Having a Little More, in Cuba and Abroad

Nonardo Perea

Warhol-PHAVANA TIMES — I know several people who have never had a break in life. When I say “break”, I mean a good life. What’s a good life? For many, having a good life consists in the possibility of obtaining and having anything one wishes, material things, that is.

I have come up with a short list of things that would supposedly make mortals – those living in Cuba and elsewhere, where we can allegedly make our dreams come true – happy.

  • A house with several rooms, a pretty view and – of course – a swimming pool.
  • A car
  • A TV (ideally the latest model) in every room of the house.
  • An amazing kitchen
  • A DVD player
  • The latest cell phone
  • A lot of clothes (if they’re brand-clothes, so much the better – we would spend a little more, but it would make us happier).
  • An excellent job
  • A fantastic salary
  • Good furniture, and the possibility of changing it regularly.
  • Computers, for playing games
  • A stereo
  • Air conditioning
  • Refrigerators

The list could go on, but I don’t want to overwhelm readers.

It doesn’t matter if we don’t know how to write or speak well in Spanish or English, let alone that we are oblivious to the fact thousands of people – including children, women and elders – are being killed right now in stupid wars provoked by a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (amen). It doesn’t matter if we don’t know who wrote the The Little Prince, and so on and so forth. What the better part of society cares about today is the ability to buy, to buy again and to always have a little bit more.

Having a little bit more – and more – gives us a sense of security. We consume, we recycle, we consume again, we recycle again. Time passes and we never stop to ask ourselves what will happen after we have everything we supposedly need, all those things that are as essential to us as oxygen (though many never actually get to have what they dreamed of, neither in Cuba nor elsewhere, where many say there are more possibilities).

Nothing, nothing happens, because, in the end, everything becomes monotonous, like the impulse to look at one’s mobile phone all the time, to see whether someone has called you at your new, cutting-edge phone. Big deal! And we’re on the lookout for the latest model, and it doesn’t matter how expensive it is, we want to have it at all costs, because it’s the latest thing out there, and that’s how we spend our whole lives, becoming more and more insensitive. We are so caught up in the race to have more and more that we unwittingly turn our backs on those who have nothing.

Those who don’t have much are freer. They only think about having what they need to get by, not in having more and more – things that, in the end, as in a fairy tale, will all turn to dust.

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.


20 thoughts on “Having a Little More, in Cuba and Abroad

  • October 17, 2014 at 10:19 am
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    Hahaha! Personally, I have dealt with this sort of thing all my life. Once Obama has turned the ‘ship of state’ around economically, the vanguard of the past want to change the rules. This new measure of the unemployment rate may indeed be valid, but against the measure used to judge all of Obama’s predecessors the current unemployment rate is 5.90%. Obama, against the wishes of a majority of his own party, pushed a stimulus package in 2009 that in hindsight proved to a vital tool needed to bring the US economy and by definition, the world’s economy from the brink of collapse. He allowed banks “too big to fail” to continue to feed at the public trough when his political minders told him to do otherwise. Today, there are 30 million Americans who have health coverage who did not have it only one year ago. During his administration, the US has not invaded a single country, especially none other false pretenses. Fewer Americans in uniform have died in combat under his administration than under his predecessor. Student loan rates, Griffin, have dropped by half. Crime rates continues to fall, especially violent crime. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in years. C’mon, give this President the credit he deserves where he deserves it. By the way, those “investment experts” you cite who have owned 401K funds since 2008 have seen these funds increase in value by an average of 80% during the Obama administration. That’s real money and there is no lack of substance in those accounts.

