April 18th, 2012 // 6:25 pm @ Oliver DeMille
But one does come pretty close.
When an incumbent president is running for reelection, the growth rate of discretionary income citizens have during the first two quarters of the election year always accurately predicts the election.
If it increases during the first six months of the election year, the incumbent is reelected.
If not, he isn’t.
There are no exceptions to this rule in recent American history, and the rate of discretionary income so far in 2012 is decreasing. Moreover, most people feel it is seriously decreasing.
For example, though we’ve seen over two years of slight economic growth, which in technical terms means we are in a recovery, over 70% of Americans polled in April 2012 say we are still in recession.
Their discretionary income is down, and they feel it.
This is bad or good news—depending on who you want to win the presidential election in November.
Certainly the race promises to be a tough one where simple statistics won’t sway everything.
But there has yet to be an exception to this formula.
There is always the potential of some major surprise—positive or negative—in world affairs or economic events.
And even some predictable surprises are possible, like a shocking Supreme Court decision on health care, economic collapse of another European country, massive increases—or reductions—in oil prices, major mistakes by one of the candidates, a history-changing international incident, or something else.
In short, “It’s the economy, stupid…unless something unexpected happens.”
Or, maybe, it’s the economy regardless of what happens.
Because whatever happens or doesn’t happen, when most households feel their pocketbooks shrinking they want change, and the closer we get to an election, the more drastically things would have to improve in order to change their minds.
Or their votes.
Common wisdom says it’s way too early to predict who will win the 2012 race for the White House.
The thing about statistics is that they can tell us a lot about the past but are seldom deemed reliable in foretelling the future.
Calculations and forecasts have proven a poor substitute for patience.
November 6 (or whenever we actually find out for sure who won) isn’t that far away.
Still, at least a few Beltway insiders will tell you (with a smile or frown, depending on which side of the aisle they support) we are in an election year and most households are feeling the pressures of less discretionary income…
If this turns out to be the reality in yet another presidential election, as tight as the 2012 race seems to be, it will make a believer out of me.
Time will tell.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
April 10th, 2012 // 8:37 pm @ Oliver DeMille
What to Expect as the Year Heats Up
There are several important trends that are sure to influence the months ahead, and indeed the summer of 2012 promises to be both historic and memorable.
Each of us should consider these significant trends and keep an eye on how they develop:
1. There is a great debate occurring in the United States about the proper role of government.
One side argues that the government should do whatever it can to make a positive difference in the world, the other that it must be limited to its constitutional roles and leave everything else to the private sector.
Both believe in an important role for government, but disagree on its scope and especially its scale.
This debate is making its way through the entire 2012 election, but it is actually bigger than politics.
It is cultural, and it literally permeates our societal views on economics, education, health care, business, transportation, information, technology, entertainment and beyond.
The disagreement gets to the very heart of how we define freedom in our society.
In this debate about the ideal role of government—especially the federal government—the two big parties are widely divided.
The summer contest will cause more Americans to consider this great question: What is the proper role of government?
Is it to do what the Constitution says, or to do whatever it deems desirable at any given time?
2. Between these two sides, independents find themselves frequently frustrated with the ideological stances of both major parties.
Independents want the government to do better in some things and to be more limited in others.
Independents are less of a bloc than either conservatives or progressives, so it isn’t clear how they will vote.
3. There are three major branches of the Republican Party: the Establishment (which often calls itself the Rockefeller Republicans and is labeled Nixon Republicans by its opponents), the Tea Party or Right Wing populists, and the Reaganites or old-style conservatives.
Mixed into these is a fourth group, the neo-cons, who emphasize America’s role as the world’s sole superpower.
In the 2012 political environment, the one person who speaks with credibility to all four groups in the Republican community is Representative Paul Ryan.
What this means for the future is unclear, but at this point Ryan is the most uniting figure in the GOP.
