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Posts Tagged ‘United States’

I Still belong to the Centre Right

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 1, 2012

In one of my earlier posts I presented my views on what the role and responsibilities of a government should be. Then, I really looked forward to following the Presidential Election Campaigns and see if and how my views would change. Today, ninety days after scripting that post, Istill belong to the centre right. A lot of this can be attributed to the utter lack of intellect and logic in these elections. They have left me completely disappointed which is reflected in the absence of political post on my blog in recent times.

However, seeing that we are so close to elections, I publish a final political post to explain my position. Who would I vote for if I were an American citizen?

The federal response in the wake of Sandy has justified Government’s involvement in domains that ensure the safety of it citizens, both from foreign and nature’s aggressions.

A welfare state seems utopic but it might help to remember that whenever the government gives us an impression that it is giving more, rest assured it is taking more from us in good times. This strip illustrates the same. Imagine the father being the government and the son the citizens.

Entrepreneurship is the key to building a progressive state. I live in a country where the opportunities of becoming one were next to zero in the Socialist era. The country suffered and is dealing with the effects of that era even today. We are creating jobs based on funding from foreign companies looking for cheap labor. However we are not creating enough entrepreneurs. Budding entrepreneurs need ease of business and low taxation. Entrepreneurs create jobs. Government does not create jobs. It creates dependence.

In my country, the government doles out huge subsidies to the “poor”. At the time of independence, Indians were in dire need of this support. The entire system seemed like Utopia. But it was like that only for a short time. The system has been in force for over 60 years and we still have record poverty. Clearly, big government supporting those in need has not solved the problem. It has resulted in more people becoming dependent upon government’s gifts. A heterogeneous society with a sizable population might find a welfare state attractive, especially in current times. But over the long run, such economic positioning introduces lethargy into the public at large. While the short term results seem just, fair and idyllic, the fact is that slowly but surely the competitive and ambitious spirit that has ensured evolutionand survival of the human race begins to wane.

During these times of economic distress, I believe that the Government needs to support the country by increasing spending. I support the policies Obama has employed so far. In these times we need higher government spending and balancing of deficit by taxing the higher earning citizens. These are times that call for sacrifice. Obama is doing the right thing. But that is the only good news I have for my Democrat friends. I would not vote for him again.

Re-election will send the signal that people accept his leftist agenda and this will embolden him to make institutional changes that may change the character of  US forever. These institutional changes will put US on the path of Socialism that is bound to result in an undesirable outcome.

I would vote Republican. I am sure that Mitt Romney upon being elected will continue heavy government spending. In spite of his Rightist talk, he will have no choice but to continue government support for the people. He will not be able to reduce spending nor reduce taxes. However, he will not create institutions and regulations that will steer the US towards the Left. He will keep the US in the Centre and that will be a great position for the country to catapult from into economic supremacy once again. US will have a chance to bounce back. With Obama, this chance will be lost.

On social issues, I cannot agree with the conservatives. However, I feel that Romney will reveal his moderate self once he gets elected. He will have to if he wants to get reelected.

I may be way off the mark here. As always, comments welcomed. I have my armor on ūüôā

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He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He W…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 28, 2012

Factors that will affect his decision to attack Iran.

He Will, if these are the thoughts that run in his brain:

1) Iranians are as extreme and fundamentalist as they come. They believe in the coming of the last Imam who will rule the world. To enable that return, they must wipe out the Zionist from the face of the Earth.

2) Once Iran has the nuclear deterrent, Israel will lose its influence in the region. Its Arab neighbors, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq will be emboldened to dictate their terms. They might even form an alliance to attack Israel from all fronts.

3) Iran may give a few Nuclear warheads to Hezbollah to launch at Israel from Syria or Lebanon. This way Iran is not held accountable and saves its arse in the global circus, namely the U.N.

4) The Saudis will covertly support Israel. If there is one country that makes the Saudi king shit himself, its Iran.

5) I will let Iran drop a bomb on Saudi Arabia. To save Saudi interests, the US will jump into the war.

6) Once Israel attacks, the Iranian people will revolt against their own regime.

7) Iran’s most technologically advanced weapon system is the “Suicide Bomber”!

8) Old and unused artillery is rusting and it is time Israel uses it.

9) This is a Crusade and I am Richard the Lionheart!

10) Iranians do not bathe regularly, are a stinking lot and I just hate them.

