The political topic that must not be discussed in USA

No, not a 17-year-old’s sex life. That’s fair game in today’s media world, it seems. No, not abortion or whether or not a candidate considered such or will legislate against choice to use it. That’s fair game too. No, not gun ownership or support of that. That’s been discussed at length. No, not whether some candidate was a member of the PTA. That is certainly up for discussion. Certainly energy policy is. Along with service to country and whether or not one party supports the military or the battle against terror, etc.

But what’s not being discussed? How about our nation’s policies toward innovation? I’ve watched a lot of the two political conventions. I’ve heard a few words about support for technology and science — quickly are forgotten in the noise about McCain’s vice presidential pick — but I’ve heard nary a word about how we’re going to ensure that the United States continues to be a place where innovation happens. Increasingly I’m hearing from industry leaders that our innovation leadership is under major attack for a whole lot of reasons. Immigration policy. Education system quality. Taxation and regulation. And on and on.

Yet we don’t openly discuss it. We’d rather talk about some 17-year-old’s sex life or download the latest shiny object from Google. Question: how did that shiny object get here?

So, yesterday I went and talked with one of the formost experts on innovation: Judy Estrin. She’s on the board of directors of Walt Disney and FedEx. She’s written a book on the topic, Closing the Innovation Gap.

Here’s the video shot with my cell phone of our 40-minute conversation about the topic. But, remember, you must not discuss this. It’s in the unwritten rules of politics this year. Instead, head over to Memeorandum and see what you are allowed to talk about. Today’s topic: whether the press is fair when dealing with Presidential Candidates.

Oh, and don’t link to this post. We wouldn’t want it showing up on Memeorandum or Digg now, would we? After all, it’s not on the “approved” list of things to talk about in this political season.

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/6118/214193&embedId=49199423]

Comments

  1. I know you’re a busy guy and all, and prob. haven’t had time to sift through the bulk of the candidates’ bluster about their positions, but I have heard Obama address this – retraining workers for a new economy and new tech innovation, investing in new energy technologies especially – several times.

  2. I know you’re a busy guy and all, and prob. haven’t had time to sift through the bulk of the candidates’ bluster about their positions, but I have heard Obama address this – retraining workers for a new economy and new tech innovation, investing in new energy technologies especially – several times.

  3. beth: I watch the political blogs, lots of news brands, sites like Memeorandum, and such, but I rarely see these topics discussed and debated. Seems like we’d rather discuss and debate abortion or whether or not the sex life of a 17-year-old has anything to do with leadership in this country. I’m reacting to that, not what one candidate is trying to say. I admitted that I heard a few words like you did during some speeches, but they aren’t sticking and aren’t being discussed.

  4. beth: I watch the political blogs, lots of news brands, sites like Memeorandum, and such, but I rarely see these topics discussed and debated. Seems like we’d rather discuss and debate abortion or whether or not the sex life of a 17-year-old has anything to do with leadership in this country. I’m reacting to that, not what one candidate is trying to say. I admitted that I heard a few words like you did during some speeches, but they aren’t sticking and aren’t being discussed.

  5. Scoble, you are right on the point about this.
    While 1 candidate does speak about in – as part of a bulet point speech – it doesn’t constitute a discussion.

    So kudos for at least starting a discussion – even if minuscule.
    While tech innovation and leadership in sciences is not something that makes the mass rise up in one voice – unlike a scandal or something, its tech bloggers like yourself, Dave Winer etc and and tech users who will have to get this conversation and debate rolling.

    So the more you speak about such topics in your blog, the more visible are these subjects.

    One never know, momentum like this might propel such a subject to a political spot on memeorandum some time.

  6. Scoble, you are right on the point about this.
    While 1 candidate does speak about in – as part of a bulet point speech – it doesn’t constitute a discussion.

    So kudos for at least starting a discussion – even if minuscule.
    While tech innovation and leadership in sciences is not something that makes the mass rise up in one voice – unlike a scandal or something, its tech bloggers like yourself, Dave Winer etc and and tech users who will have to get this conversation and debate rolling.

    So the more you speak about such topics in your blog, the more visible are these subjects.

    One never know, momentum like this might propel such a subject to a political spot on memeorandum some time.

  7. A much needed “post.” I think we must be the drivers of the news cycles. We can bring attention to what will certainly prove to be one of the most important issues concerning our collective futures. I’m calling on you to help organize an online conference with members of both parties to speak on this. I will help in anyway I can. Please don’t let this fade away! Dig deeper, demand more- it’s truly Patriotic to hold our Representatives accountable.

  8. A much needed “post.” I think we must be the drivers of the news cycles. We can bring attention to what will certainly prove to be one of the most important issues concerning our collective futures. I’m calling on you to help organize an online conference with members of both parties to speak on this. I will help in anyway I can. Please don’t let this fade away! Dig deeper, demand more- it’s truly Patriotic to hold our Representatives accountable.

  9. I have a friend that runs a nanotech company and over dinner this weekend he talked about how he is quite concerned about the quality of grad students in at least the areas he’s most interested in. He said that when he goes to conferences he notices the growing ages of qualified people that attend–particularly of those educated in the US. He doesn’t see a great pool of new people and more importantly he doesn’t think the caliber of fundamental research in schools is where it should be. In many cases he argues that businesses are leading what the schools are doing. Some of this sounds like what others are saying and some of it may be specific to his field, but it does make me think about how we need to inspire a new generation of scientists.

  10. I have a friend that runs a nanotech company and over dinner this weekend he talked about how he is quite concerned about the quality of grad students in at least the areas he’s most interested in. He said that when he goes to conferences he notices the growing ages of qualified people that attend–particularly of those educated in the US. He doesn’t see a great pool of new people and more importantly he doesn’t think the caliber of fundamental research in schools is where it should be. In many cases he argues that businesses are leading what the schools are doing. Some of this sounds like what others are saying and some of it may be specific to his field, but it does make me think about how we need to inspire a new generation of scientists.

  11. I am really amazed to hear “concern for innovation” in US as majority of tech companies/giants are already US based.Rather,other countries follow what US does…And as far as political issues are concerned,does it really matter if the politicians are talking about technology,innovation etc coz this generation looks smart enough and won’t require any such concern from the US govt. to get themselves geared up for making any efforts for their own sake….But still not being US native…that’s just my notion !

  12. I am really amazed to hear “concern for innovation” in US as majority of tech companies/giants are already US based.Rather,other countries follow what US does…And as far as political issues are concerned,does it really matter if the politicians are talking about technology,innovation etc coz this generation looks smart enough and won’t require any such concern from the US govt. to get themselves geared up for making any efforts for their own sake….But still not being US native…that’s just my notion !

  13. Prashant: I’m not so sure about that anymore. Lots of better research is going on over in Israel and China. Much of Microsoft’s coolest stuff is being done in China. The CEOs I’m talking with say they are seeing R&D jobs being moved overseas for a whole lot of reasons (many of them having to do with immigration rules).

  14. Prashant: I’m not so sure about that anymore. Lots of better research is going on over in Israel and China. Much of Microsoft’s coolest stuff is being done in China. The CEOs I’m talking with say they are seeing R&D jobs being moved overseas for a whole lot of reasons (many of them having to do with immigration rules).

