Saturday, August 29, 2009


Ted lived and enjoyed earthly happiness;
Ted loved so much to be our Senator from Massachusetts.

Ted Lived and loved;
Ted woke and slept;
Ted sung and danced;
Ted smiled, roared in the senate and wept;
Ted had lived, run the course fortune allotted him.

Ted was prayed for today;
Ted was eulogized by the President today;
Ted was blessed by the Catholic Church and his final service was gracious;
May for him, damned to poesy.

Ted says the work must go on, we believe;
Ted says the course must endure, we believe;
Ted says the hope still lives, we believe.
Ted says the dream shall never die, we believe.

To those saints that live in the hearts of many;
May our gracious God forgive them their sins and accept them to eternal glory.


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Mountain that was God: - Romanticizing about the Clean Air Act (Waxman-Markey)

The Mountain that was God, that is how the Indians describe the majesty of the Rainier Mountain in Washington State. The awesomeness of the glacier part of the mountain during the summer months of July through October makes you marvel about the beauty of nature; and, challenges you to ask everyone: why we don’t want to preserve our environment the way nature has offered it to us? Walking through the glacier view trail of the mountain gives you a feeling of grace and beauty. My children refer the feeling simply as “paradise”. Not only do you experience some serenity about the environment, you can literally feel the melting snow down the slopes turning to effortless clean water for you to drink.

I imagine if we all can work hard, to keep our water, air and environment clean, maybe we will not have to suffer too hard to the extent that some of us have to see our doctors often. And if you are contemplating where I am taking the blog to this night, I’ll say save your breath, it is not about passing the health care reform thing again! I am more interested in how far the support for Waxman-Markey bill is waning; and, if we actually need to shore it up to ensure that it passes in Senate, later this year or early next year.

Contrary to the position of some environmentalists who believe that the bill as a policy instrument is only full of symbolism, with little or no impact on the real world experience, I will say welcome to your premeditated illusion. To these people, many of the provisions of the bill, including the targets and timetables are unattainable. My position to this is that there is no one silver bullet to the problem of carbon vis-à-vis environmental pollution. What we have in Waxman-Markey, is not a magical solution to a problem that has taken several centuries to accumulate. Rather, it is an attempt for the first time to work steadily and constructively to undo the accumulated damage that we have done to the environment.

The ethos of Waxman-Markey is not to provide answers for all things that are impacting our environment; rather, it is exploring solutions to carbon emission level and its consequential impact on the environment, including the imbalance in the ozone layer, which in turn probably affects the degree of global warming. As a policy instrument, the bill leaves room for practical solutions to carbon emissions and some more. The bill attempts to include stronger carbon emissions targets, setting out attainable premium targets. And God forbids if we are unable to attain the goal, nothing prevents us from reviewing the bill and introducing a global climatic change index that would help us track global warming. The ultimate goal is to prevent further carbon emissions pollution and bring some balance to the environment.

When the authorizing legislation of the Clean Air Act was about to expire under the Bush Administration, there were so much apprehension from members of congress, environmentalists, academics and industry officials as to the necessity of its continuance. There were those in the debate who maintained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had gone beyond the confines of its authority, the way it administered the act, and asked that the bill be rewritten to curtail the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, in enforcing its provisions. Others had called for congress to play a greater role in fashioning specific emissions targets and control mandates. My modest position is that an agency as the EPA ought to have all the necessary authority to accomplish the goals and tasks of maintaining a clean environment. The Congress however, still retains the power to do as it pleases. We must however appreciate that based on the information we now have out there regarding global warming, any instrument of government that calls the agency to question as to its overreaching effort to secure a clean environment would not be doing our environment any good. Those of us living in Western Washington could tell you about our experiences regarding pollution of our waters; and, a quick trip down the Puget Sound, would frankly tell you that the EPA needs more authority to make a difference considering the gravity of the problem of water, air and environmental pollution.

In the acrimonious environment that we find the debate on Waxman Markey, I would still like to default to the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s views on the
Waxman-Markey bill as it emerged from the House of Representative: “There is much in the House cap-and-trade energy bill that just passed that I absolutely hate. It is too weak in key areas and way too complicated in others. A simple, straightforward carbon tax would have made much more sense than this Rube Goldberg contraption. It is pathetic that we couldn’t do better. It is appalling that so much had to be given away to polluters. It stinks. It’s a mess. I detest it.” Despite his assessments though, I will still call on all our Senators to ensure that we move ahead, to please support the bill and let us pass it into the law of the land.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


