Key segments and analysis of Obama’s MIT speech

 

I want I want to thank all of you for the warm welcome and for the work all of you are doing to generate and test new ideas that hold so much promise for our economy and for our lives.

 

Note priority. Economy. Of course we need an economy, the question is, which one?

 

 

Now, Dr. Moniz is also the Director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, called MITEI. And he and President Hockfield just showed me some of the extraordinary energy research being conducted at this institute: windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; light-weight, high-power batteries that aren’t built, but are grown — that was neat stuff; engineering viruses to create — to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still.

 

It’s the early part of the speech. Good ideas, but not systemiccally embedded. What of manufacturing and sdistribution costs, and converting solar to heat?

 

And it’s a reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation — not just here but across America — that has improved our health and our wellbeing and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity.

 

Standard aren’t we great speech, but, as we know, it is those achievements that have got us in the climate and financial crisis, and wars.

 

 it’s the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it’s the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail — but might also change the world.

 

Are we talking love of truth, love of profit, love of fame and power? This muddling up of concepts is pure political rhetoric, looking to keep everyone happy with the speech.

 

Even in the darkest of times this nation has seen, it has always sought a brighter horizon. Think about it. In the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln designated a system of land grant colleges, including MIT, which helped open the doors of higher education to millions of people. A year — a full year before the end of World War II, President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped unleash a wave of strong and broadly shared economic growth. And after the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, the United States went about winning the Space Race by investing in science and technology, leading not only to small steps on the moon but also to tremendous economic benefits here on Earth.

 

The payoff expected of these, land grants, GI Bill and "space race" were military and economic, in ways that created the current problems with climate. The argument here appears to be, "we did great things, and we are going to do great things." I wonder if this is to get the headline for the speech so he can deliver more critical thoughts without press attention?

 

So the truth is, we have always been about innovation, we have always been about discovery. That’s in our DNA.

 

Mixing truth, which it isn’t, innovation, which was rare and market driven, and declaring it DNA rather than character is to really muddle concepts.

 

 The truth is we also face more complex challenges than generations past.

 

Note the repeated use of "the truth is" from rhetorical level to analytic level.

 

 A medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures is attached to a health care system that has the potential to bankrupt families and businesses and our government.

 

There is also the problem of population gowth through medicine. That is, the solutions create the problems, not just economic, but sustainable. Too ugly to mention.

 

 A global marketplace that links the trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street to the factory worker in China — an economy in which we all share opportunity is also an economy in which we all share crisis.

 

So we share opportunity and crises but not profit or jobs. Correted by

 

We face threats to our security that seek — there are threats to our security that are based on those who would seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness that’s so essential to our prosperity.

 

Bu tnote that it is our security that is threatened, not our  distribution of wealth. He is trying to appeal to the wealthy, not alienate them.

 

The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet.

 

So again security is put first, then planet. 

 

Now, while the challenges today are different, we have to draw on the same spirit of innovation that’s always been central to our success. And that’s especially true when it comes to energy. There may be plenty of room for debate as to how we transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels — we all understand there’s no silver bullet to do it.

 

What’s missing in that paragraph?  It is clear he is making a transition to the "we must" part of the speech.  Our success was built on waves of economic and military reality: wining the civil war, the shift toward the US after Europe died in two world wars. These are not questions of policy,b ut of historical circumstance larger than under the control of any nation.

 

 There’s going to be a lot of debate about how we move from an economy that’s importing oil to one that’s exporting clean energy technology; how we harness the innovative potential on display here at MIT to create millions of new jobs; and how we will lead the world to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. There are going to be all sorts of debates, both in the laboratory and on Capitol Hill. But there’s no question that we must do all these things.

 

This looks pretty good.  The problem is, what do we need to get there and can we get it? My view is that he leaves out, at this point, the finance community and the  control of congress through money. Let’s see how the rest of the speech deals with this,

 

Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that’s why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century.

 

Is competition the way to go? What happens to the losers How will they respond? The current corporate regime concentrates wealth continuously. What would happen to that economy in the new competition?

 

 From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation. It’s that simple. (Applause.)

 

That’s why the Recovery Act that we passed back in January makes the largest investment in clean energy in history, not just to help end this recession, but to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity. The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles; modernizing the electric grid; making our homes and businesses more energy efficient; doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity. These are creating private-sector jobs weatherizing homes; manufacturing cars and trucks; upgrading to smart electric meters; installing solar panels; assembling wind turbines; building new facilities and factories and laboratories all across America. And, by the way, helping to finance extraordinary research.

 

All these projects are costly in terms of energy and transportation and materials. System effects? Who does the calculations? What if they are very discouraging? Can such analysis get into the pubic debate, and acknowledged by the White House? Alos ‘tens of thousands" Watch outsourcing of those efforts. Note that we have an unemployed of 6 million or more . Does the new economy scale up for workers, or only for owners?

 

In fact, in just a few weeks, right here in Boston, workers will break ground on a new Wind Technology Testing Center, a project made possible through a $25 million Recovery Act investment as well as through the support of Massachusetts and its partners. And I want everybody to understand — Governor Patrick’s leadership and vision made this happen. He was bragging about Massachusetts on the way over here — I told him, you don’t have to be a booster, I already love the state. (Applause.) But he helped make this happen.

 

Hundreds of people will be put to work building this new testing facility, but the benefits will extend far beyond these jobs. For the first time, researchers in the United States will be able to test the world’s newest and largest wind turbine blades — blades roughly the length of a football field — and that in turn will make it possible for American businesses to develop more efficient and effective turbines, and to lead a market estimated at more than $2 trillion over the next two decades.

