November 13, 2008

My advice to Obama

President-elect Obama is asking us, the American people, to give him some input on what we would like to see in the next few years. He has set up a website for his transition:

President-Elect Obama Transition site- Share Your Vision
Share your vision for what America can be, where President-Elect Obama should lead this country. Where should we start together?

I hope that lots of people take advantage of this opportunity to have our say. Here is what I sent in. There is lots more that could be said, and will be said, but this is a start.

1. We need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are draining our economy, killing and wounding thousands of our troops and antagonizing the people we are supposed to be helping. A better approach would be to put some of that money, a substantial amount, into building schools, clinics, housing and infrastructure that is desperately needed. Make the money available for the Iraqi and Afghani governments to spend on their own country. Use local contractors and local workers to get their economies going. Negotiate with all parties to end the fighting. Ordinary people will benefit and support for insurgents will wither.
2. We need universal healthcare here. Lets follow the lead of the rest of the industrialized world in order to insure that everybody gets the healthcare they need. Your plan falls short because it relies on the flawed private insurance system that is failing us now. Even people with insurance are hit with ever rising premiums, deductible and co-pays. Most bankruptcies are caused by healthcare bills, even for people with insurance. We need a single payer system similar to Canada’s.
3. We need to fight the deepening recession with programs to provide jobs for the unemployed, renegotiation of problem debt with predatory lenders held to account and forced to assume their share of the burden, a moratorium on foreclosures and re-regulation of financial markets. De-regulation is a failed experiment. There needs to be strong regulation, not just in the financial sector but everywhere, to moderate destructive boom and bust cycles and rein in shady operators who will inevitable step in to make big bucks at the expense of ordinary people if we let them.
4. We need to reverse the trend towards consolidation and monopoly that is inevitable under unregulated capitalism. Without strong anti-trust laws, big companies will buy out those less strong until we are left with nothing but monopolies and oligopolies. These giants will then be able to blackmail us, as we just saw, because they are “too big to be allowed to fail”. At that point there is no longer competition and corruption takes over. I am disturbed to see the government now using the recession as an excuse to encourage further consolidation of already monopolistic industries. Rather, we should be encouraging a diverse, competitive marketplace.
5. Combat the recession, free ourselves from foreign oil and slow down global warming by investing in alternative energy. Support research and development, commit to using alternative energy in government buildings and fleets and help individuals and businesses convert to more sustainable technologies.

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