TIC – National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) – Keeping Real Estate Agents at Bay

The TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) is an organization that not only regulates itself but it also deals with the securities industry that in turn is engaged in operating as well as regulating NASDAQ stock market as well as over-the-counter markets. Another aspect to the TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) is that it also administers examinations meant to check out the capabilities of professionals engaged in investing and a typical such examination is the Series 7 examination.

Disqualification Of Use

Among other organizations, the TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) too is very much concerned with the fact that whenever a TIC is deemed to be a partnership or even a security or both, then there is every possibility that the NASD may be required to use Code Section 1031 to disqualify such use. The upshot of such disqualification by the TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) is that TIC transactions or securities must be transacted only through securities dealers/brokers and not any real estate brokers.

At present, there is also a certain amount of conflict that generally arises when brokering of TICs takes place which may have to take the form of either security transactions or as real estate transactions and so, a grey area exists regarding whether the transaction should be deemed as a security or real estate. Furthermore, due to the fact that the TIC transactions market is mostly unregulated there is hence a need for the TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) to take a more active role in making its own evaluation of the TIC industry as a whole.

In fact, TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) seems to be mainly engaged in broadly interpreting the securities law according to its own viewpoint and thus will in most likelihood liken the grey area as being securities and thus include NNN as well as master lease TIC transactions which in turn would result in shutting out real estate brokers/dealers out of such dealings. What’s more, since the TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the Securities Exchange Commission work in tandem, the SEC too will most probably also take the same view as taken by TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).

Another important aspect in this regard is that the existing TIC: National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) rules number 24-20 do not allow real estate agents from making money out of purchasing TIC interests that are being brokered in the form of securities despite the fact that state laws mandate that real estate licenses have to convey those real estate parts of each transaction.

Insecurity in Nigeria – What Can the Government Do to Improve General Security?

Governments start with policy making. Using biblical examples for instance, we have records of several regimes including that of Moses, of Joshua of Saul, of David, of Solomon, and the many rulers of Israel. Similarly, in Nigeria we can look at Buhari, IBB, Sani Abacha, and the various segments of OBJ and typify each regime with labels that will stick. Therefore, if a government were to seriously determine to correct the situation, it has to formulate a policy Idiagbon style maybe, or IBB sell out of Structural Adjustment style; but determinately directed at restoring our peace and security to pre-civil levels.

By the way, this will mean that all vigilantes become irrelevant. All those barriers by which people imprison themselves at night will go down. It also means that someone going from Lagos to Kano will not fear to start at 8pm in order to drive on free highways and be in Kano the following morning to transact whatever business he had on his mind. The execution of the policy will then be monitored if formulated with measurable goals in mind. It sounds like a tall order but we have seen it done before. The neighboring Ghana where all middle class Nigerians have run is a close example of a working secure community that has transformed itself. We are the same West Africans.

The government can remove the psychology of money as the ultimate source of power in order to improve on general security. A determined campaign can change anything that people are committed to. I have lived in countries where the entry point salary of a policeman is just below that of university graduate entering the civil service. By the time that such a person spends a year or two in the service, there is no graduate that will have enough left to bribe him with an amount impressive enough for him to risk his job. It may sound extreme and laughable in our situation. However, until we have measurable yardsticks such as this as goals, we will continue to beat about the bush.

This suggestion has nothing to do with current wealth in the society; its funding may come from a redistribution of new revenues. Funds are then allocated to specific programs and agenda with targets and measures aimed monitoring the movement towards the target. If fraudulent are truly seized, they can be committed to job creating ventures like the establishment of a ethanol industry, or the take off of our green campaign similar to Petroleum Trust Fund ideals and similar projects before them.

John Omoluabi blogs on practical life issues at the Deception Battlefront, and is Director of APGO America, publishers of Islamic Jesus – a book that dissects the truths from the Koran concerning the true identity of Jesus Christ.

