By: Mickey Addison
Open letter to the chairman of the associated press by: Mijael Garrido Lecca
It seems to me that the world powers have double agendas and speeches because nothing seems to be improving in the last few years in world relations. We are witnessing total chaos and selfish diplomatic relations where no one wants to give and are more focused on the gains- and the ones making the most of it is Daesh and other radical groups amongst all this turmoil.
I have always thought that most humans are greedy and selfish by nature and it runs in our DNA. Since the day of the cave man we always needed more food and shelter for our families than our neighbor and more recently more territory and resources for our countries. Nothing has changed, and as a consequence, what is going on with the terror attacks and threats is really alarming and frightening. I grew up in Peru in the 80’s and early 90’s and know the feeling of constant terror and intimidation as we had with the Shining Path and the MRTA.
As in many science fiction movies about our future in planet Earth, human kind might end up destroying each other for a few oil wells and in the near future for water and food. Human population growth is unsustainable unless there is adequate resource management between countries and a fierce determination to work towards planet unity and sustainability above all.
Events are escalating daily and all of this has already impacted the world as we knew it. Financial markets, travel, distrust, pandemics, fear, and instability looms our near future. We better be prepared and hope that rationale prevails over greed and control, for our own sake.
Let’s pray for peace and unity
Grexit has been averted for now. Greece has accepted the terms of the EU and are harsher than the previous ones in the referendum of last week. The situation did backfire for them. After further consideration and outweighing consequences, both sides adapted their proposals and a deal was reached last Sunday. On Greece’s side, the situation is grim, with massive reforms coming their way to restructure the country’s finances and as always the poor and senior citizens will take the burden of the situation. Goods will cost more because of sales tax hikes, all underperforming public companies will be privatized, pensions will be lowered, and many other indicators will be adjusted to meet the terms of the bailout.
This is the third bailout in recent years. The EU and its main leader Germany, was not about to continue financing the good life of the Greeks. Since the introduction of the EU Commonwealth, the smaller economies-such as the Greek- took advantage of the riches that came their way with the creation of this economic block and did pretty much nothing to live within their means and just lived of the tourist industry-which is the main source of income alongside with some olive production- and not diversified to other productive activities. There is really no other big contributor for the economy and it is hurting them.
Germany and France which lead the block were fed up with the situation and particularly Germany said enough. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen as the bad girl in the movie but she had a double obligation, to its people and to the EU. The German people that are extremely austere and that live very much within their means-recently in a survey most Germans said that if they’ve win the Lotto they would save the money compared to other nationalities were would go on a shopping spree, that is how austere they are- said, do not bail any more.
After further consideration from both sides and after Putin’s expression that he would take care of the Greeks, an ultimatum was agreed for now. Putin was probably drooling like a wild beast before making a kill, because of what this opportunity represented for the Russian Federation to annex Greece, in addition of the recent annexation of Crimea by force. It would have been a midfield goal for him, but this was averted for now. Anything can happen really, Greece could receive more money and after not delivering the terms of this ultimatum they could turn to Russia in a couple of years, yet to be seen.
Greece probably also considered the immediate consequences of leaving the Eurozone, sure in the midterm they would’ve been able to somehow stabilize the situation, but in the short term it would’ve been chaos. Huge monetary depreciation- were money is worth less and less by the hour- rampant unemployment, suicides galore, bankruptcies, crime- you name it- and finally, if choosing the Russian option, becoming a 21st century colony of Russia.
The days of “La vida Facil” are over. It is not the Greeks peoples fault but of their leaders and public policies that have led them to this situation. This way of life has been going on for a while and people just went along for the ride and being good tourists hosts and having a good life in the Mediterranean. It is not Germany and France’s fault either. The EU cannot afford this type of economies anymore. The world’s economy cannot afford this type of monetary behaviors either, the easy days are over and volatility is immense now that all markets are interconnected.
* Athens is burning right now, looks like it is going to be a long and hard recovery.