 

This grant follows other Recovery Act investments right here in Massachusetts that will help create clean energy jobs in this commonwealth and across the country. And this only builds on the work of your governor, who has endeavored to make Massachusetts a clean energy leader — from increasing the supply of renewable electricity, to quadrupling solar capacity, to tripling the commonwealth’s investment in energy efficiency, all of which helps to draw new jobs and new industries. (Applause.) That’s worth applause.

 

Now, even as we’re investing in technologies that exist today, we’re also investing in the science that will produce the technologies of tomorrow. The Recovery Act provides the largest single boost in scientific research in history. Let me repeat that: The Recovery Act, the stimulus bill represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. (Applause.) An increase — that’s an increase in funding that’s already making a difference right here on this campus. And my budget also makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent — a tax credit that spurs innovation and jobs, adding $2 to the economy for every dollar that it costs.

 

And all of this must culminate in the passage of comprehensive legislation that will finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America. John Kerry is working on this legislation right now, and he’s doing a terrific job reaching out across the other side of the aisle because this should not be a partisan issue. Everybody in America should have a stake — (applause) — everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America — making the best use of resources we have in abundance, everything from figuring out how to use the fossil fuels that inevitably we are going to be using for several decades, things like coal and oil and natural gas; figuring out how we use those as cleanly and efficiently as possible; creating safe nuclear power; sustainable — sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the sun. It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible, to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term. And I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that.

 

From a technical point of view do thee initiatives add up to a real lessening of the dangers of greenhouses gases? And are the impacts on income and wealth. These all require private investment, and the biggest pile of private investment is coming from the rise in the stock market. Middle class people bought into the last bubble just before it collapsed. The more knowledgeable got out, Now as the market comes back it is the profits from the last bubble driving expansion – and a new bubble, according to Reich

 

The Pentagon has declared our dependence on fossil fuels a security threat. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are traveling the country as part of Operation Free, campaigning to end our dependence on oil — (applause) — we have a few of these folks here today, right there. (Applause.) The young people of this country — that I’ve met all across America — they understand that this is the challenge of their generation.

 

Leaders in the business community are standing with leaders in the environmental community to protect the economy and the planet we leave for our children. The House of Representatives has already passed historic legislation, due in large part to the efforts of Massachusetts’ own Ed Markey, he deserves a big round of applause. (Applause.) We’re now seeing prominent Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham joining forces with long-time leaders John Kerry on this issue, to swiftly pass a bill through the Senate as well. In fact, the Energy Committee, thanks to the work of its Chair, Senator Jeff Bingaman, has already passed key provisions of comprehensive legislation.

 

None specified, hard to critique. Is he right?

 

So we are seeing a convergence. The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in.

 

There are also the naysayers from the more progressive side, the folks that see private interest being served so that solutions cannot emerge that are not self-serving – increasing wealth concentration.

 

 There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy — when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim — make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.

 

So we’re going to have to work on those folks. But understand there’s also another myth that we have to dispel, and this one is far more dangerous because we’re all somewhat complicit in it. It’s far more dangerous than any attack made by those who wish to stand in the way progress — and that’s the idea that there is nothing or little that we can do.

 

Should the very possibility be explored? I hear from many business leaders that they think it is too late. And I hear it from scientists and technical people.  If they are acting on that surmise, what do we do?

 

 It’s pessimism. It’s the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually deal with this energy issue that we’re facing. And implicit in this argument is the sense that somehow we’ve lost something important — that fighting American spirit, that willingness to tackle hard challenges, that determination to see those challenges to the end, that we can solve problems, that we can act collectively, that somehow that is something of the past.

 

Lots of us are right there. But the conclusion? Is there any politics that can change this? Are "interests" too powerful to yield. Historical analysis Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies suggests no. So, the next word is revolution. I hear it in private from people on all sides.

 

I reject that argument. I reject it because of what I’ve seen here at MIT. Because of what I have seen across America. Because of what we know we are capable of achieving when called upon to achieve it. This is the nation that harnessed electricity and the energy contained in the atom, that developed the steamboat and the modern solar cell. This is the nation that pushed westward and looked skyward. We have always sought out new frontiers and this generation is no different.

 

Those were each exploitative moves in the name of empire on the large side and private wealth on the other.

 

Today’s frontiers can’t be found on a map. They’re being explored in our classrooms and our laboratories, in our start-ups and our factories. And today’s pioneers are not traveling to some far flung place. These pioneers are all around us — the entrepreneurs and the inventors, the researchers, the engineers — helping to lead us into the future, just as they have in the past. This is the nation that has led the world for two centuries in the pursuit of discovery. This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future.

 

He doesn’t say how hard this will nor that the real systems innovation of late has been financial.

 

I am confident that’s what’s happening right here at this extraordinary institution. And if you will join us in what is sure to be a difficult fight in the months and years ahead, I am confident that all of America is going to be pulling in one direction to make sure that we are the energy leader that we need to be.

 

We do need to be an energy leader. In the background is China saying we can do better if we cooperate. What strikes me is the low level of rhetoric in this speech, the few real concepts, the lack of analysis – and this is MIT! And the core word is "fight".

 

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

http://byteeoh.com/?p=329

Aging 1

Woman are Displacing Men

Two trends are converging and may wreck havoc with how we work and who we employ: the rise of women in the workplace and the disappearance of work traditionally done by men.

Let’s start with men first.  Every economy in the world (except for perhaps a handful of small ones) are run by men, for men. The traditionally “good” jobs — those that pay a decent salary and command respect — have been overwhelmingly held by men. These include farming, manufacturing, and construction jobs. Also many of the jobs that require quantitative skills – mathematics, physics, financial services, stock brokerages, engineering, and so forth have been dominated by men.

But the recession over the past 2-3 years has displaced millions of men – mostly in these kinds of jobs.  Construction work has dried up and manufacturing has been automated, shipped abroad, or just made more efficient resulting in the loss of millions of jobs. Farming is automated and the financial services industry has shed thousands.  For the first time in history there are more women working than men.

