With the Islamic State dispersing, and yet to metastasize into a deeply entrenched guerrilla campaign, the Iraqi national government has been able to take up arms against a different insurgency. Because Sunni-Shia tensions have yet reemerge as the driving force behind the crescendoing, perpetual Iraqi Civil War, Iraq’s political and military leadership have been able to shift their attention to the Kurdish secession effort. Having Kurdish populations of their own and claims to pieces of the traditional Kurdish homeland, Turkey, Iran, and Syria share a common interest in suppressing Kurdish independence. Like the Islamic State, the Kurdish territories are one of the few interests these neighbors have in common.
Confronted by overwhelming opposition from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and the United States, the Kurds have been forced to retreat from independence. Iraqi forces advanced in US tanks with US arms at the direction of Iranian military advisers when the Kurds were pushed from the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area. The spectacle certainty demonstrated the international backing the Iraqi central government has against Kurdish forces. The Kurdish push for independence will not, however, end with the resignation of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani and the loss of Kurdish independence. It was, after all, the Kurdish Peshmerga who secured Kirkuk from ISIS when the Iraqi military shamefully abandoned their posts in advance of a massive Islamic State offensive.
Civil unrest is normal, and therefore expected, in any democratic nation where political factions disagree with government actions and feel public officials have failed to adequately address their grievances. Dissent is a healthy part of any democracy. Civil War, however, has become a rare occurrence in the stable democracies of the West. Civil war and sectarian strive have become things observed in ill-democratic and non-democratic nations where populations are primed to rise up against their self-serving, corrupt oppressors. With that in mind, Catalan’s vote to secede from Spain is a very unexpected occurrence. The history of Catalan explains why Catalan wants to be an independent state, but its actual attempt to secede and the backlash are surreal.
The strength of democracy is its ability to respond to the changing needs of the population. When governments no longer responds to the needs of the Peoples they govern, they become self-serving, dysfunctional, and oppressive then eventually collapse. Through proper representation, true democracies have the potential to more readily change with the shifting interests of their Peoples. Clearly, the People of Catalan no longer feel their interests align with the other Spanish Peoples’ interests. Based on an unofficial vote, which appears to align with the true sentiments of the Catalans, the session effort is democratic in nature. As such, the effort by the Spanish government to stop the secession would seem to violate democratic principles, but the story is far more complicated than that.
China’s Communist government has elevated current Chinese President President Xi Jinping to near the status of Mao Zedong. “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” will be given the rare honor of appearing in the Communist Party’s Constitution. After five years of leadership, a near total collapse of China’s financial system, conflict in the South China Sea as well as the East China Sea due to the aggression of Jinping’s government, and a number of other issues, Jinping’s leadership does not appear worthy of the distinction bestowed upon it. Xi is seen as a man of the People, yet his accomplishments are far from revolutionary. If one believes China needs a strong and revolutionary figure, however, the decision to mold Xi Jinping into that of a Mao Zedong-like figure makes sense.
Even though China’s rise as a global economic and geopolitical power continues, Beijing faces serious issues. China’s economy, which empowered China on the global stage, may not be able to sustain the massive growth it needs to solidify China’s global power. It may also lack the durability of its less-export dependent competitors. To boot, China’s rise has meant increased responsibly on the global stage, yet Beijing has chosen to act increasingly aggressively toward its neighbors and increasingly oppressive toward its people, thus cultivating political instability and security threats. China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and Great Purge under Xi Jinping serves as evidence of Beijing’s insecurity. In response, Beijing has sought to create a leader capable of securing the Party’s power.
The Republican tax reform effort under the leadership of President Donald Trump has the expressed goal of stimulating business and economic growth. By putting more money into the hands of American taxpayers, Republicans hope to fuel increased consumer spending. Increased consumption should, in turn, lead to job creation By lowering the corporate tax rate and revamping the corporate tax code, they hope to encourage renewed investment in the US economy and workforce. In many respects, the Republican approach is the traditional approach government has continually relied upon to help stimulate the economy. It is the same approach that has continually failed to meet expectations, because it is an approach that does not recognize the reality of the situation in the United States.
The stimulus package of the Obama Administration and the two stimulus packages of the George W. Bush Administration demonstrate the limited capacity of the government to build the economy. With tax reform and other policy shifts in sight, there is an opportunity to restructure the economy to help the areas of the economy most important to job creation and business development. Reducing regulation, slashing taxes, and ending tariff-free trade will not, however, be enough to accelerate and sustain economic growth. Ultimately, an economy must provide for the needs of the population it serves or it cannot be sustained. Today, it does not. Thanks to a widening income gap and a growing number of poor, an increasing amount of wealth is being concentrated into the hands of a shrinking minority.
The Republican Tax Reform Effort: Sound, Conservative Economic Polices or Special Interest Priorities?
Republicans have paved the way for major reforms to the US tax system without Democratic input by passing their fiscal-year 2018 Budget along partisan lines. Although Congress sets only the 30 to 40% of the US Federal Budget that is discretionary spending through the appropriations process, it does play an oversized role in setting public policy priorities, which have huge impacts on the American People and the US Economy. In this particular case, Republican Senators, minus Rand Paul, have chosen to hypocritically abuse the budgeting process to short-circuit legislative safeguards that ensure meaningful consensus built on minority input and abandon their own cause of fiscal responsibility. Without any checks and balances standing in their way, the question now is what envisioned Republican tax reforms will actually mean.
Today, the US government has the largest budget of any other government with the biggest debt of any nation in history. Although the US has also had the world’s largest economy for more than a century, it is one of the least taxed economies of the world. Since the rise of “Reaganomics” under the Reagan Administration, the US has increasingly fueled an explosion of government spending with a mounting supply of the fake asset called debt. This has enabled more affluent individuals and businesses to exchange their tax bills for IOU’s, which are to be repaid by future generations. Instead of honestly confronting the fiscal reality of the Federal Budget, GOP tax reform priorities appear to further ease the social responsibility of affluent individuals and businesses who benefit the most from the US economy while placing a greater burden on future generations.
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