Moreover, Ryan is credible to a large number of independents. Senator Marco Rubio is also credible to all these groups as well as many independents.
Expect to hear more from these two men over the course of the summer and well into the fall.
4. While the Democratic Party is also divided into at least three major groups (liberals, progressives and proponents of various—and at time conflicting—special interests), all three are united behind President Obama in the 2012 election.
Many non-Democrats may find it surprising that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is less enthusiastic about President Obama than the progressives and many proponents of special interests.
The reality is that the President has governed more as a progressive than a liberal, and is therefore seen as centrist by many on the Left.
Again, this is a shock to many who get the majority of their news from conservative sources.
The Obama campaign must choose whether to swing left or to the center in the 2012 election, or find some way to appeal to both Left and Center.
This will be a major theme of the summer. So far the campaign has pivoted left and emphasized the message of class division.
It remains to be seen whether this will be the gist of the campaign or simply a feint to be followed by renewed centrism.
5. The campaign of 2012 is being framed by both sides as an attack on each other.
President Obama’s major message isn’t a vision of the future but rather an attack on what Republicans have done, what the Ryan budget means for America, and how we must avoid a return to what he calls the failed Republican policies of the Bush Administration.
So far the Republican message has followed the same playbook: it isn’t yet about a vision of the future but instead emphasizes the failures of the Obama Administration.
Americans are notoriously focused on the future (David Brooks called “Futurism” the American religion), and the winning candidate may well be the one who effectively connects with American voters on a shared vision for the future.
If this does come, it likely won’t happen until fall. The summer may shape up to be deeply negative—at least in political circles.
Attack ads have worked so far in the election, and this will likely continue.
The sooner a top candidate can effectively pivot to a moving positive view of the future, the more support such a candidate is likely to garner from independents.
6. This summer’s Supreme Court decision on Health Care may turn out to be bad for President Obama’s campaign.
If the Court upholds the law, the Republicans will make it a rallying point for the November elections.
If the Court strikes it down, the Obama Administration will probably look vulnerable and ineffective.
If the Court rules the entire law unconstitutional, it could hurt the Republicans as twenty-somethings are taken off their parents’ insurance and other changes occur.
But if the Court simply strikes down the individual mandate, it will most likely hurt Democratic candidates.
7. The Ryan budget may be the crystallizing division in the 2012 debate and election.
Likely most Democrats will be against it, most Republicans for it, and independents will determine America’s future as they analyze and decide whether or not to support it.
Every American should study this budget.
8. Iran… Need I say more? What happens in the Middle East could have drastic impact on fuel prices, inflation and employment rates, all of which will significantly influence the year ahead.
9. Debt crisis? Credit rating? Inflation? Jobs? Credit availability? Small business regulations? Economic upturn or recession? It is unclear where the economy will go in the coming months.
Welcome to the summer of 2012. Temperatures are rising, and the months ahead will make a real difference in America’s future.
In this sputtering economy, will most Americans enjoy a summer of vacations and good times or will a growing frustration heat up as we approach election day?
Whatever happens this fall, our summer will have lasting impact on the history of the United States and our world.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
February 28th, 2012 // 10:03 pm @ Oliver DeMille
Globalization is changing the demand on governments around the world. Since the advent of the nation-state in 1648, the purpose of national government has been to protect its citizens from attack by international forces and domestic criminals.
Local government has focused on providing the various needs of citizens as deemed appropriate by voters and constitutional by the courts, and together these two levels of government (national and state in the U.S.) have been responsible for certain limited roles; the rest was left to private institutions and citizens.
With the growth of internationalism in the twentieth century, many governments took on the additional responsibility of helping its citizens prosper through the use of diplomacy, military strength and multilateral decision-making abroad.
Such responsibilities included, for example, the safety of citizens traveling the world, the protection of international investments by domestically-owned corporations, and the maintenance of trade and low prices in important commodities (from sugar to petroleum).
Where internationalism added a few such roles to many national governments, globalism is rewriting the entire purpose of government.
