Advice for Obama?

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In a matter of hours, President-elect Obama will start holding transition meetings that he’s been planning for months. There are obviously a lot of issues to address, matters of great substance and important issues of style as well. I thought the McCain concession speech and Obama victory speech both set a very positive tone; but now comes the hard part.

So what do you suggest? If you had a seat at one of the tables where Obama will be meeting over the next days and weeks, what would be some of your suggestions for how he should shape his administration, address the economic mess, consider the energy future, engage the global community, and so on and so forth?

Feel free to float ideas that are general or specific, from personnel to philosophy. Also, what are some things to avoid?

Maybe we will cull the 10 best ideas and pass them along as a Bill of Suggestions from the Freakonomics readership.


Sean P.

1. Carbon Tax

2. Carbon Tax

3. Carbon Tax

And as an added bonus

4. End these insane ethanol industry subsidies

SAM SUMANTH, MBA, UCLA

Re: Housing Stabilization

it is not fair to prop up the artificial sky-high house prices of the last 5 years - tho my 200k house is now a million!!! ridiculous!

it is not fair to lower the principal of the loan for some & not for their neighbours who were diligent in payments. it's worse than communism!!! [i am a liberal]

what u should do is tide over people in trouble of meeting their mortgage payments with extra-ordinary low interest rates for 1 year at a time & hope they can pick up their ability to meet regular rate payments a year later

tho this is still unfair to others, it is a smaller subsidy, & it is letting market forces fix home prices of future sales

everything else is a ridiculous finance idea, & you might as well have communism & nepotism & everything else an inefficient, corrupt country has!!

thank you

p.s. get a dachhound, they are great dogs for kids, hairless, & amusing & cutely-amusing looking!!

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Elise Pallais

Take a page from President Lincoln: APPOINT SENATOR MCCAIN AS SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. Not only would this be the height of bi-partisanship, it would make for better, stronger defense policy.

Paul

Use your popularity in Kenya and some other African countries to help stop the dictatorships and ethnic fighting that leads to millions of displaced people.

When both the conservatives and the ultraliberals both criticize you like they did with your selection of Emanuel, you can assume that you made the right decision.

Ricardo Aceves

Turn your sight to the south: you are not isolated and share a continent.

A. Davis

With the DTV transition coming just weeks after the inauguration, there's a possibility of widespread problems. It's admittedly a low priority problem, but people will complain loudly. You need some kind of plan to deal with this, proactively if possible.

Rick

Its important that the plan he laid out in his victory speech be followed.

The blurring of party lines and listening to the people, even the ones you don't agree with.

These are the two main points that make the rest of his plan work. George W. made a similar "gung-ho" acceptance speech, getting everyone excited about what was to come.

He needs to make sure that no matter how bad things get, He should always listen to the people that got him there. Not the lobbyists, not his financiers, but the voters.

On a side note, I voted for McCain. Yet I am also very excited for this presidency and look forward to the growing of our country in a positive direction.

In the words of Leslie Neilsen, "Good luck and we're all counting on you!"

Jeffrey

Push for a constitutional amendment banning a) taxation on corporations, and b) corporations having an individual's freedom of speech--so they can't contribute to political campaigns. HT: Robert Reich.

Kenny

In 1956 President Eisenhower helped pass the Fderal-Aid Highway Act, which gave us the Interstate Highway System. The IHS transformed American society. America needs a similar transformative project, an Interstate Mass Transit System could be such a project. It would create thousands of jobs in construction, operation and maintenance. It woulod help break our dependency on the automobile; reduce our energy consumption and improve air quality.

Pylon

Mine is simple. Transparency.

Americans have developed a significant distrust of politicians and governement (though they often only distrust the "other team"). You have a staff that is well versed in electronic communications of all types. Leverage them to keep the American people in the conversation of how the country should be run.

- Bring back the fireside chat. Keep us posted on what's happening in and out of Washington. Granted, national security will constrict some of that information, but we will understand if there are things you can't say.

- Keep the blog alive. Give every American a place for feedback. You won't need polls. We'll tell you directly what we think.

- Don't be afraid to reach out for help, especially to the public. If you are having problems with building consensus, ask the people to get engaged. The members of congress are our representatives, our proxies, our stand-ins, and it is completely reasonable to expect them to bend to our will, not the other way around. Let us know when you need us to speak up and be heard by our own, and we will be able to contribute to the process.

Government has been shrouded in secrecy and removed from the public for too long. (Much more than just eight years, by the way.) We all want change. But we want to have a hand in it as well. Keep us engaged and help us help you.