  15. You’re absolutely right, Robert. I think the parts of this discussion, not being debated is whether or not we’re structuring ourselves to continue to be the leaders in not just innovation, but manufacturing and agriculture too.

    We have lost scores of jobs, as companies have sent them south and oversees. Leaders on both sides our the aisle have failed us as the few low end jobs left are being taken by illegals, and being given to illegals. Many are at fault for this, but finger pointing doesn’t fix it.

    It’s so bad that “buying American” isn’t buying American anymore. Go look at the fine print on even the purchase of a new Ford/Chevy/Dodge. That’s just one example.

    The outsourcing of so much is very dangerous for our economy and our security. We outsource manufacturing (at all levels), customer support, agriculture, AND technological advances. Someone else is making everything we use and need.

  16. You’re absolutely right, Robert. I think the parts of this discussion, not being debated is whether or not we’re structuring ourselves to continue to be the leaders in not just innovation, but manufacturing and agriculture too.

    We have lost scores of jobs, as companies have sent them south and oversees. Leaders on both sides our the aisle have failed us as the few low end jobs left are being taken by illegals, and being given to illegals. Many are at fault for this, but finger pointing doesn’t fix it.

    It’s so bad that “buying American” isn’t buying American anymore. Go look at the fine print on even the purchase of a new Ford/Chevy/Dodge. That’s just one example.

    The outsourcing of so much is very dangerous for our economy and our security. We outsource manufacturing (at all levels), customer support, agriculture, AND technological advances. Someone else is making everything we use and need.

  17. I think it’s more the coverage of the candidates than the candidates themselves. Both candidates have remained pretty quiet about Sarah Pallin’s daughter- but the coverage of it from the media has been pretty insane. Your audience is obviously going to want to hear more about tech and the future of innovation in our country, but unfortunately, we are probably a minority. I agree, though, that the more we talk about it, the better our chances of getting something out of the candidates about it. They’re ears and eyes are out there…we just need to keep talking- keep typing.

  18. I think it’s more the coverage of the candidates than the candidates themselves. Both candidates have remained pretty quiet about Sarah Pallin’s daughter- but the coverage of it from the media has been pretty insane. Your audience is obviously going to want to hear more about tech and the future of innovation in our country, but unfortunately, we are probably a minority. I agree, though, that the more we talk about it, the better our chances of getting something out of the candidates about it. They’re ears and eyes are out there…we just need to keep talking- keep typing.

  19. Prashant, while I understand your point – and in US innovation is largely ‘driven’ by the colleges and then the corporations, but the govt. is needed to create the right policies and the environment for fostering it.

    Wihtout the right policies the companies are caught in the bind to export the innovation abroad. Colleges are hamstrung also due to this reason.

    So while US has traditionally been a innovation hotbed, it is changing now due to policy issues…

  20. Prashant, while I understand your point – and in US innovation is largely ‘driven’ by the colleges and then the corporations, but the govt. is needed to create the right policies and the environment for fostering it.

    Wihtout the right policies the companies are caught in the bind to export the innovation abroad. Colleges are hamstrung also due to this reason.

    So while US has traditionally been a innovation hotbed, it is changing now due to policy issues…

  21. Well, I love you Robert, but since when do you want to talk about stuff that really matters ?

    The Media will get interested into discussing these subjects (so the candidates will) only when people will ask for it.

  22. Well, I love you Robert, but since when do you want to talk about stuff that really matters ?

    The Media will get interested into discussing these subjects (so the candidates will) only when people will ask for it.

  23. I’ve heard nary a word about how we’re going to ensure that the United States continues to be a place where innovation happens. Increasingly I’m hearing from industry leaders that our innovation leadership is under major attack for a whole lot of reasons. Immigration policy. Education system quality. Taxation and regulation. And on and on.

    Ron Paul talked about it, but that’s probably not the answer you were looking for.

    Neither Obama nor McCain is talking about it because they’re both big government supporters. Their position on freedom and innovation is that they should be secondary to security (whether from terrorism (McCain) or from having to pay for your own education/health care/etc (Obama)). Neither of them has a firm grip on the concept of capitalism. To them, capitalism is like a house plant that you trim or water as needed to keep it from getting too big or too small. Innovation requires capitalism to be free range.

    The first step in increasing innovation is to massively reduce regulation and massively reduce taxation (especially the ridiculous idea of corporate taxes, which are just a proxy tax on individuals). The United States should become the biggest tax shelter in the world, so that everyone wants to move their companies and their workers here.

  24. I’ve heard nary a word about how we’re going to ensure that the United States continues to be a place where innovation happens. Increasingly I’m hearing from industry leaders that our innovation leadership is under major attack for a whole lot of reasons. Immigration policy. Education system quality. Taxation and regulation. And on and on.

    Ron Paul talked about it, but that’s probably not the answer you were looking for.

    Neither Obama nor McCain is talking about it because they’re both big government supporters. Their position on freedom and innovation is that they should be secondary to security (whether from terrorism (McCain) or from having to pay for your own education/health care/etc (Obama)). Neither of them has a firm grip on the concept of capitalism. To them, capitalism is like a house plant that you trim or water as needed to keep it from getting too big or too small. Innovation requires capitalism to be free range.

    The first step in increasing innovation is to massively reduce regulation and massively reduce taxation (especially the ridiculous idea of corporate taxes, which are just a proxy tax on individuals). The United States should become the biggest tax shelter in the world, so that everyone wants to move their companies and their workers here.

  25. Robert: have a look at ScienceDebate2008.com. They invited McCain, Clinton and Obama to participate in a debate about science and technology and got nowhere. They instead preferred to go hang out with Rick Warren and Messiah College and talk about ‘faith and values’, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Idiocy perpetuates itself.

  26. Robert: have a look at ScienceDebate2008.com. They invited McCain, Clinton and Obama to participate in a debate about science and technology and got nowhere. They instead preferred to go hang out with Rick Warren and Messiah College and talk about ‘faith and values’, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Idiocy perpetuates itself.

  27. I hear this discussed a lot, by Obama mostly. You have to follow his speeches, however, which most people probably don’t do. I ate dinner with a friend from Shanghai a couple of days ago and she had just come from China. China is cleaning our clock. Israel has always cleaned our clock, but the world has now become small. We don’t encourage innovation, because the government grant programs that are supposed to do it keep shifting focus–one day it’s cancer, then it’s homeland security, then it’s greentech, and they don’t fund anything long enough to get it seeded properly. In the private sector, it is only encouraged by SV and NYC VCs, a small part of the financial scheme. Banks, for instance, wouldn’t know innovation if they fell over it. Pardon the rant. THis is a personal cause of mine.

  28. I hear this discussed a lot, by Obama mostly. You have to follow his speeches, however, which most people probably don’t do. I ate dinner with a friend from Shanghai a couple of days ago and she had just come from China. China is cleaning our clock. Israel has always cleaned our clock, but the world has now become small. We don’t encourage innovation, because the government grant programs that are supposed to do it keep shifting focus–one day it’s cancer, then it’s homeland security, then it’s greentech, and they don’t fund anything long enough to get it seeded properly. In the private sector, it is only encouraged by SV and NYC VCs, a small part of the financial scheme. Banks, for instance, wouldn’t know innovation if they fell over it. Pardon the rant. THis is a personal cause of mine.

