How has President Obama done so far?

This is the second review article on the President since he took office.

President Obama is going into history as the first African American elected to the presidency of USA. However, he might also go into history as a one term president because of the economy travails, and lack of apparent leadership. He has, in my opinion, created an image of arrogance and lack of effective leadership. He is becoming a polarizing force in the political spectrum of the country.

He has developed an atmosphere of uncertainty with his approach of decision making.  Even the most important legislation of his administration to date, Health Care Law, he delegated the initiative to former Speaker Pelosi until it looked doubtful it will pass. He then got involved in what many called “Chicago politics” to pass the bill.

Some commentators hold that the government’s reformist staff and the President would have been capable of tackling the country’s very acute problems were it not for resistance from the party’s left wing guard. Perhaps that is true. But the voters who picked President Obama in November of 2008 were voting for change which was never spelled out during the campaign.

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Fortress Europe

Mr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily.  He is also a contributor to The BusinessThinker.com

This editorial is also published in Kathimerini.

The most important result of last week’s summit in Brussels was perhaps not so much the writedown of Greece’s debt but the fact that the European Union is changing and creating structures that will allow other countries to help fund the euro’s rescue. A few hours after the summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and invited China to participate in the fund. Brazil and Russia have also shown interest in such an investment.

If the plan goes ahead, it will achieve several aims: The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) will be greatly strengthened (to an estimated 1.4 trillion euros) so that any eurozone members facing difficulty in borrowing will not be left to the markets’ mercy; this will prevent the crisis from spreading from country to country, and, in addition, will support Europe’s economy, allowing the developing giants of the global economy to invest in it and at the same time protect their trade relations. It is probably no coincidence that China’s interest comes shortly after the publication of statistics showing that last September China’s trade with Europe increased only by 9 percent, compared to 22 percent a year earlier. The United States has also been pressing European leaders to take radical measures so as to prevent the crisis from spreading throughout the global financial system.

So everyone has a reason to prop up Greece: By supporting our country they serve their own interests. Only under such circumstances can a weak country achieve great things, in this case, national reconstruction — as long as it does something to help itself. And this is where last Thursday’s decisions are so dangerous for us: Greece is now one step away from being evicted from the eurozone. If it does not do what it needs to do, it will be left to its fate.

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Greece is looking for a new model

Mr. Alexis Papachelas is a guest editorial writer to The Business Thinker. He is currently the Executive Editor of the long standing and highly respected daily Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”.

This editorial is also appearing in Kathimerini.

Greece is facing a difficult challenge today. For the past 30 years, Greek citizens believed that they had a life contract — or rather, two contracts. One was a contract with our politicians, on the basis of which a young person’s employment in the public sector was considered almost certain, as was our “settlement” of tax obligations on the basis of which politicians we knew. The second was a contract with the European Union, which provided substantial benefits in the form of agricultural subsidies and other EU funds. For the past 30 years we lived on the basis of these two contracts and we have to say that they were good years. At first we had many billions in the form of Community funding and then came the easy loans that we secured through our being members of the eurozone. Either through loans or from EU funding, these were good years for all — including Germans and others who took advantage of the great Greek party.

I am not talking about the consumer goods that we became accustomed to with such ease. I am talking about, for example, the pharmaceutical companies that exploited to the full Greece’s corrupt and disorganized system so as to multiply their profits compared to what they made in other countries. I am referring to the many billions that went toward armaments, behind which were huge kickbacks.

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