Why I support Obama for a 2nd term, when I did not for his 1st

I’ve been following the US presidential elections with great interest.

Even though the rise of Asia and China are iminent and an unstoppable phenomnenon, the US is still today the most important country in the world. Both in Economic and more importantly, geopolitical standpoints.

Ever since they abandoned their policy of isolationism, I believe the US has largely been a force for good in the world, and a stabalising force in an uncertain and often delicately balanced geopolitical world.

It is a fine line between peace and war, and I don’t think people generally appreciate that they could be just weeks away from having the prosperity and peace they enjoy being taken away from them. We’re talking a world war here, which my parent’s generation have had the benefit of missing so far.

I’m not going to get into a whole thesis of the moral choices and ambiguities the US may have been guilty of, even though I acknowledge the seriousness and consequences of such actions, but on the balance of everything, I would say, the USA stands largely as a moral good in this world. And believe you me, there are moral baddies, far too many of them.

As a result, in the last election, I watched eagerly as well. Although back then I was rooting for the other fella. Senator John McCain.

Yeah, he not much to look at, and frankly, he was 72 years old the last time, so one of the genuine concerns back then, was simply that he would drop dead in the middle of his term (leaving us with Sarah Palin as President OMG).

I am happy to note, I grossly underestimated the mortality rates in the USA, and the Senator is still alive and well (long may that be the case).

I’m sure you’ll find that a little odd. Especially given the wave of ObamaMANIA the WHOLE world was going through. Obama was a charismatic fella for sure, an inspirational orator, and he seemed like he was saying the right things in general.

What I felt in general though, was that alot of people were simply subscribing to his charisma and a popular message of change. I could not understand and considered irrational, the seemingly blind faith masses had with this untested candidate. If you want to recall how big it was, check out this video of him in Berlin, BEFORE he was president.

Change for the sake of change is something I strongly disagree with. Of course it wasnt simply that, there were policy stances, I also disagreed with, especially his eagerness to simply pull out of Iraq (I was not opposed to the USA pulling out of Iraq for the record, but how quickly was what I was contending with).

All in all, I felt he lacked track record, and it seemed he was winning on charisma, rather than substance. He had only served 1 term as a Senator, before sweeping the highest office in the land.

As soon as he won though, I held my breath and waited to see how he would perform. The stakes were high. The decisions an American president makes has far reaching consequences with the rest of the world. Singapore and our region included.

When did I start supporting Barrack Obama? I remember it distinctly. It was when he was negotiating with the republicans for a deal to raise the debt ceiling which would have seen the US virtually shut down.

What I loved about this address was its simplicity in breaking down what was going on, and what needed to be done.

This type of address, is typical of Singaporean politics today, one reason why I support the ruling party. It is clear, concise and to the point. Does not shy away from taboo topics or the hard truths (that most people would rather not address), and prescribes solutions as well. (A sidenote is that every singaporean should watch the National Day rally, the clarity and candidness in which the message is delivered is truly unique and deserves admiration).

Whilst good speeches should rile up emotions, in order to be successful, as educated people, it is our duty to strip the emotion out of it, and look past into the facts, and figures and weigh the things being said.

Surely, working in a bipartisan, and bicameral democracy brought President obama down to earth. Change does not happen easily in reality. Beyond inspirational speeches, the world with its complex weavings will wear you down, test your resolve and force you to compromise. And in all honesty, President Obama probably did have to compromise on some of them, but he stood up for the ones that mattered.

Making tough choices that people may not necessarily like or enjoy, is a leader’s job. We can certainly take the easy route out and promise goodies and riches and prosperity and everything the people want, but we are simply deferring responsibility to the next fella, and setting ourselves up for a fall.

Case in point is greece. And you should read this. Unfortunately, Papandreou senior inherited the consequences of 2 papandreou’s before him. Who took the fall when the music stopped?

Well the people of greece today. Sons and daughters of those who enjoyed beyond their means, and now have to pay for it. Unemployment in greece is a staggering 25.4% (i read that recently), and 1 in 2 young people below the age of 30 are out of work! Can you imagine a Singapore like that? (I shuddered at the thought).

Back on point then. Besides appreciating President Obama for his candidness, forthrightness, and willingness to tackle a problem head on, we’ve also got to look at his rival candidate. None other than Mitt Romney.

I’m a businessman. And I normally like other business people. But I hate this guy. Pure and simple.

I guess its a problem when you are not in government, that you do not have the full set of figures and data in front of you to make an established argument, and yes he did win the first debate, not on his merit though, but surprisingly, on Obama’s demerit. (If you’re interested, watch the full debate below).

The problem is, the more I listen to Mitt Romney’s plans, the more ridiculous it seems. He claims he has the answers to all of America’s problems, and all of America’s suffering, as a presidential candidate rightly should claim. His solutions though are general and unsophisticated, and appeal more to emotions than any practical reality.

For example, he has a 5 point plan. It is as follows.

1) To make the USA energy independent
2) Open up trade, especially with Latin America, but crack down on China
3) Promote education
4) Balance the budget
5) Champion Small Business

Sounds good? Sure does.

Problem is this. These are not ideas. These are not solutions, these are wants! They appeal on a cursory level to the general person just as if I said to you, “Let me tell you what I’ll do for you”

1) Give you cheaper petrol
2) Make sure we have business from overseas
3) Send your kids to a good quality school
4) Pay for all of this and still have money to spare

In the first place, even within his key statements, there are already contradictions. For example, he says he wants to open up trade and encourage growth, particularly with Latin America, but then he wants to censure the largest market in the world (mostly because it is popular), China, and create tariffs.