  29. I believe I read earlier that a group had done an extensive question and answer with Obama about his Science policy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it, but you might be interested in this Obama Q&A with the Scientists and Engineers For America (SEFORA) which includes a question on fostering innovation

    http://sharp.sefora.org/people/presidential-candidates/barack-obama-presidential-candidate/

    Also – in terms of general science policy, here’s a quick comparison between Obama and McCain on Science issues:

    http://sharp.sefora.org/innovation2008/mccain-obama/

  30. I believe I read earlier that a group had done an extensive question and answer with Obama about his Science policy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it, but you might be interested in this Obama Q&A with the Scientists and Engineers For America (SEFORA) which includes a question on fostering innovation

    http://sharp.sefora.org/people/presidential-candidates/barack-obama-presidential-candidate/

    Also – in terms of general science policy, here’s a quick comparison between Obama and McCain on Science issues:

    http://sharp.sefora.org/innovation2008/mccain-obama/

  31. “Hard problems. Will take time. But we must begin the conversation, put our energies into it. Don’t put it off.” I ♡ this interview. I’m talking w U of Wisc Ed Psych department and connecting w educators to get epistemic games into curriculum. So many people interested in innovation yet we are operating in silos. Enterprise is hungry for more engineers. Need a convergence that will focus on parents, schools, teachers to push from bottom up. Can’t wait for federal government. Social media & networking will play a vital role. Please connect with me via twitter @meryl333 if you want to be part of a collaboration to keep this moving.

  32. “Hard problems. Will take time. But we must begin the conversation, put our energies into it. Don’t put it off.” I ♡ this interview. I’m talking w U of Wisc Ed Psych department and connecting w educators to get epistemic games into curriculum. So many people interested in innovation yet we are operating in silos. Enterprise is hungry for more engineers. Need a convergence that will focus on parents, schools, teachers to push from bottom up. Can’t wait for federal government. Social media & networking will play a vital role. Please connect with me via twitter @meryl333 if you want to be part of a collaboration to keep this moving.

  33. A grand send-up on what could be a good discussional topic, but no it’s just a cheap lead-in pitch for some corny barely-focused shaky cam vid of the moment.

    Innovation happens when there’s heavy R&D and a real market, all of it’s own accord, if the government just steps back. The “innovation” preached here, is nothing more than an “intellectual” hand-out welfare program, give to the elites so they can continue to be smug and self-important, saving the world, while sipping $5 cups of coffee, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

  34. A grand send-up on what could be a good discussional topic, but no it’s just a cheap lead-in pitch for some corny barely-focused shaky cam vid of the moment.

    Innovation happens when there’s heavy R&D and a real market, all of it’s own accord, if the government just steps back. The “innovation” preached here, is nothing more than an “intellectual” hand-out welfare program, give to the elites so they can continue to be smug and self-important, saving the world, while sipping $5 cups of coffee, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

  35. The problem with free range capitalism is you end up with train wrecks like Enron and subprime. The problem with restrictive government control of business is that things get stifled.

    Hey, I’m for Obama, but all I see coming for eight weeks is endless irrelevant attacks ads from both sides and little if any discussion of issues.

    The US internet infrastructure is slow and getting worse, compared to Europe and Japan. Smart people often can’t come here because of increasingly onerous immigration restrictions. Our schools are less than stellar. Yes, there are real problems, and Scoble is right, no one is talking much about them. We need to.

  36. The problem with free range capitalism is you end up with train wrecks like Enron and subprime. The problem with restrictive government control of business is that things get stifled.

    Hey, I’m for Obama, but all I see coming for eight weeks is endless irrelevant attacks ads from both sides and little if any discussion of issues.

    The US internet infrastructure is slow and getting worse, compared to Europe and Japan. Smart people often can’t come here because of increasingly onerous immigration restrictions. Our schools are less than stellar. Yes, there are real problems, and Scoble is right, no one is talking much about them. We need to.

  37. Not just subprime and Enron, say the dot.com double bubble, you know, that greatest loss of wealth in human history thing.

    Easy money, easy loans, easy energy, Caveat Emptor. It pays to be a skeptic. Show Me, as they say here. It’s all the bouncy optimist “evangelists” that you need to watch out for, don’t mess with the missionary men.

    Least the free-range has it’s judgment day, held accountable, the governmental mistakes and fraud just become policy.

  38. Not just subprime and Enron, say the dot.com double bubble, you know, that greatest loss of wealth in human history thing.

    Easy money, easy loans, easy energy, Caveat Emptor. It pays to be a skeptic. Show Me, as they say here. It’s all the bouncy optimist “evangelists” that you need to watch out for, don’t mess with the missionary men.

    Least the free-range has it’s judgment day, held accountable, the governmental mistakes and fraud just become policy.

  39. [...] Scoble. I’ve watched a lot of the two political conventions. I’ve heard a few words about support for technology and science — quickly are forgotten in the noise about McCain’s vice presidential pick — but I’ve heard nary a word about how we’re going to ensure that the United States continues to be a place where innovation happens. Increasingly I’m hearing from industry leaders that our innovation leadership is under major attack for a whole lot of reasons. Immigration policy. Education system quality. Taxation and regulation. And on and on. [...]

  40. You are correct about this Robert, and it affects other areas where professionals are just as frustrated.

    For example, when I used to do up-front emergency management work back in the 80′s, when visiting with the hydrologists who understood well why the Great Salt Lake rose every 60 years and flooded Salt Lake City, it was always hard to translate their learned, if highly technical, views to the decision makers back in Washington, DC. The pattern was repeated for different disasters when I would travel to Texas, South Dakota, Arizona, California, etc.

    Politicians have a very, very short attention span. It is less than most teenagers. If you cannot convey it to them in a minute or two, or on one piece of paper, or in one email…you loose them.

    So your frustration at their not paying enough attention to technological innovation is shared by others. (If you really want them to walk away, try to talk to them about the coming bankruptcy of social security.)

    The best way to get to them is to get the ear of someone close to them. It’s basically what a good lobbyist does and why they are so well paid.

  41. You are correct about this Robert, and it affects other areas where professionals are just as frustrated.

    For example, when I used to do up-front emergency management work back in the 80′s, when visiting with the hydrologists who understood well why the Great Salt Lake rose every 60 years and flooded Salt Lake City, it was always hard to translate their learned, if highly technical, views to the decision makers back in Washington, DC. The pattern was repeated for different disasters when I would travel to Texas, South Dakota, Arizona, California, etc.

    Politicians have a very, very short attention span. It is less than most teenagers. If you cannot convey it to them in a minute or two, or on one piece of paper, or in one email…you loose them.

    So your frustration at their not paying enough attention to technological innovation is shared by others. (If you really want them to walk away, try to talk to them about the coming bankruptcy of social security.)

    The best way to get to them is to get the ear of someone close to them. It’s basically what a good lobbyist does and why they are so well paid.

  42. Hey how about how this nation is trillions of dollars in debt, and gov’t spending is out of control? And if you raise taxes, all you’ll do is drive investments to lower tax jurisdictions (as California has been proving for years).

    We have to cut spending like right away!