“Escaping” America’s Future: A Clarion Call For A National Energy Security Strategy

The United States is by far the largest consumer of petroleum, averaging almost 20 million barrels a day, or about 23% of the world’s overall consumption. Although the U.S. is the third largest producer of petroleum, the nation is 57% dependent on imported crude to sustain its world influence and the lifestyles of its citizens. The availability and distribution of this vital commodity, alas, is changing rapidly in an environment that is characterized by rising competitive nations, prolonged conflicts, transnational threats, and global warming. It is also believed that the world has reached its “Hubbert’s Peak” in oil reserves and production will decline rapidly over the next 100 years. Consequently, the U.S. will continue to feel the strains of oil atrophy and face a troublesome future unless it changes course.

U.S. leaders and scholars recognize the need to reduce the dependence upon foreign oil and have enacted legislation to escape America’s future. Recently, the President unveiled parts of his new comprehensive energy policy, the cornerstones of which are: increased domestic production; improved fuel standards for vehicles; and renewable energies. These are significant steps in the right direction. Nonetheless, the mere fact that oil is an over consumed, high demand, globalized commodity that affects every citizen underscores the need for a more comprehensive approach to energy security.

The Administration should expand its policy for energy security into a broader framework and rebrand it National Energy Security Strategy (NESS), with the Department of Energy as the lead agency. It should encompass a 20-30 year roadmap for America’s safe transformation to a more secure energy future under six central themes: Engage, Secure, Conserve, Adapt, Protect, and Evolve (ESCAPE).

The following are brief definitions:

Engage – Engaging our partners in energy trade, assuring them of our commitments, and leading the cooperative effort between suppliers and consumers in order to mitigate potential friction points in the future.

Secure – Maintaining the security and stability of our energy sources, including our oil suppliers, sea lines of communication, and critical infrastructure (both domestic and abroad).

Conserve – Promoting discipline in energy consumption through conservation efforts, incentives, and other tools.

Adapt – Transitioning to a more diverse and balanced mix of energy sources by type and origin in order to ensure resiliency throughout energy shortages and other world crises.

Protect – Protecting the environment through reduced emissions, using cleaner and less environmentally harmful sources of energy, and having rapid response capabilities to handle fuel-related disasters.

Evolve – Innovating new technologies, advocating new ideas, and transforming the infrastructure and lifestyles to create a safer and more sustainable energy system.

Energy security involves more stakeholders than any other vital interest. The elements comprising energy security should not be fragmented into various unsynchronized strategies and plans. Rather, they should be synthesized into one comprehensive strategy so that everyone understands not only their roles and responsibilities, but also the relationships and impacts of their actions to others. This article outlines the six proposed themes of the NESS and the related issues that warrant a single comprehensive strategy.

Engage

The nation’s leaders wish to navigate away from our oil dependency via policies and spending and this is a noble undertaking. However, in the near term the U.S. must rely on imported oil – it is an inescapable conclusion. Accordingly, The NESS must address how engagement activities will support the gradual transition from imported oil. Engagement must involve diplomacy, leadership, and a hint of political agility in order to mitigate future disputation between the suppliers and consumers.

The international political environment is becoming more complex in the globalized world of oil trade. By 2030 the world will consume approximately 118 Million barrels of oil per day, or roughly 30 Million additional barrels daily above today’s rate. This has spawned a fast-paced diplomatic scramble by both developed and developing countries to secure the remaining oil reserves because of the slow progression towards more abundant and safer renewable energies. China and India are aggressively pursuing deals with new partners in oil supply in order to meet their national strategic goals for the next several decades. This, coupled with Middle Eastern Muslims’ “unfavorable” views of the U.S., raises the stakes in diplomacy. Energy economist Pete Tertzakian coined the First Principle of Energy Consumption, which observes that a nation’s wealth is directly related to its level of energy consumption. China, specifically, has aggressively engaged oil producers worldwide for the opportunity to secure a substantial flow of oil. Recently, China supplanted the United States in both Saudi Arabia and Iraq with larger export agreements. China also recently signed significant oil export agreements with the U.S.’s first and third largest exporters of oil (Canada and Venezuela). China’s recent successes suggest one of two things: (1) either the United States has been out-bargained, or (2) our engagement efforts need improvement.

The Engagement theme of the NESS must focus diplomatic efforts on retaining our current sources of imported oil, while forging new relationships with developing countries of great potential. Engagement must include coordinated measures that may directly counter efforts of China in states and regions where the U.S. competes for vital interests. The Persian Gulf is one such region where China has gradually expanded its control over oil exports through trade agreements, infrastructure improvements, and other generous incentives. In addition to beating out the United States in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, China is also the second largest importer of Iranian oil, which gives it a potential advantage in shaping Middle Eastern politics.