Why should this bother us?  Unemployed men have always been a problem.  Idle men turn to alcohol, violence and crime.  Russia has a chronic alcohol problem, exacerbated by unemployment.  Nazi Germany rose due in part to massive male unemployment. In the U.S. the rise in crime and alcoholism an be traced to unemployment and the consequent loss of purpose and worth.  Every politician knows that political unrest and violence are the byproducts of a weak economy.  To reduce crime and keep men employed governments have used “make-work” projects to get men back to work. The United States did this during the Depression and China is doing it now by sponsoring massive public work projects that require construction workers and laborers.

However, in the United States this time around only a small amount of stimulus money is going to construction and other male-dominated fields. A larger portion is earmarked for green energy, research, education and other areas that employ fewer men. It is very likely that the traditional male occupations will never return to anywhere near their pre-recession levels.  Manufacturing will never be a major employer again. There will be growth in quantitative work, but women are increasingly more likely to be educated and qualify for those jobs.

This means that potentially millions of men may remain unemployed and the political question of this century will be what to do with not only unemployed men, but more significantly, unemployable men. Unemployable men are those whose age, education and experience make it difficult for them to learn a new skill. Thousands of men over 40 who have worked in the auto industry their entire lives are an example.  For them to find new jobs will require them to move to a city where jobs are available, get re-educated or learn a new skill, and start at the bottom of the salary scale. It is virtually certain that only a tiny percentage will do that.

At the same time women are receiving two-thirds of all college degrees, are filling the rising number of jobs that require creative thinking, collaboration, and teamwork, and are quickly moving into positions of power and influence where they can help their fellow women.

Right-brain skills are more and more in demand. Creativity, risk taking, entepreneurism, and the ability to live with ambiguity are fast becoming skills that corporations are seeking. Richard Florida has written a book describing such people — those with a mix of creative and analytical skills — as the Creative Class. This group is rapidly growing and will, according to Florida, become the dominant economic group. Women generally excel at these skills and that puts then into a favorable position for employment opportunities.

Given this scenario, it is highly palusible that organziations will have a majority of employees who are women and that the people – men or women – who have a balance of analytical and creative skills will gain a disproportionate amount of wealth.

The challenge for society will be to find a way to navigate through this without a rise in violence, crime or disenfranchised men.

Mapping a better world

July 11, 2009


Mapping a better world

Jun 4th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Software: Interest groups around the world are using mapping tools and internet-based information sources to campaign for change
CONVINCING people about the evils of housing segregation can be tough, says Barbara Samuels, a campaigner for fair housing at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. “People say, ‘What’s so bad about living in an all-black neighbourhood?’ ” she explains. But using a map that displays all the vacant houses in a segregated neighbourhood, how few jobs exist there and how little public transport is available, “you can show graphically how people are segregated from opportunity,” she says. “Maps help you take complex information and portray it in a clear, intuitive manner. You can show segregation in a way that talking about it doesn’t do.”

And compiling such maps is much easier than it used to be, thanks to new mapping tools and sources of information on the internet. Ms Samuels remembers, for example, the tedium of trying to draw basic data on maps by hand in the 1990s. But in 2005 she was able to use maps that displayed 14 indicators of opportunity—created for her by a mapping-technology specialist—to help win a housing-desegregation court case.

For most people it is merely a handy tool to find a nearby pizzeria or get directions to a meeting. But mapping technology has matured into a tool for social justice. Whether it is to promote health, safety, fair politics or a cleaner environment, foundations, non-profit groups and individuals around the world are finding that maps can help them make their case far more intuitively and effectively than speeches, policy papers or press releases.

“Today you are allowed to visualise data in ways you couldn’t even understand just a few years ago,” says Jeff Vining of Gartner, a consulting firm. Along with web-based resources, coalescence around more advanced tools has also helped, such as the emergence of ESRI, based in Redlands, California, as the market leader in mapping software. And the rise of open-source projects such as MapServer, PostGIS and GRASS GIS have made sophisticated mapping available to non-profit groups with limited resources.

Areas with fewer parks vs. obesityparks (lighter rather than darker green) have higher rates of childhood obesity (larger red circles)

All this has made it much easier to create maps that explain—at a glance—something that might otherwise require pages of tables or verbiage. “A percentage or a table is still abstract for people,” says Dan Newman of MAPLight.org, a group based in Berkeley, California that charts the links between politicians and money. “With maps, you can show people how an abstract concept connects to where they live.” Wendy Brawer, founding director of GreenMap.org, a mapping site based in New York used by people in 54 countries, says maps can make a point even if they are in a foreign language. “Maps are really helpful for that ‘Aha!’ moment,” she says.

For example, “The Grim Reaper’s Road Map: An Atlas of Mortality in Britain”, published in 2008, reveals that the places with the highest numbers of smokers also have the highest rates of death from lung cancer. No surprise there. But the collection of maps from a British publisher of public-policy books also shows that cervical cancer is more likely to strike those in the north of England, and brain cancer is more prevalent in the south of Scotland. Such revelations can lead to investigations and eventual health improvements.

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Columbus, Ohio, which created the maps used in Ms Samuel’s ACLU court case, has made “opportunity” maps of several American cities. The aim is to help people find neighbourhoods where jobs, health care, safety and public transport are in better supply—or to spur the creation of more such neighbourhoods. Rob Breymaier of MoveSmart.org, a non-profit group that encourages people to “move to opportunity”, recalls using Kirwan’s maps in Chicago in 2006 to help a family of eight. “They ended up finding a place in the north-west suburbs, which is a huge change from Chicago’s south side,” he says. The children ended up in better schools and stayed out of trouble, he says.