  43. Hey how about how this nation is trillions of dollars in debt, and gov’t spending is out of control? And if you raise taxes, all you’ll do is drive investments to lower tax jurisdictions (as California has been proving for years).

    We have to cut spending like right away!

  44. Very good as usual and posted it over at the Medical Quack, has healthcare written all over it! You know what you do in covering all of technology is very valuable. Healthcare could almost use it’s own “Robert Scoble” as it is exploding. Shoot I talk to folks they are not even aware of people walking around today with electronic brain implants , about 500 or so on clinical trials. Maybe I could use one of those someday for a gradual lobotomy (grin). That was a joke, but the implants are real. In writing the blog I uncover some of the most innovative and growing healthcare projects, funded and non funded and shoot some of the stuff is neat and other parts of it scare the daylights out of me at times!

    This was a real good interview and I will have to get the book. I felt so very at home in listening to her as it’s exactly what I talk about in pretty much the same fashion, although theres a big change in the audience I can capture (grin). I’ve written a ton of eye opener stuff, like the condition of our hospitals, etc. and where the money is and is not, hoping to open some eyes to both sides of the coin.

    One of these days when I feel so inclined I’m going to dig up an old letter of reprimand I got while working for a Fortune 500 company years ago telling me I could not use my PDA (this was back when they were black and white and not connected to a phone) in meetings as they thought I had a toy and I was taking notes, boy have things changed!!

    Again, back the interview, great choice of people and topics and it’s over at the Quack.

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2008/09/interview-with-judy-estrin-author-of.html

  45. Very good as usual and posted it over at the Medical Quack, has healthcare written all over it! You know what you do in covering all of technology is very valuable. Healthcare could almost use it’s own “Robert Scoble” as it is exploding. Shoot I talk to folks they are not even aware of people walking around today with electronic brain implants , about 500 or so on clinical trials. Maybe I could use one of those someday for a gradual lobotomy (grin). That was a joke, but the implants are real. In writing the blog I uncover some of the most innovative and growing healthcare projects, funded and non funded and shoot some of the stuff is neat and other parts of it scare the daylights out of me at times!

    This was a real good interview and I will have to get the book. I felt so very at home in listening to her as it’s exactly what I talk about in pretty much the same fashion, although theres a big change in the audience I can capture (grin). I’ve written a ton of eye opener stuff, like the condition of our hospitals, etc. and where the money is and is not, hoping to open some eyes to both sides of the coin.

    One of these days when I feel so inclined I’m going to dig up an old letter of reprimand I got while working for a Fortune 500 company years ago telling me I could not use my PDA (this was back when they were black and white and not connected to a phone) in meetings as they thought I had a toy and I was taking notes, boy have things changed!!

    Again, back the interview, great choice of people and topics and it’s over at the Quack.

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2008/09/interview-with-judy-estrin-author-of.html

  46. I believe that the Libertarian Party of the United States addresses all the issues you bring up. By principle, the Libertarian Party opposes excessive regulation and taxes, as well as advocates the granting of significantly more immigration visas to get highly educated and innovative immigrants. It is also for more innovation and diversity in the realm of education. The Party advocates the restoration of the right for parents to choose what school they want their children to attend.

    From their website (lp.org):

    3. Tear down barriers to entrepreneurism and economic growth

    Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.

    In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.

  47. I believe that the Libertarian Party of the United States addresses all the issues you bring up. By principle, the Libertarian Party opposes excessive regulation and taxes, as well as advocates the granting of significantly more immigration visas to get highly educated and innovative immigrants. It is also for more innovation and diversity in the realm of education. The Party advocates the restoration of the right for parents to choose what school they want their children to attend.

    From their website (lp.org):

    3. Tear down barriers to entrepreneurism and economic growth

    Almost everyone agrees that a job is better than any welfare program. Yet for years this country has pursued tax and regulatory policies that seem perversely designed to discourage economic growth and reduce entrepreneurial opportunities. Someone starting a business today needs a battery of lawyers just to comply with the myriad of government regulations from a virtual alphabet soup of government agencies: OSHA, EPA, FTC, CPSC, etc. Zoning and occupational licensing laws are particularly damaging to the type of small businesses that may help people work their way out of poverty.

    In addition, government regulations such as minimum wage laws and mandated benefits drive up the cost of employing additional workers. We call for the repeal of government regulations and taxes that are steadily cutting the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.

  48. Robert – read something about politics before you go off about it. Both presidential candidates have addressed this issue. There are scads of pundits and political consultants on both sides of the aisle that regularly bring this up. There are entire special interest groups and blogs devoted to this concept with considerable funding and readership.

    Step outside your bubble and do some research before you speak, instead of parroting what folks you interview tell you. It’s just as bad as copying and pasting a press release.

  49. Robert – read something about politics before you go off about it. Both presidential candidates have addressed this issue. There are scads of pundits and political consultants on both sides of the aisle that regularly bring this up. There are entire special interest groups and blogs devoted to this concept with considerable funding and readership.

    Step outside your bubble and do some research before you speak, instead of parroting what folks you interview tell you. It’s just as bad as copying and pasting a press release.

  50. Robert:I think you have some great points to make regarding the need for broader discussion about the topic of innovation. I must, however, take issue with the premise (and snarky repetition) that such subjects are not being discussed in the broader context of the political debate in this country.The fact of the matter is that numerous politicians around the country have addressed the need for greater focus on innovation as a concept, and have supported their bullet points by contributing significant policy pieces to the larger discussion. A cross-sectional review of campaign websites reveals various levels of support of the idea of “innovation” through increased education funding, energy independence research, green technology job retraining, etc.The problem, as I see it, is that private sector leaders such as yourself and those who follow your work are not stepping up to the plate and becoming actively involved in the campaigns’ efforts to reach the greater population. As a former campaign veteran I can tell you, if the industry and thought leaders are there pushing the issue with a particular campaign, the campaign will focus on it. That can include giving money to a particular campaign that “gets it” and can move things forward vs. one that pushes a status quo agenda.Politics is not rocket science. It is about relationships, just like what you and other industry/thought leaders do every day. The problem is that too many people with a “public voice” would rather sit back and blog/vlog/speak about the issue; rather than actively become engaged at a meaningful level in the political process. It is easy to see what happens when particular audiences are engaged (i.e. the religious right) at a meaningful level…things happen and agendas are established. When people don’t take the initiative to engage with campaigns and their supporting organizations (the committees) at the state and national levels, they should not expect that the overall idea of “innovation” as a key priority will ever reach the level they purportedly expect.In short, I challenge everyone who reads your post to really think about whether they are personally putting their own skin in the game by becoming actively involved with the idea of establishing “innovation” at all levels as a national priority. Or, alternatively, are they just bitching and moaning about it? My guess is that everyone could “step it up” and raise their level of true commitment above what they are doing now.Scott FovalScottsBigMouthhttp://www.scottsbigmouth.com / http://offthebus.ning.com/profile/ScottFovalscott@foval.com

  51. Robert:

    I think you have some great points to make regarding the need for broader discussion about the topic of innovation. I mus, however, take issue with the premise (and snarky repetition) that such subjects are not being discussed in the broader context of the political debate in this country.

