Paul Heise Professor Economics | A Happy New Year is your proactive responsibility |

Having not lived in the United States for a while, I’m not familiar with this writer nor his column, yet the contents of his words reverberated. Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. This was published in the Opinion section of the Lebanon Daily News, January 5th, 2012. He suggests that Americans let go of their fears and apprehension, and open their minds to seizing new opportunities; through actively taking proactive steps and taking responsibility for creating the life that we want, to once again set examples for the world to follow!

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A happy new year, if we will work at it

By PAUL HEISE

The new year is a good time to seek out and celebrate the opportunities that life presents us.

The actual happiness of this new year will depend not on fate or accident but on how we respond to the opportunities we face. The opportunities are there, and we face a bright future so long as we do not panic and retreat into fear.

Certainly, our highest hopes flow from the physical sciences because they are the base of the technology that sustains us. The theoretical scientists, working in real time, promise new worlds as yet undreamed of.

For example, in biology, DNA research offers the opportunity to change the very nature of humanity. In physics, the search for the boson particle offers us the excitement of a possible fifth dimension. These opportunities are so stunning that they are and should be frightening.

America as a nation spends huge sums on scientific research. While too much of that is military, a lot does spill over to the private sector. Advances in robotics in regard to artificial limbs have been applied to the general population. GPS technology is good for more than just smart bombs targeting terrorists. Similarly, drone technology has been applied to rescue people as well as to slaughter them.

Managing these technologies promises a future of both jobs and wealth, if we are willing to spend the research money directly on domestic needs.

Technically and economically, the world can produce enough to feed, clothe, house, medicate and educate to a reasonable middle-class standard. The only problems in the way of that are political. The 30-year stagnation of the wages of the middle-class and therefore much of our poverty are not accidental. They are the result of class warfare.

We now live in a plutocracy, government by the wealthy, with extremes of inequality in wealth and income not seen for more than 80 years. These inequalities are also the underlying cause of our current depression.

America will get a growing, prosperous economy in 2012 only if we give the middle-class a wage increase commensurate with their increased productivity.

If we want to have a prosperous new year, we must put our political house in order. The financial sector does not have a right to the money it stole or the political power it purchased with that money. We need to demand accountability for the criminal behavior of bank presidents and not just crack addicts.
Our Constitution and all of our universal and unalienable rights, especially freedom from warrantless search and seizure, must be defended and not given up because we are afraid. Corporations have limited liability, uncontrolled size and immortality; no person I know has any of those attributes.
The tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement agree on at least this much, so the country is surely ready to fight those battles. Coordinated SWAT team action and pepper spray should not deter us.

America is still the most powerful cultural force for good in the world, and politically the world is going our way despite what you hear.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, with its attack on income inequality, was quickly copied across the developed world. Divergent forms of democratic capitalism are emerging and being welcomed. The repressive aspects of Chinese state capitalism are being challenged by the Chinese people themselves. India’s combination of socialism and capitalism is still emerging. Latin America is quietly slipping free of the IMF and North American corporate control. A democratic Arab Spring is outperforming militant Islamism. Across the world, the creation and spreading of wealth is becoming more important than political ideology.

If we revive the middle class here at home and reach out to others, we will have a great year, and the world will go along. Instead of projecting power in the Far East with aircraft carriers, we will share with China the development of an emerging Southeast Asia. Instead of threatening Iran, we will recognize its natural position as a leader in the Middle East. Instead of fighting the world consensus on global climate change, we will be leading the repair of the planet. Instead of fearing science, we will complete that stalled particle accelerator down in Texas. Instead of closing our borders and our hearts, we will open them so we are still the land of the free.

List your own favorite tasks, and we will all have a daunting but exciting agenda.

America and the world face the prospect of a prosperous and peaceful world. But America is still the only country that can lead us all forward. If we succumb to a bickering fear – of technology, of dark-skinned people, of ourselves – we will not lead.

Let’s look at the new year not just as a gift of opportunity but as a task to be accomplished. Then it will be a really happy new year!
A resident of Mt. Gretna, Heise holds a Ph.D. in economics and is professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College. His column appears every other Thursday. He maintains past columns and can be reached through his blog, paulheise.blogspot.com.

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¿ Is the world going crazy, or merely some, getting away with murder ?

I was distracted from my ‘work’ today, after perusing the news. Frankly, I’m just wondering about how undeniably confused and bizarrely maligned, some people’s intentions are in the world that we live in. I guess you could call it, “off balance”.

