Needed now: Innovation Game Changers
I spent today watching the Daily Beast Innovation Summit on C-SPAN. If you did not watch it, you should. [See C-SPAN videos]
No one could have imagined where we are now, with nearly 10% officially calculated unemployment with probably unofficial unemployment numbers – and underemployment – of nearly 20%. But here we are nonetheless as a result of the fiscal policies that led to a decline in our overall fiscal and economic health. No one anticipated the rise of China, Taiwan, Singapore, and India so rapidly…nor did they plan for it.
No one thought beyond the next quarterly report or the next 2-year election cycle. As a result, our leaders in both government and business failed all of us. So caught up in the story Wall St. fed us through their constantly improvised story of self governance and market perfection that even skeptics of all political persuasions were won over…or just retired. Thus, when the crash occurred in 2008 that threatened the entire economy, everyone was taken by surprise.
Regardless, it’s going to take time to climb back out of the debt hole we dug ourselves into over the last 30 years, just as it always has to come back from a financial meltdown. But the US has done it many, many times before. The 1800s was an era of financial booms and busts, with long decades of growth and long decades of stagnation and economic pain, culminating in the rise of workers strikes, books from the likes of Sinclair Lewis, bloody deaths of workers by company henchmen, and finally governmental intervention to calm the volatile conflicts.
As the past has shown, we cannot return to the decades when financial services was the country’s major domestic industry. Nor will Big Oil bring prosperity to us.
Our country needs innovation to move us forward. The federal government may not be able to create private sector jobs, per se, but it can enable those jobs to come into being through its policies of capital investments in a 21st century infrastructure; investments in innovation through agencies such as the NIH, DARPA, and ARPA-E; an innovation infrastructure bank; rewarding and helping companies that invest in R&D (20 years ago we were number one; now we place well below China, Singapore, Taiwan and India); demanding our schools to recreate themselves with more STEM classes as well as creativity/imagination/problem solving learning and skills; restructuring our entire tax system to encourage businesses to invest here rather than abroad; eliminate short term investment incentives (speculation) in favor of long term investment (growth); push for and continue the evolution of health care cost (currently at 17% of GDP or $1 Trillion per year) containment strategies; and last but certainly not least a financial system based less on speculative gambles and more on investment in our country and our people.
But that’s not all that needs to be done. We need to reduce wasteful military and unnecessary expenditures on projects that even the Pentagon doesn’t want or need; reduce the number of Cold War bases/posts [currently over 800 worldwide] and restructure our military post-Cold War to face our 21st challenges; eliminate automatically funded tax payer subsidies to highly profitable legacy industries such as Big Oil (think Exxon-Mobil), Big Ag (think Con Agra), Big Coal (think Massey Mines) and a whole host of other companies/industries that use their lobbying power to force the tax payer to pick up their risk while paying them (the companies) financial benefits. These kinds of corporate welfare reduce not just free market fairness (leveling the playing field/free market creative destruction, i.e. horse drawn buggies vs automobiles) but stifles innovation and growth.
If Republicans, including the so-called Libertarian TEA party Republicans, are returned to power, none of the needed policies will occur. We’ll go back to the same tired, disproved policies that even the most highly respected Reagan economic officials recently have railed against.
We’ve been bamboozled for nearly 30 years. It’s time to change direction. Democrats – not that they are all perfect by any means – see the writing on the wall and some of them are willing to step up to the challenge our President articulated during the 2008 election campaign. As he rightly said then, it’s not an easy challenge because we’ve been stuck and been losing ground for so long our policy makers hardly know where to start. But we can reinvent our society and our businesses and our lives for the better if we make that choice now.
I know it’s hard and we all want a quick, easy solution. But the fact is we’ve been living on a debt fueled economy for so long that it’s going to take a long time to get out of that hole. Bank speculation induced recessions historically take nearly 10 years to recover from. We’ve already seen modest growth. We can see more if we choose to not go backwards.
We cannot afford to go backwards if we want our children to have better lives than we have had. The current field of Republican candidates, in my opinion, will not lead us forward, but, instead, lead us backwards causing the United States to lose its competitive edge to the BRIC countries and creating even fewer jobs as well as a deeper deficit and long term debt problem.
Do not vote Republicans this year!
Force Republicans to field candidates who are not stuck in 1950s and who recognize that we are living in an entirely new world of global competition…and we have to compete!!!!!
I’ve forgotten who said it, but the line was; “either change – to compete – or die”. (Actually that’s a business “line” but it works for countries just as well.)
Republicans, currently, are not focused on this maxim which is why they should not be given majorities in Congress. When they develop better strategies that move the country forward against the global economic environment we face, then vote them in by all means. But so far they have no ideas which they’ve elucidated to change the current global economic dynamics now in play.
Darryl Issa wants to impeach the president, spending millions of tax payer money on fruitless “witch hunts”.
McConnell and Boehner want defund the commission which holds the only the chance of bending the medical care cost curve for families and businesses. Medical care currently costs 17% of GDP or $1 trillion a year. That is a budget deficit that is unsustainable for governments, businesses, and families as they will be required to pick up ever higher premiums and costs. Health care costs, throughout the last two decades at least, have grown at twice or three times the rate of inflation. As a result, businesses need to leave the country to contain their costs…or go broke.
In addition to all the other economic threats posed by a Republican Congressional takeover, Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte, wants to hand over Social Security to the vagaries and speculations of Wall Street which, per his plan, could cost the taxpayers billions more.
Plus, potential Republican newbies are advocating eliminating consumer protections in the name of the free market philosophy (citing, by his own words, the discredited 1944 macro economic model that never occurred in the U.S. – Hayek – or the self-centered, anti-Christian view of Ayn Rand) they imagined from the 1950s but which does not exist now in a globally competitive economic world.
Long story short, handing over Congress to the Republicans – no matter how much you dislike your current Democratic Congressional representatives – would be a huge mistake simply because the Democrats at this point in time are the only ones who appear to recognize the important changes needed for the U.S. to become competitive again.