    The fact of the matter is that numerous politicians around the country have addressed the need for greater focus on innovation as a concept, and have supported their bullet points by contributing significant policy pieces to the larger discussion. A cross-sectional review of campaign websites reveals various levels of support of the idea of “innovation” through increased education funding, energy independence research, green technology job retraining, etc.

    The problem, as I see it, is that private sector leaders such as yourself and those who follow your work are not stepping up to the plate and becoming actively involved in the campaigns’ efforts to reach the greater population. As a former campaign veteran I can tell you, if the industry and thought leaders are there pushing the issue with a particular campaign, the campaign will focus on it. That can include giving money to a particular campaign that “gets it” and can move things forward vs. one that pushes a status quo agenda.

    Politics is not rocket science. It is about relationships, just like what you and other industry/thought leaders do every day. The problem is that too many people with a “public voice” would rather sit back and blog/vlog/speak about the issue; rather than actively become engaged at a meaningful level in the political process. It is easy to see what happens when particular audiences are engaged (i.e. the religious right) at a meaningful level…things happen and agendas are established. When people don’t take the initiative to engage with campaigns and their supporting organizations (the committees) at the state and national levels, they should not expect that the overall idea of “innovation” as a key priority will ever reach the level they purportedly expect.

    In short, I challenge everyone who reads your post to really think about whether they are personally putting their own skin in the game by becoming actively involved with the idea of establishing “innovation” at all levels as a national priority. Or, alternatively, are they just bitching and moaning about it? My guess is that everyone could “step it up” and raise their level of true commitment above what they are doing now.

    Scott Foval
    ScottsBigMouth
    http://www.scottsbigmouth.com / http://offthebus.ning.com/profile/ScottFoval
    scott@foval.com

  52. Scoble

    as both a Democrat and a techie, what do you you think about Meg Whitman (of ebay) and Carly Fiorina (of hp) speaking at the Republican National Convention

  53. Scoble

    as both a Democrat and a techie, what do you you think about Meg Whitman (of ebay) and Carly Fiorina (of hp) speaking at the Republican National Convention

  54. Scott: fair enough. I’ve gone to Washington and invested a bit of my time on learning about this issue and done lots of interviews about it, with more to come.

    redfish: it’s pretty common for execs in Silicon Valley to be Republican (same thing I saw at Microsoft). Business executives see in their faces every day the pressure to be profitable and the costs that taxes and other regulations have on their businesses. I’m used to CEOs doing this, even as they form bedfellows with the religious social conservatives. I wonder if they too are religious, or if they simply hold their noses around those types?

  55. Scott: fair enough. I’ve gone to Washington and invested a bit of my time on learning about this issue and done lots of interviews about it, with more to come.

    redfish: it’s pretty common for execs in Silicon Valley to be Republican (same thing I saw at Microsoft). Business executives see in their faces every day the pressure to be profitable and the costs that taxes and other regulations have on their businesses. I’m used to CEOs doing this, even as they form bedfellows with the religious social conservatives. I wonder if they too are religious, or if they simply hold their noses around those types?

  56. Mark “Rizzn”: I go to http://www.memeorandum.com/ and I don’t see a single word about science, technology, or innovation. Here it is in between our two political conventions and we’re talking about lots of other stuff. So, I guess you are reading something I’m not. Our nation is NOT focused on these issues. If you think it is, can you please pass the bong?

  57. Mark “Rizzn”: I go to http://www.memeorandum.com/ and I don’t see a single word about science, technology, or innovation. Here it is in between our two political conventions and we’re talking about lots of other stuff. So, I guess you are reading something I’m not. Our nation is NOT focused on these issues. If you think it is, can you please pass the bong?

  58. Robert,

    When the so-called ‘Reagan coalition’ was originally built, I think everyone was on board together, because many older business leaders feel that standing on values and morals helped them build up their companies succeed in the business world. Also a lot of these older business people are sort of like Ross Perot, who had all of his employees wear suits and shave their beards, and demanded a work ethic—think of IBM before the 80s. Perot as I know isn’t that strongly social conservative but was a strong proponent of the drug war. I think its sort of different today, and people involved in business now are quite a bit more libertarian, and want the hands of government off of everything

    But I think it has to be pointed out that not everyone thats socially conservative are fundamentalist types like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. There are a lot of people who are on the conservative side of the spectrum on social issues who have legitimate points of view and their politics isn’t scary.

  59. Robert,

    When the so-called ‘Reagan coalition’ was originally built, I think everyone was on board together, because many older business leaders feel that standing on values and morals helped them build up their companies succeed in the business world. Also a lot of these older business people are sort of like Ross Perot, who had all of his employees wear suits and shave their beards, and demanded a work ethic—think of IBM before the 80s. Perot as I know isn’t that strongly social conservative but was a strong proponent of the drug war. I think its sort of different today, and people involved in business now are quite a bit more libertarian, and want the hands of government off of everything

    But I think it has to be pointed out that not everyone thats socially conservative are fundamentalist types like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. There are a lot of people who are on the conservative side of the spectrum on social issues who have legitimate points of view and their politics isn’t scary.

  60. Hi Robert,

    I am the co-founder of the Tech Policy Summit conference…I’ve been meaning to contact you and this post is a great reminder. We’ll be debating this issue, and others like it, at our next Summit in 2009. If you’re interested in being part of the program, we’d like to have you there. It’s March 23-25 in San Mateo (so no plane flight required for you!).

    I’ll email you as well, but I thought I’d ask you in public since that’s where you spend most of your time.

    For the record, because we get asked about this, we’re not affiliated with any political party, trade association, lobbying group, etc. The Summit is strictly nonpartisan. We’re *just* a startup that produces tech events.

    Mitch Kapor, Esther Dyson, David Hornik, John Chen, Craig Newmark, Chris Shipley, Kim Polese, Reid Hoffman and Prith Banerjee have agreed to volunteer for our 2009 advisory board, and we’re looking forward to creating an event that sparks discussion…and action!

    We’re still in the early planning stages on the agenda, but I hope you can participate as a speaker. Feel free to DM me on Twitter at TechPolicy.

    Thanks,
    Natalie

  61. Hi Robert,

    I am the co-founder of the Tech Policy Summit conference…I’ve been meaning to contact you and this post is a great reminder. We’ll be debating this issue, and others like it, at our next Summit in 2009. If you’re interested in being part of the program, we’d like to have you there. It’s March 23-25 in San Mateo (so no plane flight required for you!).

    I’ll email you as well, but I thought I’d ask you in public since that’s where you spend most of your time.

    For the record, because we get asked about this, we’re not affiliated with any political party, trade association, lobbying group, etc. The Summit is strictly nonpartisan. We’re *just* a startup that produces tech events.

    Mitch Kapor, Esther Dyson, David Hornik, John Chen, Craig Newmark, Chris Shipley, Kim Polese, Reid Hoffman and Prith Banerjee have agreed to volunteer for our 2009 advisory board, and we’re looking forward to creating an event that sparks discussion…and action!

    We’re still in the early planning stages on the agenda, but I hope you can participate as a speaker. Feel free to DM me on Twitter at TechPolicy.

    Thanks,
    Natalie

  62. Judging by the talking points both sides have decided on, through focus groups and the nature of our sound bite culture, it seems they think the public is just too dumb to handle discussions of science, technology and innovation.