Despite current necessity, the United States must eventually become less reliant on Persian Gulf oil. Engaging African and Latin American countries along the Atlantic Ocean could reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil and greatly reduce risk by shortening sea lines of communication. The United States draws about 20% of its imported oil from the Persian Gulf and could offset a portion of this through new relationships. In 2007, for instance, Brazil discovered the Carioca-Sugar Loaf Oil field off of the coast of Rio de Janeiro and it is believed to hold up to forty billion barrels of light crude. This discovery, along with several other fields in the region, could provide up to several million barrels of oil daily, or enough to easily replace a portion or all of the U.S.’s Middle Eastern exports.

The United States should also lead in the establishment of an international consortium of consumer nations to possibly work out any potential trade issues or conflicts and to provide a counter force to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Secure

“He who owns the oil will own the world, for he will own the seas by means of the heavy oils, the air by means of the ultra refined oils, and the land by means of the petrol and the illuminating oils. And in addition to these he will rule his fellow man in an economic sense, by reason of the fantastic wealth he will derive from oil – the wonderful substance which is more sought after and more precious today than gold itself.” -Henri Berenger

Sustained access to, and flow of imported oil during this necessary transition to a safer energy mix must remain at the forefront of the National Energy Security Strategy (NESS). Oil is intrinsically connected to the economic vitality of the U.S. and global demand has risen to such a level that any subtle disruption in world supply will impact the economy, down to the individual consumer.

Throughout the world, there are several critical areas where supply interdiction could ignite a regional crisis with global implications. There are, for instance, oil transit chokepoints along sea lines of communications, including: the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline (SUMED), the Bab el-Mendab, the Turkish Straights, and the Panama Canal. Through these eight narrow passages flow roughly 42.7 million barrels of oil daily enroute to consumers, or about one half of the world’s daily consumption. Any disruption of this flow (such as the 2008 hijacking of an oil supertanker by Somali pirates or the 2002 al Qaeda suicide boat attack on the Limbourg) could have profound effects on the U.S. economy.

There are other disconcerting warning signs that the U.S. should heed. Of the top ten U.S. oil exporters, for example, eight are classified as “in danger” of becoming failed states. These included: Iraq (critical), Nigeria, Colombia, Angola, Algeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico (borderline). Terrorism, both at home and abroad, is also a constant threat to the US oil trade and can have resounding effects on the economy if focused toward the oil industry. Past attacks on oil infrastructure have shown the tremendous effects that terrorism can achieve. Al Qaeda’s 2005 attack on the Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia had an evidential impact on the international markets. Terrorist leaders, such as Osama bin Laden, have also called upon Muslim extremists to focus attacks on oil infrastructure that serves western interests. As recently as March 2010, Saudi Arabian security forces arrested 113 al Qaeda militants that were plotting to attack key oil facilities in Riyadh.

Piracy is a growing menace to the oil industry, having garnered over “tens of billions” of dollars in ransom money from hijackings along the Horn of Africa and in other places like the Gulf of Guinea. Oil tankers are hijacked regularly for millions USD (roughly around 3 million USD per vessel), with cargoes that value in the range of 80 – 160 million dollars. The Sirius Star supertanker, for instance, was hijacked in 2008 and was carrying over two million barrels of crude (about 10% of U.S. daily consumption).

The U.S. Homeland, as well, is not without its share of vulnerabilities. The Gulf of Mexico and bordering states have the bulk of the U.S.’s domestic oil production capabilities. There are oil platforms, refineries, and the bulk of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) all nested in this region and vulnerable to a full range of attacks and sabotage. The recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident in the Gulf, although classified an accident, demonstrates how damaging a potential attack on infrastructure could be to U.S. interests. Moreover, this unprecedented incident is demonstrating the need for the U.S. Government to include multi-national corporations in its strategic framework.