  • October 17, 2014 at 9:04 am
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    I appreciate your pride of “firsts” among African Americans (although sadly, Tiger Woods turned out to be a bit of a jerk in his private life). There are several more “firsts” you could add to that list, including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. One of my favourite first is Michaëlle Jean. Born in Haiti, she emigrated to Canada as a child where she eventually became our Governor General (although a largely ceremonial position, the GG is technically our head-of-state). I had the pleasure of meeting her once, and can say she is a gracious and intelligent woman, not to mention strikingly beautiful. Here’s a photo of her greeting a visitor to Ottawa: http://www.bmorenews.com/bm~pix/michaelle-jean-and-barack-obama~s600x600.jpg

    And one last first: Dr. Ben Carson. He has several firsts in his career in medicine, will he be first for the Republican Party?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-10-15/carsons-longshot-presidential-bid-suddenly-looks-a-lot-more-realistic

  • October 17, 2014 at 8:44 am
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    I presented my arguments which you dismiss as partisan sniping. So here is a list of links you can read from people who actually worked for President Obama and know very well what happened, why it happened and what the problems will be.

    Obama ignores Leon Panetta’s warning – Washington Post
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/marc-thiessen-obama-ignores-leon-panettas-warning/2014/1006/c32e2bd0-4d5c-11e4-babe-e91da079cb8a_story.html

    Criticism Over Troop Withdrawal Emerges From Beyond GOP http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/05/world/asia/criticism-over-troop-withdrawal-emerges-from-beyond-gop.html?_r=0

    I could go on, as there are many similar articles out there. Neither the Washington Post nor the NYT are known as rabidly partisan, anti-Obama, Tea Party news sources.

    This is the problem with Obama’s approach, which he has repeated time and again. In Iraq, Obama pulled all US troops out of Iraq far too quickly. The result was a power vacuum. Maliki, who was supported by the US government despite warnings that he would become too sectarian, arrested his opponents and pursued a sectarian pro-Shia regime in Baghdad. This proved fertile ground for a resurgence of extremist Sunni militias which eventually coalesced around ISIS.

    In Libya, Obama insisted “no boots on the ground” in support of the NATO air power which destroyed Gadaffi’s armour. Unfortunately, the lack of US troops left Libya’s vast stock of RPGs, MANPADs, AK47s and other light weapons free to the taker, and the treasure trove of terrorist arsenal is now in the hands of radial Islamist terrorists. The fragile civil government in Libya has little power beyond Tripoli and radical Islamists now control most of the country.

    In Syria, Obama refused to help the pro-democracy activists. As protests against the Assad regime mounted, he insisted on calling the Syrian dictator a “reformer”. By the time the civil war broke out in full flame, the anti-Syrian forces no longer trusted the US to help them and they turned instead to increasingly more radical Islamist factions. You can’t turn a brutal dictator into a reformer simply by calling him one.

    A couple weeks ago, Obama announced his strategy for dealing with ISIS, in which he pointed to the fight against rebels in Yemen as an example of this successful strategy. A few days later, the pro-Iranian rebels overran the Yemeni capital. Oops.

    Do you see the pattern here? Obama espouses an idealized world in which everybody is supposed to work toward peaceful resolution of conflicts, because that’s the nice thing to do. He ignores the fact there are some seriously deadly people out there who have no interest in reconciliation. They want to win and are willing to do anything to do so. Making concessions toward extremists does not gain their trust and soften their position: it earns their contempt and strengthens their resolve to continue as they have. Naive idealism might be sound appealing in the faculty lounge or around cocktail parties in California, but in the real world such ideas are mocked.

    And how’s that “Reset” with Russia going? As the Russian Foreign Secretary said to his boss after meeting Obama for the first time, “We can steal his pants!” Contrary to Warhol’s assertion that Obama “provoked” the war in Ukraine, he invited it by projecting weakness. Throughout history, Russian foreign policy has always been cautious in the face of strength, expansive in the face of weakness. Putin is true to form.

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Russia. Repeating the same policy over and over again while hoping for different results is not just a failure to learn from mistakes, it’s borderline delusional.

    As Obama’s own top generals have outlined in the links I provided above, the same thing will happen in Afghanistan. The politicians and the people know the US will not be around to protect them. They also know the Taliban will be around waiting. So the Afghani people will decide to save their lives and place their allegiances accordingly. The Taliban will return to power.

