Sunday, September 21, 2008

Telling Us What We Don't Want to Hear

This has been something that I have thought about quite a bit and used to defend my case for Barack Obama. These 'conservatives' that ran on fiscal responsibility and foreign policy prudence, and have lead us into this insurmountable budget deficit the last 8 years never challenged the American public to do anything, or to sacrifice anything. Coming from a generation that doesn't know what this experience feels like, but hearing stories of the sacrifices of the greatest generation (WWI-II) makes me wonder if we are a nation that could be told what we don't want to hear anymore. The politicians love preaching to the toughness of the American people, but are we really? Joe Biden hinted at this last week saying that it was a patriotic duty to pay taxes, that caused uproar, but it was a hint at the challenge. The challenge we have begun to shoulder under the Bush administration is a budget deficit that has swollen to $10.6 Trillion. If that seems hard to grasp it looks like this:


With all that has gone on within the credit markets and the proposed bailout plan from the government, that will ratchet up to approximately $11.3 Trillion.


Someone needs to tell us what we don't want to hear. Someone, preferably a politician, that holds, or will hold the power to do something about it, needs to tell us we have to start paying for this. Someone has to tell us that if we don't start paying for it and restoring the confidence in our government's financial standing and worthiness of our economy in the view of the rest of the world (i.e. international investors), it will continue to decay. Except it won't decay quickly, it will slowly decline and diminish, like a small leak in a tire, while different economic sectors/industries eat away at each other (retail, energy, housing, auto, health care). Only then, when the Gaps, Home Depots, and Chilis, become a lot harder to find, will we be told that something is wrong and a lifestyle change may be coming. As Allen Greenspan said last week, our nation absolutely cannot afford John McCain's tax policy (continuing Bush tax cuts without any significant cuts in spending) We have to start paying soon. Its hard to understand how anyone could logically come to the conclusion that a country could spend $410 Million a day on a war and somehow think that it could cut taxes, while letting a deficit balloon out of control. Maybe this is a start, Tom Friedman goes further, he knows its no laughing matter.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dean Kamen - Scientist Role Model

I am more and more fascinated, intruiged and inspired by what I hear from Dean Kamen (I realize I am probably a little late to this bandwagon). He truly is one of the greatest innovators of our time, there is little doubt, but he also has one of the greatest minds as well. You may argue those are one in the same, but what I think makes Dean different is that he not only has the intelligence and insight into solving the major problems and inadequacies of our world, he also has, in his heart, the desire to fix them, and the true understanding of the privilege and gift he has, and how he can use it (with stunning specificity) to make the world better. He takes every opportunity he has to spread that gift, and to tell others, of the minority - the educated/globally aware people of this world, the responsibility they have to give. The responsibility they have to give, what they have been given (access to quality education, jobs, income) back into the greater good of unselfishness. Its something I struggle with constantly, its finding that passion that makes you look at your life, not by what you made in the end, but what you may have given that's greater than you. I think if you can say you gave something that accounted for more than what the amount was on the paycheck, you can stand pretty strong in the strength of that mold of success. I guess my fascination and in turn, jealousy of Dean, comes from his ability to find his passion through solving problems within our world, and in his ability to utilize the integration of the two so effectively. He gets it, I think there are a lot of very intelligent and bright people in this world that don't get that relationship, or the potential they have to give, really without much effort or hardship, maybe if they just knew Dean and his cause a better... 

Dean addressed the commencement audience at Bates College in 2007, ending his intriguing address with this:
"So I would beg every educated person in this world, to remember every day when you get up that you are an incredibly small minority, of all of humanity, and with all the privileges I understand it gives us, I think it gives us an enormous responsibility, to be leaders that do the right things for the right reasons, and to remember you can be doing good, while you're doing well. You'll all go out and get good jobs, but you'll make you're living by what you do, in those jobs, you'll make you're life by what you give."
More on his work/passion:

On the image/role of innovation within our society:

Many know his name as the creator of the segway, which is a fascinating invention no doubt, but in its relation to changing/helping the world, making it more 'flat' in terms of the ability to access basic necessities of everyday life that all of us take for granted, its the more material tip of his sprawling creative ice burg.  He is, in some ways, at the helm of a potential innovation Renaissance. 