Others have used maps to expose violence. Ushahidi.com was launched by four technologists to map citizen reports of post-election violence in Kenya last year using Google Maps. “We’re building a platform that makes it easier to gather information around a crisis so that governments, or whoever is trying to hide the crisis, can’t do it anymore,” says Erik Hersman, Ushahidi’s operations director.

Sequences of maps can also be used to debunk misconceptions. Many in Los Angeles were pleased, for example, to learn that gun violence had decreased since the mid-1990s. But by developing a series of maps showing where shootings continued to happen, a local non-profit group called Healthy City was able to show that for some Los Angelenos, gun violence was as bad as ever.

MAPlight used a similar time-lapse approach to show the influence of money on congressional votes. Starting in January 2007, it tracked which states (those growing sugar-beets and sugar-cane, it turned out) were making the most generous political donations in the run-up to a vote in July 2007 on subsidies for the sugar industry. But once the vote was tallied and the subsidy granted, states that had appeared bright red with political contributions suddenly revert to tan, indicating an instant drop in donations. “We make visible and real something that is usually invisible and abstract,” says Mr Newman.

Changing the way American politics is funded is a tall order. But some map-based campaigns have already produced clear results. For example, the Food Trust, a campaign group based in Philadelphia, used maps as part of its fight to reduce diet-related disease and malnutrition in urban parts of America. “I remember the first supermarket-commission meeting,” says Jennifer Kozlowski, special assistant for the environment to David Paterson, the governor of New York. “Some of the maps in the report mapped obesity-related deaths and access to produce markets. It was as clear as day that something needed to be done.” In January Mr Paterson announced the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, including $10m in grants and loans for supermarket projects in under-served communities.

Such examples underscore why campaigners are rushing to make the most of map technology. “We don’t just want to be about mapping,” says John Kim of Healthy City. “Maps don’t change the world—but people who use maps do.”

Review by MICHIKO KAKUTANI

THE AGE OF THE UNTHINKABLE
Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us
and What We Can Do About It
By Joshua Cooper Ramo
280 pages. Little, Brown & Company. $25.99.

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously divided thinkers into two categories:
hedgehogs (like Plato, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen and
Proust), who know one big thing and tend to view the world through the lens
of a single organizing principle, and foxes (like Herodotus, Shakespeare,
Montaigne, Goethe, Balzac and Joyce), who know many things and who pursue
various unrelated, even contradictory ends.

According to Joshua Cooper Ramo’s provocative new book, “The Age of the
Unthinkable,” one study — in which hundreds of experts in subjects like
economics, foreign policy and politics were asked to make predictions about
the short-term future and whose predictions were evaluated five years later
— showed that foxes, with their wide-ranging curiosity and willingness to
embrace change, tended to be far more accurate in their forecasts than
hedgehogs, eager for closure and keen on applying a few big ideas to an
array of situations.

It’s a finding enthusiastically embraced by Mr. Ramo, who argues in these
pages that today’s complex, interconnected, globalized world requires policy
makers willing to toss out old assumptions (about cause and effect,
deterrence and defense, nation states and balances of power) and embrace
creative new approaches. Today’s world, he suggests, requires resilient
pragmatists who, like the most talented Silicon Valley venture capitalists
on the one hand or the survival-minded leadership of Hezbollah on the other,
possess both an intuitive ability to see problems in a larger context and a
willingness to rejigger their organizations continually to grapple with
ever-shifting challenges and circumstances.

With this volume, Mr. Ramo, managing director at the geostrategic advisory
firm Kissinger Associates and a former editor at Time magazine, seems to
have set out to write a Malcolm Gladwellesque book: a book that popularizes
complicated scientific theories while illustrating its arguments with
colorful case studies and friendly how-to exhortations.

In drawing upon chaos science (explored in detail in James Gleick’s 1987
book, “Chaos”), complexity theory and the theory of disruptive innovation
(pioneered by the Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen),
Mr. Ramo does a nimble job of showing how such theories shed light on the
current political and economic climate while avoiding the worst pitfalls
(like an overreliance on suggestion and innuendo and the use of
unrepresentative examples) of Mr. Gladwell’s clumsy last book, “Outliers.”

But if Mr. Ramo is adept at assessing the precarious state of today’s
post-cold-war world — in which nation states face asymmetric threats from
the likes of terrorists, drug cartels and computer hackers — he proves much
less convincing in articulating practical means of grappling with such
daunting problems.

The central image that Mr. Ramo uses to evoke what he calls this “age of
surprise” is Per Bak’s sand pile — that is, a sand pile described some two
decades ago by the Danish-American physicist Per Bak, who argued that if
grains of sand were dropped on a pile one at a time, the pile, at some
point, would enter a critical state in which another grain of sand could
cause a large avalanche — or nothing at all. It’s a hypothesis that shows
that a small event can have momentous consequences and that seemingly stable
systems can behave in highly unpredictable ways.

It’s also a hypothesis that Mr. Ramo employs in this book as a metaphor for
a complex world in which changes — in politics, ecosystems or financial
markets — take place not in smooth, linear progressions but as sequences of
fast, sometimes catastrophic events.

Real-life sand-pile avalanches, like the collapse of the Soviet Union or the
1929 crash of the stock market, Mr. Ramo declares, demand “a complete
remapping of the world”: policymakers must junk a lot of their old thinking
to cope with this unpredictable new order.

For instance, many of the assumptions of the realist school of
foreign-policy making — which focused on nation states, “assumed countries
were rational, and made the bet that pure power was the solution to any
problem” — have been undercut by the irrationalities and contingencies that
have recently multiplied on the world stage.

As Mr. Ramo observes, “Theories that involve only armies and diplomats don’t
have much use” when “confronted with the peculiar nature of a financially
interconnected world, where danger, risk and profit are linked in ways that
can be impossible to spot and manage.”

