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In Our Darkest Hour a Rainbow Emerges ....

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It was a depressing and dreary Thursday afternoon. Dark clouds and rain came. With its end, came the second time I saw a full rainbow, which I can see from one end to the other end. To top it off, there were two of them. And their colours were clearly defined too.

In highly built-up Singapore, the sight of a full rainbow is a wonderful sight. There were pedestrians turning and looking at what made my wife and me look up in the sky. Hopefully, it made the day more complete and meaningful for those people who glanced up and stopped for just a while.

Pause. That is something that we do not do enough of.

With it comes observation, reflection, thought and decision.

And speaking of that, there is no more important financial event that happened the past week than President Obama's speech to Congress. He talked about renewal of US, reforming education, health care, war policies, diplomacy, investment in sustainable energy and the economic recovery plan.

A day later, he laid out his first budget for US- a total of US$3.6 trillion. An amount that the Republicans have criticised as being too spendthrift and liberal. It will create the biggest deficit for US since World War 2. Is it justified?

On one hand, you could say that the Republican's arguments make sense because if the budget spends unnecessary money in the wrong areas, to ramp up votes or popular support, then the future citizens of US will be saddled with the costs of this budget.

However, if one is to look at the Depression in the 1930s, it was precisely a lack of spending and stimulus by the government that the Depression lasted so many years. US only truely recovered from it when it began a huge rearmament programme to make sure it was ready for a war with Hitler's Germany. It spent its way out of the Depression and laid the foundation of a huge manufacturing colossus during this time.

So to suggest that now is the time to be conservative with the budget and try to balance it would be the worst possible thing to do, other than becoming protectionist. US tried to do both these things in the early 1930s and extended the Depression. To repeat the same mistakes again would be stupidity and ignorance of the highest order.

To make things a lot brighter, President Obama has also announced the withdrawal of most of its troops from Iraq by August 2010. This will make more monies available to the 3 most crucial things for US right now- money to prop up the financial sector, investment in education and revamping its health care system. More importantly, it will save the lives of US soldiers who may otherwise be killed in Iraq.

We may have to await the judgement of history to see how well the new president has done. For me, he has showed leadership, intelligence and calmness with all that is happening around so far. Will he be the rainbow that emerges from the darkness?

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