President Obama should be commended for opening up diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is clear that the 50 year old policy of embargo and isolation has not worked to end the communist dictatorship. Yes, Raul Castro will try to use this change in U.S. policy to his advantage. If only for practical reasons, the embargo should end and relations should be normalized. As President Obama paraphrased, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We need to do something different.
There are also important philosophical reasons why relations with Cuba should be normalized: people who act honestly and peacefully should not be prevented in their actions by the force of government. Voluntary free trade, including tourism, is the best way to foster good will and build better friendships. Allowing Cubans to interact more and more with U.S. citizens will ultimately change the opinions of the masses of Cubans. Hopefully, it will lead to a peaceful overthrow of the dictatorial regime similar to that of the U.S.S.R. and of East Germany.
The essay in The Register on 9/15/2014, by Mary Andringa and Jay Timmons in support of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) was well done. The fact that the Ex-Im Bank returned $1 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury is very persuasive. Of course the same thing could be said about the U.S. government getting into about any business. If our government ran a grocery store or a tractor manufacturing plant, it is very likely that it could make a profit. But we don’t (or shouldn’t) do things that way in the United States.
In this case, there is good reason to believe that privately owned banks could provide this kind of financing for our manufacturers who want to export their products to other parts of the world. The manufacturers should be willing to guarantee the debt of their customers if that is what is needed to secure financing for their buyers. The fact that Ex-Im Bank financing, “is available to any exporter of any size” does not mean that this isn’t an example of crony capitalism. In this case, the crony capitalists just happen to be a very large group of manufacturers who want the government to guarantee loans for their foreign customers.
We have created a crutch for these businesses. We need to take away that crutch and move towards free market capitalism.
Link to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2014/09/15/iowa-view-export-import-bank-economic-engine/15650761/
Planet Money reported recently that the $1.3 billion in military aid that we send to Egypt every year is being wasted. All of the money we give them is to buy military equipment from U.S. manufacturers. Much of what they buy is duplicative and excessive for the Egyptian military and is simply being stored in crates. The primary reason that this continues is that U.S. manufacturers lobby Congress for it to continue, and Congressmen and Senators want to keep the jobs and money flowing into their States.
Governments should have no more power than individuals. Morally proper governments are created by groups of sovereign individuals who voluntarily band together to protect themselves from those who would use force or fraud to take their lives, liberty or property. What is our (your) moral responsibility to help those who are being slaughtered by their own government? Half way around the world? In Syria?
Individuals can decide for themselves whether or not they want to assist financially or personally in the fight against any given oppressors. But governments, which are representatives of all of the people, should not enter into war or other foreign conflicts based on the judgement of a simple majority of the people, or upon the directive of a single elected official – namely, the President of the United States.
That is why our Constitution grants the power to declare war only to the Congress. Both houses of Congress, the House and the Senate, must approve any declaration of war. If there is truly an imminent threat to the people of the U.S., then approval by Congress should be fairly easy. When the threat to the citizens of the U.S. is not clear, then it should be difficult for the U.S., and the President, to declare war.
It is a terrible thing that is happening in Syria, but the United States is not threatened in any way by the their civil war. Even if we assume that the Assad regime initiated the chemical weapons strike against its own people, that is not enough reason for the U.S., unilaterally, to become involved in the conflict. If the U.N. follows agreed upon processes and decides that military intervention is appropriate, then the U.S. should be part of an international force to stop the use of chemical weapons.