Thursday, October 16, 2008

Defining Qualities: Jihad, Elections and Obamanomics

There are a variety of things I'd like to discuss today and so I shall do my best to cover them all in a brief, and concise manner.

I am fresh from a seminar, what the particular seminar about is not really important, because what we talked about could crop up in almost a dozen different disciplines. The subject had to do with a particular historical group of Muslims and their attempt to overthrow a despotic regime and replace it with one more in line with the peoples needs. The regime would not go down without a fight so they declared a jihad and began a protracted military campaign against the ruler.

The opening question of the seminar was really quite simple, "What does jihad mean?" The answer around the room was a fairly uniform "Holy War" answer. That assumption is utterly incorrect, yet the T.A. did not step in and correct them, and I thought it would be in bad form to tell seven of my colleagues that they were clearly wrong. Jihad means literally to strive or to struggle. Muslims adhere to several interpretations of what jihad is and it is expected that a Muslim goes through such a period. The most critical jihad, the founder of the religion said, was the one between you and your faith. Yes, there is a component of war, but there is also one of fighting injustice, and also the personal struggle to do the right thing.

Sigh. I just expect more from my colleagues.

On the Canadian election results I can say quite honestly that I am satisfied with the results though I wish certain things turned out differently. I wanted a stronger NDP presence in the House, and weaker Liberal, Bloc and Conservative one. The outcome is truly unknown right now. The question is how will the House of Commons operate when it returns. Also, who will staff the cabinet. Did Harper receive enough solid candidates to make a stronger cabinet, or is it him, a handful of others and another bunch of suits?

Also, will the historically low turn out push the parties in to finally enacting much needed election reform in this country, as advocated in an earlier posting on this blog. What an utter waste of time First-Past-The-Post is. With such a system you might as well just have two parties, or just anoint a benevolent dictator.

The final thing that occurred to me to write about is that a few days ago I was watching TV and I saw the speech Obama gave on the economy, and his solution to the economic crisis. I've since read the reports of what he said in the debate but I'm not sure I can agree to everything he said, but the main tenents of his economic policy is pretty much what I would do in his shoes. The technology investment fund, investment in clean energy industry (not subsidies, investments), and the best part - Infrastructure investment.

The improvement of roads, rails and whatever else is critical to the success of any economy. According to many America's infrastructure has been slowly crumbling for decades (see the bridge collapse in Minnesota as proof). A broad spectrum investment program will put lots of people to work, and if the right areas are targeted it will jump start the economy.

That being said I oppose Obama's tax increase on those making over $250,000 - at first I thought it was reasonable, but the more reading I do about it the more I realize that small businesses are critical to economic growth and recovery. Also his tax plan relating to small businesses and thought to prevent outsourcing seems like whistling in the dark to me.

His speech made me much more comfortable that I have been about an Obama presidency before now. It's not the best economic strategy in the world, but it's alright, definitely satisfactory a B- plan. Still, if I was an Ohio voter instead of an Ontario observer I don't know who I'd vote for, though I have a great deal of respect for McCain and divided government.

We can only hope for the best and try to make the decisions that work best for us and our communities economically at this point. It should be an interesting next few weeks, months and years.

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