    While I agree with you that this SHOULD be a top issue and not a bullet point in a pamphlet, I have seen enough of “the public” to know that the politicians might just be right on the money with their assessment of what the lowest common denominator in our country can handle a lengthy discussion about.

    I saw a woman this week on CNN, when asked if she knew who John McCain picked as his running mate, answer Barack Obama.

    I’ve seen a ton of other such people representing what the politicians refer to as “hard working Americans” handle similar types of questions with some of the most outrageous answers you can imagine.

    So, SHOULD we be talking about innovation and keeping America in the forefront? Absolutely. Can the average American handle anything beyond a debate over creationism vs. science? Sadly, I think not.

    Apparently, the politicians and focus groups think the same way.

  63. Judging by the talking points both sides have decided on, through focus groups and the nature of our sound bite culture, it seems they think the public is just too dumb to handle discussions of science, technology and innovation.

    While I agree with you that this SHOULD be a top issue and not a bullet point in a pamphlet, I have seen enough of “the public” to know that the politicians might just be right on the money with their assessment of what the lowest common denominator in our country can handle a lengthy discussion about.

    I saw a woman this week on CNN, when asked if she knew who John McCain picked as his running mate, answer Barack Obama.

    I’ve seen a ton of other such people representing what the politicians refer to as “hard working Americans” handle similar types of questions with some of the most outrageous answers you can imagine.

    So, SHOULD we be talking about innovation and keeping America in the forefront? Absolutely. Can the average American handle anything beyond a debate over creationism vs. science? Sadly, I think not.

    Apparently, the politicians and focus groups think the same way.

  64. Promote innovation? This is not hard at all. Get the government out of the way. Abolish IP law. Lower taxes. Abolish regulations. That’s the only thing that will do it.

  65. Promote innovation? This is not hard at all. Get the government out of the way. Abolish IP law. Lower taxes. Abolish regulations. That’s the only thing that will do it.

  66. Great post. Although I would like to mention to some that “talking points” on a politicians website do not constitute a discussion about the issue.

  67. Great post. Although I would like to mention to some that “talking points” on a politicians website do not constitute a discussion about the issue.

  68. I’m pretty sure that the policies for Obama look a lot like: If it moves, tax it!

    McCain isn’t much better but I think his administration would be more likely to hold the line on bigger government.

    Our current rate of growth in government is unsustainable. We can wait till the system colapses, or we can fix it now. Sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. I don’t normally hawk my blog here, but these two videos (not by me) have SOME ideas thta might address the problems you raise. I’m quite sure the “change” Obama talks about doesn’t look anything like this… if it did, I’d probably vote for him.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/DanDyer4

    Actually, that’s a direct link to the video, I bypassed my blog entry.

  69. I’m pretty sure that the policies for Obama look a lot like: If it moves, tax it!

    McCain isn’t much better but I think his administration would be more likely to hold the line on bigger government.

    Our current rate of growth in government is unsustainable. We can wait till the system colapses, or we can fix it now. Sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. I don’t normally hawk my blog here, but these two videos (not by me) have SOME ideas thta might address the problems you raise. I’m quite sure the “change” Obama talks about doesn’t look anything like this… if it did, I’d probably vote for him.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/DanDyer4

    Actually, that’s a direct link to the video, I bypassed my blog entry.

  70. The problem is that nearly everyone is sitting around waiting for others to take the lead on these roles.

    It ain’t gonna happen, people!

    Look in the mirror. Look at your kid’s classrooms. Look at what schools have to work with. We have succumbed to the notion of hands-off education. We have suffered from a generation of teachers who thought they knew more than the rest of the working world.

    So we protect our kids from ideas. We protect our people from experimenting. We legislate all sorts of things such as how large a ham radio tower you can erect in your back yard, what chemicals you can buy over the counter, where you work on your car, change your oil –we’re even trying to legislate what one can do with one’s own computer with the DMCA.

    So people lack the enthusiasm of innovation. Busybody protective laws have killed interest in anything technical for kids. They’d rather engage with online games and pretend play. They’re not stupid, they know that technically inclined people are nerds who will never be in charge. And what does media emphasize? Leadership!

    There are many flavors of leadership and they don’t have to be in business.

    When was the last time your kids made a kite and flew it? Have your children ever been to a small airport to see the airplanes? Have your children tried making a hologram? Looking for sunspots? Exploring the airwaves on a short-wave radio?

    And then we sit around wondering why we don’t have innovation… It’s not about money. It’s about giving your time and sharing your experience with children.

    The problem isn’t that politicians don’t want innovation. It’s that we’ve let them kill it before it even had a chance to happen.

  71. The problem is that nearly everyone is sitting around waiting for others to take the lead on these roles.

    It ain’t gonna happen, people!

    Look in the mirror. Look at your kid’s classrooms. Look at what schools have to work with. We have succumbed to the notion of hands-off education. We have suffered from a generation of teachers who thought they knew more than the rest of the working world.

    So we protect our kids from ideas. We protect our people from experimenting. We legislate all sorts of things such as how large a ham radio tower you can erect in your back yard, what chemicals you can buy over the counter, where you work on your car, change your oil –we’re even trying to legislate what one can do with one’s own computer with the DMCA.

    So people lack the enthusiasm of innovation. Busybody protective laws have killed interest in anything technical for kids. They’d rather engage with online games and pretend play. They’re not stupid, they know that technically inclined people are nerds who will never be in charge. And what does media emphasize? Leadership!

    There are many flavors of leadership and they don’t have to be in business.

    When was the last time your kids made a kite and flew it? Have your children ever been to a small airport to see the airplanes? Have your children tried making a hologram? Looking for sunspots? Exploring the airwaves on a short-wave radio?

    And then we sit around wondering why we don’t have innovation… It’s not about money. It’s about giving your time and sharing your experience with children.

    The problem isn’t that politicians don’t want innovation. It’s that we’ve let them kill it before it even had a chance to happen.

  72. The power of innovation at this point in history really hits home if one has been fortunate enough to visit a place such as Beijing. And it’s not just China, India, and Brazil who are coursing ahead at full steam — even “staid” old Europe is racing to innovate. Every other nation on earth sees innovation as the key to its future and thus it is a daily, national priority. Americans who haven’t seen it for themselves have no idea how fast the global race has become.

    In my opinion, the greatest gift any American could give himself or herself right now — particularly Americans in any position of responsibility or influence — is to find a way to travel overseas and see it in person. Take the next plane. And take the next generation with you.

  73. The power of innovation at this point in history really hits home if one has been fortunate enough to visit a place such as Beijing. And it’s not just China, India, and Brazil who are coursing ahead at full steam — even “staid” old Europe is racing to innovate. Every other nation on earth sees innovation as the key to its future and thus it is a daily, national priority. Americans who haven’t seen it for themselves have no idea how fast the global race has become.

    In my opinion, the greatest gift any American could give himself or herself right now — particularly Americans in any position of responsibility or influence — is to find a way to travel overseas and see it in person. Take the next plane. And take the next generation with you.

  74. By allowing our public schools to compete in a free market for the best and brightest; by eliminating any form of affirmative action; and by creating scholarships based on intelligence rather than need we can easily regain our spot as top innovators.