And where internationalism assumes a world made up of various separate nations with individual sovereignty and diplomatic arrangements between equals, globalism is based on a different perspective.
In the globalist view, we live in one world, everything that happens everywhere affects us all, and government should care for citizen needs by taking action around the world as needed to protect and promote the best results for its constituents.
Basically nothing is off limits.
This adds numerous implied responsibilities to governments that embrace the globalistic worldview.
For people who believe government should be limited to the authorities explicitly delegated by the people in the Constitution (as I do), this is a disturbing development.
It is becoming a concern for everyone as time passes.
On a technical level, the U.S. Constitution allows the federal government to engage in and ratify treaties with other nations, and when this occurs these treaties become part of the de facto constitutional structure of our nation.
In the era of internationalism (beginning around 1913 and expanding ever since, especially after 1944), the treaty powers have been used to drastically change our Constitutional model.
This is part of the “fine print” of our Constitutional society, and it has been ignored by almost all ordinary citizens.
But the shift from internationalism to globalism is a significantly bigger change (in size and also scope) than the shift from nationalism to internationalism.
Under the new values and ideals of globalism, the role of government is, well, everything it deems desirable.
This viewpoint is fundamentally the end of limited government.
Government in the global era is expected to survey the world, see needs, debate and vote about them, and pass legislation or issue executive orders to deal with whatever the government deems advantageous—the Constitution notwithstanding.
This includes taking action at the most local and personal level, including in peoples’ homes and family decisions, and also at the macro-level in any and every corner of the world.
This is big government gone über.
In this view, government should do whatever is needed to accomplish whatever it considers popular or important.
The courts are allowed to sort out whether or not such action was acceptable, but only after the fact. No checks stop such government action and no balances are required before the government can act.
This is more than big government; it is closer to the philosophy of governance that Hobbes called Leviathan.
No wonder the government hasn’t yet figured out quite how to respond to this changing sense of the state’s proper role.
Congressman Paul Ryan argues that the federal government doesn’t have a tax problem but rather a spending problem, but according to this new viewpoint of globalism the U.S. is going to have to spend a lot more—a lot more!—in the years and decades ahead to fulfill its proper role.
From this perspective, our federal spending spree is just getting started, and the only way to meet the need is to fundamentally reform taxation and get the upper and upper middle classes to foot the bill for a globalist government run from Washington.
In this outlook, we’ll need to keep raising the budget every year and the required spending is deeply underfunded.
Only massive increases in taxes can get us moving in the right direction.
The old debate between Conservatives and Liberals just doesn’t rise to the level of this new challenge, and the current energy in Washington is focused on a globalistic agenda that anticipates drastic increases in government for decades to come.
Georgetown University’s Charles A. Kupchan, wrote:
“A crisis of governability has engulfed the world’s most advanced democracies. It is no accident that the United States, Europe and Japan are simultaneously experiencing political breakdown; globalization is producing a widening gap between what electorates are asking of their governments and what those governments are able to deliver.” (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012)
Globalism is leading to a natural decrease in the living standard of developed nations, and citizens of such nations are turning to government to help bring back the lifestyles they’ve grown accustomed to enjoying.
As the lower and middle classes of the world join the global economy, and as competition for investment and credit is spread around the globe, the special benefits that the middle classes in advanced nations have carved out for themselves are becoming unsustainable.
The middle class was created by generations who worked very hard to earn such benefits, but their posterity seems to prefer keeping these same perks without putting forth the same effort.
When this doesn’t work, they want their government to simultaneously block immigrants from “taking our jobs” and also find ways to maintain their parents’ lifestyle without having to earn them the same way earlier generations did.
Except for the entrepreneurial class—and government is increasing the barriers to entrepreneurship.
This is painful.
And it forces a choice at the voting booth: either more freedom coupled with harder work on the one side or higher taxes on the rich combined with more government benefits on the other.