I’m really not too sure about the specifics of WTO membership, of which the USA is a leader in, but I’m not sure how it would go down with that group of people. And having China retaliate by creating tarriffs for American made products is likely to harm the USA more than anything. But hey, the Americans hate china right now, so lets bang hard on the Chinese! Give me more emotion baby!

Another key point in his “plan”, is to reduce the deficit.

I think this is the Achilis heel of the Obama campaign, who made promises to reduce the deficit (in his first campaign), but really did not, and instead increased it.

This is understandable of course, as the patient has to spend money first on medicine to get better, before he can then get back to work and start repaying his debts, and start living again, and yet, the promise was made.

Well it is here, that I really start to detest Romney. His specific plan, he says, is to reduce the tax rate for EVERYBODY (including the rich, he suddenly also cares about the 47 percent), but reduce deductions, exemptions and credits. And oh yes, cut unnecessary programmes, thereby levelling the budget.

Obama argues back that this means 7 trillion dollars worth of cuts, which will NOT be able to be offset by the reduction in deductions, exemptions and credits.

I’m not an data cruncher, and I certainly don’t have the full set of numbers. But me thinks, on the balance of probability, that Obama is probably right.

If I simply needed to cut all these exemptions and deductions and credits to balance the budget, I would have done it 4 years ago. No matter how convulated the tax system in the USA is, I simply do not believe it to be big enough to withstand a cut in the general rate, let alone remedy the CURRENT situation with the CURRENT tax rate.

Romney’s steadfastness and reality distortion is typical of a businessman (I am one), who sometimes needs to overcome the obvious in order to believe the unvelievable. He says, no that is not true, it will not amount to a 7 trillion tax cut, and my plan will work, and thats the end of it.

BUT if you want more specifics on programmes I will cut, I’ll show you one you all know!

That’s right, I’m a comin after you big bird!

I know alot has been said about the Big Bird comments by Romney, but it symbolises to me, what Mitt Romney’s solutions are. A BIG pile of yellow FLUFF!

And that is why this time around, I’m supporting Barrack Obama to continue in his 2nd term as President of the United States. But that is not for me to decide! ūüėČ

Ming’s Random Thought Of the Day- Of Paper and Innovation

This blog post is kind of a follow up to the one I wrote about double sided tape.

I was recently in Bangkok, and shopping for stationary again at an Office Depot. This time though we were looking for printing paper.

Once again, there are so many different types of paper to choose from, but generally they differ only at a superficial level. Packaging, for example.

So really, to me, if we’re making a decision, price would probably be the main differentiating factor.

The¬†Siam Cement Group¬†would disagree, and they innovated to give you and me …

GREEN READ!

If you’re slightly confused as to what green read actually is, let me explain.

5  guys in lab coats and safety goggles spent countless nights and days experimenting with the molecular structure of normal paper, and had a breakthrough one night!

Bleary eyed, they realised their paper helped them read better! All of a sudden, they had achieved clarity. Upon further tests, they discovered, the coating they had applied to normal paper reduced the light reflected off the surface ensuring they had tired eyes no more!

I know what you’re thinking. And I was thinking the same thing. All respect due to SCG paper for trying, but really, innovation is about a unique proposition that consumers can respond to, and maybe they do have customers that pick up the ream of paper based on their claims. But in this instance, I wasnt one of them!

Ming’s Random Thought of the Day (How a fortune cookie changed everything)

Yesterday evening, I paid a long overdue visit to the gym!

My little secret workout spot, is located along the beautiful Singapore river, and this is the view.

I find the river a really enchanting bit of Singapore, so having completed my workout, I thought taking a stroll by myself alongst its banks would be a wonderful way to cap the day.

I ambled along the banks of the river, with no agenda, taking in the sights and sounds. Joggers n their ipods, alfresco dinner dates, tourists plying the excursionist route, doggies meeting other doggies, a random catch up with an old friend … the walk continued till I found my spot.

I think you can see why I chose it.

It was completely isolated, save a woman, sitting in a far corner by herself, under the boughs of a tree, pensive in her own thoughts as I was.

I was transported for a moment to a random summer afternoon years ago, when I had visited Cafe De Flore in St Germain De Pres, Paris.

I sat there sipping my coffee, imagining Hemingway, scribbling notes as an anonymous observer of the world, creating his masterpiece, “A moveable feast”.

The random thought of the day started crystallising as cursive words started forming on the edge of my tongue.

I FELT LIKE WRITING A POEM!

As quickly as the thought appeared, it was destroyed in a poof! And I was transported from Paris back to a dingy dark chinese restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown at least 10 years back now.

I was a young student studying in Cambridge, on holiday with my family, and I had started writing poems. Alot of the day, my random thoughts would turn into prose, and I would try it out on my friends, fancying that perhaps I would one day be a modern Wordsworth.

Having just enjoyed some mediocre chinese fare (sense the bitterness), I got one of these on my table. Rubbed my hands together, and cracked it open anticipating some inspirational message.

Maybe something like this one would have been appropriate.

I cant remember exactly what it said, because my brain has no space for bad shit, but the jist of it was, “You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think you’re going¬† to be a poet.”

I believe in signs, and it is in that instant, I stopped writing poems.

I sat there for a moment more, wistful that a poets life would never be for me, then I brightened up and thought to myself, enjoying the moment with myself and another is good enough.

The pursuit of Happyness (Sing a song)

Music means the world to me.

I love discovering a new song, and if it’s in tune with with your feelings for the day, be it sad, happy or just meh, it’s likely to help you feel better about the day ahead.

This one is for all my readers out there, find that song today, and sing it, and tell me what you’re singing in the comments below!¬† :-)

p.s. “Don’t worry if its not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song!”