    The situation in the Middle East is worse than it has been in decades. Although Obama is not the cause of these problems which run back years, decades and even centuries, the US does have a constructive role to play in promoting stability and security in the region. I believe Obama has seriously failed to do so through his ineffectual approach to the region’s problems.

    Iran is on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons, while pro-Iranian regimes now hold power in Baghdad & Damascus, and their proxy terrorists groups control large swaths of territory in Yemen & Lebanon. The Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey, Qatar and the UAE are openly criticizing Obama’s approach and quietly whispering their contempt for President Obama. This is why these conservative Sunni states have taken to backing radical Islamist groups like ISIS as a counterweight to Iran and the growing Shia axis: they do not trust the US to do anything.

    Nature may abhor a vacuum, but war and chaos love it.

  • October 17, 2014 at 8:04 am
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    The interpretation of many investment experts is that the stock market boom was an asset bubble fuelled by exceedingly low interest rates and quantitative easing. The correction we are seeing today demonstrates the lack of substance behind the market growth.

    The real unemployment rate is much higher that the reported figures. This is not to say the reported figures are outright lies, but that they are taken from a narrow statistical perspective which ignores the shrinking labor participation rates, the growing number of people in part-time jobs and the record number of people who have been granted a “disability” designation, and are thus removed from the unemployed side of the ledger.

    Read “Tackling The Real Unemployment Rate: 12.6%”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/louisefron/2014/08/20/tackling-the-real-unemployment-rate-12-6/

    So in fact, the actual state of the economy is the opposite of what you claim it is, and I do indeed give Obama plenty of credit for it.

  • October 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm
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    It is called a “market” because prices go up and down. If prices only went up, it would be called the stock “rocket”. Besides, so far it is only a market correction. The market is still more than double the March 2008 low of 6547. According to sources, Fed Chairman Yellen said yesterday that the economy looked to be on track to achieve growth of around 3 percent. She also saw inflation eventually rising back to the Fed’s 2 percent target as unemployment falls further. Housing prices continue to go up slowly as do new home mortgages. The US economy is still expanding, albeit slowly. Of course, you won’t give Obama ANY credit for this. I would bet dollars for donuts that if the economic outlook were reversed, you would be full of blame for the President. He just can’t catch a break.

  • October 16, 2014 at 11:06 am
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    Obama rejected the proposed compromise because it was less than full immunity. For American soldiers, that is unacceptable. It is patently untrue that Obama wanted ALL soldiers out of Iraq. Reports which claim otherwise are simply partisan sniping. Obama was very clear that COMBAT operations would end. He has been just as clear about this with regards to Afghanistan. There is no confusion here. The US military, the most sophisticated in the world, is multifaceted. Combat troops have a specific mission: to seek out and kill the enemy. Support personnel are tasked quite differently. It appears the confusion may lie with your understanding of what soldiers do in peacetime operations. Obama left Iraq with a democratically-elected government in place. Iraq’s President squandered this opportunity by creating a sectarian government that alienated the Sunnis. The US was under no illusion that violence would not continue once US combat troops has left Iraq. Indeed, US taxpayers spent billons of dollars training the Iraqi army on peacekeeping operations. However, al-Maliki used the Army to hand out political favors and despoiled moral and esprit de corps creating a vacuum that encouraged the advance of ISIS. With regards to Afghanistan, you could not be more wrong. By announcing our departure, Obama put Afghani forces on notice that they must be ready to defend their country. In the past, such forces became over-reliant on America to provide eternal aid and, quite frankly, Americans no longer wish to babysit those countries that don’t wish to take care of their own. Our relationships are costly and must be entered into judiciously. Obama did the right thing politically to convince the American people that we would not be expending blood and treasure in Afghanistan into perpetuity. Based solely on party registration, Democrats have a national advantage. It is not the messaging from the Democrats that convinces single women and minorities to reject the Republican platform, it is Republicans themselves who vote against school lunches for children, extending unemployment benefits, raising the minimum wage, and women’s health issues that convince poor and minority voters which party is most interested in meeting their needs. Both parties have their share of skeletons in the closet. This will have no bearing in 2016. What people will want in 2016, as they wanted in 2008 and 2012 is hope. Republicans peddle fear. So far, no possible republican contender polls higher than Hilary Clinton because she remains the candidate that seems to connect best with the real face of America. The Romneys, and the McCains of the Republican party look less and less like the America who votes. Increased Latino registration will disproportionately swell the Democrat voting rolls. Until Reeps figure out how to get racism and sexism and elitism out of their message, they will never again win the White House. I agree with your assessment of how history will view Obama’s administration. However, he will forever be the first African-American President and in your household that may seem insignificant. But, in my household of brown faces, his success encourages my two boys in inmeasurable ways. Just as Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Sidney Poiter, Tiger Woods, my mom (first black university professor at a major southern California university) and so many other “firsts”. In a society where it is not safe to be Black and be pulled over for a simple traffic stop, these things are very important. Thanks for the links by the way.