The “government fix” approach is predictably more popular.
The real answer is to re-establish a truly free system, where the government limits itself to the authority outlined in the Constitution and the laws are altered to re-emphasize true free enterprise where the laws treat everyone (lower, middle and upper classes) equally.
Freedom works, and a refocus on freedom will once again make America’s economy the envy of the world.
Capital, investment and entrepreneurialism aren’t fleeing the United States because of globalism but because Washington’s policies have made the U.S. economy less profitable and attractive to business.
Unless the United States returns to a genuine free-enterprise model, our long-term economic trajectory will decline.
The battle has changed, though most people haven’t realized it yet.
Now it’s less about Left vs. Right and more the burgeoning issues of Free Enterprise vs. Globalism.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
February 25th, 2012 // 8:34 am @ Oliver DeMille
There are two kinds of voters: Traditionalists and Pragmatists.
Knowing the difference is vital—especially during election years. It helps us be better voters and guardians of freedom.
The 2012 elections—local, state, and national—are pivotal to freedom.
If we learn to understand the differences between these types of voters, we can work together more effectively to ensure a positive result—no matter who wins.
Traditionalists have strong allegiances to a party or political viewpoint. They tend to see all politics as Left versus Right, Republican versus Democrat, or Liberal versus Conservative.
From this perspective, politics is a battle between the “righteous” thinkers and statesmen on your side and the “evil” ideologues and self-serving politicians and bureaucrats on the other side.
Traditionalist voters on each side have their own lexicon of highly-charged key words and a stable of trusted writers, news analysts, and pundits. Most importantly, Traditionalists have a list of key issues which define their political views and drive their political emotions.
Such issues include abortion, immigration, welfare, health care, national security, education and many others—including, most recently, the Keystone Pipeline, religious freedom, class warfare, and contraception.
Again, such voters take strong sides on these issues, vehemently support one side and listen to little debate from the other side. Often they go to extremes, overstating the morality of their side and vilifying any who disagree.
Liberals and conservatives often dislike each other, and usually disagree on the issues, but they basically understand each other.
They are warriors for (or at least supporters of) their political views, and so they “get” other Traditionalist voters even when they are on different sides of the aisle. They think the other Party is wrong, but they are somewhat similar in the way they approach political life.
Instead of being “warriors for truth,” Pragmatists view politics as managers. For them, political battles are routine decisions that citizens must make—just like administrators must show up for work, deal with the challenges that arise, and then go home to their private lives.
This professionalism in their voting role is one of the reasons political polls are often wrong in predicting how elections will turn out.
Polls of Traditionalists are mostly accurate, but surveys of Pragmatists are usually misleading.
Pragmatists frequently answer surveys with the goal of impacting them, and this isn’t an accurate indication of how they’ll actually vote.
Such voters are very literal about their citizenship: every civic action they take is done with a deliberate attempt to impact the outcomes and results.
Indeed, Pragmatists have no worries about just skipping an election if they don’t think their vote will change the outcome (such as when one candidate is clearly far ahead). They don’t see voting as an important civic duty, but as a pragmatic opportunity to impact things.
This doesn’t mean that Pragmatist voters who don’t bother to vote will ignore the election.
They’ll write blogs, try to impact polls, or help fund the candidates and causes they support. But they’ll only do things they think will actually make a difference.
Where Traditionalist voters support a candidate because they feel he or she is “right” or “best” for America, Pragmatists vote for what they think is the most desired election result.
For example, a Pragmatist may well vote for one party in the Presidential race and another party in a Senatorial campaign because she thinks the best governance will come from the White House and Senate being run by different parties.
Or consider the voter who told CNN that he would vote for Ron Paul, but that if Paul dropped out or didn’t get the Republican nomination he would vote for Barack Obama.
From a Traditionalist perspective this comment makes no sense. Why would anyone choose the two extremes and reject everyone in the middle?
