Tuesday, May 6, 2008

my country and your country

I heard that the United States will suspend the gasoline excise tax during the summer.
My country raised taxes.
Actually they abolished some of the taxes a month ago but reestablished it.

I guess they needed more money to finish making highways or other roads.

It is interesting how both of the parties—in the United States and Japan— that has power are rather conservative.
Two countries, having the Government party with a similar political view chose different policies.

My conclusion is, in the United States, petroleum companies have power and in Japan, construction companies have power.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Renewable Energy and think tanks

The UCS has written an analysis of renewable energy that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed on August 2007— 15 percent by 2020 Renewable Electricity Standard. They are trying to push a new bill for 20 percent by 2020. They have estimated that by their policy suggestion, it could affect the economy and help prevent global warming by:

· Job Creation— ­­185,000 new jobs from renewable energy development
· Economic Development— $66.7 billion in new capital investment, $25.6 billion in income to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners, and $2 billion in new local tax revenues
· Consumer Savings— $10.5 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills by 2020 (growing to $31.8 billion by 2030)
· Climate Solutions— Reductions in global warming pollution equal to taking 36.4 million cars off the road (Cashing on Clean Energy: UCS)

There is a confrontation between the think tanks that are making policies to prevent global warming and the think tanks that say it still is not a serious problem. It is easy to understand that they are clearly in opposite positions. EPI (Economic Policy Institute) has been working on promoting re-industrializing manufacturing appealing the need of renewable energy industry to grow. On the other hand, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute believe that regulation from the government will obstruct the growth of the economy. The reports from these conservative think tanks are always claiming that the evaluation of America’s environment is too crucial and America is doing a good job taking in mind that it is the economically largest country in the world. But looking at Mother Jones’ report, ExxonMobil has been putting money into think tanks that are against the restriction of carbon dioxide and the use of biofuels; such as The Heritage Foundation, Brooking Institute Competitive Enterprise Institute and American Enterprise Institute (Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank). There is always power and influence by major corporations when conservative think tanks make policies for the economy— there is always an objection to new ideas to protect the present situation.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Economic Recession by Going Green?

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) which was suggesting the economic stimulus package had also come up with another policy; the “need of a strong domestic manufacturing sector in promoting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Since global warming and greenhouse gas is now the most important problem for all humankind, the idea of renewable-energy is effective. The nature has been destructed by the climate change cause by global warming. There has been a lot of rain in arid regions and vise versa. For example, a huge number of corals are becoming white (dead) because the water temperature has been rising (corals begin to die when the temperature is higher than 86F). Some countries are having strong winds blowing across their country (ex. France); which has never happened in couple centuries.

Countries around the world have gathered around to brainstorm ideas to reduce greenhouse gas. But the United States has withdrawn treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. One of the reasons was that reports from think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation has claimed that, by reducing Greenhouse gases there would be a decrease in the economy; less energy, less economic growth. Another problem was the exemption granted to China; true it seems unfair observing China building a new power plant almost every week. But at the state level, local governments are working on reducing Greenhouse gas emission (RGGI; Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative).

There are pros and cons to new technologies related to the global warming. Ethanol use to substitute gasoline and bioplastics are some technology that is suggested to prevent the excess of carbon dioxide and global warming. It could be manufactured from glucose which could be made by sugar canes and other products that include sugar. Although ethanol does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide, it makes 34% less energy than gasoline. It may corrode rubber and plastic inside the fuel feed system or the aluminum used for the internal-combustion engine. More over it includes alcohol which has very high affinity with water. So when this is combined with the dew condensation— occurred by the difference of temperature between the fuel tank and outside temperature— and sent to the high pressure burner, there is a possibility that the fuel tank will corrode faster. In addition, ethanol discharges more NOx (nitrogen oxide) — which is harmful to human being— than gasoline.