There are only about 149 oil refineries in the US. In order to feed the nation’s demand for fuel, these refineries operate between 92 to 97 percent capacity year long, leaving little room for error. The protection of these critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) is hence another aspect of energy security that needs to be coordinated with the milestones set forth in the NESS.

The NESS should guide and inform DoD, DOE, DHS, and others in their responsibilities to secure the sources of energy that are necessary to safely make the transition to alternative fuels over the next 20 to 30 years. Since sources of US oil originate from various unstable places throughout the world, the NESS should transcend traditional boundaries established by departments to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the objectives, priorities, and milestones for achieving energy security through all elements of ESCAPE. Clearly, the security of the sea lines of communication, security and capacity building of our top oil exporters and the protection of oil infrastructure and vessels require a global approach.

Conserve

“Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, most practical source of energy.” – President Jimmy Carter

Conservation is as vital to the NESS, as drug demand reduction is to the National Drug Control Strategy. Over 70% of all petroleum consumed by the United States is through the transportation sector, of which almost 64% of this is through light vehicles (cars, light trucks, and motorcycles). This means that the bulk of America’s energy appetite is derived from a combination of many smaller transportation requirements, such as privately owned vehicles, small business cars and trucks, and other inefficient modes of transportation. Energy consumption in the United States is unrivaled by other nations and much of it must be mitigated through demand reduction.

The primary objective of the NESS under the Conserve theme should be a quantifiable reduction in consumption through conservation efforts. The President made several announcements on March 31st 2010 that touched on the fringes of conservation, but failed to strike at the heart of the problem. Higher fuel standards for vehicles, alternative fuels, and domestic exploration and production do not result in the mobilization of the masses to do more towards reducing the growing dependence on imported oil. Even the proposed Home Star Bill uses an incentive-based approach to energy conservation, but leaves the consumption rate to the individual user. As written, these tools invite a paradoxical response that leads to potentially higher demand and consumption. This has been called the Jevons Paradox, Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate, or simply the rebound effect. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was an important step towards comprehensive energy security, but missed the opportunity to invoke conservation. The Act addresses higher fuel economy standards, renewable fuels, vehicle and appliance technology, energy mandates for buildings, research and development, and several other areas. However, the only attempt to address the individual consumer was the allotment of five million dollars annually for the Department of Energy to conduct a national media campaign.

In order to properly mitigate our oil addiction, national leaders must embark on a conservation campaign with legislation and incentives as key elements to the NESS that will guide the reduction of unbridled consumption hand in hand with the other milestones of ESCAPE.

The last time the U.S. leaders effectively impacted demand growth of oil was between 1977 and 1985, partially as a result of legislation and action by President Jimmy Carter during his term. Through his “Crisis of Confidence” speech and several acts such as the Fuel Use Act, he was able to both encourage and enforce conservation for the betterment of the nation.

Enforcing conservation through legislation is not a popular task, but nonetheless a necessary element of a holistic strategy. The NESS should include milestones for the reduction in the use of oil, accompanied with certain corresponding milestones on improvements to mass transportation, infrastructure, the development of renewable energies, environmental restrictions, and incentives. The US Government should also consider the gradual increase of a gas tax that would not only prompt the average citizen to be more selective in buying and using personally owned vehicles, but could further assist in mitigating the national deficit that resulted in 2008.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), in coordination with the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and Internal Revenue Service, would be the appropriate lead federal agency for the conserve theme of the NESS. In coordination with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the USEPA could oversee the strategic implementation of the conservation efforts.

Adapt

The world’s total oil-producing and refining capacity is currently operating at over 97.5 percent, which means that any disruption of oil supply in the world will have effects on every consumer. In a recent study, researchers at Oxford University concluded that by 2015 the world will surpass its supply capacity with demand, forcing nations that have not prepared for this turning point to make tough decisions on how to survive the unanticipated period of transition to alternative fuels. Adapt is an essential theme of the NESS. Adapt, in a strategic context, is the gradual and orderly diversification of our current energy portfolio according to the changing circumstances of global oil demand in order to escape a future breaking point. The Adapt theme of the NESS should address not only how the nation will diversify its energy mix over time, but also how the US will seek more stable and convenient sources of oil supply in order to sustain resiliency during future crises around the globe.

