A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Obama Administration Foreign Policy

This subject was discussed on October 14, 2013.

The attached article, located by one of the active Beyond Labels participants, examines the possibility that the Obama administration “may have strayed into the radical reforging of American foreign policy.” The author, Graham Fuller, is a former colleague of another participant.

This week’s topic will be to examine that assertion in the context of current events. To the extent we have time, we will also discuss the latest goings-on in Washington, DC. It’s been an eventful week!

20130930 Has Obama (Inadvertently) Broken the Mold in US Foreign Policy

Government’s Role in Home Ownership

This topic was discussed on October 21, 2013.
The Federal government has long supported home ownership via its support of the mortgage market through FNMA and FHLMC and a variety of laws and regulations governing other mortgage lender’s activities. Some believe that the benefits of this government support are outweighed by the disruptive side effects of the same intervention.

  • Should the US government be in the home mortgage business, directly or indirectly?
  • Is home ownership so much more valuable to society (vs. home rental or other housing alternatives) that it merits such support?

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Related Materials:

As a registered Beyond Labels participant, consider the following resources:

Obama to Insist Market Provides 30-year Mortgages (WaPo 8-5-2013)




Food Insecurity: A national, state and local issue

This topic was discussed on September 23, 2013.
September is “hunger action month,” a project of nationwide food-bank network Feeding America. This has drawn substantial publicity around the issue of food insecurity, including highlighting a recent US Department of Agriculture report “Household Food Security in the United States in 2012.”

  • How should we interpret the USDA study? In particular, how do we feel about some of the subtleties of the study:
    • the definitional difference between “food insecure” and “very food insecure”
    • the survey questions asked
    • the difference between “at any time during the year” and “during the last 30 days” statistics (and their derivatives, the average daily incidence of food insecurity)
    • the difference between “household” food insecurity and that for specific household members (children)
  • What should we do to reduce food insecurity?
    • Enhanced welfare programs (in the context of statistics offered by the USDA on the “Thrifty Food Cost” and the average monthly SNAP payment)?
    • What about the demographic analysis in the report (e.g., households led by a single female experiencing disproportionately higher food insecurity)? Does this recommend some other potential approaches?
    • The time-series data show a significant jump in food insecurity in 2007/2008, most likely associated with the recession. To what extent might steps to encourage job creation help to mitigate the issue?
    • How about the local issues? Maine’s incidence of food insecurity is higher than the national average and we know it is a real issue here on the Blue Hill Peninsula. What should be done to address the needs of our neighbors?

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