Bioplastic is manufactured by corn and sugarcane which contains a lot of sugar and starch. Technically it is possible to make from wood, rice, milk and garbage (kitchen garbage that contains water, such as meat, fish and vegetable). It is said that bioplastic could be carbon neutral (zero carbon total release) and compared to the solubility of plastic (790F~1030F), bioplastic could be easily reused at 320F or from microbes, it could be decomposed to water and carbon dioxide and will make no dioxin; which is also harmful to human body. Although it takes some energy when manufacturing, the disposing of bioplastic by burning will not change the amount of carbon-dioxide as it would naturally. But some think tanks say that the amount of energy used to manufacture these products is not calculated (American Enterprise Institute). Some reports say that it would cause more Greenhouse gas as a result.

Xie xie

Monday, March 24, 2008

Economic Stimulus Package

Weeks ago, President Bush has signed the economic stimulus package. The package will include tax rebates and business tax cuts. Greg Mankiw criticized this action when the CEA (Council of Economic Advisers) has stated that $168 billion stimulus package would create 500,000 jobs this year— “In other words, each job created adds $336,000 to the national debt” (Mankiw). Taking Mankiw’s extremely sarcastic remarks into consideration there is a controversy between left-wing think tanks and right-wing think tanks.

The liberal think tanks such as EPI claims that with the tax rebate, people would spend more money buying goods. With more than a million people receiving the benefit, it will have multiple effects in the economy which would make a “dent in the twin trends of rising unemployment and shrinking retail spending” (Nancy Cleeland-EPI). They have been claiming that the government should spend 1% of their GDP to help the poor; such as tax rebates, individual supports and accelerate public investments. But at the same time, they are against the business tax cut— which was not on their strategy report— because it will just give benefits to the rich ones.

The conservative think tanks are supporting the business tax cut because they believe it will “increase business investment, which would create jobs and strengthen the economy” (Hederman— The Heritage Foundation). They are against tax rebates because looking back at 2001, the tax rebates were not directly used to buy products— which they believe was a waist of federal spending. Bloomberg has said that it is “like giving a drink to an alcoholic” (The New York Times). The AEI was against economic stimulus and to fix U.S. tax code (Hassett). Many opinions are given hoping that the economy of the United States would recover. Robert Kuttner gave a different suggestion before the bipartisan stimulus package has passed— “instead of debating the finer points of a "stimulus" package, or the Fed's next rate cut, Congress and the White House should get together to rescue the housing sector. Home equity represents the greatest part of the net worth of the American middle class.”


Friday, February 29, 2008

old story

John Edwards has been ignored because corporate leaders want to insure that the party would nominate candidates who can be relied upon to protect and foster their interests. With his challenge to their power, Edwards does not qualify for those powerful companies. In the 2004 primary, the corporate-owned media used many strategies to take down Howard Dean in Iowa and make the voters believe that the candidate to represent the Democratic Party was John Kerry. For the 2008, the media narrowed the Democratic candidates in to two; both very important candidate that would change American history. Even though Hilary Clinton has the highest negatives of any Democrat, the media had to choose her because of her name recognition and fundraising ability. John Edwards has offered a detailed universal health-care plan. He has promised to make union organizing easier. As president, Edwards has said he wants to increase the minimum wage and retract tax breaks for the wealthy. He believes that the United States should cooperate with other nations rather than unilateralism. Unlike Obama and Clinton, he does not believe that nuclear power should be part of the mix to decrease dependence on fossil fuels.

How will these policies affect major corporations? First, a health care plan could harmfully damage health insurance companies. Helping unions organize easier and to increase minimum wages is something that is unpleasant for corporate-owners. Retrieving tax breaks will give the wealthy people difficulties. The armament companies will have a decrease on their sales and so does companies that deal with nuclear power. In addition, John Edwards has accused FOX that they are too sympathetic to the GOP. He has skipped a debate in Nevada last year because FOX was the host. With this kind of a relationship, there will be no hope for Edwards to appear in such media companies.

