Tag Archives: politics

Why I Will Vote for Obama – A Capitalist Viewpoint

Conducting research is an interesting journey. It can even be an emotional rollercoaster at times. It is fun (at least for me) to see the hypotheses or worldviews I possess in regards to politics, society, etc. is supported by factual evidence. Although, sometimes doing research can completely discredit your beliefs as well. In the case of my last blog post, the journey of doing research uncovered an incorrectly held belief/opinion (once again).

What you saw in the last blog post still remains correct. Both Obama and Romney refuse to address or lower the exorbitant defense budget and they both do not address the giant subsidies the United States pays to special interests, which burns a hole in our national debt. However, my intention when I first wrote the blog was to add a third piece as well. I was going to write that both candidates have not put legislation (or proposed/supported legislation in the case of Romney) into place that addresses the economic fubar that got the entire country into the economic disaster we are currently in. Had I included that into the blog without doing the proper research, I would have been wrong.

The reality is that President Obama did address the horrific wall street practices that brought the United States economy to a near standstill (wiki of Dodd-Frank). In fact, he addressed it emphatically. And, if you’re a capitalist…excuse me…a smart capitalist, you will know how important the passing of this bill was and how important it was in stopping the bleeding of the American economy. If you don’t know, let me break it down:

  1. When Bill Clinton acquired the presidency, he wanted to prove that he was a pro-business Democrat. So his administration began unraveling various government regulation that oversees wall street in the name making it easier for business to do…well…business.
  2. The detrimental piece of legislation that allowed wall street to run wild was the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed all derivatives to be unregulated and expressly forbade the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) from regulating it.
    1. What are derivatives? — Wiki here, but the way Lawrence Lessig explains it is easier to understand:
      “Derivatives are assets whose value is derived from something else, where ‘something’ could mean literally anything. I could have a derivative that pays me if the price of gold falls below $1,000 … A derivative is just a bet entered into by two or more parties. The terms of the bet are limited only by the imagination of the parties … Derivatives serve a valuable purpose. As with any contract, [the] aim is to shift risk within a market to someone better able to carry it.
  3. When derivatives became unregulated, there was no oversight to see if whether parties (bankers, investors, hedge funds, etc.) contracted/bound themselves to derivatives so risky that it became detrimental to the overall macroeconomic structure. This is precisely what happened with the mortgage bubble and collapse of 2008 (click the link!!), which subsequently caused financial firms to go under (Lehman Brothers) and caused General Motors to beg the government to bail them out because Wall St. would no longer let them borrow money for their bad business model.
  4. Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the time financial deregulation was taking place, was flabbergasted that his life-long championing of deregulation and laissez-faire economics would cause such a detrimental financial collapse. In the end, he had to admit he was wrong at a congressional hearing and concede that regulation is a vital piece to an economy.
  5. Sources: Lawrence Lessig’s Republic, Lost (unless I hyperlinked otherwise)

As a result of all this, President Obama championed an overhaul of the deregulated financial sector of the United States and pushed Congress to pass a financial reform bill, which it did with Dodd-Frank. The most important piece to that bill is the Volcker Rule, which keeps banks (or an institution that owns a bank) from amassing too much risk and participating in hedges or derivatives that could be deemed too risky without having adequate insurance or capital to support those risks. It also prevents banks from engaging in investments that are not deemed to be in the interest of its clients (conflict of interest).

Therefore, if you like capitalism…excuse me, intelligent capitalism…you will like the spirit and direction in which President Obama has taken the American economy. This is not to say that Dodd-Frank is adequate. In fact, it’s still far from it, but it does tighten the glaring loophole and puts the economy in the right direction. Candidate Romney on the other hand has threatened to “repeal and replace” Dodd-Frank, which has garnered the attention of financial institutions on Wall Street to pour millions of dollars of into Romney’s campaign. Even the conservative newspaper, The Economist (read: no friend to the Democrats and strongly dislikes Dodd-Frank), find Romney’s economic policies unpallatable. While, I do not agree with certain aspects of the article (which I could delve into in another blog), they seem to come to a similar conclusion as I do to vote for President Obama for a second term:

“As a result, this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.”

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It Gets Emotional

During the election hubub that has gripped the attention of the American people, a few stories have emerged in the DC area in the last couple weeks that have stayed with me. The first story is the posting of anti-Muslim ads on DC Metrorail systems that have sparked an outcry from civil and religious groups about it promoting hate speech. However, there’s little debate that it shouldn’t be protected and rightfully so, for while it does foment hate, it clearly falls within the guidelines of the First Amendment. Therefore, a concurrent ad campaign has been waged by various Jewish and Christian organizations that either condemn the hate-speech ads or promote inclusivity.

As I have followed the story through listening to NPR, one particular segment (regarding the issue) caught my attention. NPR was interviewing a Jewish Rabbi that had condemned the anti-Muslim ads and had contributed to the ad campaign against bigotry when a woman intervened (or interjected) during the interview. A debate ensued between the two with the woman arguing that people of the Muslim world do not respect the same “values and freedoms” as those in the West and, as a result, should not be respected or tolerated. After the Rabbi made his rebuttal that her beliefs are not grou, the woman brought up the story about the 14-year-old girl in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating education for girls. She made the argument, how can one say that the Muslim world holds the same values of human rights and respect if they get up-in-arms regarding charicatures of the Prophet Muhammad, but not the horrible incident that almost took this little girl’s life?

I was taken aback, for that resonated with me. I did not hear of any protests condemning the attack on this young girl. Especially not from the Muslim world.

I got emotional.

I was upset with Muslim peoples committing acts of violence because someone drew Muhammad, but barely cried out against the violence toward this young girl (and all other girls who desire education). I had not heard of any protests against the Taliban on my regular news outlets – CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, France 24, NPR, Times, Newsweek, Guardian, or any other English language news outlet – so what the woman was saying must have been true. I wanted to lambast my Muslim friends for being part of a religion that allowed such hypocrisy to exist. I saw some political cartoons that satirized the situation of the Taliban fearing little girls getting educated, and felt that it embodied the true nature of patriarchical Islam.

I was being swayed to loathe Islam and Muslim peoples.

And as suddenly as I started to embrace bigotry a certain switch got flipped within me. I thought to myself, there must be more to this story. Did Muslims actually not protest? I sat down in front of my computer and did a simple google search. Lo and behold, I was proven wrong from just 5 minutes of searching. Thousands came out to protest against the attack with the Pakistani people demanding the government to take action. Vigils not only took place in Pakistan, but in neighboring Afghanistan and India as well.

It should come to no surprise that U.S./English-speaking-media did not cover such protests, but I still remain dumbfounded. Even the google search yielded a handful of articles on the protests versus the thousands upon thousands that covered the Taliban shooting little Malala. It makes one wonder whether media outlets actively refuse to cover such events or they simply find it unimportant to the American people.

Whatever the case, this woman in the NPR story and I share a bond. We are both individuals who feel outraged that a girl is shot for wanting an education. Such outrage is noble. But our nobility is quickly corrupted because we’re not given the whole story. Therefore, with the whole truth and little effort being made to cover (or active effort is made not to cover) the fallout, our outrage – unchecked – leads us down a dark, angry path. That path leads us to lash out with bigoted ads and/or actual physical violence on those we deem guilty by association. We add to the divide and contribute to the conflict. The cycle continues.

In the end, I was almost brainwashed with hatred. Thank goodness it was “almost”.

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