It is written that a man dies only once and then it's judgment. In the annals of Ted Kennedy’s life are stories of courage, defeat, triumph, despondence, grief, exhilaration, faith and endurance. And when he died two days ago, no word could be enough to describe his contribution to life. Yes, life. Many of his colleagues in the Senate, even those who held a different political conviction, shared of his grief by writing gracious statements about this fiery lion of a liberal leaning. Some expressed the pain of his brother’s death, others mentioned his memorable public service, others yet talked about his family life, and a few about Chappaquiddick. Like the man in life, many were able to compartmentalize their views between his private and his public life. So, you could have read an array of opinions, but what is very important in all these semi-eulogies, is the respect and honor that every persons gave to this man. American Vice President Joseph Biden adduced this respect and honor for Teddy, to the type of life he led: Ted never made anyone feel small; he made everyone he met, either in politics or in his personal life, bigger. This is the type of man Edward Moore Kennedy was. Ted was a joiner of people, who had been in pain since an accident in 1961; but never talked about himself. He never made anything personal, nor held grudges, but cared so much about everyone. He was truly a fine man.

Today is a celebration of the 77 years he spent with us before he went home two days ago. He arrives for public viewing at the JFK Presidential library in Boston today under the watchful eye of his family, his immediate family and the people of Massachusetts, who are all grieving. Our hearts are with them. Ted once said there is no statement that I can make now, to express the pain and regret I felt for my behavior in that episode of Chappaquiddick. He agrees that he has not been a perfect person, but he has tried to do his best, in whatever circumstance he had found himself. Probably one other regret that he had accepted to in political life was his failure to accept universal health care proposal when pitched to him by President Richard Nixon. However, he worked ceaselessly to correct his latter error and left to men to make up their minds about forgiveness for the former. Ted was human, he was one of us, though frail in the latter days of his life due to his illness, he was still fighting hard to make sure that the lives of the ordinary man was better. When he got the message of his diagnosis of brain cancer last summer, he chose to live the rest of his life brilliantly, he did not crawl under a rock rather, stood firm with his wife and family to fight the tide of human fragility. He was able to compartmentalize his private life from his public life. He will be remembered for the generosity of spirit. Ted was a marvelous legislature.

To the living, let us now cherish the work of Senator Edward Kennedy, not by grieving too excessively, but by working so hard to fulfill his dream of a reformed health care system for America. Let us work ceaselessly, just like Ted did, so we can achieve a system, where men and women, Republicans, Independents and Democrats are able to afford care without the fear of loosing their home, marriage, family, bank account and the remaining respect they have after being knocked down by a disease. This is what Ted was passionate about. Let us honor him by completing his work. “Divine providence has granted us this man, that those things he cherish when he was with us, we are honest enough to achieve in his absence.” – Christopher Adekoya. Let us look very long at the benefits of a reformed system, where people are comfortable enough to approach their physician for care, without the fear of going bankrupt!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I hate writing obituaries, but I humbly write this one for the greatest of all men, at a moment of grief. Until his dying day, Ted Kennedy was at the fore front of some of the amazing moments in the history of American Politics. Ted did not win the Presidency for himself when he tried in 1980, but he stood firm legendarily behind Barack Obama, when he chose to run, even when the high and mighty in the Democratic Party were seating out on the fence. Edward M. Kennedy, the brother of the best known icons of American politics, Jack and Bobby, was a remarkable public figure who stood for justice, kindness and compassion. Who can ever forget the fight for the Medicare Prescription Drug benefits for seniors, as Ted led the fight dedicatedly. He fought for the elderly, the young and the disenfranchised not only as a politician, but as a dedicated brother, our friend and our better senator from Massachusetts and the Kennedy clan.

The greatest ally of President Obama in the fight for a reformed health care system has gone home to be with the good Lord. He went home yesterday night to be with the rest of the brotherhood only ten days after Eunice, his sister was laid to rest. This is one of us, one of the most beautiful of all men, the gold standard for public service, who dedicated his life to fighting for the underprivileged, who understood how and when to compromise on issues and bills. He died of a brain tumor yesterday night with his closest family members at his side. His inspiration, optimism and sacrifice will not only live on, but will serve as the barometer for measuring selflessness in the service to mankind. He was a model of public service. He served the the State of Massachussetts and this nation as a dedicated son of the soil, with a personal torch, for close to five decades.

Ted was a gentle man. Ted was a survivor, a friend of the poor, the greatest one of us, a liberal lion, a fire brand who stood firmly for reform in civil rights, voting rights, social security, social justice, education, immigration reform, and health care reform, among other uncounted points of public service. He loved to legislate and never shied away from moving across the political spectrum to reach compromises and to achieve the greatest number of good for the greatest number of people. By his death, we have lost a true and genuine diamond of all men in Washington D.C. Eunice, John, Bobby, Ted and their parents are back home with the good Lord, now. Edward Kennedy in the companion of great reformists of American political liberalism has run a great race for the past five decades. He made his mark and now it is time to rest. “The best thing which eternal law ever ordained was that it allowed us one entrance into life, but many exists” – the epistle ad Lucilium, Epis, 15.