  • October 16, 2014 at 9:12 am
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    Perhaps Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman picked a bad week to praise Obama handling of the economy. The US stock markets have just tanked, wiping out all the growth of the past year.

  • October 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm
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    Alright, we can kick this can back and forth all day.

    Panetta did not forget that stumbling block, he addressed it directly. According to his book, the Iraqis had offered a compromise solution but Obama had rejected it as it gave him the excuse he wanted to get all the troops out as soon as possible. The Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by GW Bush in the last months of his administration included a contingent of US troops to stay behind after the withdrawal of the bulk of the forces. Obama campaigned in 2008 against leaving even those troops in Iraq. He wanted them all out.

    So please, stop arguing that Obama pulled the troops out as fast as he could because that’s what the US voters wanted, and yet at the same time he tried to keep some troops in Iraq but the Iraqis wouldn’t let him. You just sound confused when you do that.

    Plus, he didn’t end the war in Iraq, he merely quit it. The war continued for Iraqis, spread to Syria and has now been rejoined by Americans. Therefore it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that Obama’s Iraq policy has been a failure. As of today, the war in Iraq is not ended and US troops are back in the country. Those were the two things he promised to do, and by his own criteria, he has failed to do them. So please, stop arguing that Obama ended the war in Iraq. You sound delusional when you do that.

    On Afghanistan, Obama’s pre announced date for removing all US troops has been criticized by several retired US generals. It was a disastrously stupid thing for the C-inC to do, and the Afghani people will pay the price for it. That war will not end when US troops leave, it will get worse.

    I don’t know who will be on the ticket in 2016, but the next President of the USA is very likely to be a Republican, although not necessarily a white male. Not because the GOP is a better party or has a better candidate, but because after 8 years of a failed Democratic administration, the American people will chose a change. Obama won re-election on the slimmest of margins of the popular vote, and it won’t take a huge shift to hand the White House to the GOP.

    The Republicans are neither anti-woman nor anti-minority, but that is the spin the Democrats like to put on them. It’s ironic to see the Party that founded the KKK, and the party of serial sexual predators Ted Kennedy & Bill Clinton, can get off calling the Republicans racist and anti-woman, but such is the ignorance and short attention span of the average American voter.

    You are quite correct that the popularity of President Obama has risen and fallen according to the immediacy of events. This was true of past Presidents, too. In the long run, a more reasonable assessment of his administration will be formed. He won’t be seen as bad as his worst critics say, nor will he be seen as great as his biggest supporters. His administration will likely be seen as a lost opportunity, of high hopes and low achievement.

    By the way, do you know which US President (post WWII) had the highest ever approval ratings? And which one had the lowest? Harry S Truman, on both counts, now considered an above average President, but not a great one. Do you know who had the 2nd highest approval ratings ever? George W Bush. I think you would agree that approval ratings must be taken with a large grain of salt and placed in the proper perspective. In the long run, they don’t mean much. Results do. I don’t see that President Obama has achieved many positive results. The economy remains fragile, his foreign policy is tatters and his signal domestic policy achievement, ObamaCare, is unpopular with a majority of Americans.

