But this would be a superficial analysis using "causation," saying "this caused that," and I think most Americans understand this. Most Americans understand that our problems are more complex. Despite the new president's promise to end the "trickle down theory" aspect of the US economic, and hence global, system during his final and most important presidential speech, things remain much the same. The US in mired in yet another un-winnable war, the Iraq war resembles Vietnam in many ways, and the "trickle down theory" remains, where improvements in stock market, the simple-minded "causation" measure of the economy, result simply from injections of US cash that is desperately needed else where.
Initially the injections of cash simply resulted in "profit taking" by investors; the initial billions were simply shunted into private holdings, and the market indexes sank again. As of today, the most recent injection has resulted in record profits by one bank giving the market optimism, though those profits were purely based on government subsidies, hardly old-school capitalism. The system that created the problem persists, and, as skeptics point out, there is no evidence that America will return to its successful roots as a producer. One can only assume that America will continue as a sub-division housing and shopping mall producer, and that the key economic indicator will be consumption and production will continue to be ignored.
Global security is more muddled than economics under the new "liberal" president, and hence difficult to understand. It is also difficult to look at because it is based on killing. Research has departed as a viable tool for security, the CIA being America's intelligence advisor has mentally decayed into a killing machine designed specifically to punish perceived enemies without the evidence necessary for incrimination.
Ignored during more than two decades is intense cocaine infiltration from the South: Latin America. Mexico, leading the world with its nearly purely smuggling-based economy, both dangerous narcotics and equally ruinous illegal labor, attempts to solve its problem with violence, just as the US does in the Middle East. The barest knowledge of cocaine culture learned from TV specials easily tells the average American that drug wars fit the Biblical warning like no other: violence begets violence. With the majority of Latin America's income derived from hurting US youth with its narcotics, the narcotics industry has to be endemic to Latin American culture, and wars will simply shift power as Latin America simply has no ability to convert to sustainable traditional production necessary for sustainable economies. This crisis now combines war and economics.
Suddenly completely ignored by Obama's administration after economic collapse sent in in earnest is the environment. He made several supportive gestures towards the environment in the very early days, and also politically related human rights issues (especially with respect to the CIA), but the biggest boon for the environment is, apparently, the present economic collapse. The collapse has a silver lining!
I believe that global security can only improve under Obama, as Bush and his clan are seemingly developmentally retarded. Obama may eventually "come around" and understand that economics is based on the productivity by the people through their development. He may do what is necessary: allowing regions to put their peoples to work, to contribute locally to the effort necessary to get a nation out of such a hole as has been dug by his predecessor, and also by him with his bail-outs of the (also dysfunctional) bankers.
Despite my optimism (many I know feel it is unrealistic and naive), comparing "this" administration with "that" administration, or the actions of "these" people with "those" people, does not create information that can be used to create the kind of understanding necessary for developing ways to solve problems.
The common thread through all these problems, both violent and financial, seems to be mental dysfunction; it was apparent in the last administration, and it may be a factor in this.
About two years ago I was personally influenced enough by constructivism with it's concept of "community of knowledge" that I altered my life to engage people who are truly linked emotionally, the highest form of information, and to relate all the beneficial components of my life as information structures in a community of knowledge that links well into the environment. I absorbed Darwin's idea that morality is the evolution of the love that animals feel what he called "natural affection," and within this emotional knowledge is factual knowledge that links us to the code of life of the environment; the DNA of nature around us.
From this I created a wiki page on the Wikiversity called the Empathy Model that structures relevant gathered information and shows a structural relationship between healthy psychology, social interactions, and society. But as with much of the learning about the human mind, the focus turned away from what we take for granted towards what is missing--empathy that has been lost. A far more accurate way to describe the empathy model is as "emotional communication," which is the most sophisticated form of communication, as it transports the most advanced and sophisticated type of information: feelings. The neural constructs necessary for this are far beyond those necessary for any other task, including mathematics. In music, which is highly mathematical, the empathy model creates criteria for distinguishing between a passable technician and a true artist.