To make matters even more complicated, Mr. Ramo continues, complex systems
“tend to become more complex as time goes on”:

“The systems never get simpler. There was no moment at which they would
evaporate or condense into a single, easy-to-spot target such as the
U.S.S.R. The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, for example, was a single very
knotty event that, in turn, gave birth to hundreds of jihadist groups, each
of which developed different methods of terror, particular techniques of
attack and destruction, which themselves were always changing and evolving.”

In this sand-pile world, a small group of terrorists armed with box cutters
can inflict a terrible blow on a superpower — as Al Qaeda did on 9/11, just
as bands of insurgents in Iraq managed to keep the mighty United States
military at bay for three long years.

Iraq, Mr. Ramo astutely notes, is a war that showcased all of America’s most
“maladaptive” tendencies. It was inaugurated on the premise of flawed idées
fixes: that it would have “a clean, fast end” and would lead to a democratic
regime that would transform the Middle East in a positive fashion. And the
certainty of Bush administration officials not only led to incorrect
assumptions (like the bet that “the ‘ecosystem’ of Iraq would settle into
something stable that could be left to run itself”) but also resulted in an
ill-planned and rigid occupation that was “incapable of the speedy
refiguring that life in a war zone” inevitably requires.

So how should leaders cope with the sand-pile world? How can they learn to
“ride the earthquake” and protect their countries from the worst fallout of
such tremors? Mr. Ramo suggests that they must learn to build resilient
societies with strong immune systems: instead of undertaking the impossible
task of trying to prepare for every possible contingency, they ought to
focus on things like “national health care, construction of a better
transport infrastructure and investment in education.”

He suggests that leaders should develop ways of looking at problems that
focus more on context than on reductive answers. And he talks about people
learning to become gardeners instead of architects, of embracing Eastern
ideas of indirection instead of Western patterns of confrontation, of seeing
“threats as systems, not objects.”

Though Mr. Ramo sounds annoyingly fuzzy and vaguely New Agey when he tries
to outline tactics for dealing with “the age of the unthinkable,” he’s at
least managed, in this stimulating volume, to make the reader seriously
contemplate the alarming nature of a rapidly changing world — a world in
which uncertainty and indeterminacy are givens, and avalanches, negative
cascades and tectonic shifts are ever-present dangers.

April 28, 2009
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/books/28kaku.html

As Information Week said…
President Obama pledged to commit 3% of the U.S. gross domestic product to scientific research, development, and education, an amount that exceeds scientific funding during the height of the space race with the former Soviet Union in 1964.
http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/policy/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=217200263

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It is my privilege to address the distinguished members of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the leaders of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine who have gathered here this morning.

I’d like to begin today with a story of a previous visitor who also addressed this august body.

In April of 1921, Albert Einstein visited the United States for the first time. His international celebrity was growing as scientists around the world began to understand and accept the vast implications of his theories of special and general relativity. He attended this annual meeting, and after sitting through a series of long speeches by others, he reportedly said, “I have just got a new theory of eternity.” I’ll do my best to heed this cautionary tale.

The very founding of this institution stands as a testament to the restless curiosity and boundless hope so essential not just to the scientific enterprise, but to this experiment we call America.

A few months after a devastating defeat at Fredericksburg, before Gettysburg would be won and Richmond would fall, before the fate of the Union would be at all certain, President Lincoln signed into law an act creating the National Academy of Sciences.

Lincoln refused to accept that our nation’s sole purpose was merely to survive. He created this academy, founded the land grant colleges, and began the work of the transcontinental railroad, believing that we must add “the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery… of new and useful things.”

This is America’s story. Even in the hardest times, and against the toughest odds, we have never given in to pessimism; we have never surrendered our fates to chance; we have endured; we have worked hard; we have sought out new frontiers.

Today, of course, we face more complex set of challenges than we ever have before: a medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures and treatments – attached to a health care system that holds the potential to bankrupt families and businesses.  A system of energy that powers our economy – but also endangers our planet.  Threats to our security that seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness so essential to our prosperity. And challenges in a global marketplace which links the derivative trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street, the office worker in America to the factory worker in China – a marketplace in which we all share in opportunity, but also in crisis.

At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science. That support for research is somehow a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been.  And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it’s today.  

We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States.  This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert.  But it is not a cause for alarm.  The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a Public Health Emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure that we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively.  I’m getting regular updates on the situation from the responsible agencies, and the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control will be offering regular updates to the American people so that they know what steps are being taken and what steps they may need to take.  But one thing is clear – our capacity to deal with a public health challenge of this sort rests heavily on the work of our scientific and medical community.  And this is one more example of why we cannot allow our nation to fall behind.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened.

Federal funding in the physical sciences as a portion of our gross domestic product has fallen by nearly half over the past quarter century. Time and again we’ve allowed the research and experimentation tax credit, which helps businesses grow and innovate, to lapse.

Our schools continue to trail. Our students are outperformed in math and science by their peers in Singapore, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Korea, among others. Another assessment shows American fifteen year olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world.

And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas.

We know that our country is better than this.

A half century ago, this nation made a commitment to lead the world in scientific and technological innovation; to invest in education, in research, in engineering; to set a goal of reaching space and engaging every citizen in that historic mission. That was the high water mark of America’s investment in research and development. Since then our investments have steadily declined as a share of our national income – our GDP. As a result, other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation’s great discoveries.   

I believe it is not in our American character to follow – but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than three percent of our GDP to research and development. We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the Space Race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and improve education in math and science. This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.

Just think what this will allow us to accomplish: solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume; learning software as effective as a personal tutor; prosthetics so advanced that you could play the piano again; an expansion of the frontiers of human knowledge about ourselves and world the around us. We can do this.

The pursuit of discovery half a century ago fueled our prosperity and our success as a nation in the half century that followed. The commitment I am making today will fuel our success for another fifty years. That is how we will ensure that our children and their children will look back on this generation’s work as that which defined the progress and delivered the prosperity of the 21st century.