Using 2008 data, oil accounts for 40 percent of the energy market in the United States. This high level of dependency points to the need to diversify our energy mix to more reliable, cleaner energy. Several countries have accomplished this seemingly difficult task. Japan, for instance, has reduced its dependency on oil by roughly 30 percent and continues to transform its energy mix based on its New National Energy Security Strategy of 2006. Denmark is another trail-blazer. The oil crisis of 1973 was the catalyst of change for the Danish government, which wisely instituted an energy strategy that yielded enough wind power infrastructure to provide 20% of the country’s electricity. Admirably, Denmark’s vision is to become 100% independent of fossil fuels.

Adapting America’s current energy mix requires some open thinking about several historically controversial energy sources. Nuclear power, for example, is a divisive topic that causes both elected officials and their constituents to shy away. Yet, nuclear power already provides about 20 percent of America’s electricity, and has prevented the emissions of millions short tons of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. France uses nuclear power to produce eighty percent of its energy.

Domestic oil production is another viable source of energy, but has suffered recent setbacks due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Outer Continental Shelf surrounding the United States possesses nearly 86 billion barrels of oil and some 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This does not suggest that the U.S. should completely divert to these homeland resources, but should consider the risk tradeoff between home-produced versus Persian Gulf oil.

Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is another source of energy that has yet to capture the broad interest of American industries. It is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and has the potential to replace both coal and gas-burning power plants and vehicles. Despairingly, LNG has not been broadly embraced in the U.S. and has resulted in low investments by private companies. Consequently, only seven of the forty LNG terminals that have been approved for construction in the U.S. will likely be constructed.

The selection of future fuels must be carefully decided. Several credible analysts believe that corn ethanol is environmentally unsound, threatening to food supplies, and a facade due to the amount of fossil fuels ultimately used to cultivate, process and transport it.

Another aspect of adapting the nation’s energy mix for the future is to diversify our oil export partners towards more stable and safer long-term sources. Brazil, for example, is a stable government that recently discovered a huge oil reserve believed to contain anywhere between two and seventy billion barrels of light crude and is approximately one half the sea distance to New Orleans than the Persian Gulf.

Protect

Protecting the environment should be a priority within the NESS and is indissoluble from the other critical elements of the energy strategy. Greenhouse gases are causing climate change at unprecedented levels and have been steadily increasing due to human activities, mainly from burning fossil fuels. Emissions of various types have caused global warming trends, with the last seven of eight years registering as the warmest recorded years over the last century. Similarly, the rate of warming in the last thirty years has been three times greater than all of the previous 100 years.

CO2 emissions are the most prominent contributors to these undesirable trends and are directly linked to the use of fossil fuels, mainly coal and oil. The United States and China, by far, lead the world in CO2 emissions, delivering 20% each of the earth’s total output. The United States alone has failed to lead, given that it is the top emitter of CO2 (tied with China) and has the lowest fraction of the world’s population of the top five countries (5% compared to China’s 20%).

In order to protect the environment and prevent unnecessary acceleration of climate change, the United States must progressively mitigate emissions and further lead by example for other countries. This should be accomplished, however, in a coordinated manner that does not discount the current need to use oil and coal for economic recovery and sustaining world influence. This means that the establishment of emissions controls and other environmental safeguards must be synchronized with the employment of sound alternative fuels, the advancement of new technologies, the gradual retraction from imported oil, and the growth of our economy.

There are several examples of how well-intended emissions controls can lead to unexpected outcomes. Economically, for example, the airline industry could take the hardest hit from carbon taxes because of the CO2 levels that are emitted from jets. This means that either the airlines will be forced to make further cuts that will result in less business, commerce, and trade, or that the costs will be passed to customers.

Environmentally, a recent study of Colorado’s wind energy program concluded that wind power paradoxically causes more emissions because of the intermittent “cycling” of coal plants that is needed to rebalance total energy in the grid. Still another illustration is where studies reveal potential increases in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions related to the massive shift of the agriculture sector to growing bio-fuel crops. The point here is that without a strategic understanding of how protecting the environment is interrelated and, hence, balanced with the conservation, adaptation, and evolution of the U.S. energy sector, the more unintended consequences could result with independent, blanket environmental mandates.