In the early analysis of the Empathy Model, a lack of specific neurons or neural constructs prevents the necessary complex conceptualization and communication necessary to develop beneficially. Generally agreed is that this lack of neurons describes the sociopath. But there is resistance to the idea that the obvious mass murdering by societies that is war is necessarily sociopathic. There is the argument that killing may be necessary for self-defense, but I rarely hear that argument except in terms of rebellion. A more common rationalization is that killing is necessarily an outcome of economic conditions, a phenomena unto itself, and that global trade is the necessary solution. From this we get the idea of global free trade, where the "freedom" is regulated through a concept of global citizenship: each of the biggest global corporations act as "citizens" in a purely corporate society that represents these multi-national corporations democratically, and that all others, including all nations and their peoples, are non-citizens, and hence slaves, or, even worse, outsiders. This is an obvious extension of the Roman empire's capital structure, its pseudo democracy which is called fascism, and its stretched-out collapse, the Pax Romana. The system was unsustainable when conceived (though it lasted a long time), and cannot work for the long run, as the basis of economics is not the exploitation of economic resources, but the development the people who support economic systems. Without their efforts economies collapse, as our global economy is doing right now. Instead a capital economy thrives on bad things: endless debt robs future generations, economic inequities create suffering, and natural environments collapse.
These problems can be reconciled only in fantasy. In terms of the empathy model, this is what I get from the capital rationale: a primary use for intelligence is the rationalization of failure. As Heinlein said, "Man is not a rational animal, but a rationalizing animal." Daniel Goleman uses this quote in Social Intelligence to show that little thinking is done as we move ahead, and that most human intelligence goes to deflecting blame for humanity's endless mistakes and mis-steps. Little mental effort goes towards technological or sustainable resource development, and the majority goes towards building personal wealth, mostly in the forms of cheaply built but appealing housing, and equally cheap and appealing consumer goods sold in serially expanding malls along the super-highways.
Obama's strategies are neither imaginative nor unique, but they are embryonic; he is not yet being blamed for the failure of his strategies as he inherited the present dilemma and he is still within his first 100 days.
The empathy model was built in wiki-format, and wikis, such as the wikimedia software of the Wikipedia, promote an excellent way of structuring information so that new, or meta-information, comes from the inserted information.
Prior to my using a wiki, I focused the study in Internet discussion groups, so as to be able to bring into play many differing ideas and experiences, and also to make available space for debate. But as the debate ended, I found that there had been little new information added, just a confirmation of available information based on experiences and research. Debate become contentious; this helped test existing ideas, but further prevented knowledge construction.
One small information bit that came through the discussion is the idea that the a justice system is not really about what is "just," but what can be rationalized.
With the wiki came a new concept. With society's structure we have complex rules systems, and when these rules are broken there are consequences, compliance failure may be met with violence: this is nothing new. But with people who are disconnected from society because of mental challenges, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, you also find complex rules. The example I like bring out is "try robbing a violent thief and see what he does, he will probably try to kill you." Criminal gangs are run by self-named enforcers and often the rules openly lend to rationalization such as with the Latin Kings: "if you lie to me, you don't love me." And presumably you may die.
Suddenly there is a relationship between society and components that can be thought of as anti-society: complex and enforced rules-bases systems. But if you look at natural systems, such as Darwin's natural affection, or Ruth Benedict's Synergistic (meaning successful) native tribes, you find systems with only a few meaningful rules. Christ was unquestionably a revolutionary in his time, and he is best known for simplifying Jewish law's more than 700 rules to only a few about love, equality, and forgiveness.
I had experienced Anarchist systems in my youth when I was involved with popular music, and I rejected them for their violence and dangerous drugs. But evidence that complex rules may be both at the root of society's problems as well as individual destructiveness, and that these two problem areas seem to be increasingly related with every bit of newly introduced information, makes one want to take a fresh look at Anarchism. Defending Darwin's idea of natural affection against the so-called social Darwinists was Prince Petr Kropotkin with his Mutual Aid. In it he describes the natural village, one that is closely connected to the environment, as the ideal state for human living. Lewis Mumford concurs with his Technics and Civilization, though he shows that it takes civilization to create highly complex technologies. Still, Mumford shows that these highly complex technologies may not necessarily be a good thing, and his research goes back to the command and control systems of the Egyptians used to build monumental structures with slave labor and and nearly neolithic crafts abilities.
Today's exciting technology is of course digital communication through the Internet, and this can be easily be used for collaborative efforts by researchers and resource developers distributed around the world, and hence potentially living in natural environments. The need for large centralized systems is gone: capital structures in financial capitals funded with capital, or resources accumulated by capital institutions from other people.
As the economist EF Schumacher said, "Small is Beautiful," in his book of the same title: this is what Obama has to learn to succeed in leading America, and hence the World, out of its present dilemmas.