While a new year is upon us and unemployment is down to its lowest level in recent memory, there is reason for quiet optimism in 2012. You’ll forgive me if I remain skeptical. The global economy for one still faces enormous uncertainty. In Europe we see countries teetering on the brink of collapse brought on by massive debt. The Middle East is undergoing historic changes in Libya and Egypt with little hint of how either will turn out. Also in the region, Syria and Iran are attempting to cement their own regimes by slaughtering innocent civilians and enriching uranium. In past years, Asia has established itself on the world stage as a global economic power led by China and India. Will the Asia tigers continue their recent economic dominance? What about South America? Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is that loudmouthed, overweight, Tehran-worshipping windbag Hugo Chavez. When he is finally gone, presumably to pursue his fantasy of co-starring with Sean Penn in the next Oliver Stone picture, I will give the continent the attention it rightfully deserves.
It’s always fun and entertaining for some to speculate about what a New Year will bring. That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so popular. I stopped making them years ago; it’s better to be pragmatic and realistic than to naively offer wholesale hope and change. Wait a minute! There was this guy from Chicago….
In order for 2012 to be a “good” year, some things will have to be addressed by the powers that be here in the United States. In an attempt to be concise, I have come up with three issues that need to be addressed (and I apologize in advance if my priorities offend readers):
1.) The Economy – No surprise here. Creating private sector jobs and restoring the American economy have to be at the forefront of any policymaker’s agenda;
2.) The Debt – The President continues to punt on this issue. He insists that he takes the debt seriously, but all he has to show for it are a failed super-committee and a commission whose recommendations he ultimately ignored. Quite simply, he has failed, and in the words of Chris Christie, “What the hell are we paying you for?” Anyone laughing at the issue of debt just needs to look at Europe to be reminded of just how bad things can (and will) get;
3.) Foreign Policy – While the economy has become the focus of many, foreign policy need not be forgotten. Current instability in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring coupled with recent events in Russia must serve as a reminder of the importance of U.S. leadership in international affairs. Now is not the time to fall asleep.
While there are certainly many other issues on people’s minds, I believe that these three are the most crucial. I’m sure that there are many out there who would like to see movement on whole host of other issues like gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, the environment, etc. My response to those crying out for action is that these issues aren’t going anywhere. Currently, they don’t represent imminent disaster. (Sorry, but the so-called 99% upset at Wall Street don’t make the cut).
Personally, I think creating private sector jobs, addressing a 15 trillion dollar debt, and maintaining a robust foreign policy are challenging enough without waging war on even more fronts. Their day will come. On the other hand, the three issues outlined above have the potential to cause irreparable harm if there is no movement on them. Having said this, I would be less than shocked if, in a year from now when I am drawing up a new list, the same three things appear on it. So much for New Year’s resolutions.
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