This work begins with an historic commitment to basic science and applied research, from the labs of renowned universities to the proving grounds of innovative companies.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and with the support of Congress, my administration is already providing the largest single boost to investment in basic research in American history.

This is important right now, as public and private colleges and universities across the country reckon with shrinking endowments and tightening budgets. But this is also incredibly important for our future. As Vannevar Bush, who served as scientific advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, famously said: “Basic scientific research is scientific capital.”  

The fact is, an investigation into a particular physical, chemical, or biological process might not pay off for a year, or a decade, or at all. And when it does, the rewards are often broadly shared, enjoyed by those who bore its costs but also by those who did not.

That’s why the private sector under-invests in basic science – and why the public sector must invest in this kind of research. Because while the risks may be large, so are the rewards for our economy and our society.

No one can predict what new applications will be born of basic research: new treatments in our hospitals; new sources of efficient energy; new building materials; new kinds of crops more resistant to heat and drought.

It was basic research in the photoelectric effect that would one day lead to solar panels. It was basic research in physics that would eventually produce the CAT scan. The calculations of today’s GPS satellites are based on the equations that Einstein put to paper more than a century ago.

In addition to the investments in the Recovery Act, the budget I’ve proposed – and versions have now passed both the House and Senate – builds on the historic investments in research contained in the recovery plan.

We double the budget of key agencies, including the National Science Foundation, a primary source of funding for academic research, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which supports a wide range of pursuits – from improving health information technology to measuring carbon pollution, from testing “smart grid” designs to developing advanced manufacturing processes. And my budget doubles funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science which builds and operates accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, high-energy light sources, and facilities for making nano-materials. Because we know that a nation’s potential for scientific discovery is defined by the tools it makes available to its researchers.

But the renewed commitment of our nation will not be driven by government investment alone. It is a commitment that extends from the laboratory to the marketplace.

That is why my budget makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. This is a tax credit that returns two dollars to the economy for every dollar we spend, by helping companies afford the often high costs of developing new ideas, new technologies, and new products. Yet at times we’ve allowed it to lapse or only renewed it year to year. I’ve heard this time and again from entrepreneurs across this country: by making this credit permanent, we make it possible for businesses to plan the kinds of projects that create jobs and economic growth.

Second, in no area will innovation be more important than in the development of new technologies to produce, use, and save energy – which is why my administration has made an unprecedented commitment to developing a 21st century clean energy economy.

Our future on this planet depends upon our willingness to address the challenge posed by carbon pollution. And our future as a nation depends upon our willingness to embrace this challenge as an opportunity to lead the world in pursuit of new discovery.

When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik a little more than a half century ago, Americans were stunned: the Russians had beaten us to space. We had a choice to make: we could accept defeat – or we could accept the challenge. And as always, we chose to accept the challenge.

President Eisenhower signed legislation to create NASA and to invest in science and math education, from grade school to graduate school. And just a few years later, a month after his address to the 1961 Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, President Kennedy boldly declared before a joint session of Congress that the United States would send a man to the moon and return him safely to the earth.

The scientific community rallied behind this goal and set about achieving it. And it would lead not just to those first steps on the moon, but also to giant leaps in our understanding here at home. The Apollo program itself produced technologies that have improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors to test for hazardous gasses; energy-saving building materials; and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. And, more broadly, the enormous investment of that era – in science and technology, in education and research funding – produced a great outpouring of curiosity and creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.  

The fact is, there will be no single Sputnik moment for this generation’s challenge to break our dependence on fossil fuels. In many ways, this makes the challenge even tougher to solve – and makes it all the more important to keep our eyes fixed on the work ahead.

That is why I have set as a goal for our nation that we will reduce our carbon pollution by more than 80 percent by 2050. And that is why I am pursuing, in concert with Congress, the policies that will help us meet this goal.

My recovery plan provides the incentives to double our nation’s capacity to generate renewable energy over the next few years – extending the production tax credit, providing loan guarantees, and offering grants to spur investment. For example, federally funded research and development has dropped the cost of solar panels by ten-fold over the last three decades.  Our renewed efforts will ensure that solar and other clean energy technologies will be competitive.

My budget includes $150 billion over ten years to invest in sources of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency; it supports efforts at NASA, recommended as a priority by the National Research Council, to develop new space-based capabilities to help us better understand our changing climate.

And today, I am also announcing that for the first time, we are funding an initiative – recommended by this organization – called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E.

This is based on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, which was created during the Eisenhower administration in response to Sputnik. It has been charged throughout its history with conducting high-risk, high-reward research. The precursor to the internet, known as ARPANET, stealth technology, and the Global Positioning System all owe a debt to the work of DARPA.

ARPA-E seeks to do this same kind of high-risk, high-reward research. My administration will also pursue comprehensive legislation to place a market-based cap on carbon emissions. We will make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America. And I am confident that we will find a wellspring of creativity just waiting to be tapped by researchers in this room and entrepreneurs across our country.

The nation that leads the world in 21st century clean energy will be the nation that leads in the 21st century global economy. America can and must be that nation.

Third, in order to lead in the global economy – and ensure that our businesses can grow and innovate, and our families can thrive – we must address the shortcomings of our health care system.

The Recovery Act will support the long overdue step of computerizing America’s medical records, to reduce the duplication, waste, and errors that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives.

But it’s important to note: these records also hold the potential of offering patients the chance to be more active participants in prevention and treatment. We must maintain patient control over these records and respect their privacy. At the same time, however, we have the opportunity to offer billions and billions of anonymous data points to medical researchers who may find in this information evidence that can help us better understand disease.