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The Nazan Yar

Hey why not ask for the impossible?

#1 - Fight for term limits for congressmen

#2 - Impose a small national sales tax, while reducing the income and payroll taxes

#3 - Start reducing troop population in strategic non-essential areas, thereby reducing defense cost and increasing spending in US military communities

#4 - Continue mucking up a potential Iran/Russia/Venezuela alliance

#5 - Eliminate the Dept. of Education

#6 - Don't worry about national health care, instead, open America's eyes on our poor eating habits and create a federal tax on cigarettes.

These would definitely not get you a second term, but our Country would benefit.

Silvanus

Ignore the concern trolls of the world. This includes many right wing economists who still maintain that deregulation had nothing to do with the side betting market which plunged this nation into even more dire straits than a simple housing readjustment.

dickgrogan

Mandate Flex-Fuel for all vehicles (costs $100). Mandate a % of new cars to be plug-in hybrids.

John Ferris

Offer middle-class parents help in meeting college costs. If the government can afford $25 billion for Detroit, why not offer relief for moms and dads? Create a pool from which parents could borrow at bargain interest rates. Or, and I'm no expert here, create tax benefits that ease the burden of tuition payments that now reach nearly $50,000 a year for private schools in the East.

Sean Samis

Make recognition of the sacrifices our Troops have made a priority. Dubya et al. spent their time trying to hide them from us. They all deserve parades.

Neville Austin

In the spirit of Freakonomics - for every Palestinian Civilian (men as well as women and children) killed by the Israeli 'Defence Force', then US Economic and Miltary assistance to Israel will be reduced by 1 PER CENT. For every incidence of damage to civilian Palestinian property caused then US assistance will be cut by 1/2 PER CENT.

Sherry Jansen

oops....typo by Sherry Jansen...I hope Obama follows through on his promises to lead America into Energy Independence. This past year the high cost of gas has strained our economy and damaged our society. Between fueling our vehicles and paying more for every consumer product there was little to no money left over for saving or investing. People are losing jobs and homes in record high numbers. Gas comes down, OPEC cuts production and gas will be rising again soon. WE have spent trillions on bail outs and stimulus checks. Our nation needs to invest in renewable energy and strive to become energy independent. Wind,solar and electric cars could replace a huge percentage of imported oil. We could produce cheap electricity and at the same time create millions of badly needed jobs. Renewable energy would be a win-win situation for our nation. Jeff Wilson just wrote a book called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW. I highly recommend this book for anyone concerned about our economy and our dependence on foreign oil. http://www.themanhattanprojcetof2009.com

Meant to say "BUY EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS ONE...NOT BUY EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS...lol"

And 2 puppies really are more fun than one!

and a PS. I think McCains speach is a testimony to the man he really is!

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SC

Before you make a decision think of three people: your grandmother and your daughters. Do what would make them proud.

dani os

Some people have already mentioned volunteering but I would like to elaborate:

Obama managed to inspire college students to a cause. Many volunteered for him, and at my campus as well as others, students filled the streets in their joy when obama was declared the winner.

We want to make a change in this country and we have the energy and now a leader. This country should capitalize on our desire to preform public service by providing incentives that enable us to do so more effectively and for a longer time period.

Upon graduating many of us have our hands tied by huge student debt and even those of us who are lucky enough to avoid debt, often must support ourselves, a challenge in this economy. As can be seen by the large numbers of college graduates applying to Teach for America, there is a desire to learn skills while serving. Americorps is also a great program, yet the compensation is so little that many cannot afford to live on the pay. Obama could harvest this energy by paying college grad to do the the public service jobs of Americorps, but paying them a living wage and, if a person works for five years, forgive their student loans. Students will benefit not only from working off their loans, but also gaining employable skills that they don't necessarily gain from a bachelors degree. Obama has preached that this change must come from all of us and I believe that there are thousands willing to serve if only given a financially feasible opportunity.

Volunteer power is an amazing force in a community. If we can provide a feasible means for young people to work to change the attitude of our country to a service oriented society, we should seize that opportunity. We are all a part of the change.

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UK Citizen

Please give the world back an America which other nations can respect and not fear...

1) close Guantanamo

2) stop extraordinary renditions

3) stop torture

4) don't threaten a war on Iran

5) non-military aid to Pakistan

6) sign kyoto, or at least demonstrate that America isn't going to go on churning out CO2 and wasting energy without regard for rest of world

7) Leave Iraq

8) I don't know if there's anyone who can advise you what to do in Afghanistan - good luck with that...

There is a massive feeling of relief that Obama got in here in UK - not least among those who admire the US as I do...