Why I support President Obama…

I am your typical married, 42 year-old American with two young children, girls 9 and 6. I think having kids has changed my perspective on where I want my country to go. Before I had kids, I was a just left of center moderate on fiscal issues and a bit further left on social issues. My fiscal view was that every individual American has personal responsibility to earn a living and provide for themselves and their family. And for those that could not, maybe a little short-term safety net should be provided by the Government but in no way should people feel entitled to anything. Everyone for themselves and there will be winners and losers.

Now that I have a children and a broader view of the world, my view has been enhanced. Not a major shift but just an additional perspective. I want my kids to grow up in an America like I grew up in. It felt safe… it felt like a leader in the world… we had the good jobs (higher paying, higher educated, more creative/entrepreneurial) in the world… you felt like you can make anything out of yourself with hard work and little bit of luck… there was a good solid middle-class population. You know the people in your old neighborhood. They weren’t ultra-rich nor were they really poor. Just good people going about their life with the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It seems to me that a) the disparity between the have and the have nots continues to grow and we are ending up with an America with more ultra-rich people and more really poor (and this has been going on for a while, see graph below), b) we’ve lost the will (or the intelligence) to be on the cutting edge of things (i.e. have the best infrastructure, invent the coolest technology, grow industries that will be industries of the future) and c) we’ve gotten more negative as a nation… Americans are supposed to be the optimists… we think everything is ‘Awesome!’.

I was originally of the stance that I wanted President Obama to be re-elected but I didn’t think it was a big deal either way. But now that I think about it more, I want a different future for my kids. Rather than go down a path where America gets more socially conservative and there is no apparent vision of the fiscal future (except we are going to cut taxes, not get rid of any of the expenses that people want, balance the budget and reduce the deficit), I want to go with President Obama. Why?

  1. I think he has a positive vision for the future. Better educated Americans. The leaders in new industries. A focus on building out the middle class. I don’t think he has made much progress in the first 4 years and my hope is that more gets done in the second term.
  2. I would really like us to invest in more infrastructure (which can spur on new industries). 20 years from now, I want my kids to live in an America that has better infrastructure than other parts of the world. Living here in Southeast Asia, it feels like other countries are investing more into this which may set them up to out pace America in the long run. How about some high-speed, energy efficient rail across America? How about high-speed Internet everywhere? How about electric car charging stations everywhere?
  3. I don’t want my kids to have to worry about getting health coverage or going bankrupt because of health issues. I think, as an American, you should be ‘entitled’ to get preventive healthcare and medical treatment when you need it, paid for by ALL Americans. We are all in this together and if you spread out the cost to everyone, it may actually be better and cheaper.
  4. I think changing presidents after 4 years, is a waste of time. There should be a new amendment that gives the incumbent president a 10pt. advantage so you can get rid of somebody that is really terrible, but if its close, let the person finish his/her job. My hope is that more can get done in the second term as there won’t be any concern of being re-elected.

I do have my negatives for President Obama…

  1. He seems to be really bad at politically gaining consensus with Republicans to get things done. Governor Romney seems to be better at that.
  2. This may be because he is trying gain consensus, but I wish he would be bolder in his initiatives (i.e. go single payer with healthcare)
  3. I think he should move on from David Axelrod and David Plouffe. Everytime I see them on Meet the Press, they seem to be source for the previous two items. This is more emotion based and not fact based. I don’t know why. They just seem to come across whiny.

Trains, trains, trains…

I think I’ve discovered that I really like trains. They seem to be so predictable and you feel like your not wasting as much natural resources as driving a private car or taking a taxi. I’m also cheap and taxis outside of Hong Kong are really expensive. In the last 2 1/2 weeks, I rode a total of 10 different train lines. Here’s a recap and my awards…

  1. Hardest Train to Get Off (as everyone tries to get on without waiting for you to get off) – MTR (Hong Kong Subway)
  2. Most Convenient Way to Get to the Airport (you check your bags in town before boarding) – Airport Express (Hong Kong)
  3. Most Canadian (you can get on the train without a ticket. silly trustworthy Canadians) – Skytrain (Vancouver)
  4. Most On Time (I love the down to the minute schedule) – Metra (Chicago)
  5. Best Value for Money (16.5 miles to the airport for $2.25USD) – CTA ‘L’ (Chicago Subway)
  6. Most Sheep and Rolling Hills (that stretch from Manchester to Sheffield) – Transpennine Express
  7. Best WiFi (surfing the web from Sheffield to London) – East Midland Trains
  8. Ugliest Interior (the material on the seats looks like your grandma’s couch) – Tube (London Underground)
  9. Longest Undersea Rail Tunnel (under the channel from London to Paris) – Eurostar
  10. Most Likely to Get Pickpocketed (or at least it felt liked that as I was packed in the train like a sardine) – Paris Métro

p.s. I did push my luck and tried for an 11th train ride. I decided to take the RER (Réseau Express Régional) to Charles de Gaulle Airport. It started off of o.k. with the receptionist at the hotel giving me some simple instructions to get to the train. After figuring out how to buy the special ticket from the French-only vending machine, I was on my way. When I arrived at the train platform I was immediately worried whether this was the right place. After trying to speak to a few people, I came to understand that there were some lights that light up that tell you which stops that the next train will stop at. All settled, I just need to wait for the train with the CGD stops lit up. Train 1 goes by… train 2… train 3… and so on. To make a long story short, the train to CGD were not running that weekend and the French speaking announce explained to all of the French speaking passengers that they need to head to the Mitry stop and catch a shuttle bus. Now this where I really thought the French people were great. The train was packed. I had my luggage with me. The doors were about to close and I was in a panic that I couldn’t make it on the train. A kind gentlemen grabs my arm, pulls me and my luggage up and pushes me into this ultra-packed train car. After riding a few stops crushed against a number of people the train started to clear out. Lo and behold, I made it to the airport finally and made it home.