Happy Monday all,
Well, I’ve got a flurry of things to write about today…so much news this weekend! In my opinion, the major issue that was rolled out from the so-called “office of the President-elect” was his “New Deal 2.0” plan. Like any good conservative, I cautiously raise my eyebrow when I hear “public works.”
Reading the synopsis on Politico, the Obama plan tackles some pretty serious and basic issues. While I agree that each and every one of these issues is a gravely serious problem, I don’t necessarily see where…
a.) the federal government should be interfering or having jurisdiction
b.) this constitutes something that government should be doing at all
c.) this constitutes something that will help reduce unemployment.
Now let me say this – even though I am only 28 years old, I am still a beneficiary of the original New Deal and other public works. I drive on freeways originally built by federal government orders, I use electricity created by projects such as the Hoover Dam, etc. I’m a firm believer in the development, maintenance and expansion of infrastructure – and nobody knows better than an urban Angelino about how bad life can be without proper infrastructure (can’t use public schools, can’t use the freeways efficiently, can’t drive down the narrow streets, etc), but there is a time and place for everything, and Mr. Obama’s plan just falls short of actually achieving his goals of generating jobs and jump-starting the economy.
Government cannot be the solution to the problem when IT IS the problem to begin with.
Key area 1: Energy – The Obama plan claims to launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy efficient by replacing light bulbs and antiquated HVAC systems. Ok…so there will be some small savings here, but how is this going to create jobs? It’s NOT! The focus should be on the supply-side, not on the consumer side. Give people the reason to switch (better cost, more availablity) and you’ll have NO PROBLEM getting people to change. How about making alternative energy as cost competitive or more so than traditional energy sources? That way, not only will there be incentive for the government to clean up its act, but also for private consumers to participate as well. Want an example? Let’s look at the hybrid car industry. Call up Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Chula Vista/San Diego, CA). He’ll tell you a great story about the “hybrid explosion” in America. Back in the day of the Ford “EV1” and first generation electric cars, there was no incentive for people to drive them. Governments mandated it, and it didn’t work. The only people who had them were government entities themselves. Seeing the need for more “progressive” and market based solutions, Rep. Issa wrote the original legislation to let hybrid cars drive in the carpool lane with only one occupant and get a tax credit. He, in part, helped create a zero-cost, market-based solution that lowered the barrier to market consumption of the hybrid product, and that kick-started the hybrid revolution. And mind you – this was ALL before gasoline hit $3.00 mark here in SoCal. Market-based solutions work – Obama should take note.
Key Area 2: Roads & Bridges – living in Los Angeles, which accounts for almost 40% of the traffic of goods being brought into this entire COUNTRY through boat, then trains & trucks, I have SOLID understanding of how important transportation infrastructure is in this region. That said, I’ve also voted for BILLIONS of dollars in bonds and seen highway bond money taken for other projects and spent on projects that get caught up in red tape and are completed so slowly that they are almost obsolete. Example: The Alameda Corridor – a high-speed transport system to link the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach to the rail yards downtown, was already at 85% at capacity BY THE TIME IT OPENED. This “public works” project was over time and over budget. I don’t trust the government to improve transportation infrastructure – they move too slowly and have too many bureaucratic elements to react to a dynamic and growing global marketplace.
Key Area 3: Schools – I wholeheartedly believe that students cannot learn in an environment that is not conducive to comfort and seriousness. But I ask the question, if we are going to dump this much money into the physical structures and accouterments, will there be an expectation of creating and rehabilitating other elements of the education process? Are we going to start holding teachers accountable for their students performance? Holding parents accountable? If public schools are no more than “public school daycare”, are we really, as a nation, going to get serious about bridging the education divide between the “haves” and “have nots?” That’s the real question. It’s the cart-before-the-horse question. There is no point in buying a computer for every student if the kids can’t freakin’ read to begin with? Internet and video chat with students in other countries around the world doesn’t matter if our kids can’t speak another language, let alone their own. Technology is NOT a replacement of the traditional education model – it is only an enhancement. We’ve got a long way to go before we’ll be able to use technology for this purpose. Get your priorities straight, Mr. Obama.
Key Area 4: Broadband – Yep…it would be nice to have broadband everywhere. And you know what? Competition makes that happen at an affordable price. As long as the FCC (ie: the government) and cable companies have a monopolistic LOCK on franchise services, there is no place for private competition to create the internet that will keep America on the cutting edge of the information superhighway. The same point I made with education – it’s not just having the internet – it’s knowing how to best use it.
Key Area 5: Electronic Medical Records – OK…I have no idea where this one came from. The problem with the “health infrastructure” of this nation is not because there is too much paperwork, but it is due to the lopsided nature of how we provide services. I’m all about using technology to modernize the “paper chase”, but how about we take some measures that make it less difficult for doctors and hospitals to do their first and foremost job – to provide medical care and treatment to their patients. A plastic card is not going to do that. And yeah…by the way, maybe one should look into some hospitals who have tired going “paperless” and see how successful it has been. From what my understanding is (and I did fundraising for a hospital that was to be paperless), it’s not been that successful.
Obama’s identified some good issues, but as usual, his methods of implementation leave little chance that there will be any kind of long-term success in achieving the goals of having a more educated, connected and employed future in light of challenging economic times. Government is not the solution – market-based solutions will be our deliverance.