He Won’t, if his brain is still running.

Your thoughts?

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Time to Rethink Freedom of Speech

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 12, 2012

With the advent of social media platforms, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore. In this new world order, it is time to revisit the founding principles of nations. It is time to exhibit the courage and foresight required to change these tenets to cater to present day sensibilities.

Freedom of Speech is protected in the U.S by the First Amendment to the U.S constitution. However, this freedom is not enjoyed by speech that presents “imminent lawless action” and what may be termed as “hate speech.” Great, so the U.S Constitution lays out a very balance and judicial legislature to allow its citizens to speak their minds and suppress opinions that may lead to outrage among its people. But what happens when what Americans express, either in the form of opinion or art, transgresses the moral principles and beliefs of¬† people belonging to the more “unfortunate” rest of the world?

There are two very important opinion/speech defining parameters that must govern any discussion on this topic. Firstly, the Geographical reach an opinion can have and second, the Universality of the subject.

The lawlessness that broke out in Cairo and Benghazi last night are being attributed to anger over an American film that shows Prophet Muhammad in very bad light. The film has been made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli American real estate developer. The attacks unfortunately led to fatalities. Would it be wrong for the Libyan and Egyptian governments to ask for deportation of Sam to try him in their countries? Should not the U.S courts try Sam Bacile for inciting violence that led to the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens? This incident clearly illustrates that opinions in a connected world, like the one we live in, have absolutely no geographical boundaries. New laws need to be formulated to address these issues.

It is high time that the world decides to exempt Religion from Freedom of Speech. Religion is a private affair. While your religious beliefs should be kept to yourself, so should your opinions about other religions. Representation of religious opinions in any form, text, films, cartoons, paintings etc. should be globally prohibited. That, and only that, is true Secularism. No ban should be put on people trying to present the teachings of their religions as stated in their scriptures. But negative opinions on any religion must be banned. If a religious group is proving to be injurious to its followers, it is the Government’s responsibility to safeguard their interests.

No religious bashing has ever hurt any religion! It only hurts people. And in this case we lost Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. RIP.

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What She Said. What I Thought.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 5, 2012

“Over the past few years as first lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country. And everywhere I have gone and the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.”

Oh no! Another fairytale recital. Please, please don’t lead me to where I think you are going!

“I’ve seen it in teachers in a near bankrupt school district to vowed to keep teaching without pay. ¬†I — I have seen it in people become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others, flying across the country to put out a fire, diving for hours to bail out a town. And, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families. In — in wounded warriors who tell me they are not just going to walk again, they are going to run and they are going to run marathons. In the young men blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said simply, “I’d give my eyes and 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done, and what I can still do.”

Really! So now the government is praising people for fighting difficult situations. Aren’t they in that situation because of the government? You can’t finance the school district, so you appease the teachers by praising their will power. You hail the spirit of the young soldiers, and so easily forget the fact that you had promised to get them out of there before they were blinded. Empathizing with people is a good way to escape one’s own guilt in contributing to their sorry state. But its a temporary escape.

“Every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.”

There are more than a few billion people in this world that will contest that claim. Stop trying to hypnotize people into believing they live in paradise.

”¬†I loved Barack just the way he was. ¬†You see, even back then, when Barack was a Senator and presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster.”

Another attempt at celebrating struggles and minimal living. I support minimal living but only when it is out of choice. I do not like this strategy of trying to make people feel wonderful about their struggles by recounting your own. The truth is that while you have left your struggles way behind, the common man has been living far too long with them. Do not try to allay their frustrations and anger by pretending to be one of them. You are not!

“And for years, men no more qualified than she was, men she actually trained, were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continue to scrap by. But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus, arriving at work before anyone else, giving her best without complaint or regret. ¬†And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well Bar, that is all that really matters.”

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock….I have still not heard anything that makes Barack electable. By this very example, every Tom Dick and Harry in my neighborhood is electable.Please First Lady, tell me something that is relevant. How will he create jobs, reduce debt, bring soldiers back etc. etc. Please!

“We learned about dignity and decency. ¬†That how hard you work matters more than how much you make. ¬†That helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”

That does it. I’m feeling sick now. Another attempt to belittle wealth. Do not celebrate poverty. Beware!This statement reeks of extreme socialism. Did they write this speech in a Seance session with Marx’s ghost?