“Greece fell asleep in their Olympic laurels, it is time to rise again like the Phoenix”
“Terrorism, corruption, drug cartels feed from each, the scum of this earth”
It is pretty sad to see what is going on in Syria and Iraq today, all efforts to stop ISIS in these countries have been in vain. The most recent news that they are now controlling a very large part of Iraq’s territory and specially that they have overtaken control of the city of Ramadi-only eighty miles from Bagdad- is very worrisome. The Iraqi army fled this important city despite having a larger number of troops on the ground and leaving behind equipment that the US had supplied. In addition, if you consider that in this Iraqi province 1,300 American troops lost their life during the Iraqi war, now after all the sacrifice this area has been lost to the terrorist group that recently is definitely winning the war against the civilized world. I say civilized world, because this group is a barbaric organization committing atrocious crimes which are indescribable and possess the least amount of human dignity and compassion towards life. On the other hand, in Syria they have recently captured the ancient city of Palmyra which holds 2,000 year old Roman ruins and are feared to be destroyed by the group like they have done in the past with precious objects dating thousands of years old. In other words, they are expanding their reach and the US and the regional allies are currently scrambling to see what to do next, all of this as I am writing this. Every day that goes by, the bigger the threat because of the momentum they are gaining.
This organization is not only causing problems in this part of the world but they are recruiting and forming followers around the world with their crazy ideology through the internet. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of unhappiness around the world because of lack of opportunity and ways of making a living. The IMF has mentioned this to be one of the main problems-income inequality- that threaten our way of life and that has been covered in this blog before. It makes sense that a small portion of people around the world are desperate enough to fall under this recruiting spell and fanatization process that takes them to delusional fantasies and idyllic worlds that don’t exist. Most people would never perform the types of crimes that we are seeing today, but the world is a very large place and there is always room for a few adepts that pose a great threat to all of us. We are seeing many episodes of this in the last few months-Canada, Belgium, US, France- and every day is a constant battle to stay ahead of these threats.
The world economy is deteriorating, China is decelerating-because of its own model flaws- Europe is stagnant and some of its members are at risk of default, the US has apparent economic health but I have a feeling that all of this sense of recovery is just a patch as if we were keeping the patient alive with medication and in life support but the real sickness is still there because the drastic necessary steps to fix the problem from its root have not been performed. There are signs everywhere that the real problems have not been addressed because there are too large and no one has the capacity or will to address them because of the political cost and everything is short term fixed. For a political candidate that is only in office for a relatively short time, what is the easiest way out, fixing the mega problems or just playing the game by making a comfortable living thanks to the tax payers money and in many cases receiving contributions from lobbyists that expect a favor in exchange. It is in the news every day. This scenario is unable to fix the mega problems as I said and the outcome of all of this can’t be good.
The large banks and insurance companies that created the last crisis of 2008 are still as large, almost as unregulated as they were and no one went to prison for all the fraud and damaged created, just as an example of what goes on. The real problems have been accumulating for a long time and there is no fix in sight. There is already some turmoil here in the US in some cities and around the world, and if you add the lone wolfs fanatized by terrorist groups with destructive ideas trying to deploy terrorist acts, it seems to me that we are losing the war so far. I hope I am wrong.
The nuclear treaty that the US is trying to sign with Iran is causing some of the countries in the Middle East to start looking sideways towards the US- they are not comfortable with this scenario. I’m not judging the final product, but is certainly a dicey situation and one that really needs our utmost attention with the current scenario that looms in the neighborhood. We’ve had many international diplomatic blunders in the past and we need to make sure we are making the best effort to benefit the majority in the Middle East and the world. This treaty is coinciding with the big coalition the US has to lead to defeat ISIS as we speak, it will take a joint effort and many years to come from what I saw in yesterday’s news.
South America is looking very negative as well. Everywhere you look there are violent crimes related in many cases with huge drug trafficking issues, which translate into big corruption and democracies that are going in the wrong direction. For many years there were fears that the big cartels from Mexico and elsewhere could corrupt the system to such extent that a large part of the economy could be traced to money laundering, unfortunately the reality today is that this is very much the case. There is just too much money laundering going on and too many authorities just looking the other way because of bribes or fear. In addition, most countries right now have ties in one way or another to Venezuela which under the godfathering of Cuba, have continued their vision of forming a large great Bolivarian continent one that is not too fond of transparent democracy and financed with their oil and now with capital from dubious sources. It is actually surreal what is going on right now. Presidents that keep reelecting themselves or passing the torch to a relative, a spouse or the next in line from the party. All financed in the last decade from Caracas with massive amounts of capital flying around with no accountability and no one goes to jail unless you are the opposition. I wouldn’t generalize the situation in South America 100%, but probably more than half the countries are in this boat and the trend is not good. Finally, if you think about it, this clan of leadership is allied with countries that have ties to terrorism like Syria, Iran, Russia, North Korea and China to a lesser extent, but one that is really trying to surpass the US as the number one power and really they are not our true allies. In Venezuela’s case, most recently the ties with narco traffic has come to light which is nothing to be surprised about.