    PS: His approval rating among US military is at 32%.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/05/28/see-the-reception-obama-received-from-the-u-s-military-academy-that-cnn-anchor-says-is-pretty-icy/

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2011/05/obama-gallup-troops-approval-low.html

  • October 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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    Griffin, I am surprised to read how misinformed your comment appears. Obama campaigned on the promise to pull “combat” troops from Iraq. Nonetheless, his administration did request of the new Iraqi President permission to leave a sizable force in Iraq to help stabilize the new government. While al-Maliki agreed to the size of the force, he did not agree to provide American forces with immunity from prosecution. The US could not force Iraq to agree to this and without it, US forces could not stay in country. It is unfortunate that Panetta seems to have forgotten this major stumbling block or worse, has chosen to ignore it. I suppose it helps to sell more books these days when you criticize the President. Blaming Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is vastly different that the extent of the deficit in 8 years as there are many influencers beyond the control of this administration in the ensuing years. Clinton left office with a surplus in the US Treasury and 8 years later, Bush left office with the highest deficit in US history. Yes, I think another President might have not pulled the trigger. Clinton had a shot at Bin Laden during his administration and decided the time wasn’t right. I like the fact that Obama deliberates before making big decisions. He is only a man, like you and I, with more responsibility than a man should have so if he takes his time to decide important matters and even changes his mind as he did in Syria, I see that as positive. By the way, I have never heard the criticism that Obama is anti-military. Moreover, I have never seen any polling about Obama popularity among military members. I will look it up for myself but it doesn’t sound right. The demographics of the military tend would appear to support Obama not reject him. A recession is generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters. The US recession, by definition, ended last year. Please clarify what you mean by suggesting otherwise. Likewise, your comment regarding out of control inflation is confusing. The Fed Chairwoman has clearly spoken out that she hopes to begin putting on the brakes to avoid just the situation you suggest. So far she has done well and Wall Street has largely agreed with her, notwithstanding the recent market corrections. Finally, by “old white guy” I mean to imply that America no longer looks like the old Ozzie and Harriet TV series of the early 1960s. Actually, it never did. Obama represented a cultural shift in how America sees itself and how we want the world to see us. Bush and his would-be successor McCain and, four years later, Romney “look” like America’s past. Not just in terms of race but also gender and economic privilege. Keep in mind that 2011 represented the first year in US history that more non-white babies were born in the US than white babies. California is a majority minority state. This is not to reduce politics to race alone but it does say that issues involving race and culture will have greater weight in US politics in the future. Obama’s current popularity has suffered but I suggest that through the prism of time his Presidency with be measured far more favorably.

  • October 15, 2014 at 9:22 am
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    It’s funny to read how you give credit to Obama for pulling the troops out of Iraq, when only a few weeks ago, Obama himself was insisting it wasn’t his decision, that the Iraqi government insisted all the US troops leave. Of course, during the election campaign, he boasted that it was his decision.

    It’s really funny to read how you pre-emptively insist the next president not blame Obama for the after effects of his policies. That’s richly ironic, don’t you think, considering how Obama routinely blames Bush for the mess he inherited?

    It’s embarrassing to read your frankly racial excuse for electing Obama because he “didn’t look like …an old white guy”. Compared to John McCain, Obama was young, dynamic, smart, eloquent, and perhaps of a more even temperament. People were also tired of the Republicans, and the Democrats represented a change. I wasn’t aware that one of the reasons people voted for him was because of his race. Perhaps I don’t understand how racism in America works.

    If you believe Obama is only party to blame for his failed policies, then you must ask yourself why so many Democrats are avoiding him like the plague during this mid-term election cycle. He has never been good at calling up congress and lining up support for his policies. Clinton was a genius at this. Even Bush had some talent in this direction. As one Democratic congressman lamented, Obama acts like it’s beneath him to call up his fellow Democrats on the Hill to get a bill passed.

