of mention of fiscal responsibility.

As for talk radio, I don't listen much to the big guys. I do enjoy Armstrong and Getty (local--grab today's podcast for a taste, I'm even in mailbag), and I like Glenn Beck when he's doing the infotainment stuff--when he's pure Downer Monologues, I don't enjoy it.

NPR has much to like, that's for sure--I listen less than I used to, but still like it. I do think they need to go commercial. If they were, they'd be wildly successful, and they're currently saturating the market for liberal talk radio, making it look like only conservative talk can succeed on the AM dial, which just isn't true.