China versus Japan, US
Tensions are rising between China and Japan over the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands with United States standing in the middle. Threatening to enforce its Air Defense Identification Zone restrictions, China claims ownership of the Islands; whereas, Japan has been recognized as the rightful owner of the islands since the late Nineteenth Century with a brief interlude following WWII when the US took control of the territory. The US is directly involved due to our Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with Japan, but America is also seeking to avoid a military conflict between China and the militarily weak Japan.
Fortunately, we live in a civilized world where economic and diplomatic stability drive national interests; henceforth, America’s willingness to shield the Japanese through our military activities over the islands forces China to deal with the conflict in through non-military means. If China tries to engage in military action against the US, or Japan, it would have terrible ripple effects that would certainly undermine the entire Chinese economy and its diplomatic endeavors. Furthermore, America has many unspoken grievances against China while conflicts have a tendency of drudging up all sorts of issues, thus this conflict could help the US and China recognize our many grievances and recalibrate our relationship.
Thanksgiving protests and minimum wage
It should not be lost on the American People that those making around minimum wage were required to work on Thanksgiving Day at stores that opened early to expand their Black Friday shopping. Protests on Thanksgiving focused on raising minimum wage; however, raising minimum wage does not solve the underlying problems, i.e. the economy is not responding to the financial needs of the majority of the American People. The rules of our economy, i.e. set by government policies, favor the wealthy at the expense of the poor, thus too many people are relying on food stamps, government sponsored medical insurance, energy assistance, and other socialist subsidies as their jobs do not pay enough to cover their living expenses while they will likely never see a job that does.
Meanwhile, protests in Thailand have also flared up. Being poor in a place like Thailand is inconceivably worse that being poor in the United States, but America is headed toward that extreme. Children of the poor in Thailand face a lifetime of hopeless struggle to simply feed themselves and threats like childhood prostitution. If it were not for socialist programs in the US, we would be well on our way to an economy of desperation. Clearly, the system is not working well enough in America, but Thailand has an even worse situation. We should be thankful for that, but the status quo must be overcome.
Enjoy the very American holiday of Thanksgiving. You too world. Remember, it was the generosity and kindness of the original Americans toward foreigners, which set in motion a series of events that changed the world forever. For all the bad that came after the Pilgrims' first winter, there has so much more good in this world thanks to the rise of American Democracy while we must strive to learn from our misdeeds and build an even better future. In closing, feast well my friends.
For around 7 billion dollars in sanctions relief, the International Community gets Iran to agree for the next 6 months to no net increases in its stockpile of enriched uranium, no new production of uranium enriched beyond 5 percent, the destruction, or dilution, of all uranium enriched to near 20 percent, which is one technical step away from weapons grade uranium, no new centrifuges, more than half of Iran’s already existing centrifuges idled, all next-generation centrifuges idled, and all construction on its hard-water reactor near Arak, which could be used to make plutonium, stopped while Iran would have to allow more invasive monitoring, including daily visits by IAEA, inspectors to nuclear sites.
Although this deal may only delay the ability of Iran to produce nuclear material from two week to only two months according to IAEA deputy director Ollie Heinonen, it does break the forward momentum. Before we can reverse the nuclearization process, the social inertia that has been provoking our adversarial relationship with Iran for decades must be overcome. This intermediate deal ensures the US and the rest of the world can continue to engage in negotiations over the nuclear issue and other grievances we have with Iran without giving up too much. Six months is a long time, if used properly. Consequently, the deal affords the US, the International Community, and Iran the space to develop a more mature plan without easing the lion’s share of our sanctions. In addition, the seven billion dollars gives Iran assurances that the world is serious.
That said, I wouldn’t bet on normalized relationships, especially if I were an investor, because things could go south very quickly if Iran cannot start build trustworthy relationships with its neighbors, which it will take more than six month to overcome several decades of bad conduct. The world wants to be certain Iran will not get a nuclear bomb, because Iran has demonstrated a willingness to support terrorist activities while a nuclear arms race is the last thing the Middle East needs. As such, Iran must engage in confidence building on all fronts. This, of course, includes internal reforms as well as an end to its involvement in the Syrian Civil War and other conflicts.
Paying for insurance is like buying a really expensive ticket for a lottery you would rather not win. From car insurance to trip insurance, people need coverage for unexpected expenses they know they cannot afford. From basic healthcare to travel medical insurance, individuals want to know their financial and medical needs will be met when they get sick. The Affordable Care Act created high standards to guarantee health insurance would work for policyholders, but it has yet to ease concerns over the affordability of coverage. An ongoing lack of certainty and answers, coupled with reports of widespread premium increases, scare people, especially considering the individual mandate requires them to purchase insurance or pay a fine.
In late September, as healthcare.gov was about to be launched, some pundits were comparing the average monthly payment for a mid-tier health insurance plan to that of the average monthly payment for a new car. In many respects, this emphasizes the reason so many Americans are fearful of the individual mandate and Obamacare as a whole. It also demonstrates the financial divide between the wealthy political elite, who likely have health insurance as a guarantee, and the majority of Americans, who sometimes see it as an unnecessary necessity.
A great number of people cannot afford an additional car payment. In fact, many people cannot afford a new car, period. Although the median household income for all Americans may be around $50,000 per year, the median household income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans is around $30,000 per year. For most people, this means buying even a used car can be a struggle, whether or not it is an absolute necessity. Accordingly, it is not an issue of wanting health insurance for most of the uninsured.
The Marketplace healthcare insurance premiums may be a good deal and everyone may need health insurance to live well, yet healthcare becomes a luxury when the ever-increasing costs of modern day living quickly eat away at the stagnate wages of the majority. Most people want to be healthy and want medical care; however, this means nothing when tough choices must be made. Considering how unresponsive our government has become and the way politicians toss relatively large quotes about as though they are trivial amounts, many Americans fear they will be stuck with a bill they cannot afford.
What people need is assurances that their government will help them financially, not crush them with taxes and mandates. Unfortunately, it seems the only news coming from our political leaders involves the broken Marketplace website and how Washington is trying to coerce insurance providers into renewing obsolete health insurance plans for a minority as a way for President Obama to honor an over simplified promise.
Furthermore, opponents of Obamacare are not helping the situation with their constant efforts to undermine reforms. They are simply latching onto the fears of the American People and using them for political gain instead of acting as leaders and solving problems with solutions that address the needs of most Americans. Unfortunately, their concerns are largely focused on business interests and an irrational drive to avoid increased costs for themselves, not the wellbeing of the financially vulnerable; henceforth, the options they push are terribly destructive to the majority of Americans.
Consequently, both Democrats and Republicans need to do a better job of addressing the concerns of those most affected by policy deficits like those found in the Affordable Care Act. Our leadership needs to reassure people by making government more responsive, so the American People can trust government to make constructive policy changes.
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