    You misunderstood my criticism of Obama’s failure to close Gitmo. I disagree with him making the pledge in the first place. It was of typical of the left in America to call for such things without thinking through the reasons for the policy in the first place, and the consequences of changing that policy in such a hasty manner. Obama could not convince even his own party of the scheme, which suggests the idea was deeply flawed. No US state, whether with Republican or a Democratic governor, wanted to take the detainees from Gitmo. Obama discovered there was a reason a place like Gitmo exited and that the US would need it for a while yet. Many of the detainees he has release have gone back to jihad.

    It’s worth noting, that rather than capture more terrorists and add to the population at Gitmo, Obama has expanded the targeted assassination program carried out with drone strikes. There’s no need to send dead terrorists to Gitmo. Problem solved?

    Do you seriously suggest that another US president would not have okayed the Seal Team Six mission to kill Bin Laden? Of course they would. But the 18 hours he spent huddled with Valerie Jarrett before approving the mission indicates where Obama’s priorities lay. By all means, as you say, give credit where it’s due. Credit goes to Seal Team Six, not the C-in-C who agonized over an order which was a no-brainer. There is a reason why Obama’s approval numbers among US service men & women is shockingly low: he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t appreciate them, and they know it.

    Yes, Obama inherited a large debt, and a recession. Then he doubled the debt, and the recession lives on. The unemployment figures quoted refer to those still officially looking for work. They do not include those who stopped looking. Also significant is the large number of people who have taken part-time work, the under-employed. This method of reporting statistics has been around for a while, during Bush & Clinton and before. But ever since Obama has been in office, the headlines proclaim encouraging numbers each quarter, which are inevitably “corrected” a few weeks later, buried in the back pages. And still the recession lingers on, the longest recovery in US history.

    The low interest rates and quantitative easing have spurred the stock market, but they have not revived the US economy much beyond Wall Street and Washington DC. Keep in mind, a key phase of Obama’s economic policy begins when inflation does start. The plan is to initiate an era of moderate inflation in order to inflate away the massive debt. The $18 trillion debt will shrink in real dollar terms if inflation can be managed between 5 to 7%. Of course, every American’s savings account will also shrink, which is a nice way to tax wealth. The risk is whether or not inflation can be managed to stay at that moderate level. If they miscalculate and the inflation rates soar, then the US economy is in for a very rough ride. Of course, the Chinese & Japanese banks won’t be too thrilled to see the return on their loans to the US economy shrink so much.

    Now, I do not blame Obama for the existence of ISIS, or al Qaeda or the Taliban. Nor do I blame him for provoking Putin’s war in Ukraine, as Warhol suggested. The problem is his response to these threats. Many observers, including Obama’s former Secretary of Defence and Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta have criticized Obama for pulling the troops out of Iraq too soon which lead to a power vacuum into which ISIS has stepped. I do not believe Leon Panetta is a member of the Tea Party is he?

