Gee, what shall I watch while I’m putting in five and a half miles on the treadmill? Well, I haven’t seen the news for a while, guess I’ll catch up on things. Damn! Politicians! Oh hell, I guess I’ll see what the President has to say. After all, it can only make the effort of running worse.
First impressions? What the heck is a State of the Union Address for? Is he talking to the other politicians, who hopefully already know his agenda? Shouldn’t President Obama be talking to the American People? Why doesn’t he look at the camera? If he isn’t talking to us then why is he on television?
Hey!, I’m over here!
These speeches really come off as a bunch of folks patting each other on the back and saying, “You’re great! Keep up the good work.” I was thinking this was a total waste of time as Obama didn’t start off saying anything new and it was just a constant round of cheering and standing ovations. I really don’t have time for a pep rally. Can we just disseminate the information? Can you also maybe look at the camera once in awhile so the American People think you are speaking to them? Oh, and while I’m on it, can you not have Boxer and Biden sitting behind you. I know that’s where they belong when Congress is in session but it’s really distracting.
Okay, after about 15 minutes I was adjusting to the applause and standing ovations and ceremony and started listening to what Obama was saying. Here’s my take on some of his points, and in no particular order:
Boxer, for God’s sake, sit down!!!
I must admit, I’m not a big supporter of this, which I know it isn’t the most popular stance. I just don’t get it. Don’t we already have provisions in place to help folks with health care? Can’t I, as an American, go to any emergency room and get assistance? They can’t turn me away. I suppose for chronic issues one would have a problem, and I understand that. But there has to be other government programs that exist to help with this. Medicaid? Medicare? Sorry, this is where I maybe a bit naïve, or perhaps haven’t experienced the issue as I pay out of pocket over $1,000 a month to have health care. And, folks, I was totally under employed in 2009, so, I’m not talking as someone who can really afford health care right now.
Anyway, as I heard Obama spout off about, “How are we going to curb insurance costs and rein in these health care insurers so that they are fair?” I was just thinking we don’t need a really expensive health care system to affect change. Just enact laws that protect the general public from the sharks that swarm around in these companies working on ways to make money at the expense of people’s lives. At least, in my opinion, this is a really great way to start the process. And while you are at it, let’s look at health care product suppliers who overcharge for products because they can. Maybe limiting medical malpractice cases to those that truly have merit would be a good idea too. All of these efforts would be much less expensive, much less apt to step on everyone’s wallet and much less apt to go bad. If this doesn’t work then you can start looking at other options but, hopefully, when the economy can better endure the expense. Where are they getting the money for this anyway? From Social Security? Why not try and fix some of the inequities before trying to create a whole new system?
I’m all for controlling lobbying. Of course, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, this would likely help the President in the next election, provided he doesn’t screw something up in the next 3 years. How? Well, President Obama will be in a race with a pre-built fan base; folks he doesn’t have to sell. He is only investing his dollars into incremental gain or, if he is wildly popular, he just sits back, saves his money and keeps quiet. On the flip side, most contenders will be starting from scratch, given that most are only known by their “local” constituency. This means they will likely need more dollars to win the election. Something that always has been unfair. I honestly don’t know if President Obama has thought of this. I actually hope he is being genuine and understands that lobbying can cater to the interests of the few over the interests of the majority and, as such, needs to be more heavily limited and openly reported. Anyway, I like this point and wish President Obama good luck as this has been proposed a lot but never really seems to win the favor of the politicians.
I still don’t know what to believe with regard to statements that the recovery act has created 2 million new jobs. I hear it said but I also hear that unemployment is rising. It is possible that 2 million new jobs were created, but this doesn’t necessarily mean a net gain in jobs overall. Anyway, I’m all for creating jobs in positions that this country needs. I just don’t want to pay to employ folks just to employ them.
