Words like deficit, budget, shut-down, guns, assault weapons, fiscal cliff, social security, medicare and others have dominated the agenda in the first month of this year. While all those issues are important there are critical challenges that might be overlooked in this first year.
Clearly immigration reform is going to be soon added to the list of issues that are front and center. The reign of terror and discrimination facing undocumented workers and their children in America must be stopped. Maybe after this past election the Republicans will revisit the "Dream Act"
However there are a set of issues that should be addressed this year and that the President must be willing to use political capitol in order to make progress.
1. Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure!
Putting America back to work is most easily done by making America great again. The time has come to focus on America and stop rebuilding other nations until this nation has once again a sound economy and infrastructure. Not only is rebuilding America great for jobs but it is essential for our national security. Short term expenditures will yield long term results including revenue. Nations like China are rapidly passing us in the ability to move goods internally, building cities and systems for the future and systems to enable them to be competitive around the world. The longer we put off a national system of high speed rail lines the more expensive it will be to build. The time has come to bite the bullet and build a massive system.
2. Climate Change:
In case you haven't heard, Climate Change is no longer a theory. The 'futuristic event' is here and impacting the United States in a big way. The United States must lead in reaching new international treaties reducing the pace of Climate Change and seeking alternatives to carbon emissions. The impact that Climate Change had the United States in 2012 cost this country almost a half a trillion dollars. Investments must be made in storm protections, flood control, water projects for drought and in research for creating foods that require less water.
Since I can remember our foreign policy has been centered either around the former Soviet Union or the Middle East. The focus has enable other powers (such as China's resource diplomacy) to fill the void in the rest of the world. The President's foreign policy team must create a new "Obama Doctrine" where Africa plays a key role. As we are seeing now, terrorists groups have emerged among a number of Northern African nations already. Civil Wars are raging in a number of other countries. Increasingly these difficulties taking place in resource rich areas are the result of 'failed nation states' or 'economic terrorism'. Increasingly terrorism on the continent has nothing to do with the Middle East and everything with the quick collection of wealth in an extremely poor area.
4. Education, Research and Development:
America used to be ranked number one in education and not is in the middle of the rankings among developed countries. The ability of the poor and middle class to obtain high quality educations is rapidly disappearing. The amount of student debt is now affecting the country's bottom line. In the next couple of years, we need to rethink who needs a higher education while increasing Tech Educations Centers and Community Colleges. In addition, we need to pour funds into our higher education institutions for increase research and development. This nation must maintain its edge in new technologies, healthcare breakthroughs, communications, space exploration and transit. Instead of tax cuts maybe we should look at reducing the payments on student loans since young people are the ones who need the funds to set out in life.
5. Population Control:
American can't dance around this issue any longer. If people don't want to practice birth control because of religious beliefs that is fine but their personal beliefs should not impact one of the most important issues in the world. A continuing population explosion on this planet will be the root of all evil if we don't take serious measures around the world to control population growth. At the center of this issue contraception access is critical but so is the full education and liberation of women.
6. Wildlife Preservation:
Very soon the world will have to decide if it is important to save the world's wildlife. Elephants and rhinos are right now especially under attack. If the nations of the world don't respond like we did to save the whales, we could soon see a planet with almost no wildlife left in it. Not only could this effect our eco systems but also deny future generations of seeing such magnificent animals as lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, primates, etc.