  75. By allowing our public schools to compete in a free market for the best and brightest; by eliminating any form of affirmative action; and by creating scholarships based on intelligence rather than need we can easily regain our spot as top innovators.

  76. This is a tough;especially with a huge % of our population still in the, “creation” versus “evolution” debate. A huge block just does not want innovation, unless of course it is framed as competition.

    I think this might be what is necessary – harness our jingoistic instincts towards innovation instead winning wars and sporting events.

  77. This is a tough;especially with a huge % of our population still in the, “creation” versus “evolution” debate. A huge block just does not want innovation, unless of course it is framed as competition.

    I think this might be what is necessary – harness our jingoistic instincts towards innovation instead winning wars and sporting events.

  78. The main problem is that for a number of reasons the technical professions don’t go into politics – its noticeable that lawyers predominate – I remember discussing some new employment laws that where coming in and the General Consul I was talking to pointed out some of the areas of the law where there where major areas un certainty and he commented well makes works for their mates in the legal profession.

    Politicians love to paint them selves as modern and certainly in the UK have a naive view of the ability of technology to solve soft human problems look at the blind faith in identity cards, child databases the Tony Blair and his followers have.

  79. The main problem is that for a number of reasons the technical professions don’t go into politics – its noticeable that lawyers predominate – I remember discussing some new employment laws that where coming in and the General Consul I was talking to pointed out some of the areas of the law where there where major areas un certainty and he commented well makes works for their mates in the legal profession.

    Politicians love to paint them selves as modern and certainly in the UK have a naive view of the ability of technology to solve soft human problems look at the blind faith in identity cards, child databases the Tony Blair and his followers have.

  80. Robert, you REALLY need to avoid political topics. It’s the easiest way to expose your ignorance. Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation”. I don’t even know what the hell that means from a political perspective. Check that, it sounds like more govt. regulation and higher taxes. Thank God they aren’t talking about it, then. This is something left to the free market.

  81. Robert, you REALLY need to avoid political topics. It’s the easiest way to expose your ignorance. Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation”. I don’t even know what the hell that means from a political perspective. Check that, it sounds like more govt. regulation and higher taxes. Thank God they aren’t talking about it, then. This is something left to the free market.

  82. “Unless I shoulder the burden I suspect it will not come from schools and ambient experiences.”

    What’s bad about you shouldering the “burden”?. It sure as hell isn’t the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility. Not sure what leads you to believe it won’t be taught in schools.

  83. “Unless I shoulder the burden I suspect it will not come from schools and ambient experiences.”

    What’s bad about you shouldering the “burden”?. It sure as hell isn’t the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility. Not sure what leads you to believe it won’t be taught in schools.

  84. “Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation””

    Article I, section 8, Powers of Congress

    “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” seems like a good hint.

  85. “Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation””

    Article I, section 8, Powers of Congress

    “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” seems like a good hint.

  86. Blain

    I think that the constitution allows it, but that clause specifically relates to the ability of government to have patent and copyright laws.

  87. Blain

    I think that the constitution allows it, but that clause specifically relates to the ability of government to have patent and copyright laws.

  88. Agreed, Redfish. I did omit that, but there’s two answers:

    Spirit: Strong science and education is good for the welfare of the nation. Time and time again, it has been seen that a well-educated populace with advanced science is a good investment for both the economy (computers, cars, manufacturing) and defense (radar, weapons, medicine). Jefferson pushed for patents and copyright for this specific reason, and Ben Franklin certainly had good standing in both politics and science. George Washington’s farewell address asks the country to “Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.”

    Letter: A law certainly qualifies as a policy. Article I, section 8 is in the Constitution, and is directly mentioning responsibilities and powers of the federal gov’t. In it, a responsibility enumerated is to set up laws to encourage science, arts, and other innovation.

    “Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation”.”

    Therefore, I am citing Article I, section 8 in the Constitution where it says it is the federal gov’t’s responsibility to establish policies, namely laws, on innovation.

  89. Agreed, Redfish. I did omit that, but there’s two answers:

    Spirit: Strong science and education is good for the welfare of the nation. Time and time again, it has been seen that a well-educated populace with advanced science is a good investment for both the economy (computers, cars, manufacturing) and defense (radar, weapons, medicine). Jefferson pushed for patents and copyright for this specific reason, and Ben Franklin certainly had good standing in both politics and science. George Washington’s farewell address asks the country to “Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.”

    Letter: A law certainly qualifies as a policy. Article I, section 8 is in the Constitution, and is directly mentioning responsibilities and powers of the federal gov’t. In it, a responsibility enumerated is to set up laws to encourage science, arts, and other innovation.

    “Please cite the Article or Amendment in the Constitution where is says it is either the President’s or the Federal Govt’s responsibility to establish “policies on innovation”.”

    Therefore, I am citing Article I, section 8 in the Constitution where it says it is the federal gov’t’s responsibility to establish policies, namely laws, on innovation.

  90. Robert,

    Unfortunately there’s not just one issue that can’t be discussed, there’s two. Both parties are afraid to discuss the national debt, which is approximately $50 trillion. For those of you that like to see things visually, let me show you. This Is what $50,000,000,000,000.00, looks like. We pay $3 billion dollars a day($3,000,000,000.00), just to service the interest on the debt. This is without even touching the principle.It kind of sound like the way most Americans, handle their personal debt. This of course is another looming crisis. If we started today to pay off the debt, it would cost every American $175,000.00. Currently, the United States government has zero dollars to pay off the debt. Now, if this is not the most critical issue facing this country, then I don’t know what it is. What makes it worse is, both the Republican and Democratic party will not even bring it up!. It’s kind of like the proverbial elephant in the living room. And, that’s the political topic that must not be discussed in America.

    By the way,if anybody doubts this, I’d be happy to supply an endless stream of facts and figures.

  91. Robert,

    Unfortunately there’s not just one issue that can’t be discussed, there’s two. Both parties are afraid to discuss the national debt, which is approximately $50 trillion. For those of you that like to see things visually, let me show you. This Is what $50,000,000,000,000.00, looks like. We pay $3 billion dollars a day($3,000,000,000.00), just to service the interest on the debt. This is without even touching the principle.It kind of sound like the way most Americans, handle their personal debt. This of course is another looming crisis. If we started today to pay off the debt, it would cost every American $175,000.00. Currently, the United States government has zero dollars to pay off the debt. Now, if this is not the most critical issue facing this country, then I don’t know what it is. What makes it worse is, both the Republican and Democratic party will not even bring it up!. It’s kind of like the proverbial elephant in the living room. And, that’s the political topic that must not be discussed in America.

    By the way,if anybody doubts this, I’d be happy to supply an endless stream of facts and figures.

