Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mr. President

To Dear Mr. Obama.


As you inherit a much maligned and tarnished legacy on 20th Jan 2009, I understand you have a daunting task ahead. The biggest challenge for you is restoring confidence of this nation and that of the 'average Joe' - the guy who's name was liberally used and milked during the campaign preceding your historic election to the highest office.

As a non-citizen and super-average Joe though, I have some simple suggestions to make. I am sorry, but I am taking this liberty to give you suggestions. You, who has been elevated to a Demi-God status and almost have become a messiah of sorts (at least in some circles). Although I find this idol-worshiping of yours a little too much to digest, I understand that there's an extraordinary thirst for change in your country. And you Sir, somehow offer that mirage of hope to a lot of folks. They believe (and unfortunately for you) that you have some magic wand to undo all mess.

As you try not to get too overwhelmed with this huge hollywood type hype and expectations and try to be grounded and deal with 'real' things, here are a few simple things you might want to consider. Again you are a super-hero, so you may as well ignore them. But anyways..

1. Please make your term a term of Common Sense Presidency. Keep it simple. In fact on day one, declare loudly and clearly - I am a Common Sense President. What this will do is release some of the air from the over hyped balloon. When you talk 'common sense' and remove hyper oratory and big talk, people 'get it'. They understand it's not easy. Please help lower some of the expectations. It will help you the most. Now since you have won the elections, the long, rousing, oratory speeches that you and me are habituated to can be freezed into your Oval office lockers for next four years. You'll need that spin again. But not now. I know you know what I mean.

2. Declare your presidency - a Common Sense Presidency - and actually use common sense. Something the last guy did not.
I am not an Economist or an Ivy League r by any stretch of imagination but yet as a simple working professional of this great nation I can "see" things around me. I can understand the basics and think we have some common sense solutions.
For example, the 'mass transit' system in your country is a mess. What if you used a fraction of that huge bail out for Wall Street to kick start a huge infrastructure initiative in partnership with private companies. Something that FDR did. Imagine a 'Bullet Train' between Chicago and DC or a Bullet Train between NYC and DC or SFO and San Diego. Think of the kind of Economic stimulus this would mean. All ancillary industries, such as steel, cement and technology would go bonkers. Not to mention great employment generation apart from the fact that this would be cleaner for environment. I know special interest groups and Detroit won't like it. But that's precisely the point. You have to act on your words, no?
You know the Airline Industry messed up because there was no competition from any other sector to it. They became greedy at some point, over-extended themselves and whoosh... lost it. If people of this country had an alternative choice in form of great railways, a robust choice which was cheaper than driving own car and better than using Greyhound, the Airline industry would have also been on their toes managing themselves well. Remember the middle class is the driving engine of the economy. You are missing the game if one the the latent needs of middle class in this country, an efficient alternative mass transit, is not available.

3. The second thing you can use common sense is on Immigration laws. Imagine what kind of revenue would have been generated if all the 12 million+ illegal Mexicans were appropriately taxed. Now those poor guys are hiding and earning with fear and not paying taxes yet using all resources. Instead they can live without fear, pay taxes and live a better life. You can start a program for those people to come forward, register their names and make sure they are assimilated in the society with respect. But they should also be made aware that there are no free lunches here. They have an obligation too. I am sure at least 90% will come forward and help the economy. You can also simplify laws for legal migrants and actually convert this into a revenue generating law. There are still millions and millions of people around the world who line up to your consulates. You can milk this cow like anything. Imagine a revenue generating fast track. I am sure you got the drift.

4. Sir, you have an overwhelming good will not only across the nation but around the world. You have a golden chance to leverage this good will into far more greater achievements. You should ideally declare the most harsh steps in your first year of office or as they call the 'honeymoon' period of your tenure. This is the time when hard pills can be swallowed as your support base is still dizzy with your win. Once things settle and they start analyzing you and your presidency, that's where water starts getting muddy. You have a clean slate. Make tough choices right away. You will get away now. Else never.

Thats it from me, the super-average-Joe of a developing nation, working here in your country.

Just one more thing. In school we used to be given tests to write essay on a topic called - "If I was the President of the Country" and all of us would write a wish list making pompous claims. You don't have that liberty of wish list or to be pompous. But Sir, you can write a great essay for this nation.

All the best!


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