For Pragmatists, this makes sense in several ways. First, it is a strong way of voicing support for Ron Paul and maybe convincing a few voters to change their vote to Paul. Second, it makes everyone stop and think, which is a high priority for Pragmatists. Third, and perhaps most significantly, Ron Paul and Barack Obama are both Pragmatists, while the other candidates are more Traditionalist.
Pragmatists can be just as strongly supportive of any given issue as Traditionalists, but they approach it differently—they are interested in real change on the issue.
Traditionalists, in contrast, tend to emphasize winning the election and then hoping the elected officials will do better than their opponents would have.
To reiterate: Traditionalists emphasize candidates. Pragmatists focus on real policy change.
Many Pragmatists are independents because they don’t believe party politics are good for the nation (except when they decide to personally run for office, in which case their pragmatism kicks in and they join a party).
Both major political parties have their share of Pragmatists, many of whom are political professionals, activists on the far Left and Right, and party insiders who have great influence in elections. Still, many Pragmatist voters dislike institutionalism and distrust big organizations.
Pragmatist voters tend to find the Left-Right bickering over the issues both annoying and wasteful. They enjoy a good debate, however, as long as it deals with real issues and detailed solutions that can really work.
Pragmatists also give kudos to any good debater on either side (something Traditionalist voters hardly ever do because they tend to think the candidates on their side are doing well while the politicians from the other side are wrong and therefore debating badly).
Traditionalists tend to band with other people who agree with them on either conservative or liberal values. They seldom talk politics with people of different views, and when they do they frequently get upset.
They dislike arguing about politics and find themselves angry and frustrated when others directly challenge their political views. They like rallies and debates where their side trashes the other side.
Pragmatists, in contrast, often genuinely like political arguments. They enjoy debating with people from other viewpoints, and also take pleasure in learning new ideas from people and sources that are both allies and opponents.
Pragmatists tend to think about politics on their own or in discussions with a few close friends rather than in big groups or official events, and many like to take different sides of arguments to see how others respond.
Pragmatists seldom like political events where someone lectures; they prefer to discuss and debate. They’ll support liberal views in an argument with a conservative father-in-law and later that same day promote conservatism when arguing with a liberal professor.
The father-in-law will be convinced that his daughter has married a “flaming liberal” and the professor will swear that his student is a “wild-eyed conservative.” In fact, they are both Traditionalists dealing with a Pragmatist.
The Pragmatist son-in-law/student just wants to fix what’s broken—as efficiently and effectively as possible, and the sooner the better. He also likes to argue about politics and to make people stop and think more deeply.
Many Pragmatists don’t really know how to be conservative or liberal. They see too many issues on both sides where the typical progressive or conservative dogmas are shallow or flawed.
For example, many Pragmatists who grew up in liberal families or communities just can’t condone (or understand) the liberal penchant for compulsive government over-spending.
Similarly, a number of Pragmatists from traditionally conservative backgrounds find it ridiculous (and even immoral) that many conservatives give seemingly constant lip-service to freedom from the excesses and bureaucrats in Washington D.C., while they simultaneously want to deny the opportunity for freedom to foreign-born immigrants—without even seeming to realize that this is a contradiction.
Traditionalists see elections as a choice between competing liberal and conservative values, while Pragmatists tend to summarize each election around the most important central issue.
In short, Traditionalists tend to think that elections are about liberal versus conservative values, issues and candidates, and they hardly realize that Pragmatists exist.
In fact, most conservatives and liberals categorize Pragmatists simply as members of the other side. “If you’re not with us,” many Traditionalists assume, “you must be with that other party.”
For their part, many Pragmatists are annoyed by Traditionalist politics and content to stay uninvolved in supporting certain issues and campaigns.
As a result, many who could work together remain alienated even though they actually agree on nearly all goals and could be effective political allies.
How This Applies in 2012
This year will be a Pragmatist election. The question is the same as 2008 and 2010: Which party is most likely to get our economic house in order?