  • October 15, 2014 at 1:36 am
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    Again, you make my point. Had he decided after 18 hours of deliberation to cancel the Seal team mission and the press got wind that we had Bin Linden in our sights and Obama declined to give the kill order, you likely would, like many others, put the blame on him. Yet, when he does give the order you choose to give the credit elsewhere. He was elected by a solid majority of Americans, in part, on his campaign promise to “end American combat” in Iraq and later in Afghanistan. He is fulfilling a campaign promise. I have read here at HT where you have been critical of Obama for his inability to close Guantanamo, another campaign promise. So once again, when he does what he said he would do in Iraq, you won’t give him the credit and when he fails in Cuba, even though closing Guantanamo is being blocked by the Reeps in Congress, you choose to blame him alone. The deficit is smaller by a HALF. The CBO estimate is conservatively based on a slow growth scenario. Between now and then there are many other factors which will impact the extent of the future deficit. Besides, 8 years from now is another administration. Surely, you aren’t going to blame Obama for what MAY go wrong in the future as well. The Feds easy money policy is a good thing. It stimulates growth. As long as inflation is low, it should continue. Not just for the US economy but for the world. Cheap US bonds makes it easier to stabilize foreign markets. Foreign debt is benchmarked against US debt and the cheaper the US market is the cheaper foreign debt is. German, Chinese and Brazilian businesses get cheaper loans in their own countries as a result of current Fed policies. If you trusted the unemployment rate calculation under Clinton and Bush, you should trust these numbers. Same calculations. The long-term unemployed, as in those who aren’t even looking for a job is statistically insignificant to the overall rate. Don’t believe the hype Less than 1% the available work force is in that category. I agree that debt is an issue but Obama inherited that problem. Bush decided to finance two wars. If the most important qualification for the job as President was political skills, then McCain should have won and Romney should have won. But Americans wanted to get out of Iraq, we wanted universal health insurance and we wanted a President who did not look like nearly all the previous Presidents before him. A old white guy. We got what we wanted at the time. Buyer’s remorse, maybe, but Obama has largely done what he said he would do. Where he has failed he is only in part to blame. Between the Tea Party and Islamic militant extremists, this President can’t catch a break.

  • October 14, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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    I intended only to counter Warhol’s silly claim that Obama had provoked these wars. He did not. However, since you asked:

    Obama did not kill Bin Laden. Seal Team Six did. Obama took 18 hours to come to the decision to approve the mission when they found him.

    Pulling troops out of an ongoing war is not ending the war, it’s giving up and squandering the sacrifices in blood and treasure already expended. When Obama pre-announced the date when he will pull the troops out of Afghanistan he effectively surrendered the country to the Taliban. The Taliban are now waiting out the clock.

    When he pulled US troops out of Iraq and left Maliki free to pursue his divisive sectarian politics lead to the unravelling of the nascent democracy. ISIS has now filled the vacuum left behind.

    The deficit is smaller now than it was a few years ago, however, it will rise again soon, as predicted by the CBO:

    “The 2014 deficit will be 2.8 percent of the economy, according to CBO, almost 32 percent below fiscal year 2013, when it was 4.1 percent. The deficit will shrink again in fiscal 2015 to $469 billion, before rising to about $1 trillion in fiscal years 2022 to 2024, CBO said.”

    The stock market has been growing as a result of the historically low interest rates which are part of Obama’s fiscal policy of printing astronomical quantitities of money. Investors put their money in the stock market because bonds are next to useless. Sadly, the massive capital gains in the stock market have not translated to a growth of the economy through investment in more jobs. Unemployment rates (the real rate, not the doctored stats the NYT prints) remains higher for longer than after any economic recession in US history.

    Meanwhile, the US debt continues to grow to wards $18 trillion. Cutting the defect while expanding the debt is no accomplishment to brag of. When that bill comes due, the real pain of paying off that massive debt will be felt.

    I do not dislike Obama personally. I do disagree with most of his policies and he clearly lacks the political skills required of the job. He had no executive experience prior to becoming President, and it shows.

  • October 11, 2014 at 11:06 pm
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    Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said it best (and I am paraphrasing) that Obama does not get enough credit for what good he has done and too much blame for what he has done poorly. Your comment well reflects this sentiment. If you were the father of a soldier who was sent home from Iraq two years ago before that soldier might have been killed or injured by an IED, you would not split hairs over whether Obama “ended’ the war or not. For the brave young Americans in uniform, Obama’s decision to “pull US troops” is ENDING the war for them. If you were an American taxpayer and the $50 million a day price tag of the war was cut by 90%, Obama ENDED the war. Likewise, while it is still technically premature to say the war in Afghanistan is over for US troops, US boots on the ground are down by 70% since the Bush years and more troops are coming home to their families from Afghanistan than are leaving their families to go to that dreadful country. You clearly dislike Obama’s policies and maybe Obama personally but cut the guy a break. He has cut the deficit by more than half. The US economy is growing faster than it has grown since the Clinton administration. The stock market is at record levels and he did kill Bin Laden. It can’t be that bad, can it?

