Friday, November 4, 2011

Stimulating the economy with campaigning

Picking thought the mail today, I counted at least 5 pieces of nice laminated political mailings.  With the election date next week, I'm sure there will be calls and more mailings over the weekend.  Between this season and my experience within a campaign, I'm starting to wonder if maybe campaigning can stimulate the economy.

Looking at a piece of literature, it may not be apparent, but there is a lot of work that goes behind it.  Someone has to determine the verbiage, formatting and design of the piece.  Pictures have to be taken (maybe not specifically for this piece, but at some point).  Someone has to put it all together in a way that the printer can make the mailer.  That's a lot of work and time behind all that.  Of course, the glossiness of the mailer, the size, and the number of components all influence the cost of the mailer.  The ones I got today, all top dollar!  Finally, the post office gets the postage for each piece (okay, they get a bulk rate, but still have to pay).

Just think if all these positions were unopposed.  For instance, one of the local races is unopposed.  I didn't get anything for that "race" nor do I expect to receive anything over the weekend.  Suppose also that these campaigns didn't raise much money and couldn't do the mailer (my garbage would be lighter).  In both of these circumstances, the economic activity is much smaller.

Given the state of the economy, instead of suggesting, as the Governor of North Carolina did, that we should suspend elections, maybe we should have them more often.  Just think, if we could get this amount of economic activity every year instead of every other year.  Wow!  Then, if things don't improve, we could have 6 month terms, then 3 month terms ....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Libya may be the new Afganistan

In today's Wall Street Journal, Paul Wolfowitz discussed the current situation in Libya and what opportunities the US has.  In the course of reading this article, I started to wonder if perhaps Libya would at some point look similar to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a country with lots of space between people.  Because of it's location, and relative lack of strong sovereignty, the USSR, Taliban, Al-Qaeda,  and arguably now the US has tried to control it.  The people are very tribal and suspicious of other tribes and other countries.  In the conflict with USSR, the tribes organized together and the US had a chance to eliminate some of the suspicion of the US.  Unfortunately, the US backed out and confirmed the suspicions that they had.  The tribes also reverted back to warring with each other.

So now, the conflict is in Libya.  It's also conveniently located, very tribal, with lots of open space.  Mr. Wolfowitz discusses how the US didn't fully take advantage of the situation in order to eliminate doubts that people in that country would have about US support.  One could argue that the US did everything to reinforce the unreliable tag.

Libya doesn't have the same rugged terrain that symbolizes Afghanistan, but you can argue that what it does have can be just as brutal.  Today, Libya's tribes seem to mostly have come together to fight a common enemy, but how long will that last.  We've already sown the suspicion of the US into the "new" Libya, if the tribal coalition falls apart ....