Saturday, December 24, 2011

United States Once with World's Largest Percentage of College Graduates, Now we Rank 14th

Fareed Zakaria is one of the very few in the mainstream press that not only criticizes what's going on in our society but has solutions:

The answer is pretty clear. Only five years ago, American infrastructure used to be ranked in the top 10 by the World Economic Forum. Now we're 24th. U.S. air infrastructure has gone from 12th in the world to 31st - roads from eighth to 20th.

The drop in human capital is even greater than the drop in physical capital. The United States used to have the world's largest percentage of college graduates. We're now number 14, according to the most recent OECD data, and American students routinely rank toward the bottom of the developed world in international tests.

The situation in science education is more drastic. Even with the increase in college attendance over the past two decades, there were fewer engineering and engineering technologies graduates in 2009 (84,636) than in 1989 (85,002). Research and development spending has risen under Obama, but the basic trend has been downward for two decades. In percentage terms, the federal share of research spending - which funds basic science - is half of what it was in the 1950s.

In other words, the big shift in the United States over the past two decades is not a rise in regulations and taxation but a decline in investment - in physical and human capital. And investment is the crucial locomotive of long-term growth. In our interview, Michael Spence, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, pointed out that the United States got out of the Great Depression because of the spending associated with World War II but also because during the war, the U.S. dramatically reduced its consumption and expanded investments. People spent less; they saved more and bought war bonds. That surge in investment - by people and government - produced a generation of growth after the war.

If we want the next generation of growth, we need a similarly serious strategy of investment.
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Synagogue Welcomes Homeless with Christmas Tree

Christmas isn't about material things. It's spiritual:

Congregation Beth Shalom is continuing its annual practice of placing a Christmas tree inside the Oak Park synagogue to welcome the homeless of various faiths.

The Detroit Free Press reports ( ) Saturday that the synagogue allows clients of the South Oakland Shelter to use its kitchen, classrooms and Youth Lodge through Monday as churches that participate throughout the year in the program are busy with their own activities over the Christmas holiday.
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Will a Reelected President Obama Face More Gridlock in 2013?

The answer is simple: yes. Why would it be any different. Even when the Democrats had a large majority in both House of Congress in 2009 very little got accomplished that we could consider beneficial to the country. As for the "change" we were promised. It doesn't seem like much has changed. The problem is Obama himself. We have a President who is clearly in over his head. He's also not motivated, like Clinton, in principals. It's all about ego and self promotion. His gift is in winning elections. That's it. He sold his soul to get elected in 2008. And his agenda, like his predecessors is pay back the wealthy donors that funded his election victories. That's the name of this corrupt game:

President Obama may have slightly boosted his reelection chances by outmaneuvering the Republicans on the payroll-tax-cut extension. But after a year of Beltway paralysis, that deal simply preserves the status quo for a mere two months—the latest sign of the capital’s utter dysfunction.

So is there any reason to believe that Obama would fare better in a second term?

More of the same is not appealing. Yet for Obama to govern with any degree of success, he would need either a big electoral upset—with Democrats regaining the House and maintaining a nominal hold on the Senate—or a chastened Republican Party, newly open to cooperation and willing to set aside the all-or-nothing brinkmanship that has defined its strategy.

The prospect of four more years of gridlock while Obama looks on from the sidelines will hardly energize voters already disappointed by the president’s performance. For now, Obama is benefiting by standing apart from an institution whose approval rating is 11 percent, but mastering the legislative process is a big part of the job of being president, and while Obama squeezed major legislation through Congress in his first two years, this last year has been a disaster all around.
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Gingrich Fails to Qualify for Va. Primary Ballot

This proves that Gingrich was never a serious threat to win the nomination. He won't win Iowa which would truly end any chance he ever had of challenging Mitt Romney:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has failed to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 Republican primary, a development that complicates his bid to win the GOP presidential nomination.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday on its Twitter website.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also fell short of the 10,000 signatures of registered voters required for a candidate’s name to be on the primary ballot, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot.
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Troops, Protesters Clash in Yemeni Capital

It was naive to believe that the rulers in Yemen would give up power simply because of some toothless agreement. There had to have been more restrictions on the military. There also had to have been the threat of international war crime trials if the the agreements were not adhered to. In addition, the opposition would have to had a promise of some kind of support if the agreement had been ignored by the government:

Yemen's powerful Republican Guard forces opened fire with guns, tear gas and water cannons Saturday at a march by more than 100,000 protesters demanding that the outgoing president be put on trial.

The protesters were attacked as they entered the capital Sanaa after marching for four days from Taiz, a city that has been a major opposition center 170 miles to the south. The first of its kind protest was called the March of Life and aimed to put pressure on the country's new government not to grant Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution.

The violence underlined the continuing turmoil in Yemen even after Saleh signed a U.S.- and Saudi-backed deal last month by which he handed his powers to his vice president and committed to step down completely in return for immunity.

Protesters who rallied by the thousands for the past nine months rejected the deal, demanding Saleh be tried for his bloody crackdown on their movement.

At the same time, Saleh has seemed to continue to exercise influence through his relatives and loyalists still in their positions, even after Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi formed a unity government between the opposition and ruling party. Forces loyal to Saleh have defied orders to withdrew from the streets of Sanaa after a deadline was reached Saturday to do so.
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