Posted tagged ‘engineering’

Big Picture

June 26, 2009

We have a lot of data thanks to the 24/7 news cycle. At times we receive a lot of analysis on each piece of data.  But when one stops and thinks, one wonders what it is all about?  What we are missing is an understandable summary, sort of a “big picture” of how all this information fits together.

For example the overtures towards Russia and China are related to finding a stable way out of Iraq and Afghanistan, not a sign of weakness. Diplomatic openings with Iran and Syria are related to finding a peaceful solution for the Israeli-Palestinian situation, not an endorsement for those countries style of governance.   And all this will enable the lowering of costs we experience each year in funding a Defense Department budget that is as large as all other countries combined. Cap and trade is part of a multi-step effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels which in tern will gradually lessen our interest in Middle East politics. Health care reform must include the inevitable need to find a means to afford reasonable life expectancy among the top tier of first rate countries. Education emphasis underscores the need to move the American work force up the cost competitiveness curve with global competition.

In the future world (which is already at our doorsteps), America will need to remain economically strong driven by actual value creation. It must also remain militarily strong since the rest of the global community will not be sitting still. We must accomplish this a lot smarter than we are doing now.  Investments in alternate energy sources, greater skill in diplomacy (including foreign language proficiency), an education system with a bias for math, science, and engineering, and a return to the belief in “pay as you go” will place America in a position where one could reasonably expect his children to have as good or better life expectancy as they had enjoyed.

This may seem like a new thought but unrealistic. Wrong. While the United States may be the most powerful country in the world, we have everyday evidence that US objectives can not be attained simply by use of force, and are going broke in the process.   Medical care is reasonably good for most Americans but there are about 50 million who do not share in this luxury, not to mention the amazing low position America has on the world life expectancy ratings. College and Universities are plentiful but are turning out graduating class after class that can not find employment and when they do, they are deep in debt and lacking in good earning skills. All these pieces fit together and will unlock the puzzle facing America. The next generation has once again been given a lead versus all other countries. If President Obama is able to put these pieces in place, our children and theirs, will have a real chance to pass this gift onto their children.

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Great Expectations (too great)

January 6, 2009

The more I hear the political leaders talk about the economic recession, the more I come to believe they are only telling us what they think we want to hear.  There is little hint in their speeches that they have any theories on why the economy is in a recession.  Some even claim the implosion of the financial service sector is the root cause.  They all want to “jump start” the economic engine and get things going.

There certainly are collateral effects from the financial services sector implosion and they are not good.  It is much more difficult for small businesses to get credit.   Credit cards have been restricted and the interest rates they charge have been increased.  Large corporations are also finding capital more difficult to come by.  Caution is the watch word across the board and some worthwhile and deserving borrowers are getting “no”.

The basic US economy actually has two problems.  The housing bubble is one that is often referenced and “housing starts” are still falling relative to past comparative periods.  But that is not the real issue.  Reality lies in a 10 year period of exporting jobs AND not doing enough (or in the Bush years anything) to replace these jobs with better, value creating, good paying ones.  America has party-ed and borrowed too much, and spent freely (note… did not invest) and now the chickens are coming home.  The housing problem will in time take care of itself just as the slow down in demand for automobiles.  The future state may, however, not be as robust as say in 2007, but it will be healthy.  The increase in the total number of “good” jobs, however, is another story.

There can be no lasting fix to this recession unless we work at creating value.  We can grow it, we can mine it, or we can make it.  In the manufacturing category, we had better get serious about math, science, and engineering.  We need more scientists and engineers and we need to honor those fields.  They hold the key to a more abundant future.

So when I hear of a $ 300 billion targeted tax cut, I cringe.  The last lesson Americans need is that they can have another free lunch.  It is reported that this tax cut is “an offering” to Republicans in order to get their support for the rest of the stimulus package.  This is the same Republican party that doubled the national debt, failed to balance any budget, and have handed us both the real economic slow down and the financial services sector implosion.  What are the Democrats thinking?