Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
June 10, 2011
Mr. President: A few weeks ago innovation was the rage -- now, nothing; no
change in tax laws to encourage R&D; no national policy change, not even a
commission to develop a report -- the usual method of kicking the can down
the road; no, nothing except a minor tweaking at the Patent Office. Mr.
Goolsby, the economic advisor has decided to return to teaching. Now, the
issue is jobs.
Give the money to the banks and let them run with it ... and they did ... run
with it. They aren't helping and Mr. Bernanke can't do it all. The stock
market has figured it out -- it's given us six straight weeks of losses. Let's
hope China keeps buying our debt and the dollar remains a reserve
currency, or it's going to be, Argentina, here we come.
The little country of Bhutan is unusual in one respect: its policies focus on
what they call Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of GDP. It makes
sense. After all, if someone is caught robbing a bank, GDP increases -- the
police, the lawyers, judges, prisons, all produce more.
If one examines the research on happiness, there are some surprises. First
off, money is not a significant factor. It turns out personal relationships,
doing for others, a responsible government that alleviates worry are all
more important. Prominent among the latter are worries about health care,
pension security and income in old age, an economy that produces jobs,
peace. Exactly what benefits have Vietnam or Iraq or the Afghan surge
brought? Thousands were killed in these wars -- millions, if one includes the
other side -- and the country reduced to bankruptcy. The pain of families
suffering wounded or dead sons and daughters; the PTSD damaged
veterans returning, the worry and anxiety for those still serving. None of
this increases happiness. Perhaps that is why we are ranked just behind the
Philippines on the country happiness scale.
Maybe we should measure our Presidents by how much they have increased
happiness at home, and, in a globalized world, abroad. I wonder how you,
Sir, rate yourself. With casualties in Afghanistan at a record high, soldiers
still dying in Iraq, NATO bombing Tripoli and killing hundreds to supposedly
save civilians in Benghazi in a tribal conflict, unemployment rising at home,
the housing market in the dumps again, with all this, it should not be difficult
to assess. And following that is the simple question the researchers ask, are