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Monday, February 02, 2009

Guest Blog by Jim Lydecker: Obama's Two Largest Problems

I really have to agree with this one, for the most part, and the last paragraph is the real kicker. The question then, is, "How?" A real cliffhanger, this one. I'll come back and comment later, so check back...

Obama’s two largest problems to face
By Jim Lydecker
Napa, California

January 30, 2009

The election of Barack Obama as our 44th president is considered by many to be historic as Obama is the first non-white to hold office. I, for one, never saw race as the issue – I was brought up in New Jersey, perhaps the most multi-racial/cultural place in the world. And my parents never tolerated any racism/sexism/ageism.

This election was historic in another way: Never has a president taken over under so many converging crises’ of unprecedented proportions. If Obama gets us heading in the right direction, he’ll go down in history as great a president as FDR or Lincoln. But if Obama’s unable to change course, then there’ll be those who’ll vilify him and this is wrong.

If America fails we have no one to blame but ourselves. Since the 80s, we have elected officials on all levels, national, state and local, who pursued unsustainable growth economies. Starting with the S&L scandals and continuing through artificial bubbles of the past 15 years, our leaders looked the other way when paper wealth created artificial wealth which was bound to collapse.

While unemployment marches toward Great Depression levels and wages plummet and businesses fail, never has so much of a nation’s wealth been in the hands of so few. The collapse of the housing bubble wiped out a disproportionate amount of what’s left of the middle class’ wealth. And when there is less to spread around, the result is the standard of living has to be proportionately lowered. Don’t expect the wealthy to live any less a standard of living than what they are used to: Recessions and depressions always transfers money into their pockets.

In a growth economy, most people think the way out of this mess is doing what got us here in the first place: Grow. In an essay in the Register about a year ago I said, “A growth economy is known as an economic oxymoron. It hastens the inevitable demise when a draconian contractual economy will take place regardless of what we do.” Well, the draconian contraction is upon us and our shrinking planet and its dwindling resources makes growth not an option.

Throw an exploding world population in the mix and do we have problems.

Our leaders need to take us down paths, no matter how painful, when circumstances demand. For any semblance of our economy and civilization to survive, we’ll need leaders of extraordinary courage, intelligence and forethought to pull this off. If Obama is going to do this, he has two hugely unpopular problems to deal with on the path to survival.

First, Obama will have to redistribute the wealth. From the beginning, all civilizations failed when the majority of wealth was concentrated at the top. This nearly happened twice in the past hundred years when huge disparities caused revolutions, and these disparities were not of the magnitude of America 2009.

The Bolshevik Revolution took place in the Soviet Union leading to the hideous regimes under communism. The Great Depression swept FDR into office and with it his socialistic agenda. Two differences to remember is that FDR was elected while the Bolsheviks took over in a violent uprising but both effectively redistributed each nation’s wealth creating a more even playing field.

Obama is now taking the New Deal approach and this in itself is frightening: The stimulus program seems to be another way of saying “pork barrel.” Spending money we don’t have is what got us here in the first place. Bandaging a wound is pointless if unable to stop the hemorrhage.

The second, and biggest, problem Obama has to deal with is overpopulation.

We live on a planet of finite resources. Once the carrying capacity is passed, the standard of living and quality of life will decrease. Even if we were able to prime the engines of growth back to their previous levels, the high prices of things like crude, copper and steel will return and shortages reappear. Permanent/unemployed homeless, mass migrations, starvations, disease, war and social strife will become the norm. This does not have to be if the population contracts accordingly to contracting resources and capital.

We need to aggressively begin a negative-growth population policy immediately.

Looking at these two problems, Obama first must redistribute the nation’s wealth through a heavily progressive tax code on incomes above $1 million a year like FDR did. Tax breaks should be given to the middle class and virtually eliminated for those at the bottom. Otherwise America will face a revolution of such magnitude it will make Russia in 1917 look like a field of daisies.

And then Obama must take the lead in reducing the number of humans on the planet so the world has a manageable population. This is the intelligent, humane thing to do instead of allowing us to breed toward extinction.

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