This battles require a world joint effort and will take years to solve, if ever…
Some of the infrastructure here in the U.S. is in need of replacement or improvement/overhauled to keep our economy going. Most of our large infrastructure was built during the expansion years of the early 20th century when the country had its meteoric growth and positioned itself as the world’s most dominant economy. Credit has to be given to government officials- both federal and local- for their vison in designing and building the infrastructure that helped consolidate the country as a world power. Without the vision for the development of this infrastructure-like the interstate highway system, colossal bridges, seaports and airports- expansion of the economy in terms of jobs and GDP would not have been possible.
Back then, the country was young and had small debt, so incurring in more debt was no issue, but as a consequence to all this expansion debt has increased substantially and today the US is the largest debtor in the world. We have constant scares in Washington about the fiscal cliff and the default of foreign debt when politicians use this as a way to negotiate their party interests. That is how close things are today in terms of budget constraints and being able to come up with capital for the many projects that we have today is a major challenge. The days when the federal government assumed 100% percent of the bill for capital spending are mostly gone and is the reason why things are stagnant and not much progress seems to be achieved and the years go by. Politics is another reason why projects aren’t executed in a diligent way and there is constant bickering over where the money is going to come from to cover issues like defense spending, Obama care, immigration, jobs creation, Social Security, VA system and infrastructure.
The future for our infrastructure is to be developed in a joint way between the federal/state governments and the private sector with long term projects. The list of infrastructure needed is available today and we know what is required, but the question is how to pay for it and how to get politicians to move forward like they did in the last century. Now that the economy is in decent shape-depending on who you ask- we need to start prioritizing which projects go to the Federal government-mainly large ones- which ones for the state level and which ones for private equity and/or joint ventures. This is a national commitment we need, in the same way that we had in the early 20th century that enabled the country to prosper. When I say joint ventures, I mean that all parties involved will share the bill. The general public is also going to have to assume some of the cost of some of the projects via tolls and/or revise the gas tax. Since the price of gasoline has decreased dramatically, the situation is even more dire because revenue is down from the gas tax and there are less resources to fix roads and bridges. After viewing the State of the Union speech last week, President Obama mentioned infrastructure among other things and that we need more cooperation between politicians to move forward, the problem seems that there is more talk than action.
One example of a piece of infrastructure need to be replaced is the Portal rail bridge over the Hackensack river in New Jersey, carries over 450 trains a day and more than 150,000 passengers. The railroad bridge is the busiest in the western hemisphere, it is 104 years old, its replacement costs almost a billion dollars and it is a big bottleneck for commuters and the economy. Everybody knows it needs replacement, but until now it is still a project.
The Dingman’s Ferry Bridge over the Delaware river is a beautiful example on how private enterprise can take care of some projects. This toll bridge is over 100 years old and is owned and operated by the Dingmans Choice and Delaware Bridge Company. It has a toll of $1 and performs its own maintenance each year.
My post of last October 29th “Made in USA”, requires infrastructure update and replacement to compete in the globalized economy. We need to be competitive and we have been too passive recently because of the amount of problems we have faced recently as a nation. We are currently in a great position to start this endeavor because our economy is on the upswing, our troops are returning home and defense spending will be more targeted than ever and we are not involved in major wars anymore. We need infrastructure that will create jobs. We need to take care of our veterans in the VA system and also transition them into civilian life by providing jobs for them.
Finally, one great example of cooperation between the government and the private sector is the space industry. NASA con no longer afford to fly alone so many projects are being developed and outsourced with the private sector and the industry is booming right now. Everyday more and more companies are working with the government and on their own to reach far away galaxies. That is way to move forward.
Space, the final frontier…