Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 26, 2011

New Rules or New Game?

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Futures,Strategy — by Mark Chubb on January 26, 2011

In his State of the Union Address tonight, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the rules governing our society and our place in the world have changed. Many Americans, he said, have experienced the impact of these changes in lost opportunities, diminished outlook and a dashed sense of optimism if not outright despair. Nevertheless, the President challenged us to see the future as ours to shape, and he outlined a four-point plan to renew American confidence in our competence, our creativity and our ability to make the world a better place by collaborating and competing.

The four elements of the President’s plan — innovation, education, building the nation, and managing the debt — seem sound but strike me as not enough to meet the challenges we face. If what we confront, as the President himself proposed, is a “Sputnik moment,” we have less need for new rules than we do for a whole new game.

As the President himself noted in examples sprinkled throughout his speech, the greatest changes have arisen from people seeing in past crises opportunities dressed up as challenges. The nation itself, he noted, was founded on just such a radical idea. The notion that the nation’s existence reflects a quest to promote an idea — securing the common good by protecting individual liberty — was itself a radical innovation in its day, and one we are in danger of taking for granted.

In what struck me as burying the lede, the President made few if any bold policy pronouncements or proposals until he mentioned his administration’s plan to present a proposal to reorganize executive branch departments and agencies to reflect his agenda. He gave few hints at what this might look like beyond offering an amusing anecdote about the conflicted way in which our government regulates and protects salmon, smoked and otherwise.

Incremental changes in government administration, tax policy and fiscal management will not fix the problems facing our country or renew the promise of its founding documents or the potential of its citizens. The President admitted as much himself, but he offered few if any tangible insights into how we might restore the vitality of the institutions touched by the agenda he proposed. I for one hope that the relative position of comments concerning reorganization of executive branch functions in his remarks does not reflect the true priority of this initiative. If it does, the other planks of the platform he outlined may be doomed.

Finally, unless you count his goal of increasing the percentage of energy we produce from renewable sources to 80 percent by 2035, his remarks barely touched on homeland security. When he turned to foreign policy concerns near the end of his address, he relied almost entirely on boilerplate plaudits. While renewing promises that al Qaeda, its affiliates and supporters will have no safe haven while he occupies the Oval Office, he made the point that renewed focus on domestic issues does not mean abandoning our commitments abroad or seeing those beyond our borders solely as consumers or competitors.

With all of this said, I wonder whether you see the President’s remarks as new rules, a new game or neither? Either way, what would you like to see come of each of the four policy planks he proposed? How will actions to implement policies in each of the four areas — innovation, education, infrastructure and debt — help us build a stronger, safer nation?

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Comment by William R. Cumming

January 26, 2011 @ 2:27 am

Wonderful post! The four areas could result in breakthroughs in time with some foresight but not likely in time for the administration which needs results.

But focusing on your sentence:
” I for one hope that the relative position of comments concerning reorganization of executive branch functions in his remarks does not reflect the true priority of this initiative. If it does, the other planks of the platform he outlined may be doomed.”

In this case I also hope that this was not just a toss off remark but something more serious. Time will Tell!

Comment by J.

January 27, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

You know, I kept thinking about the salmon example. While amusing, there probably are good reasons to include the protection of salmon in fresh water separate from protection of salmon in salt water. That is to say, there’s probably a holistic reason why one agency should address ALL salt-water fish/animals (which would include international issues) and another agency might address ALL fresh-water fish/animals (which would include sporting issues). It’s not so crazy, Mr. President.

Comment by Difficult Decisions Must be Decided Upon Now!

January 27, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

It is government, big corporate greed and the “bankers” who raped us and while the President of the United States’ speech was nothing impressive in anything he stated, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol will prevail as there is no “new game” or the “new rules” this – Goldman Sachs – administration has been making every attempt to steal from us – the fact of the matter, We here on Main Street USA have seen the failures, the broken promises, the partisan Congressional stooges who have given the keys away – Imagine how bad it is when a US President is touting the accmplishes, the achivements of communist nations!

It is time for reality – the reality I am talking about and no one else is talking about is demographics – whether US or global. In the US, our “baby-boomers” are retiring in droves, their ability to continue to spend as consumers will be less and less and with the birthrate nothing near what we need, with less consumer spending, real estate prices must come down as there will be a surplus in housing and the stock market will fall!

What new game? We have less and less production. You gave the keys away as greed and lust for power has been the only care. Any serious discussions as to reality should understand that we are bankrupt $14 trillion times and state and local budgets are suffering so…It is a disgrace just as Exxon-Mobil’s profits will show as Americans look through any change remaining to pay such outragious prices at the pump in January! We have plenty of oil underground, but heck $45billion in short falls in social security and who gives a damn, let’s take it all from the American working class and diminishing middle class – no wonder such mistrust as the “charade” continues as Congressional members sit side by side –

Listen whether it is Wall Street, a government on both sides of the aisle that has allowed special interest groups and big corporations to steal from our coffers, whether it is ten reality of demographics here in America, in western Europe, even in Asia and later in Africa, on the local scene, at the national level and globally, We may have peaked and We best get our act together and stop with the incestuous applause of one another as we continue this charade –

Consumer spending will be less and less, far too much real estate will be on the market and if yu Barry continue this intentional game of spending now $1.5trillion in this past year alone, We will continue on our way to oblivion….

The game is not new and the rules have not changed – it is responsible governing and within budget –

We will never compete w/Chinese Scientific and Engineering grads or so many from India for our educational system lacks much despite all the egos and high salaries bureaucrats in the system that need a boot out and truly passionate and committed teachers and students who understand that eduucation does in fact unlock the doors of opportunities –

We have lost and the final nails to our coffin are being carefully hammered in place by You Barry, your Goldman Sachs god ‘ol boys who placed us in the serious jepardy and you have no solutions for a camel cannot see its own hump and none of you care to say what must be said, be responsible for your ineptness and carry forward –

People here on Main Street USA are fed up – By the way, can we get through one speech without mentioning the Muslims – this is a nation of Judeo-Christian value and while there are many wonderful Muslim families very much American like anyone else and very few are proponents of violence and have much distaste of anyone wh professes terorism or the like, We have very important issues and decisions to make , difficult ones, issues which must be addressed by having national referendum articles places before Americans to enable us to voice our opinion and cats our vote…

Congressional members have failed. 40% of American resiedential real estate will soon be underwater – this mediocre at best job creation is a failure as well –

New rules or new game – nothing is new – Start with repentance and then open your history books and particularly the Bible and see that greed and arrogance has failed every man-made government since Babylon.

Whether Democrat or Republican, whether union member or not, unless very difficult decisions are made yesterday, We as a community, a nation and global participant where are US trade now only comprises 11% – this charade cannot continue – rise up, stand with fortitute w/beloved nation in your heart and decide that We must clasp hands and muster the courage to address the inevitable –

God Bless America! God Bless Humanity!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

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