With all reverence Ted, I will repeat what you once said in the service of mankind: the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die! Goodnight and God's Speed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Climate Conference in Copenhagen: Is America Ready to Play Ball?

In the world of climate change gurus, the up coming Copenhagen summit is probably going to be a turning point. If the conference goes on as scheduled and if members at the conference representing a mired of governments all over the world agree on some critical issues on the protocol, it may be possible to resuscitate this document or commitment by countries to help halt the problem of climate change and global warming. The protocol which is scheduled to expire if nothing is done by 2012, calls the attention of governments to the problem of climate change and global warming, and seeks commitment from signatories to the protocol to help advance the objectives of the protocol.

Since the USA was not a signatory to the protocol, you may ask why we should bother. Well, two major developments: 1) there is a new body of knowledge in America that somewhat recognizes the existence of the problem of climate change and global warming. I use the word somewhat here, because there are still some ragging debates regarding the true nature of the problem, and whether we are actually contributing to this problem as ascertained by some scientists, academics and environmentalists; 2) We now have in the White House, someone who understands the problem and has a team of experts who can guide us to better decisions regarding the issue of climate change and global warming. The two developments are important, since they shed some lights on our prior decisions not to join the protocol.

Prior till now America considered the problem of global warming as a fluke. We ignored past efforts in Europe and Asia to bring our attention to the problem. Since we had other interests in mind, we were least disposed to the protocol. With some new research findings, political debates (see contributions from folks at, and some enlightenment from former Vice President Al Gore’s movie, which yielded him and his team a Noble Laureate award, we are probably in a situation to entertain some discussion of a support for the Kyoto protocol and its extension beyond 2012.

Thus, come December when government representatives from 170 countries are expected to gather in the Copenhagen Congress Center to discuss a possible extension of the protocol, you may expect the US to send at least a team of observers, if not a contingent of American experts, who may interpret new discussions and relate our current position to the world or relate the present position of other governments deliberating on the extension of the protocol, to our government. No matter what happens in December, we may continue to remain neutral, or we may take a new position based on advisory from our government representatives at the conference. What is rather important though is that America starts to take a leadership role in combating the problem of climate change and global warming. Enough of the dismissal of the existence of the problem!

PS: The committee advancing the December 6th – 18th, 2009 Conference has included the following information on its website:

The conference in Copenhagen is the 15th conference of parties (COP15) in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The recent meeting in United Nations Climate Change Conferences was held in December 2007 in Bali. The address of the secretariat for the Climate Conference is:

The Climate Secretariat
The Prime Minister's Office
Prins Jørgens Gård 11
1218 København K
Tel (+45) 33 92 33 00, Fax (+45) 33 11 16 65
The Official secretariat of the 15th Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Climate Network
Ehlersvej 11
2900 Hellerup
Tel (+45) 39 48 18 10, Fax (+45) 39 48 18 01
A Danish network that will underpin the Copenhagen Climate Summit, thus making the 2009 UN climate summit a success for the benefit of sustainable climate policy. The network will use the period before, under and after the Copenhagen Climate Summit to establish networks among businesses, individuals and organizations supporting a climate policy focusing on the environment.

Copenhagen Climate Council
c/ Mandag Morgen
Valkendorsgade 13
Box 1127
1009 Copenhagen K
Tel (+45) 33 93 93 23, Fax (+45) 33 14 13 94
An initiative founded in May 2007 by a group of business leaders and scientists with the aim of helping make the case for a new global climate treaty that will come into force when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Politics: Solving Unemployment Problem in America.

Unemployment is naturally not a subject that this blog is known for. It is also not one area that I would like to spend much of my time. The only reason it got on this blog today is the alarming rate of house foreclosures in my State. National Foreclosure Listing informs me that Washington State is ranked 16th in the rate of foreclosures among the fifty states of the Federation. Most recent foreclosures I understand are as a result of people loosing their jobs not the dubious adjusted rate mortgage debacle that banks like Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and other banks are accused of. Incidentally, many of these banks have been found in the throes of willing and dealing which are hardly acceptable in good bank and financial institutions management. The unusual nature of mortgage loans that were underwritten and the frantic pace at which many of these loans were closed or wrapped up, make one wonder?