Notwithstanding political views, the recently proposed American Power Act is a sign that the nation’s leadership is cognizant of the interrelationships between protecting the environment and sustaining the economy during this monumental transformation. Within it, there are provisions for cleaner energy development, including the incentives for the use of nuclear power, new parameters for safer off-shore drilling, and sensible requirements for the retrofitting of coal power plants. Acknowledging that change requires time, it also mandates plans and strategies for clean transportation and pollution reduction, and further attempts to broaden the scope of environmental stewardship to the international level. It even specifies which departments and agencies are responsible for the various actions, plans, strategies, and reports to Congress. In essence, the act has many attributes that could form a part of the foundation of the NESS.

Another essential component of the Protect theme of the NESS must be a plan to develop comprehensive capabilities for quickly and effectively responding to future energy-related incidents and disasters. The response effort to the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for example, reveals wholesale inadequacies of both government and private sector capabilities and response plans. It not only points to insufficient ready resources such as containment booms, specialized boats, and backup “dome” devices, but further demonstrates how convoluted the coordination effort can be without a roadmap for planning and exercising these responses. The U.S. Government should also be prepared to reinforce private companies with additional response capabilities should they lack the ability to effectively respond to an incident in a timely manner.

If the U.S. follows a logical path towards less dependence on imported oil, then the current transformation of our energy sector will involve more offshore drilling and nuclear power plants. Accordingly, it is only appropriate to advance the protection of our environment in a strategic sense.

Evolve

The final theme of the comprehensive NESS is Evolve. In order to avoid reliving the 1970s oil crises in the next 20-30 years, there must be a deliberate road map to renovate our infrastructure, transportation systems, living communities, and human behaviors away from oil dependence. Only effective evolution in these areas will produce enduring results.

The primary objective of Evolve under the NESS should be the transformation of U.S. infrastructure, energy-consuming systems, and people to be less reliant on oil. There are numerous components of infrastructure that need to be upgraded or replaced in order to foster energy security for the 21st century. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signified a great starting point by authorizing over 113 billion dollars towards developing a smart grid, improving local, state, and federal infrastructure, improving the federal vehicle fleet, updating public transportation systems, providing tax credits for home owners and renewable energy companies, and funding various incentives for research and development. Such a substantial investment, however, should in some way be guided by a holistic pathway for the themes of ESCAPE and not relegated to those governments and businesses that are view this problem myopically. Spending and sequencing, consequently, must first be aimed at the most significant energy liabilities.

For example, the replacement of coal fired power plants with natural gas plants would produce electricity with a third less energy required, while emitting forty five percent less CO2. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) also has the potential to offset energy demands from coal and oil with cleaner burning fuel, but requires the development of additional receiving terminals in order to account for the current delta between supply and demand (15%) and the possibility of future application in the transportation sector and other industries. Nuclear power plants, as mentioned earlier, produce even more electricity with fewer emissions.

Public transportation improvements should rank above major highway projects, especially road expansions that espouse even more apathetic use of personal transport in areas where public transportation systems are abundant. The U.S. is greatly outdone by other developed countries in mass transit. London has the oldest system and moves over 3.4 million people every day. In Hong Kong, mass transit provides 90 percent of all travel. On the contrary, 86 percent of the U.S. workforce drives to work, averaging 51 minutes on the road daily.

Beyond infrastructure and transportation systems, there are several eclectic matters related to the social dimension that ought to be included into the strategy. Studies on future living communities, for example, may prove to have resonant effects on energy consumption in the United States.

Two prominent authors on energy, Peter Tertzakian and Jeff Rubin, both write with striking similarity about the evolution of living conditions in the future because of oil shortages. Tertzakian writes that in the future we might see the development of “Triple E Villages” that “combine ecology, energy efficiency, and are electronically enabled.” In these villages food will be produced locally, solar and wind power will provide semi-autonomous energy sources, and incomes will be earned through cyberspace. Jeff Rubin believes that necessity will drive us to smaller communes centered on food sources such as farms or multistory greenhouses (“Farmscrapers”), because of the reduced availability of imported food and goods. These ideas may seem to be a little too radical to approach from the political pulpit, but they nonetheless point to an area that needs to evolve over time if we are to mitigate some of the root causes of steadily increasing energy consumption.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is simply no silver bullet over the horizon and the world cannot sustain the projected levels of oil consumption over the next few decades. During this period, the world will witness flashpoints over oil that will be characterized by increased conflict, terrorism, piracy, climate change, petro-political coercion, and economic recession. In developing countries, the gradual deprivation of this resource will be manifested by higher poverty rates, starvation, declining infrastructure and gross domestic product, and the potential collapse of governments.