Only a major world crisis is likely to change this focus, though President Obama’s campaign is trying to swing the narrative away from the economy and make this a Traditionalist party election.
In short, if independents in the battleground states vote Traditionalist in 2012 (based mainly on social issues), President Obama will be re-elected; if they vote Pragmatist (with a focus on freeing up the economy), he will be unseated.
Second, while many people on the Right tend to see President Obama as a far-left liberal and those on the Left most often see him as a centrist (note that both “liberal” and “centrist” are Traditionalist labels), his record and modus operandi is clearly Pragmatist.
President Obama has genuinely progressive goals, to be sure, but his personality, approach and methodology is strongly Pragmatist.
The other strongly Pragmatist in the campaign is Congressman Paul. Some would call him a Traditionalist because he has long promoted issues that had little chance of winning, but to do this would be to misread his efforts; he has always focused on bringing real change to his agenda items, not just symbolic support.
Ironically, however, though Ron Paul has taken a Pragmatist approach for many years, a lot of Pragmatists don’t support him because they don’t think he can win.
Rick Santorum is the most Traditionalist of the current candidates. The one exception in his otherwise Traditionalist stable of issues is his strongly Pragmatist stance in support of the manufacturing sector.
Interestingly, both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich swing between Pragmatist and Traditionalist approaches. Romney has taken a Traditionalist voice while his history is more naturally Pragmatist.
Gingrich is a strong Traditionalist in his long public life, but seems to take a Pragmatist tone in his private and business life.
Depending on whether either of these candidates becomes the Republican nominee, in the general election expect either Romney or Gingrich to focus nearly his entire campaign strongly on one Pragmatist issue: Who can best fix the U.S. economy.
This election will be swayed by Pragmatist voters, which gives President Obama a natural advantage unless his opponent can convince Pragmatists that a Republican can more realistically and effectively renovate the economy.
The Greatest Need
A key to winning this election (at the local and state levels as well as nationally) is to create effective coalitions of Traditionalists and Pragmatists with shared election goals.
This is not an easy marriage. The two types of voters see each other as part of the problem. Even when Traditionalists and Pragmatists accept the need to work together, they generally approach their relationship with basic mistrust.
Conservative Traditionalists almost always have a hard time believing that conservative-leaning Pragmatists are really on their side. In most cases, they have been warriors of conservatism for a long time. They have come to associate conservatism with certain catch phrases, key words and mutual affection for iconic media personalities.
Pragmatists loathe what they consider shallow and mindless partisanship. As a result, they dislike catch phrases, key words and iconic personalities. The same problems exist between liberal Traditionalists and liberal-leaning Pragmatists.
Ironically, politics requires us to get outside our comfort zones and work with people from differing views in order to obtain the best results for our locales, states and nations.
It may well be this very process of political interrelationships and personal citizen involvement that keeps us free in the long term.
When a free nation is in decline or struggles, the greatest need is simply for better voters.
We need to become such voters, and we all need to reach out and work more effectively with people who are different in order to accomplish real change in modern America. If we do this, the 2012 election will be a success, whatever the electoral results.
Who we elect is ultimately less important than how we elect, because our citizen involvement beyond the voting booth is determining our national future.
As the major campaigns continually amp up the negativity of their attack ads, this is increasingly true. Our leaders now seldom set the example of civility and honest debate, and if our citizens follow their path the future of freedom will continue to decline.
Fortunately, each of us can directly impact this sad trend. We must push through political barriers and have honest and friendly dialogues with people from all political viewpoints.
This takes maturity—a characteristic of free people.
Our freedoms, or their lack, are less a result of the leaders in society than of the citizens. In our time, better voters and better citizens are needed.
Each of us can do better. There are many in our society that divide, criticize and attack. More citizens are needed who build bridges and promote unity.
Whatever kind of voter you are, it is essential to realize that in the current environment the citizens are the true leaders. It is time for each of us to lead.