100,000 Garages

A great piece from Tom Friedman this weekend. 

Right now, we feel like a country in a very slow decline — in infrastructure, basic research and education — just slow enough to lull us into thinking that we have all the time and money to play around in Tbilisi, Georgia, more than Atlanta, Georgia...

Our competitiveness... is based on having a broadly educated work force, superb research universities, innovation-supportive taxes, immigration and regulatory policies, a productive physical and virtual infrastructure, and a culture that embraces hard work and the creation of new opportunities.

Alas, though, the Republicans just had a convention where abortion got vastly more attention than innovation, calls to buttress Tbilisi, Georgia, swamped any for Atlanta, Georgia, and “drill, baby, drill” was chanted instead of “innovate, baby, innovate.”

I think what is echoed here is the power of a renewed commitment to the middle class of America. To giving them the access and resources to break into to our creative class. We will always have innovation and technology flowing from the Ivy league schools, from big corporations, from the top talent in government agencies. But what if, instead of going on the path of the Manhattan Project, we invested and stimulated the path of the Apple and Microsoft project. The power of 100,000 innovators starting in 100,000 small garages across the country to generate new ideas and new technology to solve new problems and find a new way to fix old problems. The world needs more Dean Kamens, and his ideas

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rage against... Donkeys and Elephants

This NYT piece reports on Rage Against the Machine as they held concerts/protests/riots outside both conventions over the past two weeks. John has more pictures and recon from the scene here. Synopsis as follows:

“I hope you all leave peacefully, but you don’t have to be passive,” Mr. Morello said. “Don’t let anyone put their hands on you.”

Thousands took that advice, and a few took it a step further, refusing orders to disperse at Seventh Street and Second Avenue.

Arrests, a mainstay of the latest Rage shows, quickly ensued.

I have always been a casual Rage Against the Machine fan, and I use the word casual in all sincerity after experiencing the RATM concert experience this year. I managed to find myself in the second row at the Lollapalooza show where they stopped the set 4 times because the crowd was pushing through the front steel and concrete barriers. The security staff was hopeless to control the power and energy of this crowd and could only try to pull the vulnerable patrons from being smashed and trampled by the crowd. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, unlike any emotional or motivational response to music, or to any artform. The pull to this message and cause is understandable, especially with the unpopularity of this administration, but the combination of the message of the music and the intensity in which its delivered to massive crowds is something I can understand so much clearer after not only witnessing it, but truly being engulfed by it. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Contradiction? Yes. Suprised? No.

The Daily Show does a brilliant job of exposing the truth of those straight talk GOP Strategists, in the end you just want to know which way they want it...I guess its tough to walk the Hillary/Palin tight rope and stay consistent. 

A Clean Slate

This should scare... I don't least 65.8% of America

The McCain team has hastily assembled a team of former Bush White House aides to tutor the vice-presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on foreign-policy issues, to write her speeches and to begin preparing her for her all-important Oct. 2 debate against Sen. Joe Biden.

After last night I craved for 'hope'

After the MSM reaction to Palin's speech last, which they felt the need to ignore everything they had been uncovering the past 5 days and come to the conclusion that one fiery speech means she's a formidable candidate, I needed a reprieve. I dug into my Obama speech archives, I needed, I hate to say it, but I needed some hope. I needed to read something that washed away the cynicism and slime of division that this party has represented for so long. I needed something that reminded me that we still had a chance to say goodbye to all that a couple months from now. I ended up settling on Mr. Obama's address at Ebenezer Church -The Great Need of the Hour

Unity is the great need of the hour - the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country. I'm not talking about a budget deficit. I'm not talking about a trade deficit. I'm not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans... But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes - a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts. It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart - that puts up walls between us. We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do.

There was no broadening of anything last night but division, division of our parties and of our ideas. There was no mention of a unified country to march towards making America great again, it was our plan and their plan, choose one. Thats what their party and their strategy has been for these past few elections, I know, I was a part of it. Obama opened my eyes and my mind to dispel the arrogance and ignorance the republican party had been feeding me for so long. This morning, after watching all of those tired republican dividing attack lines with the same old sleazy smile delivery, it feels so good to have escaped when I did..