Friday, August 29, 2008

Experience and Qualifications - My Thoughts On Biden

Lots of experience and nice resumes...but no action

Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser commented to the press that "...the Obama-Biden ticket is big on talk, the McCain-Palin ticket is big on results. To truly change Washington, it's going to take a team who has a record of accomplishment in shaking up the status quo. Gov. Palin's experience in doing that for her own state is exactly what is needed in Washington, D.C., and it's the same kind of change we need in Olympia this year."

This about sums up about my concerns with Obama and Biden. Despite all their combined years in Washington, there's not much to speak about. While Obama criticized Clinton and talked up that he didn't vote for the war in Iraq -- he didn't have to make that choice, he wasn't there when we were facing enemies, at a pinnacle time when religious zealots wanted to blow us up.

What's the purpose of the "experience card" when it brings no results? When we talk specifically about Biden or Obama's foreign policy experience, aside from their criticism of everything the United States does on foreign soil, what have they done to contribute? Have they stabilized Iraq by supporting additional troops? No. In fact, Biden's idea of a safe Iraq was to segregate the country instead of unify it. That's like saying let's have the North and South versus a Union. We know how that went. We should attempt to learn from our own history before we start implying we can just segregate a country without consequence.

With all of the years experience, did these two give anything back to their constituents? Were they able to consistently balance state budgets, give money back from oil to their people in their respective states? Were they able to secure a natural gas pipeline for America so we could bring energy prices down or secure supply?

The answer is no to all of these questions.

So where does experience really matter when there's no action? To make the 3:00 AM call about emergency matters from far away lands? How about the normal calls at 3pm? What has that experience brought to us in regards to domestic policy, or common good will to be able to bring back to the general population?

I dare argue that Gov. Palin might be the boldest VP pick in history, but also one of the smartest. Within her short time track record, she has been able to balance budgets, fight people in her own party that were corrupt, bring money back to the people of Alaska, so on and so forth -- and that, in less than two years. What is not impressive is that the previous governors and politicians of Alaska were not able to pull off such results in a short time, while this relatively "new" politician was able to do so.

Perhaps it isn't about "qualifications" and "experience" -- those things do matter -- but about the will to actually change things, not just talk it. Let the results speak, not just your speeches.

P.S. -- Someone might mention Gov. Plain's under an ethics investigation because her staff wanted her brother in law fired for being a state trooper. Why? He was a wife beater and tasered his child. Someone should give her a reward. Only in D.C. politics when doing what's right is wrong. Idiots.

The hottest story since women's suffrage: Woman governor as Republican VP candidate

McCain's vice president pick is a hit to fiscal conservatives, Christians, married women, and reformists

In the 20th century, women were finally allowed to vote in the United States. On Friday, August 29, 2008, the United States made history again in this regard. Republican presidential nomineee Senator John McCain chose the governor of Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman, a mother of five, and a known maverick in her state to be his running mate.

Her experience
Gov. Palin, compared to Obama, Biden, and McCain -- is technically, the only one in the national stage that has executive experience, managing the state of Alaska.

We can definitely look at her results. Within two years, she's met her budgets. She's driven energy independence in her state from foreign oil. She cut spending in all levels of government, and she has attacked corruption -- removing powerful politicians out of their posts and office even from her own Republican party, she rejected the bridge to nowhere, and delivered results to her state with a 90% approval rating.


Domestic vs. foreign policy
Gov. Palin's foreign policy experience has been minimal. She's a governor of her own state and her interests were surrounded in fixing domestic issues -- the economy, gas prices, inflation, and corruption. We already know McCain has a strong foreign policy and a national security resume, but Palin's resume is totally different.

She approaches the small town crowd, she is not an elitist or someone exceptionally rich -- she is local, a mom, and someone that was brought to the stage of leadership, not because she wanted to, but because nobody else was willing to do it.