“That’s how he brought our economy and the brink of collapse to creating jobs again. ¬†Jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs. Right here in the United States of America.”

Of course, in socialist lingo “good jobs” do not mean “decently paying” jobs. And since she has already set the scene for minimal living, a pittance of a salary seems mighty good now, doesn’t it?

“Because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make. ¬†It is about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Again! I thought only spiritual gurus talked like this. So obviously, Americans have to get used to lower and continuously decreasing  salaries.

“the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle. ¬†That is what has made my story and Barack’s story and — and so many American stories possible. And let me tell you something, I say all of this tonight, not just as a first lady, no, not just as a wife. ¬†You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom-in-chief.”

Another blatant attempt to play with Herd Mentality. Hope!Hope! Hope! But how long can one keep the public hypnotized under the pretext of Hope!

Conclusion: Everybody get ready to come face to face with cyclic nature of global business. Economic balance has shifted to the East. Jobs have gone and it will take some time for them to come back. What most politicians can do is only condition your minds into accepting struggles, lower salaries and minimal living. Once U.S labor is cheaper than Chinese and Indian labor,companies will bring manufacturing and service jobs back to U.S. The next time someone from India calls IT Helpdesk, it will be Richard answering the phone and saying, “Hello my name is Raj. How can I help you today?”

Disclaimer: I am a student of philosophy and politics. My analysis is only an attempt to share my thoughts and soliciting both conforming and opposing views from readers.

 

 

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Why I Don’t Keep My Money With My Government

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 4, 2012

Image courtesy: Conor Ogle

A few years back, I started investing in a Government Savings Plan. The deal was that for 15 years, I would have to put a minimum amount into the fund annually, and after the completion of the maturity period I would get the principal amount back along with the accumulated interest. The real incentive was that my investment every year would be tax exempt.

Yesterday, I withdrew the money I had invested so far. I was penalized a small amount, but it didn’t change my decision. I had decided that I was not going to keep my money locked in with my government for a long period. The Government is not only injudicious in its spending, it is also taking me for a ride with its unfair tax policies. Let me elaborate,

1) Our President until 2 months back spent more than US$ 50 Million of taxpayer’s money and sovereign debt on foreign travels. Why is that a problem? Because in India, the president is only a nominal head with no powers at all in decision making. It is a post which is a legacy of the British Raj and contributes mere pittance to the running of our affairs.

2) In 2009, our government allocated Coal mines to randomly selected business entities at prices only fraction of the market price. The Auditing Agency in a recent study reported that by not auctioning the national resources, the government has cost the exchequer of our country close to US$ 33 Billion. The Coal blocks were allotted as per the whims and fancies of those in power.

3) Similarly, in another recent finding of the Auditing Agency, it has been alleged that another national resource, the 2G Mobile telecom spectrum was allotted to the private telecom operators on a first come first served basis instead of an auction. The loss to the country from this unpardonable act was close to US $ 32 Billion.

4) Recently, a group of District level politicians traveled to China on a state sponsored trip. The objective of the trip was to study the best Dairy practices and replicate the same back home. The group returned saying that they learned nothing that was better than what we were already practicing in India. Duh! Who said that China has the best Dairy practices in the world! That trip should have been to New Zealand, Denmark, US or the EU.

5) In India, only close to 3% of the population pays income tax. No, its not a typo. 3% it is and I am one of them. This figure is unpardonable after 65 years of self rule. This figure is low NOT because our laws are slack. It is low because our government mechanism is not efficient and honest enough to get more people to pay income taxes. Since India taxes both income and consumption, it is only these 3% people that get taxed from all directions. In no court of law can that be called fair treatment.

6) I fall in the income tax slab that ends up paying close to 30% as tax. I was taught in school that we must pay taxes for the development of the country, our infrastructure, education, health services, military etc. etc. But I don’t see any of that happening.

a) Most of the National Road Highways are developed as Public Private Partnership (PPP). So I end up paying a heavy toll fee whenever I use a highway. This means I am paying for that infrastructure out of the income I have left after paying income tax!

b) India did not win a single Gold Medal in the recently concluded London Olympics. A country of 1.2 Billion and not a single Gold. Clearly the government in not using my tax money to facilitate sports either.

c) Government hospitals are either non-existent or lie in ruins with the most unhygienic services. Not to mention the grave shortage of competent doctors in them. Not surprisingly, most of us have to visit private hospitals for treatments and spend more money from the money I had left after paying my taxes! So evidently, my tax money is not being utilized in providing me good healthcare either.

