This weekend of NFL wild-card football has provided significant entertainment, with the New Orleans Saints, lead by Drew Brees, advancing to play the resurgent San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans advancing for the first time to Baltimore to play the Ravens, the New York Giants, lead by the other Manning, once again headed to Lambeau Field in Green Bay to face the defending Super Bowl champion and their MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and the surprising Denver Broncos and the amazing Tim Tebow are headed to New England, after an overtime victory against the Steelers, to play the Patriots and their field general Tom Brady.We will end a great weekend and holiday season of football with the BCS National Championship title game tomorrow evening, when #2 Alabama will challenge #1 LSU. In an SEC regular season game in November, LSU came out on top in overtime, 9-6, in the game of the century. Can LSU, coached by Les Miles, beat a Nick Saban team twice in the same season?In between the wild-card games we had two more Republican presidential debates in New Hampshire, where the first primary of the 2012 election will take place this week. After listening to the questions posed to the candidates in both debates as well as several of the earlier Republican debates, it struck me that the two issues that probably mean the most to the U.S. over time were not being addressed.The first one is the funding of retirement. This is a global issue that goes well beyond the U.S. election. In the U.S. the impending retirement of the baby boom generation needs to be addressed by both parties, particularly with regards to Social Security funding requirements and Medicare, as well as what retirement resources individuals will need as they live longer. These entitlement programs and their funding requirements cannot be ignored.The other issue that has just started to be discussed nationally is energy independence. Recently, the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions conducted a poll and released the results at their annual oil and gas conference in Houston on December 15. Eight out of 10 respondents linked gas with job creation and economic revival. Specifically, 83% of respondents agree that gas development can stimulate U.S. job growth, and 79% believe the gas development can help revitalize the economies of the states and communities. (Oil & Gas Journal www.ogj.com
) While there are environmental risks, the majority of the respondents believe that the long-term reward of energy independence from shale gas far outweighs the risks. In 2005, shale gas made up a very small share of domestic natural gas production but has surged beyond 20% recently. The positive impact on the health of our economy over the next several decades, when combined with newer green technologies, cannot be overstated.These two issues are ones that I would like to see President Obama and his likely challenger Mitt Romney address when they meet in the fall to debate, prior to the November election.