How was the media coverage of the candidates based on political parties? A joint report by “The Center for American Progress and Free Press” has announced that a conservative talk radio is broadcasted ten times longer that progressive talk radio. Looking at the headlines of mainstream media there might be a clue to understand which political party is more important to the media corporations. With the understanding that there were terrible tragedies of the tornados, excluding The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, most online news sources had their headlines about the tornados right after the “Super Tuesday” was over. But reading the political page, CNN and ABC were referring to the GOP. The New York Times, CBS and MSNBC— splashing both of the stories, the primary and the tornado half and half— chose the Democratic Party. It was interesting that the FOX— being accused by John Edwards— had the pictures of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain nicely divided into one-third each. Overall, it was unfortunate, but there were more media that had chosen the Democratic Party for their headlines than the GOP.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Ron Paul

Back to "Super Tuesday," Ron Paul was hardly ever covered by the media. Although he may not have done that well for the primary, he was voted second place in Montana. But the media behaved as he wasn’t even part of this primary; or just interviewing after a great loss. Why has the result of Ron Paul become so different compared to his image via internet? Ron Paul had the most friends and supporters in major social networking sites— MySpace and Facebook— for a Republican.

Including the Democratic candidates, he was in the third place overall. In addition, I have heard that Ron Paul was ranked always in the top 40 viewed in YouTube.
Was this a plan to get the interests of the internet savvy? Or was it a desperate measure taken under the pressure of necessity? The answer would probably be closer to the latter. Two candidates have been ignored by the mainstream media. Not only was Ron Paul trying to be silenced by the mainstream media, but John Edwards from the Democratic Party was in the same situation.

They weren’t ignored because they do not have the power or name value. Looking at the fund raising, Ron Paul was ranked the seventh, raising 42.1 million dollars and John Edwards ranked fifth, raising 44.3 million dollars. The leading fund raiser Hilary Clinton has raised 118.3 million dollars along with Barack Obama, raising 103.8 million dollars. The leading candidate for the Republicans, John McCain raised 42.1 million dollars ranking sixth, which is lower than John Edwards. Having Mitt Romney in the third place with 90.1 million dollars, it is surprising that Mike Huckabee was ranked twelfth with 9 million dollars over all (CNN-Politics-Finances). What the public could understand from this situation is that John Edwards and Ron Paul are both good fund raisers as a politician. Candidates must have good convincing policies and commitments in order to receive reliance and donation from the public.

The possible reason for the two candidates being silenced by the mainstream media is that their policies were inconvenient to the major companies. Ron Paul, a libertarian— believing in a limited government— is the only Republican that was against the war and claiming an immediate evacuation from the Mid East. Even though the leading Democratic candidates have preached the necessity of arms reduction to the Mid East, their commitment wasn’t as strong as Ron Paul’s. Barack Obama has said that depending on the necessity, he would maintain the army in the Mid West for a while. Now if my understanding of corporate coalition is somewhat proper, I believe the media has a strong relation with the powerful corporations. These corporations do not want an instant evacuation in order to make profit for their own company. In addition, Ron Paul has lost his attraction after some media has accused him for his newsletter “Political Report” issued in 1992. Even the Cato Institute— which had a relationship with Ron Paul with publishing his conclusion from the commission couple decades ago— has written an article of Ron Paul that although his policy is considerable, he will not win the presidency.


Friday, February 8, 2008

The Media Coverage of some candidates

Hello friends from Dr.Paul Levinson's class.

I hope not too many people will be reading this because I have no confidence writing about politics.

Since I am an international student that has no citizenship in this country, I don't think I would support any canidates but just write something I learned from other classes or from a non-American--or just say a Japanese-- perspective.

My first post will be about the media coverage of some candidates.
Why does the mainstream media show a composition of 2 Democratic Candidate and 3 Republican Candidate?

I understand that those candidates are the only ones that have won the primary. But it seems as even before "Super Tuesday" the media has been covering cetain candidates for the goods of themselves or just based on popularity.

I think I would keep updating my blog as I learn more about American Politics.