World leaders must intervene now by setting the strategic course for reduced oil consumption and the U.S. should lead the way with a model strategy for energy security. This monumental task cannot be accomplished, however, by only a few courageous elected officials. It requires a unity of effort amongst the government, private enterprise, and the American people. The nation will not realize the vision of a safer environment and a nation free of oil dependence through band-aid solutions, such as short term tax credits, more green jobs, and hybrid cars. This can only be accomplished by bringing the currently diffuse efforts into harmony with the implementation of a National Energy Security Strategy (NESS).

The NESS can provide the vision, framework, and pathway to a safer future and ensure that all stakeholders are guided by one comprehensive effort. The NESS should address all lines of effort embodied in ESCAPE by setting objectives and milestones that will carefully mitigate the tensions and unintended consequences of stove piped efforts.

The Department of Energy should have the lead role in developing the strategy and coordinating the efforts. After all, President Carter created the department in 1977 following the national energy crisis to oversee the National Energy Plan. This may require a transformation of the department in order to broaden its capacity to do strategic planning and to lead the intergovernmental, interagency, and multinational coordination.

The future of this grand nation and its children rests in the hands of the leaders and citizens who are making important decisions today. It is not so important to linger on the fact this country propelled itself to hegemony through the industrious use of oil. Instead, it is now time to focus towards transforming the American way into a safer, more sustainable, and prosperous society.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

Jeff Connelly is a Colonel in the United States Army, having served 27 years in various assignments and is a 2010 graduate of the United States Army War College.

Terrorism Is By Act, Not by Definition: Nigeria Must Address Her Internal Security Challenges

Since September 11th attack on the World Trade Centre (WTC) and the Pentagon which brought the death of over 6,000 people in America, most nations have come to terms on the need to fight terrorism. The attack commanded global attention partly because the people that died in the Twin Tower building alone cut across different nationalities. The advances made in this direction (fight against terrorism) became more complex than even terrorism itself. For example, the leading nations in the fight, went through UN and used the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” to bring down other nations which they suspected as harborers of such weapons as well as terrorists camps which were breeding evil minds against humanity. While other people consider such wars as deliberate attempts by the stronger nations to influence the politics of the weaker nations, others view them as pure religious wars which according to them is baseless and concentrated only on the Muslim world. Six months into the war in Iraq for example, the reason which was initially considered as the basis for the (search for weapons of mass destruction) came not to be justified. With continuing loss of lives and the inflicting of untold suffering on the innocent civilians in areas where big nations were searching for weapons of mass destruction, it appears the concept of terrorism was being manipulated to suit other agenda.

However, it can be said that fighters of the war against terrorism achieve success considerably, and US as a nation is to be commended for her untiring efforts in this regard. Consequently, the aggressive nature in which the issue of terrorism was being handled made fighters of terrorism to became terrorists themselves in their quest to unmask or reveal the mystery of terrorism. Security checks/processes were being reviewed meet the current global challenge in places like airports and other similar areas. Meanwhile, countries like Nigeria and some other African nations could not look at terrorism and take security actions the way countries like US and other western nations approached it. Until Mutalab’s issue of attempted bombing of an American aircraft on 2009 Christmas day, Nigeria as a nation has a resistive ideology in accepting the fact that terrorists (irrespective of their kind, type or nature) exist in the country.