I’m happy that the thought is to push this effort through the funding of small businesses as this really is the correct approach. Over half of the jobs in this country are in small businesses. These are companies that don’t have the same resources as larger companies but still impact our economy a great deal. So, let the large companies manage their monetary and workforce resources as they always have and let’s help fund the small businesses such that they can add positions to the workforce. The only statement I heard that I don’t agree with was that the recovery funding should go toward “adding new jobs or increasing current employee wages.” Increases in wages should come about only if growth is a result of increasing the workforce and this increase leads to a more profitable firm and, ultimately, increased wages. Otherwise, let the current employee’s wages increase by the company finding existing sources of funding and not recovery-based funding.
Folks, we live in a capitalist society where the innovators and leaders make more than the rest of us. To simply spout words to fire folks up because you know many will agree with you is pathetic. How about instead of saying executives can’t pay themselves exhorbitant salaries and bonuses that you say something like, “If you are an executive, and perhaps more greedy than you should be, then you must limit your wages such that you are staying in line with those folks who also are instrumental in making your business a success? Share the wealth a bit.” Maybe a CEO can’t exceed 200% more in total compensation than the average total compensation of the top 40% of the company’s employees. If they can make the company profitable enough to pay their employees more, then they can pay themselves more too.
Freezing the Budget
Funny, being in California, where there is a balanced budget requirement, this just seems logical. It’s a big step, and there likely will be a lot of loopholes for getting around it, but it is a good idea if done honestly and properly. Yep, I think it is great if President Obama really freezes the budget for three years starting in 2011. My only question, though, is at what level is he freezing the budget? If it is at the 2008 level then that would be great but maybe 2005 is a better target. If the budget freeze is based upon the 2009 or 2010 level of spending then this is an empty proposal and would just continue the upward spiral of our spending and the unchecked growth of our Country’s deficit. So, this statement really meant nothing to me because President Obama didn’t say, “Starting in 2011 we will freeze the budget for three years at the 2008 level.” Let’s hear what you really propose, not “This won’t start until 2011 because that’s how budgeting works.”
I think I liked this part of President Obama’s speech the most as he’s totally right, the future of the United States will be determined by the investment we make in our children’s education. What goes along with this, though, is instilling this belief in those parents who don’t parent. There are plenty of kids who don’t go to school, or simply “attend” school, because their parents are “absent”. We need to invest in our children’s education but we also must help those who could benefit by this spending but won’t due to their lack of family support. Probably a different problem but worth trying to solve as this leads to uneducated adults who are more likely to not positively contribute to society and may find themselves in our criminal justice system. I’d rather see the money go to saving these forgotten children as, in the long run, you will make America stronger and help future generations. You also will lower the cost of housing a bunch of criminals and increase your tax base; and you may save a child that goes on to cure cancer or Parkinsons or the common cold.
Finally, if the President really believes in a bi-partisan approach to politics then he needs to stop adding to the divide and stop putting the onous of this on the Republicans, of which I’m not one. His comment to the Republicans stating that they shouldn’t require 60% or more of Congress to be of a given party to pass something is inflammatory. Here’s what President Obama should do: Lead by example! How? Find a cause that the Republicans are really wanting support on and… support it! As long as it truly is a good idea being proposed, why not show that you are bi-partisan. That’s what being a great leader is. By showing others how things should be done and that it isn’t about what party you are a member of, but what is best for America, regardless of who thought of the idea! So, let’s make it happen folks as I REALLY am tired of paying for a bunch of malcontents that posture instead of representing those that put them in office. Could you imagine how great the United States of America could be if the politicians did not participate in politics?
Okay, I’m good. I know I may not have the most popular or fully thought out ideas but, heck, I was a bit oxygen deprived while running and watching the circus that is our US government.
Oh yeah, what the heck was meant by “We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation.“, especially as it was juxtaposed right along with “And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad.“? Do I just watch too much television or haven’t most of the recent terrorists been Muslim? I don’t know, it just caught me as a bit off and strange that a specific religion should be a point in Obama’s speech.
About the author
Entrepreneur Jeff Lambert is the President and founder of JVHM, Inc., a software development business located in the San Francisco Bay Area but serving clients around the globe. Jeff's expertise includes website design and development, Facebook development, blogging integration, SEO, video production, CRM systems, database design and development and more. In his "spare" time Jeff likes to hang out with his family, run, play tennis and, until recently, was Scoutmaster with a local Boy Scout troop.