  • October 11, 2014 at 10:44 am
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    Amen! As I have loved you, love one another.

  • October 11, 2014 at 8:21 am
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    Those are not too much to ask, no need to suppress one’s desire of those things. Author’s reflections sounds rather trivial and shallow. No disrespect of course.
    So, the question is how to get there? Who get there first? All of you, with education and healthcare too? On your own?

  • October 11, 2014 at 8:08 am
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    It’s interesting that DVD player is on the list along with the latest cellphone. DVD would be on my list of things to throw away. I guess it says something about Cuban life.
    I will very much like a room with view though.

  • October 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm
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    It may surprise some readers to learn that a large majority of the so-called “poor” in the US now have most of the items on Warhol’s list:

    Most poor in America have a mobile phone, flat screen TV, refrigerator, stereo, car, fashionable (if cheap) clothing, air conditioning, dvd player, computer or video game console & decent (if low quality) furniture. They won’t have a big apartment, they may or may not have a job, but they will have most of the astonishing modern material marvels which the average Cuban can only dream of.

    However, it’s not clear that they are any happier for it.

  • October 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm
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    I have heard Obama claim he ended one war (Iraq) and was on the way to end another (Afghanistan)… but he has never claimed to have ended two. Did I miss one?

    That said, and it must be pointed out, he did not end the war in Iraq, he merely pulled US troops out while the war continued to roll on. Now it has flared up badly again and he is sending US troops back to Iraq.

  • October 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    Warhol P….take a breath. Relax. President Obama (that’s who you are referring to) has not provoked a single war. On the contrary, to his critics delight, he has ended two wars, arguably prematurely. You are a product of the Castro propaganda machine and it shows when you make statements like this. By the way, I have or have had everything you listed above. None of it was given to me by my government or anyone else for that matter. I earned everything I have been blessed to purchase. And yes, when these things get old or become broken and need to be replaced, I will replace them. I feel neither guilt nor shame for the fruits of my hard work. I dare say that anyone who has less than I do, materially speaking, is not necessarily “freer” or happier or less stressed out. In fact, while I am not worried about what I will eat today or tomorrow for that matter, the person who IS worried about what he will eat today or where he will sleep tonight is probably a lot more stressed out than I am right now. You may choose to romanticize poverty but the reality is that while happiness is not of function of material wealth neither is material lack a guarantee of happiness.

  • October 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm
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    That list of consumer items will not make anybody happy, at least not for long. Perhaps it seems so from your perspective, growing up in a society of perpetual shortages and rations, while listening to a constant stream of propaganda promising new material riches are just around the corner, while at the same time fostering resentment and jealousy of those who have more now.

    Public opinion surveys of what makes people happy point to some interesting results. Provided people have the material essentials for life, any increased wealth does little or nothing to improve their level of happiness. More important for happiness in life are to have meaningful work, rewarding relationships with other people and to be in good health. Have those things, and you will be happy. but if you don’t have the latter 3, no amount of earth will make you happy.

    On a side note, I don’t know of any wars currently raging in the world which President Obama could be blamed for provoking. One can criticize his response to these wars: some people think he should do more, others say he should do less. But Obama did nothing to provoke ISIS to slaughter civilians. He all but bent over backwards to accommodate the Russians and yet still they invaded and annexed parts of Ukraine. The War in Afghanistan was raging long before Obama came to power and will still be running on long after he has retired (which, unlike the Castro’s will be in just over 2 short years from now). The Arab-Israeli wars have been flaring up off and on since before Obama was born, and it is well known he pressured both sides to knock it off during this latest round.

    Again, perhaps it is the propaganda you have lived in, blaming all bad things in the world on America, and denying any anybody else in the world for responsibility for their own actions. And that brings us back to the secret to happiness. It can be found by taking responsibility for one’s own actions, by knowing that ultimately, each individual is sovereign. You don’t have to follow the dictates of propaganda or marketing.

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