The question now is, must a terrorist act be associated with bombing of an aircraft or people before it is termed terrorism? I think the answer is NO! The Federal Government herself has in certain occasions carry out a terrorist attack on the helpless as well as armless civilians. In 2001, for example, the Tiv- Jukun boundary disputes led to the killing of 19 Nigerian soldiers whom their mission was alleged by the Tiv militia to have been compromised by taking side with the Jukun in killing of Tiv. Instead of the Federal Government to investigate thoroughly and arrest the perpetrators of the act, as well as help in resolving the long-time conflict, they released a fleet of armory (heavily armed soldiers) against the helpless civilians most of which were women, children and aged men. This was a complete terrorist act. But it was argued otherwise. Aside from that, the religious crises in the northern part of the country are never seen by Nigerians in the helm of affairs as terrorists acts, rather, they are seen as in the light of “mere understanding between groups”. Yet the magnitude of their effects (the loss of lives and properties destroyed) on the society have remained a major set back in the social/ inter- cultural development of the country. The issue in the Niger- Delta is another good example of a terrorist act. Kidnapping and other social crises associated with youths within the south- south region have complicated issues rather than view them as mere agitations for better social conditions of living in the area.The amnesty deal between the Federal government and youths of the south-south was quite revealing as it shows evidence of a country taken siege by terrorists minds. But if you ask an average Nigerian who works within the political circle, what is terrorism? He/she may try to think or link it either to Mutalab’s story or Bin Ladin act, instead of looking inward for clear definition of terrorism using the examples that abounds. Let us now agree that “bombing” is the yard stick for measuring a terrorist act. The Abuja bombing during the independence celebration is a clear message that terrorism as an evil against humanity is something Nigeria should not take for granted. While Okah is still standing trial in South Africa over the issue, the Jos trouble has taken a new dimension with the same issue of bombing.

The December 24 bombing in Jos, Nigeria which left about seven people instantly dead and several others wounded is enough reason for Nigeria to draw a security plan and beef up security measures to holistically deal with the current situation of things. Who knows, if this were the situation last year, Nigeria wouldn’t have got a clear ground to deny involvement with Mutalab’s 2009 Christmas bombing case. The whole world could have used the internal security challenges as evidence of terrorism and claim that Mutalab’s terrorist actions have roots in Nigeria.

On the whole, terrorism whether international or local, mass killing by bombing or killing with a knife, so long as it involves taking lives of people; the meaning is the same. Nigeria must seriously address her internal security challenges or in the nearest future, terrorism would build its roots in Nigeria and spread to other nations. Considering Nigeria’s relatively porous borders, diverse human nature with multiple ethnic groups, as well as an overwhelming population, it will be difficult to smoothly tackle terrorism if it is allowed to established strong base in the country. The time for it is now!

US National Debt – The Problem With Social Security

The last few years have seen millions of Americans suffer untold pain as their leveraged debt positions exploded in their faces. Suddenly, they owned homes worth less than they owed and so on. As bad as it has been, there is a crisis looming that nobody in Washington wants to discuss. It has to do with the national debt and social security program.

Social security is, of course, the entitlement program set up to provide benefits to seniors. The program has its detractors and proponents. The merits of the program are beyond the focus of this article. While many point to problems with the program going bankrupt as more and more baby boomers enter their retirement years, this suggestion misses a bigger problem. It all has to do with the very odd way our government has used money.

There has long been a fairly secret aspect of the social security. Everything you hear suggests the program has no money and is poorly wrong. These suggestions are objectively wrong. While the program could always be improved, it is generally a huge success. So, what then of these stories that it is running out of money? Well, it is but not because of the way the program is run. Instead, we need to look to Congress to see why.

The national debt has been going up fairly dramatically since the early 1980s. The government sells treasury notes to raise money for its programs. It then must pay interest on its debts. So, where does it get the money? Well, a huge chunk has been coming from social security. This is because social security has run a surplus for decades. Yes, you read that right. The program brought in more money than it spent.

So, what happened to the surplus? Well, the government borrowed the surplus and paid the interest on the national debt. Now we face a double problem. The generations behind the baby boomers are smaller in size. This means that the money coming into social security is dropping. As boomers retire, the outputs are going up. Combined, the annual surplus that social security had is now effectively gone. This means we are going to need to start paying money into social security and also find money to use to pay the interest on the national debt.

The obvious question is where do we get this money? Well, the government is predicting annual deficits of a trillion dollars. We are currently at 12.1 trillion dollars in debt. By 2020, we would be looking at 22.1 trillion in debt conservatively with the number probably being much higher. The only answer to this problem is two painful steps – raise taxes and cut benefits.