History also teaches us the greatest advances in medicine have come from scientific breakthroughs: the discovery of antibiotics; improved public health practices; vaccines for smallpox, polio, and many other infectious diseases; anti-retroviral drugs that can return AIDS patients to productive lives; pills that can control certain types of blood cancers; and so many others.  

And because of recent progress – not just in biology, genetics and medicine, but also in physics, chemistry, computer science, and engineering – we have the potential to make enormous progress against diseases in the coming decades.  That is why my Administration is committed to increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health, including $6 billion to support cancer research, part of a sustained, multi-year plan to double cancer research in our country.

Fourth, we are restoring science to its rightful place.

On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.  Our progress as a nation – and our values as a nation – are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy.

That is why I have charged the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information.  I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions – and not the other way around.

As part of this effort, we’ve already launched a website that allows individuals to not only make recommendations to achieve this goal, but to collaborate on those recommendations; it is a small step, but one that is creating a more transparent, participatory and democratic government.

We also need to engage the scientific community directly in the work of public policy.  That is why, today, I am announcing the appointment of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, known as PCAST, with which I plan to work closely.

This council represents leaders from many scientific disciplines who will bring a diversity of experiences and views. I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation.  It will be co-chaired by John Holdren, my top science advisor; Eric Lander, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.  

In biomedicine, for example, this will include harnessing the historic convergence between life sciences and physical sciences that is underway today; undertaking public projects – in the spirit of the Human Genome Project – to create data and capabilities that fuel discoveries in tens of thousands of laboratories; and identifying and overcoming scientific and bureaucratic barriers to rapidly translating scientific breakthroughs into diagnostics and therapeutics that serve patients.

In environmental science, it will require strengthening our weather forecasting, our earth observation from space, the management of our nation’s land, water and forests, and the stewardship of our coastal zones and ocean fisheries.

We also need to work with our friends around the world. Science, technology, and innovation proceed more rapidly and more cost-effectively when insights, costs, and risks are shared; and so many of the challenges that science and technology will help us meet are global in character. This is true of our dependence on oil, the consequences of climate change, the threat of epidemic disease, and the spread of nuclear weapons, among other examples.

That is why my administration is ramping up participation in – and our commitment to – international science and technology cooperation across the many areas where it is clearly in our interest to do so. In fact, this week, my administration is gathering the leaders of the world’s major economies to begin the work of addressing our common energy challenges together.

Fifth, since we know that the progress and prosperity of future generations will depend on what we do now to educate the next generation, today I am announcing a renewed commitment to education in mathematics and science.  

Through this commitment, American students will move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math over the next decade. For we know that the nation that out-educates us today – will out-compete us tomorrow.

We cannot start soon enough. We know that the quality of math and science teachers is the most influential single factor in determining whether or a student will succeed or fail in these subjects. Yet, in high school, more than twenty percent of students in math and more than sixty percent of students in chemistry and physics are taught by teachers without expertise in these fields. And this problem is only going to get worse; there is a projected shortfall of more than 280,000 math and science teachers across the country by 2015.

That is why I am announcing today that states making strong commitments and progress in math and science education will be eligible to compete later this fall for additional funds under the Secretary of Education’s $5 billion Race to the Top program.

I am challenging states to dramatically improve achievement in math and science by raising standards, modernizing science labs, upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the use of science and technology in our classrooms.  And I am challenging states to enhance teacher preparation and training, and to attract new and qualified math and science teachers to better engage students and reinvigorate these subjects in our schools.

In this endeavor, and others, we will work to support inventive approaches. Let’s create systems that retain and reward effective teachers, and let’s create new pathways for experienced professionals to enter the classroom.  There are, right now, chemists who could teach chemistry; physicists who could teach physics; statisticians who could teach mathematics.  But we need to create a way to bring the expertise and the enthusiasm of these folks – folks like you – into the classroom.

There are states, for example, doing innovative work. I am pleased to announce that Governor Ed Rendell will lead an effort with the National Governors Association to increase the number of states that are making science, technology, engineering and mathematics education a top priority.  Six states are currently participating in the initiative, including Pennsylvania, which has launched an effective program to ensure that his state has the skilled workforce in place to draw the jobs of the 21st century. I’d want every state participate.

But our work does not end with a high school diploma.  For decades, we led the world in educational attainment, and as a consequence we led the world in economic growth. The G.I. Bill, for example, helped send a generation to college. But in this new economy, we’ve come to trail other nations in graduation rates, in educational achievement, and in the production of scientists and engineers.

That’s why my administration has set a goal that will greatly enhance our ability to compete for the high-wage, high-tech jobs of the 21st century – and to foster the next generation of scientists and engineers. In the next decade – by 2020 – America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. And we’ve provided tax credits and grants to make a college education more affordable.

My budget also triples the number of National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. This program was created as part of the Space Race five decades ago. In the decades since, it’s remained largely the same size – even as the numbers of students who seek these fellowships has skyrocketed. We ought to be supporting these young people who are pursuing scientific careers, not putting obstacles in their path.

This is how we will lead the world in new discoveries in this new century. But it will take far more than the work of government. It will take all of us. It will take all of you.

And so today I want to challenge you to use your love and knowledge of science to spark the same sense of wonder and excitement in a new generation.  

America’s young people will rise to the challenge if given the opportunity – if called upon to join a cause larger than themselves. And we’ve got evidence. The average age in NASA’s mission control during the Apollo 17 mission was just 26. I know that young people today are ready to tackle the grand challenges of this century

So I want to persuade you to spend time in the classroom, talking – and showing –young people what it is that your work can mean, and what it means to you. Encourage your university to participate in programs to allow students to get a degree in scientific fields and a teaching certificate at the same time. Think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, like science festivals, robotics competitions, and fairs that encourage young people to create, build, and invent – to be makers of things.

And I want you to know that I’m going to be working along side you. I’m going to participate in a public awareness and outreach campaign to encourage students to consider careers in science, mathematics, and engineering – because our future depends on it.