Further, I hate to discuss unemployment, because it was one area of Macroeconomics that I never could get grips of while in graduate school. With unemployment climbing to 10% and some predictions saying it may rise as high as 16%, I could not just let the problem go untouched. Yes, I am a Keynesian economist, but I just didn’t fancy the relationships between unemployment and inflation. I felt some inconsistencies in the subject matter and my suspicion is borne out by the Phillips curve: When economists perceive inflation and unemployment in the short run, they see roughly an inverse correlation between both. When we have low inflation rate, unemployment is supposed to be high, and when unemployment rate is high, inflation rate is supposed to be low. The relationship between inflation and unemployment offers a difficult explanation, most policy makers find themselves in a quandary, when attempting to explain the concept to the everyday Jane Doe. Maybe that was why I never could comprehend the relationship while in graduate school; and if I did, I was never able to convince my undergraduate students, whom I taught for over 15 years, that I understood that aspect of macroeconomics, very well. Unfortunately today, I have to revert back to a bitter subject for the sake of millions of Americans out of a job and looking for answer to the question: Why me?

Discussions on Meet the Press on Sunday with its guest Dr. Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council, did not make the subject matter any palatable for me to discuss. With his assessment of the job market as being a serious one that would not readily adjust to change very soon, I was tempted to ask him directly: Are you saying that unemployment is going to remain with us for a long time to come? Since I was watching him on the television, I considered this effort as fruitless. Not withstanding though, I am inclined to believe that this type of assertion would not sit very well with many Americans who have remained unemployed for a number of months. Unemployment and associated problems are often difficult and families who have their breadwinner out of a job are sometimes bewildered by the sudden nemesis of unemployment.

Many unemployed Americans probably want a job some would even consider positions that are not traditionally classified as white color job, even if only to put food on the table. The reality though, from Dr. Summer’s comment, is that this is not likely to happen very soon. Maybe that was why he repeated or horned on the following comments: the Obama’s administration will work with Congress to make sure that unemployment insurance continues to perform its basic function of protecting the unemployed. The unemployment insurance compensation will continue to ameliorate the pains of unemployment; however, it will not solve the problem of chronic unemployment. In one sentence: Suck it up America, no jobs for those of you who are unemployed for now, but you can continue to live on the bread crumbs! Incidentally, many Americans are not interested in a welfare check, they would rather like to have a job, some activities to occupy their precious day and time.

Here are some rather unconventional approaches to solving the current unemployment problems in America, without stressing the U.S treasury to its limits:

Unlike Classical economists, who view inflation as a problem of ever-increasing money supply, Keynesians economists concentrate on the institutional problems of companies increasing price they demand for their products. Keynesians argue that firms raise wages to keep their workers happy. Firms then have to pay for that wage increases and keep making a profit by subsequently raising product prices. This causes an increase in both wages and prices; and, subsequent pressure on treasury to increase money supply to keep the economy running. Government can then issue more and more money backed up by production of more goods and services to keep up with inflation. This of course, the classical economists disagree with.

Since the Federal Reserve Chairman, Dr. Ben S. Bernanke, seems to default on the part of the Keynesian economists, I would encourage the Feds to intertwine their money releases with the rate of unemployment, not inflation alone. Even if inflation is low, until unemployment declines to a very appreciable margin, money supply should be kept to a minimum. Encourage US government to quit fighting those nasty wars started by the Bush Administration, and divert saved money to boost employment, via more job creation. Re-evaluate public policies supporting the military industrial complex that seems to be bankrupting the nation, with everyone pretending all is well with us going to war and staying at war for so long without suffering the repercussions of extended war costs.

Ask those stock Analysts on Wall Street who are very sold on companies' annual reports from CEO's to stockholders to be a little bit more circumspect. Many of those firms that were rated triple A, went under during the real estate fiasco. Scrutinizing annual reports from CEO to stockholders for moral, ideological, and emotional characterization of future plans and past mistakes, would not be enough to guarantee the financial health or liquidity of a company. When companies are rated rather too proficient and they loose heavily from poor financial decisions, money is not the only thing lost, lives and way of life for many people also get trodden. When financial regulatory agencies look away from insider's trading and or, exempt appropriate scrutiny of back room deals going between financial institutions, then we end up with the type of mess that exacerbates unemployment. Unemployment from past mistakes of well rated companies has shown us the need to be a little more careful in our interpretations of business annual reports.

Using government college grants to tease back the unemployed to school may not be sufficient to solve the unemployment problem. I know a Ph.D without a job. What would you recommend him to do? Retrain and acquire another Ph.D that would get him unemployed all over again? We need to unveil new strategies to help those that are hard to place in employment, once they have a good education. Transfer payments for companies that employ or reemploy those hard to place workers may be a viable option for keeping unemployment low among Americans, but frankly, that would hardly solve the problem. We need new initiatives in public policy to help the private sector create jobs. We need new public sector infusion of money into public projects to help build our crumbling roads and schools. We need a combination of both private and public sectors job creation initiatives to really confront the problems of rising unemployment.