China, Cuba and Iran

Former President Richard Nixon became the first president who almost was impeached and would have been if he did not resign. Yet, in spite of his troubles at home where he ran a disinformation and burglary ring from the White House, he did make a huge difference in opening up dialogue with China. His efforts and those of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, paved the way for changes in the economic relationship with that country which led to growth there and abroad.

I bring this up as when we look back in forty years at these moments, we may be able to say the same things about Cuba and Iran. Both have very young countries, with the youth crying out for better ties with the west and the products and services they bring. Yes, both countries are not being led the way we would want, but I believe having commerce with people is the best way to break down barriers. At some point, the commerce is so important, that it will be preserved and more dialogue will occur.

Of course, we need to move forward with our eyes open, but it is far better to find common ground than to beat on your chest and refuse to enter the sandbox. So, from where I sit, I applaud the President for opening up these countries to more dialogue, just as I thought as a teen that dealing with China was exciting.

We will see the positives with Cuba much sooner, as tourism will be ramped up this year. The president’s visit was a huge step forward. But, I think having a better relationship with Iran will pay dividends as well, yet I am not foolish enough to say trust them completely. So, let’s be cautiously optimistic and guarded as well.

 

Lazy days of summer – a few random musings

While many are on vacations with children out of school, events in the world continue to happen. So, in no particular order, here are few random musings.

– The Donald continues to grab headlines with his bombastic opinions. He does not stand a chance of winning an overall election, as his petulance and prima donna act are not key attributes for the job. Ironically, the longer he is in the race, the better the chance for the Democrats to win the White House. A key reason is his GOP competitors need to get some chutzpah and tell him and the country that his opinions are divisive and unappreciated. If they don’t, then their silence condones his act as representative of their party platform.

– A much applauded provision is being introduced into Medicare that will allow reimbursement of end-of-life discussions with your doctor. Doctors favor this and it has bi-partisan support, as it did when it was included in the Affordable Care Act. Yet, people need to remember this is the same issue Sarah Palin called “death panels,” in her run for the Vice Presidency. She was wrong then and would be wrong again if she raises this point. This provision is a good thing.

– The state of Colorado has received acclaim for a program that has dramatically reduced the number of abortions in their state. By providing access to birth control and family planning to more low-income families, the number of abortions has not only been reduced, but their Medicaid budget has declined by $80 million per annum. Unfortunately, the conservative legislature may kill the program as it promotes teen sex. Folks, this measure is common sense, is working and is economical. Plus, these kids are going to have sex, as their temptations are even more when you were that age.

– Along these same lines, the Affordable Care Act has saved women over $1 billion in contraception expense. This provision has been very well received by women and is the same one which caused such a fuss when Hobby Lobby sued and won in court. This was after Hobby Lobby realized they covered birth control in their plan and took it out. Family planning and birth control are part of a solution to better health, abortions and poverty, as teen pregnancy or pregnancy out-of-wedlock, are correlated with poor health for mother and children, the number of abortions and poverty. It should not be lost that over 85% of American Catholic women go against the church’s position on birth control.

– I am not sure what is the best route for Greece, but they need to work something out where they can pay their creditors. Otherwise, the misunderstood vote of last Sunday, is moot. Yet, many view this as an “all or none” issue. Austerity or no-austerity. The answer has to be both, because austerity by itself can further cripple their economy and be a precursor to their demise. They need to invest in some areas which promote the economy and divest in others which are needed measures and the areas are less growth oriented. They need to play to their strengths. But, what the people deserve is honest answers and not political rhetoric. By the way, when a corporation is facing problems, they do the same thing – invest in growth areas and cut in non-growth areas.

– China is faced with a dilemma as the stock market crashes. They have a country of immature investors who are in panic mode as the market falls. The country leaders are telling stockholders it is your patriotic duty not to sell, but that is akin to shoveling water out of a sinking boat with a kid’s small pail. Unfortunately, the market will fall some more and stabilize, which is what markets do. The challenge for others is China has over built its real estate to grow its economy, but no one lives in these places. At some point, a reckoning has to occur and it seems to have arrived. What happens in China investments will have trickle down impact on the rest of the world, at first, and it could get worse if growth slows as a result.

But, what do I know? I am just one person looking for elements of truth in the news and making observations. One thing is for certain, the news must be read with some context, as sometimes the larger points can be missed. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and other issues. Until the next time….