  92. I’m sorry for deviating off the original topic of science. I agree this is another fundamental problem that were facing. Judy Estrin, is correct in everything that she talks about, especially the part about education. You have had the opportunity to travel the world and see for yourself what other countries are doing. Japan is an excellent example when it comes to planning for the future. They are making great strides in specific areas, such as robotics. It is obvious now,that as a country they chose to dedicate a great amount of resources to ensure that they would be a key player in this field. They obviously intend to be the Silicon Valley of the robotics revolution. Other countries are trying to carve out their own niche. In the life and biosciences, we seemed to still have an advantage. If we don’t educate all of our children to a higher standard than we currently do, we will have a limited talent pool to lead us forward. The only reason I mentioned the deficit, is because we cannot educate our children if we are broke. This country was built on innovation. Without it, we cannot grow. So as I said before, we have two problems that Washington is afraid to address. Fortunately, we have people like yourself, who are willing to discuss it and bring these issues into the light. Please, keep it up.

  93. I’m sorry for deviating off the original topic of science. I agree this is another fundamental problem that were facing. Judy Estrin, is correct in everything that she talks about, especially the part about education. You have had the opportunity to travel the world and see for yourself what other countries are doing. Japan is an excellent example when it comes to planning for the future. They are making great strides in specific areas, such as robotics. It is obvious now,that as a country they chose to dedicate a great amount of resources to ensure that they would be a key player in this field. They obviously intend to be the Silicon Valley of the robotics revolution. Other countries are trying to carve out their own niche. In the life and biosciences, we seemed to still have an advantage. If we don’t educate all of our children to a higher standard than we currently do, we will have a limited talent pool to lead us forward. The only reason I mentioned the deficit, is because we cannot educate our children if we are broke. This country was built on innovation. Without it, we cannot grow. So as I said before, we have two problems that Washington is afraid to address. Fortunately, we have people like yourself, who are willing to discuss it and bring these issues into the light. Please, keep it up.

  94. Interesting topic, but as usual, people are prone to make their cases based on what they want the world to be like rather than the way it really is.
    Innovation is driven by allowing the free market to come up with solutions to problems based on what the market determines to be cost effective. Sure, it would be nice to have miniature fusion generators buried under our houses to power our lives with a minimum of cost and hassle, but who can actually pull it off? That’s the problem. Just as the religious right wing hard-core creationists refuse to acknowledge that a fundamental part of evolution theory is geological time spans- billions of years to see the effect of mutations on the survivability of the progeny, for example- so do the progressive minded individuals refuse to allow for technology to grow and mature over time. A few years ago I would have said that the timeframe for a major auto manufacturer to produce a hydrogen fuel cell car that can be mass produced for a reasonable cost would be at least decades away, yet Honda promises just that by 2012 (and California already has a small fleet of prototypes, I hear!). Even GM has something in the works for the near future- I saw a working prototype on a British TV show.
    The reason? The market is clamoring for a solution to petroleum-based problems, and businesses are taking notice.
    Let me tell you now what doesn’t work. Taxing our corporations 35% on their profits? Unbelievable! What moron let that happen? We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the free world, and I would say enough is enough. Economics 101: If you tax a business, that tax is considered, “operating overhead,”- costs which are simply passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices at the point of sale. That tax is also passed on to the shareholders in the form of lower returns on their investments. All of you folks clamoring for a windfall profits tax on the oil companies deserve a rash. Don’t you know that a significant percentage of long- term investments (like your parents’ retirement fund) are in energy stocks?

  95. Interesting topic, but as usual, people are prone to make their cases based on what they want the world to be like rather than the way it really is.
    Innovation is driven by allowing the free market to come up with solutions to problems based on what the market determines to be cost effective. Sure, it would be nice to have miniature fusion generators buried under our houses to power our lives with a minimum of cost and hassle, but who can actually pull it off? That’s the problem. Just as the religious right wing hard-core creationists refuse to acknowledge that a fundamental part of evolution theory is geological time spans- billions of years to see the effect of mutations on the survivability of the progeny, for example- so do the progressive minded individuals refuse to allow for technology to grow and mature over time. A few years ago I would have said that the timeframe for a major auto manufacturer to produce a hydrogen fuel cell car that can be mass produced for a reasonable cost would be at least decades away, yet Honda promises just that by 2012 (and California already has a small fleet of prototypes, I hear!). Even GM has something in the works for the near future- I saw a working prototype on a British TV show.
    The reason? The market is clamoring for a solution to petroleum-based problems, and businesses are taking notice.
    Let me tell you now what doesn’t work. Taxing our corporations 35% on their profits? Unbelievable! What moron let that happen? We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the free world, and I would say enough is enough. Economics 101: If you tax a business, that tax is considered, “operating overhead,”- costs which are simply passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices at the point of sale. That tax is also passed on to the shareholders in the form of lower returns on their investments. All of you folks clamoring for a windfall profits tax on the oil companies deserve a rash. Don’t you know that a significant percentage of long- term investments (like your parents’ retirement fund) are in energy stocks?

  96. Sorry for the double post, but I was concerned about space limitations.
    One more point to tie things together in my last post;
    That tax I was talking about? It also will be seen when the time comes to reinvest some of those evil profits. There will be less money to go around, and as we have seen frequently, the highest paid people and the big money shareholders rarely give up their loot when things get tight. Who loses? US! corporations usually won’t take chances when money is tight. They tend to put their capital in safe investments like money markets, bonds etc… They won’t grow their businesses, hire people new people to expand their operations or invest in R&D, at least not to the extent they would have if the government weren’t trying to squeeze them for every tax dollar possible!
    Yes, it is getting that bad here in the states. Ireland recently addressed their (formerly) slow economy by cutting tax rates and UNNECESSARY regulations for businesses. The last time I checked, it was paying off for them.
    Why is innovation moving offshore? Because we have allowed our elected officials at the federal level to drive them off with their mismanagement and malfeasance. Believe me, they won’t be crying the same rivers we will when it all comes crashing down- most of them are wealthy enough to weather the storms just fine.
    What galls me the most is that while we see glaring examples of government incompetence and corruption all around us, some folks are just peachy with giving the government more power to mess up more of our lives. Did they screw up social security? Okay, let’s give ‘em the health care system. Let’s give them CAFE standards. Let’s give them Wall Street!
    Let’s give them… Innovation?

  97. Sorry for the double post, but I was concerned about space limitations.
    One more point to tie things together in my last post;
    That tax I was talking about? It also will be seen when the time comes to reinvest some of those evil profits. There will be less money to go around, and as we have seen frequently, the highest paid people and the big money shareholders rarely give up their loot when things get tight. Who loses? US! corporations usually won’t take chances when money is tight. They tend to put their capital in safe investments like money markets, bonds etc… They won’t grow their businesses, hire people new people to expand their operations or invest in R&D, at least not to the extent they would have if the government weren’t trying to squeeze them for every tax dollar possible!
    Yes, it is getting that bad here in the states. Ireland recently addressed their (formerly) slow economy by cutting tax rates and UNNECESSARY regulations for businesses. The last time I checked, it was paying off for them.
    Why is innovation moving offshore? Because we have allowed our elected officials at the federal level to drive them off with their mismanagement and malfeasance. Believe me, they won’t be crying the same rivers we will when it all comes crashing down- most of them are wealthy enough to weather the storms just fine.
    What galls me the most is that while we see glaring examples of government incompetence and corruption all around us, some folks are just peachy with giving the government more power to mess up more of our lives. Did they screw up social security? Okay, let’s give ‘em the health care system. Let’s give them CAFE standards. Let’s give them Wall Street!
    Let’s give them… Innovation?