IBM could teach the country a thing or two about competing and recovering from adversity.
Right now the Republicans are talking mostly about telling women
what they have to do with their bodies. The position forms a
linchpin in a whole chain of anti-scientific attitudes—including
climate change denial—that stand in the way of innovation. If you
don’t believe in science, then, guess what: scientific research and
technological innovation suffer.
The Democrats seem only to be able to talk about the fact that
Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. We
have spent the last 30 years working to get our tax rates on capital
gains and dividends down to international levels so people with
capital in the U.S. will invest that capital in trying to create
more jobs, and now the Democrats want to undo that.
What about deficits, that favorite political punching bag? The
problem isn’t deficits – the problem is that we aren’t spending the
money on the right things. We need to be spending more money
and more time on making the US more competitive. For example:
Our military expenditures clearly need to be reduced. Much of
that spending—trillions of dollars!-- aims to fight the last
century’s wars. To face current dangers, we need to invest in
the technologies which get the job done better and more
productively – like the drone program that Bush implemented and
Obama has correctly expanded.
Our health care expenditures need to be reduced. We must
invest in the new technology that allows doctors to understand
each person’s genomic makeup and how to keep each of us well,
better and cheaper.
Our education expenditures must be made more efficiently –
both in K-12 where we are not doing a good job for all kids, but
also in higher education. In higher education, we do a better job, but new
technology can make higher education more affordable and more
relevant for more people.
Our energy dependence on other countries must be reduced. We
must invest in the new technologies that allow us to capitalize
(efficiently and cleanly) on the vast amount of energy locked up
in our underground shale. And at the same time we must
continue to find better ways to utilize the energy in the sun
and the wind.
We need leaders with the courage to face up to and talk with the
American people about our real problems. Both Mr. Obama and
Mr. Romney are clearly very bright and talented individuals – is it
too much to ask that one of them could be honest with us? That
is the one who will get my vote in November.
Bob Pavey, partner emeritus at Morgenthaler Ventures, led the firm’s early stage investment in Apple Computer in 1978
and this year saw another firm investment, Peregrine
Semiconductor, a supplier of components to smart phones, become a
public company. The views he expresses are personal and not
those of Morgenthaler Ventures.
One last point, higher education is failing miserably. The costs have skyrocketed so far above the inflation rate it is virtually impossible to graduate without enormous debt. And engineering students without a master's degree end up working tech support at best. Here again we see the influence of Wall Street. They 'donate' to the universities, sit on the university boards and own the companies providing the student loans. Is it any surprise student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and are passed along to the your estate after your death?
The unfortunate truth is we have all become indentured servants to the very few at the very top. The 0.1% own us in everything short of having a clear title. They have kept us distracted with political theater, corporate owned media, mass marketing, dumbing us down with horrid education and calling us 'excessive overhead' while they outsource manufacturing and any other job.
My friends, we have been had!
You have some valid points Bob but I think you are overlooking a bigger problem--most executives and corporations have no interest in anything more than a year or two into the future. But given how they have structured their contracts, what would we expect?
Top executive compensation is not only obscenely excessive, it is based mostly on short term performance and has little downside when they fail to perform. We've all read the stories where the CEO tanked the company or otherwise screwed up but still walked away with millions (HP, Home Depot, etc.). The millions wasted aren't available for R&D, employee retention or capital expenditure.
Of course Wall Street would punish companies 'wasting' money on such frivolous 'overhead' with no immediate payback (i.e., hurt the quarterly numbers). Unfortunately Wall Street financial firms now 'own' almost everything thru the huge sums in mutual funds, pension and retirement account they 'manage'. I say 'manage' because the only thing they seem capable of is insuring they get enough thru investment expenses to keep buying off the politicians. While they tell the public to 'buy and hold for the long term' their computers autonomously churning sub-second trades accounting for over half the daily trading volume. Fortunately the new NYSE data center conveniently has room to co-locate the computers to keep the trading delays to a few milliseconds.
With their focus on the immediate, is it any surprise their 'employee' politicians aren't interested in infrastructure investments, education, global warming or clean energy? The only reason they support the military is the huge redistribution of taxes from the 99% into corporate revenues. And they support privatizing Social Security, converting Medicare and education to vouchers so they can 'invest' the only big source of funds they don't already control.