Gun rights
She knows how to fish and hunt. She's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). She will win every Republican household and conservative household from the rough necks in Florida to the Rocky Mountain elk hunters in Colorado.

Maverick Reformist
When she tookover as the governor, the first thing she did was undo the damage from the previous governor -- who was a Republican. She fought against her party and even sold the government jet. She had someone put it on eBay and it was sold at a profit.

This was a wild pick for John McCain, but it also shows wisdom. She brings a lot of strengths that McCain does not have -- youthfulness, excitement, increased historical impact, a non-Washington resume ("change"), and solid social conservative foundations.

As an independent voter, I consider this ticket to be very attractive, very solid, and a breath of fresh air.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Think outside the box: How to beat back rising food prices

Food prices are rising. From corn to rice, all of the basic food staples are increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food prices are going to be increasing around the 5 to 6 percent mark this year, marking it the highest increase in food prices since 1990.

Since June 2008, I have been looking to reduce the impact of these increases and have made some success in doing so through my own home garden. In the next few paragraphs, I'll attempt to you show you how I saved roughly $4,400/year by using 10sqm of unused land that otherwise would have been "grass" or a "lawn".

My point of view:

1. PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO GO UP. Food prices will continue to go up for geopolitical reasons, rise in oil (USA: 5% of world's population, but uses 26% of world's energy), increased demand as poverty decreases, reduction of farm land, utilization of farm resources for renewable energy initiatives, and the refusal for some cultures to change their main staples.

2. KNOW YOUR SITUATION. Vendors, clients, businesses, employers -- are all looking to cut costs yet the average Joe thinks their company should pay more (who doesn't want more money right?). For instance, a good chunk of workers across the world look for wage increases during an economic recession. Yet these are the exact times when employers are looking to save.

For instance, if you are paid $7/hour and a competitive company is paying $9/hour -- surely you would want to move over? But what if that $9/hour company is putting itself at risk? Does the extra money help if you can't trust it for stability? My point is: unless employers get increased revenues -- there is no way they can afford wage increases. Either find a way to help your company increase revenues (remember, it's not a bank), or stop dreaming of wage increases.

Put yourself in your employer's shoes, do you want to remain profitable to be able to pay for everyone or start hurting your bottom line and in the end leave everyone jobless? Increased costs without increased revenue equals doom. Now think differently: how do I help my company increase revenue so we can have fun things like bonuses and incentives?

3. MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES. The easiest way to save money and sometimes the hardest choices for some, is to adjust their lifestyles. Reduce unnecessary costs. My advice for folks that drink alcohol and smoke: that's the first that should go before you ever complain about not having money. That only shows irresponsibility of money vs. the lack of money.

4. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD. At first glance, people will probably say this is absurd. But more and more people are jumping "back to basics", where communities survived not because they knew how to buy food from McDonalds or from supermarkets but because of their ability to utilize their land for food. No, I'm not saying buy farm lands but utilize the soil that you currently have -- especially in urban areas! Food for thought:

  • According to The Peri-Urban Interface, nearly 50% of the world's population is located in urban areas.
  • According to a United Nations HABITAT study, called "Guidelines for Municipal Policymaking on Urban Agriculture", roughly 40% to 60% of the income in some urban areas are spent on food alone. Now that's absurd!

If you can save 40% to 60% by growing your own food, why not do it? In June 2008, I started planting at the cost of roughly $19 USD worth of seeds and small plants -- planting corn, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplants, Chinese cabbage (pechay), bananas, Chinese kangkong, mung beans, etc.

Now I'm reaping the benefits, with my food costs dropping from $500/mo (household of eight), to roughly about $130/mo. Within the next few months, I should be able to have surpluses and be able to actually gain. All of this on roughly 10sqm of land. That's a savings of more than $44,400 in 10 years and if my plans of 0% cost on food happens, that brings the savings up to $60,000 in 10 years.

Let's start using the land that we are given and the rain that falls on us for free.