And the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation will be launching a joint initiative to inspire tens of thousands of American students to pursue careers in science, engineering and entrepreneurship related to clean energy.  

It will support an educational campaign to capture the imagination of young people who can help us meet the energy challenge. It will create research opportunities for undergraduates and educational opportunities for women and minorities who too often have been underrepresented in scientific and technological fields – but are no less capable of inventing the solutions that will help us grow our economy and save our planet. And it will support fellowships, interdisciplinary graduate programs, and partnerships between academic institutions and innovative companies to prepare a generation of Americans to meet this generational challenge.

For we must always remember that somewhere in America there’s an entrepreneur seeking a loan to start a business that could transform an industry – but she hasn’t secured it yet. There’s a researcher with an idea for an experiment that might offer a new cancer treatment – but he hasn’t found the funding yet. There is a child with an inquisitive mind staring up at the night sky. Maybe she has the potential to change our world – but she just doesn’t know it yet.

As you know, scientific discovery takes far more than the occasional flash of brilliance – as important as that can be. Usually, it takes time, hard work, patience; it takes training; often, it requires the support of a nation.  

But it holds a promise like no other area of human endeavor.

In 1968, a year defined by loss and conflict, Apollo 8 carried into space the first human beings ever to slip beyond the earth’s gravity. The ship would circle the moon ten times before returning home. But on its fourth orbit, the capsule rotated and for the first time earth became visible through the windows.  

Bill Anders, one of the astronauts aboard Apollo 8, could not believe what he saw. He scrambled for a camera. He took a photo that showed the earth coming up over the moon’s horizon. It was the first ever taken from so distant a vantage point, soon to become known as “Earthrise.”

Anders would say that the moment forever changed him, to see our world – this pale blue sphere – without borders, without divisions, at once so tranquil and beautiful and alone.

“We came all this way to explore the moon,” he said, “and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

Yes, scientific innovation offers us the chance to achieve prosperity. It has offered us benefits that have improved our health and our lives – often improvements we take too easily for granted. But it also gives us something more.

At root, science forces us to reckon with the truth as best as we can ascertain it. Some truths fill us with awe. Others force us to question long held views. Science cannot answer every question; indeed, it seems at times the more we plumb the mysteries of the physical world, the more humble we must be. Science cannot supplant our ethics, our values, our principles, or our faith, but science can inform those things, and help put these values, these moral sentiments, that faith, to work – to feed a child, to heal the sick, to be good stewards of this earth.

We are reminded that with each new discovery and the new power it brings, comes new responsibility; that the fragility and the sheer specialness of life requires us to move past our differences, to address our common problems, to endure and continue humanity’s strivings for a better world.

As President Kennedy said when he addressed the National Academy of Sciences more than 45 years ago: “The challenge, in short, may be our salvation.”

Thank you all for your past, present, and future discoveries. God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.

#As President Kennedy said when he addressed the National Academy of Sciences more than 45 years ago: “The challenge, in short, may be our salvation.”

Thank you all for your past, present, and future discoveries. God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.

—— End of Forwarded Message

By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF

THE country has fallen on hard times, but those of us who love cities know
we have been living in the dark ages for a while now. We know that turning
things around will take more than just pouring money into shovel-ready
projects, regardless of how they might boost the economy. Windmills won’t do
it either. We long for a bold urban vision.

With their crowded neighborhoods and web of public services, cities are not
only invaluable cultural incubators; they are also vastly more efficient
than suburbs. But for years they have been neglected, and in many cases
forcibly harmed, by policies that favored sprawl over density and conformity
over difference.

Such policies have caused many of our urban centers to devolve into generic
theme parks and others, like Detroit, to decay into ghost towns. They have
also sparked the rise of ecologically unsustainable gated communities and
reinforced economic disparities by building walls between racial, ethnic and
class groups.

Correcting this imbalance will require a radical adjustment in how we think
of cities and government’s role in them. At times it will mean destruction
rather than repair. And it demands listening to people who have spent the
last decade imagining and in many cases planning for more sustainable,
livable and socially just cities.

The changes needed may seem extravagant, but they are not impossible. Many
of those who see the current economic crisis as a chance to rebuild the
country’s infrastructure have pointed to previous major government public
works projects, like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Projects Administration
in the 1930s and 1940s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 National Interstate
and Defense Highways Act, as a reminder of what this country was once
capable of.

Although the W.P.A. is mostly associated with rural dams and roadways,
there’s hardly a city in America where it didn’t leave its mark, from
riverfront parks to schools and housing projects.

Eisenhower’s investment in highways was equally audacious, but its effect on
cities has not always been positive; in many ways the Highways Act set the
stage for decades during which suburban interests trumped urban ones.
Read the rest of this entry »

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LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF RECESSION-PROOFING STRATEGIES
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With more businesses and individual workers seeking ways to “recession-
proof” themselves, could the economy emerge from hard times stronger
and more innovative than ever?

Recession-proofing workers might focus on becoming more fearless and
innovative. Take your ideas to the boss rather than allow uncertainties
to back you into your cubicle, urges Robin Fisher Roffer, author of THE
FEARLESS FISH OUT OF WATER (Wiley, 2009). “It may seem scary to make
such a bold move in tenuous times,” she says, “but leaders will
appreciate any innovation that will get business moving right now.”

Businesses, too, are encouraged to be fearlessly proactive rather than
cautious and reactive. Hard times are the time for action, suggests
consultant Suzanne Caplan, because inaction “spawns a pattern of
victimization, and pins us down into a habit of only reacting to the
bad, instead of planning for the better.”

SOURCES: Robin Fisher Roffer, author of FEARLESS FISH OUT OF WATER
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0470316683/thefuturistbooks

Suzanne Caplan, founder and chief blogger, www.womenetcetera.com