7) Apparently a lot of my tax money is going to pay salaries of government employees who’s efficiency and work ethics are a crying shame. The rest of my tax money is spent in giving subsidized food and other incentives to poor people to win their votes and come back to power. And all the while, sovereign debt keeps increasing while my currency keeps declining.

And this is why I do not want a big government. I do not question its intent. Socialism is a benevolent concept, but impractical. It works in small communities but not at a Federal level. Big governments cannot put a mechanism in place which will deliver services effectively. With time they will only accumulate so much debt that you can kiss your country goodbye. Do you think the Greeks own Greece, or that the Italians are the true masters of their country? NO! Leftist policies and attitudes have pawned these countries to others….and there is no getting them back!

Sadly, above stated facts have raised doubts in my mind about long term fiscal health of my country. I do not want to keep my money locked in with a government that doesn’t know how to manage its finances.

I have better odds at a roulette table.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Go ahead, make my day!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on August 31, 2012

The RNC last night was nothing less than a grand, grand show. But what stood out for me, and for millions others was when Clint took the stage. Yes, he brought along a bashing style that didn’t go down too well with the leftists and the “moral” police. He attacked O with a tenacity that many pundits find abhorring. However, what he said was profound. His message not only enthused the Republicans but will go a long way in swinging a lot of independent vote towards the GOP. He left an impact. A Sudden Impact!

“They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying. I was even crying. ¬†And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.”

A great dig at what herd mentality and collective emotions can lead to. In 2008, the message of hope and change brought about a voting pattern that disregarded policies and principles. Playing with people’s emotions and leveraging them works wonders in winning an election. But soon, facts emerge. Rationality prevails. Clint highlighted this point beautifully.

” But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing. ¬†We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.”

Clearly attacks the tendency of the present government to not consult others with regards to policies that matter. The O government has been regularly criticized for neglecting bipartisan politics. Well, if the democrats don’t care to ask the republicans about legislations, why would they even think of asking Russia about how they messed up Afghanistan.

” Of course we all now Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.”

Great tactic to bring Biden into the picture. Too often the VP gets lost in campaigns even though the VP’s thought process and role is absolutely vital in the government. If the VP is crazy, its a great idea to bash the crap out of him. Go after the weak links in the oppositions armor.

“I think attorneys are so busy — you know they’re always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides.”

If there is one thing that O has lagged in during his term, it is decision making. Yes, it is a good thing to discuss matters with a diverse set of intellectuals. However, late action in many cases equals inaction. O has developed an image of being exactly that and a clever ploy that Clint used against him.

“It is that, you, we — we own this country.”

This line should go down in history as the one that wakes up every single citizen. “We own this country”. And you know what a big government does? It takes that ownership away from you. Huge debts translate into foreign sovereigns owning American assets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see how much of the U.S is currently owned by China and Saudi Arabia. Like they say in mortgage, you do not own a house until you have paid off the whole debt. So it is with national debt. You do not own your country with such a huge national debt. How comfortable does that make you feel?

Clint’s message was for all. He did not delve into sensitive issues but addressed general concerns that should unite the entire nation. He came, he saw, he conquered!

 

 

 

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Why Iraq will be won and Afghanistan lost

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on August 30, 2012

“…principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways; either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above; for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

In Iraq,¬† Saddam Hussein, along with his ministers ruled with a heavy hand and ruthless authority. Saddam’s reign over Iraq was total and complete. To topple him, the U.S relied solely on the might of its own alliance. It is evident, that people of Iraq, once they settle their own sectarian issues, will be more ready to accept American presence and dominance in their country. As Machiavelli suggested, Iraq is America’s for the keeping.

Image Courtesy Mikhail Evstafiev

Afghanistan, is equivalent to the “Kingdom of France” in the quotes above.The central Asian republic has always been an unnatural co-existence of several different tribes being ruled by their respective warlords. Every occupation of Afghanistan has been achieved by bribing these warlords towards oneself. The Soviets did it, and the U.S is doing the same. It is evident in the form of government which they have put together. It is a coalition of tribal leaders that helped the U.S fight the Taliban. Beyond this, the leaders have nothing in common. It is a state of affairs that is bound to collapse and Afghanistan, thanks to some medieval curse, is going to return to becoming what it always has been, the land of the dead.

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