04 February 2011

TOO CHEAP TO DREAM BIG?

UPDATED: 03/15/15
Has the United States become too cheap to innovate... to 'Dream Big?' We are all familiar with the 1950s predictions of the future. Improved roads, better health, and an ideal life. What happened? Technology, alas, may not have moved as fast as Mr. Walt Disney thought it would... are politics also at play?

When I drive through the massive Tysons Corner construction project currently under way in Northern Virginia, it gives me hope. But why, in this age, haven't we seen more? Flying cars are one thing. But why will it have taken 30 years, since Dulles added "Washington" to its name, for the DC metro to reach it?

It shouldn't take another almost-depression to put the country on a path of infrastructure improvement and innovation. Indeed, it is the path we must continuously be following. 

The president has set the stage. Now, Congress must legislate and figure out a way to pay for it. Here we go again.

The United States is right now positioned for a gigantic comeback. Make or break, some would say. And, with all due respect to the people of Egypt who are risking it all to have their voices heard; I have to point out that, in this country, it is increasingly difficult to see anything substantial behind the rhetoric on the Hill right now.

Defecit spending? Health care? Again? Still? Good night, nurse!

Fiscal conservatives who complain about the mess we'll leave to our children and grandchildren ought to stop and check out the mess our grandfathers and great-grandfathers left for us.

What is going on is not a battle about wasteful government spending. It is actually a battle between "old energy" and innovation.

The media who give credibility to these fiscal conservative politicians, who argue against spending on infrastructure and renewable energy, must also give the public the full story. These so called fiscal conservatives are banking it. They are beholden to significant amounts of money - thanks in part to Citizens United - from entities that insist on the status quo.

Because we can't live without them, these industries are finding politicians who have a price - not all of them do - to do their bidding. Not only are these politicians making it impossible to pass spending bills that we need to jump-start the economy; they are also standing in the way of bills that would bolster innovation to find cheaper, sustainable sources of energy. In the name of fiscal conservatism smoke and mirrors, the next century remains at stake.

Heck, at this rate, your bus ride to the airport might be at stake.

There was an interesting study on NPR's "Science Friday" today. It was a discussion with a couple of doctors who conducted a variety of studies to test brain health. I was fascinated to learn that there is a link to regular walking - I believe it was 20 minutes, 3 times a week, at minimum - and a bigger, better brain.

That doesn't really have anything to do with this post. Except to show that there is so much more out there for people to discover and learn.

What are we waiting for?

Folks, this is our real WTF moment. And that does stand for whether or not we win the future.

It is ours to lose.


04/08/12: UPDATED 
04/12/12: Krugman
04/22/12: A great piece in the New York Times about exercise leading to a better brain.
01/15/14: President Obama announces North Carolina State University will house new research consortium.

UPDATED: 03/15/15 - A new documentary was just released, "Merchants of Doubt," that captures the 'smoke-and-mirrors' sentiment of this post. It's a must see. Here is the trailer:

UPDATED: 03/16/2015 - The Washington Post just released a piece about "Merchants of Doubt." Worth reading. This excerpt from the article is so very true.
"According to Kenner, change will come, but not from those shouting at the edges of the argument. Rather, it will grow out of the confused middle, where films such as “Food, Inc.” and “Merchants of Doubt” shine light on hidden, and uncomfortable, truths."