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Volume 4, Issue 4                                    University of Houston

New year means new hope

Matthew Caster

Happy New Year. In the past, this time of year has been a time of personal focus and introspection, complete with the making of New Year's resolutions. It's a time of extravagant parties and celebration. It marks a new beginning for everyone ... a chance to start over and accomplish that which we failed to the year before. 

The birth of 2002 slightly more than a week ago was a little bit different than previous New Years' celebrations. At the beginning of 2001, the economy was booming, peace was replete throughout the world, and Americans lived their lives oblivious to the potential threat of terrorism. By the end of the year, the nation's economy was in recession, American troops were at war in Afghanistan, and the healing process was just beginning from the enormous losses from Sept. 11.

Many people are looking to 2002 as a means of providing relief from the pain that America has suffered in the last 12 months. The spirit of a new beginning is just what our nation needs right now. Fortunately, the New Year provides a catalyst to help us move towards a better America.

We still have problems this year, of course. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. Israel and Palestine are still at each other's throats. So are India and Pakistan. American troops are still in harm's way. Clearly obstacles exist that obstruct the path towards a peaceful world. 

Still, hope exists that the steps our nation and our people will take in the next 12 months will help to secure a new world order we can all feel safe in. But certain steps must be taken by our government to ensure we move in the right direction.

The primary focus in this election has to be national security. Many people are upset by the current state of the economy, including myself. But the fact of the matter is a booming economy will not survive in a land where terrorism is allowed to continue. Our nation's security concerns must be addressed both domestically and internationally. Countries like Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Somalia had better start taking steps against terrorism, or we might just slap them around like we did the Taliban. 

Economic issues cannot be neglected. Focus needs to hover around tax cuts and careful control over interest rates. The president's tax cut from last year may have been critical in staving off a deeper recession. Unemployment concerns also need to be addressed. People who want jobs should be able to go out and find them instead of living off the government for months at a time.

Foreign conflicts, like those in the Middle East and central Asia also need to be averted. I firmly believe American intervention is required on the Indian subcontinent, as both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. The Israel-Palestine conflict requires more delicate action. In particular, Yasser Arafat must take more active measures to combat terrorism and support peace. Thus far, he has failed to impress me with his control over his people.

This year will bring many new experiences for all of us as Americans. We are living in unprecedented times, in situations our forefathers could have never dreamed of. But we take solace in the resolve we share to see that new world order take hold. God bless America.

Matthew E. Caster, a senior chemical engineering 
major, can be reached at

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