Oliver DeMille is the author of FreedomShift and other books on freedom and education.
January 3rd, 2012 // 11:26 am @ Oliver DeMille
Here are some things to consider in 2012, several possible trends which could make significant changes in our world by the end of the year ahead:
- Barring major events, the news of 2012 will most likely be all about the election, especially the presidential election.But the real potential for election change will be in the Congress.The most important determinant of how America will run after the 2012 election will be whether Congress remains split or if one party gains control of both houses—regardless of what happens in the presidential race.
This won’t be the media focus, but those who understand American politics will keep their eye on the coming changes in Congress.
- More Democrats are arguing for less government spending.[i]This shift in thinking is getting very little press because the election story is so dominant in the current media.Since few Democrats are using this frustration with government spending as a reason to vote for non-Democrat candidates, it receives sparse coverage.
But it is a significant change, regardless.
Many Republicans and most independents and moderates believe that Washington spends too much already.
If more Democrats continue to adopt the same view, it may become a major story in the years ahead.
- The credit rating agencies that downgraded the U.S. credit rating in 2011 are still very closely watching the U.S. economy and some indications are that further downgrades could be ahead if the economy continues to struggle.Along with this, for the first time in many decades, U.S. securities are less stable than some other investments,[ii]and money flow away from the U.S. is increasing—especially since the middle of 2011.If these trends continue, U.S. economic challenges could drastically worsen in the next twenty months.
- Some leaders in Saudi Arabia have voiced concerns about how the U.S. handled Egypt, especially President Mubarak, during the 2011 Arab Spring.[iii]As the popular uprising grew, the Obama Administration eventually suggested that Mubarak step down.Regardless of whether or not this was the right approach, the sentiment among some Saudi and other Middle Eastern leaders goes something like this: “If that’s how the U.S. treats its allies, do we really want to trust Washington for anything?”
Ironically, many in Israel are feeling the same emotion.
Add to this the under-reported influence of Saudi investors in major European and U.S. businesses and banks, and this trend may be the most impactful in years to come.
Western economic dependency on Middle East oil is well known, but the bigger danger may come from direct investment in businesses and banks.
If massive sums of Petro Dollars were pulled from Western banks, for example, the term “too big to fail” would take on a whole new meaning.
- We have been warned about cyber terrorism for some time now. Is 2012 the year?
- Will Israel bomb an Iranian nuclear facility?[iv]If so, how will the Obama Administration react?
- Ironically, a focus on jobs may finally become a focus in Washington during the election year of 2012. The bad news is that the parties are unlikely to work together to make real changes.Hopefully, this turns out to be untrue, but if current trends continue little will actually occur.
The good news in all this is that a relatively few changes would bring a drastic positive change in momentum and infuse the nation with positive innovative energy.
For example, four changes could establish a massive change of direction and rebirth of American success (like the shift in American perspective which occurred when Reagan took over leadership from Carter).
The four include:
1) a rollback of all federal policies since 2000 that have hurt small business and dis-incentivized innovation, growth and hiring
2) an effective long-term policy to fix the problem with entitlements, balance the budget and get control of our national debt
3) a restructuring of American education funding to support technical training, community colleges and other non-traditional methods to increase the competitiveness of our workforce
4) a move away from international invasions and wars abroad while maintaining a strong national security presence
I am not predicting that these will occur, but they would be greatly beneficial to the nation if they did.
Finally, each year brings its share of surprises.
For example, who could have guessed in 2010 that the year ahead would bring the death of Osama bin Laden or the refusal of the White House to take leadership in a serious jobs plan?
Whatever comes in 2012, America needs to get its financial house in order and re-incentivize business growth and hiring.
These are vital priorities.
[i] Meet the Press, December 25, 2011
[ii] Face the Nation, December 25, 2011
[iii] Meet the Press, December 25, 2011
[iv] The Atlantic predicted that this might happen in 2011.