Insightful cover story by Intel founder Andy Grove in Business week: How America can Create Jobs. America needs Industry jobs: I agree with Grove’s statement that letting go of technologies to be manufactured elsewhere puts the country in a knowledge hole. We can’t all be knowledge workers, and not all people in the country (any country, not limited to the USA) do will be designing the next great technology only to then hand it off to other geographic regions to be manufactured. Especially seen in the light of something like this TechCrunch post: if the US doesn’t make the product, there will be less of a need to develop it there. One can go elsewhere with lower taxes, better healthcare and fine education.
Grove’s solution, a tax on products created with foreign labor, should raise some hackles. Taxes are bad, right? However, if not for government intervention, I don’t think anything can change. Corporations can’t be expected to change their ways for the greater good: their job is to do business and maximize profits. Only the government can steer their behavior by turning the greater good into a business decision. And, unfortunately, taxes are the main instrument at their disposal to do so.
As noted by Duncan who blogged on the topic in May, the New York Times ran an interesting piece this weekend about Energy Policy in the United States. It gives a good overview about the inaction that we have seen in the decades since the first oil crisis, and how America has been voting themselves better jobs building bigger cars, and then buying and driving those cars on relatively cheap gas. An interesting read whether you live in the States or not.
As in every situation with political implications (and which situation doesn’t?), discussions about the rising gas prices tend to quickly degenerate into an ugly partisan mudslinging contest. Suddenly it’s not about the price of filling up, but about jobs in Michigan vs. drilling for oil off the California coast (which was outlawed by an executive order of Bush senior) and if you’re not toeing one party line, you must be for the other guy.
However, it’s about more than that. Perhaps the shift in the market caused by the high gas prices will cause someone to start innovating again. Stop whining about how the auto industry is going down the tubes making cars that no one wants to buy, but come up with a something that makes this entire problem go away. This is America for goodness sake, we’re supposed to be smart. Is it electric cars that drink from the wall outlet? Can we engineer sufficiently efficient batteries that make them go as far as we need them to? Or will they get their power from hydrogen fuel cells and have we figured out yet how to store hydrogen without letting too many of those tiny molecules escape?
In any case, we have to stop putting gas in our cars. The dinosaurs are dead, they are not making any more oil. That stuff is too precious to keep setting on fire.
A Dutch news show has commissioned an online voter’s guide for the 2008 US presidential elections… targeted at a Dutch audience. It’s online, in Dutch and English (for the expats).
Apparently, it’s a huge success. I get consistent results whether I use the English or Dutch version, although I don’t like statement 23 because it lumps together two distinct and contradictory views. Try it and see where you stand.