Informing Americans about their participation in federal social programs

Check out this op-ed I posted on the Sanford Journal of Public Policy:


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Making Job Corps Work in the 21st Century

Check out this posting from the Sanford Journal of Public Policy site:


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Does a Nuclear Iran Call for a Change in Policy?

I posted this blog on the Sanford Journal of Public Policy site.  Read and leave a comment.

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U.S. Farms Are Growing Money

Check out this blog I posted on the Sanford Journal of Public Policy site.

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Taking A Break

To all of you who have been reading Distant Observer over the past few months, I say thank you. It has been fun to share the news with you since I started this project. I’ll be taking an indefinite break from the blog though. I’m starting grad school next week and need to apply myself to that. I assure you however, that as I feel the urge to comment on the world around us, you will find future posts. They will just be infrequent. Thanks again for all of your support

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What To Do About Social Security

As most people in the United States know, there is an ongoing debate at the state and national level about the future of government spending.  States like Minnesota are in the middle of drawn-out shutdowns while politicians argue about future budgets in an effort to close funding gaps.  This debate is happening at the federal level as well.  Republicans and democrats have a deadline of early next month to produce a national budget or else the country will go into default.  There seem to be two major planks in this argument about how to fund the government: cut entitlements or increase certain taxes.  What this boils down to in some perspectives is eliminate subsidies and loopholes that are exploited by the well to do (increase taxes) or reduce benefits in such programs as Medicare or Social Security (cut entitlements.  What is interesting is that attempts have been made by both major political parties to reform entitlement programs in such a way that benefits received would have been improved while cost would have been reduced. Continue reading

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RIP US Military

Several pieces of news have arisen in the past weeks which, when coupled with past news developments, reveal a clear trend in US martial policy away from traditional military action toward a covert and highly unregulated tactical structure.  In essence, we are witnessing a transition from war fighting conducted by the branches of the Department of Defense to a system of operations performed by the CIA, DOD (through the guise of Joint Special Operations Command), and through mercenaries.  The reasons for and benefits of such a move are numerous.  The roots of this move date back to the fifties but the largest strides in this transition have occurred in the past ten years. Continue reading

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RIP A Bright Future

Below is an article I read on the Popular Science website entitled “Is American Foot-Dragging Pushing the Future Elsewhere?“  This is definitely a poignant description of the status of US investment in research and development, not to mention investment in our own infrastructure.  I suppose we can’t expect much from a nation that would waste a trillion dollars on unnecessary wars but still, some of us in the country would like to continue to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. Continue reading

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Can An Economy Based On Construction Really Work?

Some of the latest reports in the media are focusing on statistics associated with new home construction and foreclosures.  The news points to a slight rise in new home starts and a fall in foreclosures while homebuilder expectations are dropping and consumer confidence is on the decline.  One of the common trends you will find in all these reports is a heavy reliance on construction and home ownership in the U.S. economy.  Sadly, these two acts constitute a major portion of the foundation of our economy, and thus way of life.  The basic premise goes like this: money spent on new home construction is injected near the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy.  The people who work construction-labor jobs pay for goods and services, allowing the money to filter “up” to those who hold higher socio-economic positions.  This money that they accumulate is then spent on larger investments, like high rises or shopping malls, again injecting the money at the lowest level where it can begin its climb back up the social ladder.  This is the general idea of how our economy works.  It is further buttressed by the notion that everybody should own property.  After all, the American Dream tells you to own a house and have some kids.  By buying that house, you become an essential part of the money cycle.  The Circular Flow Diagram has been created to visualize this cycle. Continue reading

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What Do Americans Really Believe In?

While stumbling through the internet, I discovered a blog from last year that breaks down a public opinion poll about what issues are important to Americans.  This survey asked some typical questions and got typical results.  However, the positions that people hold don’t really seem to align with the party they plan to vote for.  As the jobsanger blog says:

People in general do consider the deficit to be a serious problem. In fact 51% would like to see cuts in spending and say they are considering voting Republican in November because of this. But when the poll is broken down into separate issues it becomes clear that these people don’t actually support Republican initiatives — just the Republican idea that cuts must be made.

The blog post continues to break down the responses of a very bipartisan group and found that most people agree with positions currently defended by the democratic party.  This is in contrast to the current political divisions projected by the media.  I encourage you to read the whole posting at jobsanger.  What do you think about these results?

You can download the research poll here.

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