Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's Tech & Innovation Plan

Innovation cannot be inspired by governments. It cannot be legislated nor ordered. Contrary to popular belief, capitalism does not drive innovation, it only rewards it. Since humans first beat rocks together to make fire, we have been innovators. Innovation is part of being human as it appeals to our problem-solving nature.

Obama has shown that he understands the importance of technology as an enabler of innovation, commerce and communication. As such, Obama's Tech & Innovation Plan is an important step to the re-engineering of America to face the challenges of the 21st Century.

Infrastructure is the means by which services are enabled. Highways enable interstate commerce; the Internet enables digital data exchange. But the current U.S. infrastructure is ancient by tech standards. We still use telephone lines that are nearly 100 years old! It is past time for a complete rebuild of our infrastructure. We need to create the 21st Century infrastructure that will allow America to pull itself out of the economic doldrums.

However, there is no profit incentive to build infrastructure! How many private corporations finance highways for public use? Only governments can finance the construction of infrastructure programs of the size and scope involved herein. If it were profitable to build a next generation electrical grid then some company would have done so by now. Calling this "socialist" is foolish and shortsighted. It denies the economic realities in favor of pie-in-the-sky notions of free markets.

Furthermore, massive government investment in infrastructure creates jobs that cannot be outsourced. Someone has to build the road here, someone has to run the wires here; not in India or China. All those workers bring home paychecks which are then taxed and revenues flow into the government. Americans are back to work and building a stronger, smarter America. Who would argue against that?

Everyone that is afraid of Obama's plans all share one thing in common: they don’t understand the challenges we face. Whether you agree or not, we are at a pivotal point in history. The work we do as a nation now will impact our dominance for the rest of this century. We have become very complacent and believe in the guaranteed predominance of the United States. Only fools believe we will stay on top forever.

The hard work and sacrifice of our forefathers have given us the enviable position we enjoy, but this will not last forever. We must always be facing forward and prepare for the future. Obama's plans force the United States to acknowledge a frightful reality: we are not #1 anymore.

Until we accept the truth we can never recapture our position of global leadership. We must rebuild America to face the challenges of the 21st Century and not rest on our laurels. Obama's plans are simply the first steps in a long journey. If we exhibit the resolve and the courage, we will triumph.

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