A splash of the headlines:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/us/03tampa.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

It took the mother three (3) days to acquire the gun in Florida, which she used to murder her adolescent children. Let’s keep those loose gun laws intact, NRA! Fire away USA!

And then there are the headlines from Pakistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/world/asia/03pakistan.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

Shahbahz Bhatti was murdered yesterday by Muslim extremists, who had been threatening him. He was dedicated to trying to repeal the Islamist law imposed in 1986, which seeks the death penalty for anyone accused of speaking against the Prophet Muhammad. Bhatti worked towards abolishing this law, within this climate of extreme intolerance. He was among the 5% Christian and Hindu population, among the predominantly Muslim one, making up Pakistan’s 180 million inhabitants.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11930849

An example of what Bhatti was fighting for, is this woman in Pakistan, who was accused of saying something blasphemous about the Prophet Muhammad… uhh, and she happens to be a member of the only Christian household in her village. The real discussion was over water rights, among her female Muslim neighbors with whom she would pick berries, who were her accusers.

They not only want to kill her, but there’s a price over her head; a reward for anyone to kill her. Hey, I bet Prophet Muhammad would be all over this one, huh! I mean, would anyone with any spiritual attributes, condone slaughtering a person because of alleged accusations stemming from ignorance?

This blasphemy law, is also the reason that the Christian, Salman Taseer, was assassinated a week earlier; as he and Shahbahz Bhatti, were both publicly trying to change this law.

Ahhh, religious freedom and tolerance, go Pakistan! Jesus! will people ever learn? d’oh!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/business/energy-environment/01drill.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25

Bounce back to the USA, to the Gulf Oil crisis which took place a year ago in April, 2010, in which the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, and spewed about 5 million barrels of oil into the ocean. Well, now the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, has granted permission for deepwater drilling once again, in the same region. Yeah, we’re all over that too! “Let’s go to the Gulf and do some grillen’, just ignite the water with a match, and bar-b-q whatever surfaces!

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/28/nation/la-naw-deepwater-cement-20101028

The one thing that sparked my attention about the whole incident in the first place, is that Halliburton had been in charge of the cementing process of the well. The cement mixture that was being used to seal the well, had been found to be unstable, prior to the explosion, yet they decided to go on with the process. “The cement mixture is used to secure the metal casing around the string of pipes and the drill bit as they penetrate the reservoirs of oil and gas lying deep beneath the ocean floor. Cement also is supposed to keep oil and gas from pushing back up the well, causing a blowout.” It obviously didn’t do the job, and populations of the neighboring states, as well as all of the wildlife in the area of the Gulf, have been the victims.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us/01earthquakes.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

Speaking of Halliburton, I was just reading about the unprecedented number of earth quakes that have been occurring recently in Kansas, in the Midwest of the United States. Recently, a connection of these rumbles has been made to “hydraulic fracturing”, an invasive natural gas drilling technique, which I first heard about on the television program “60 Minutes” a year ago in the U.S. Not only is the process intensely disturbing to the earth, but there’s also indication that the process releases toxic contaminants, among them, radioactive material, into the waterways and ground water in the vicinities that this drilling takes place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/the-watchdog-clean-air-act_n_830183.html

Guess who is involved in this destructively greedy process, along with a laundry list of other contaminating and deceptive stuff happening all over the world, yes, evil incarnate “Halliburton”. Let’s just say, “corpocracy” rules again; greed and power, united to make the world a better place, through pilfering and destruction of the planet and it’s inhabitants! I vote for Halliburton, as the crème de la crème of the elite corporate corrupters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/opinion/03tue3.html

Regarding this drilling process, Dick Cheney, former Vice President, allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to get away with murder, of the environment. Entitled “The Hallliburton Loophole”, the EPA was stripped of it’s authority to investigate this new drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, when it was in its’ infancy.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/28/why-is-china-nervous-about-the-arab-uprisings?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

Then spin the globe around to China, where authorities have become worried about all of the protests in the Arab world. Despite their stronger economy than most of these Arab nations, they’re so concerned about these various pro-democracy demonstrations, that they’ve been heightening their crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, and words like “Egypt” and “Tunisia” have been blocked on some internet web search engines and social network sites, making them completely inaccessible.
It’s always valuable when you want to maintain your power, to keep your subjects afraid and uninformed.

For some comedic relief, check out Jon Stewart’s take on Gaddafi.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/jon-stewart-takes-libya-gaddafi_n_830706.html