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Friday, July 04, 2008

July 4th 2008 - Time for an Innovative America

It’s obvious that America is in crisis, financially and technically. The only way out of it is for Americans to become innovative again.

Most of our problems were caused by neglect, a failure to plan ahead, and incompetence. They are solvable, but it will take Americans doing a lot of “new” to pull out of this financial mess –like launching a domestic “Marshall Plan” for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

GM, General Motors, stands on the edge of bankruptcy for one simple reason – poor leadership and failure to advance their technology. While it has been obvious from Toyota’s success for years with its hybrid, GM refused to develop similar technology. In short, our smart guys were stupid. It’s been obvious for years that energy was getting short worldwide as India and China have taken off. But no one looked at the horizon to see the threat coming and prepare for it. They put profits from big trucks over upgrading their own technology. Had they done so, a hybrid F-250 would get substantially better mileage and might even still be selling. Because GM had no Prius, they lost. Now they have to play “catch up” as is America. That is not a good thing.

America can only get out of this financial hole by embracing innovation and strategic thinking --by all of us, especially our leadership. Whoever gets elected needs to have a GLOBAL STRATEGIC plan for our future – balancing Iraq, oil, trade, financial, real estate, medical care, etc. Blocking free trade in the 30’s caused the Great Depression. Giving the top 2% all the tax breaks has cause the current financial black hole. Failing to oversee risky financial practices did the same, at the cost of hundreds of billions.

To tackle the biggest problem –the energy crisis-- we need incentives for energy efficiency that make sense. Tax credits or deductions for making homes and buildings more energy efficient w is something the government can do TODAY. Americans individually can do it by putting solar/security film on their windows – which would cut their energy bill. We will need to build mass transit too. In Houston, our population will double in 20 years. Roads won’t. Without rail, it will be gridlock. The same goes for the rest of America. We need smart action now or things will get worse, not better. A good example is how the Colombian government just rescued hostages without a shot, by clever intelligence. Mission accomplished and no one died.

Our government needs to switch our ethanol strategy away from our food chain (corn) and towards more efficient, abundant sources like sugar, which is 4-5 times more efficient than corn. That would increase both our fuels and food inventories! And cut costs. And buying sugar from developing country farmers also puts money in their pockets – a win-win.

To do it means allowing sugar imports instead of allowing the “sugar lobby” to bar imports, thereby keeping lower cost sugar fuel sources away from Americans. These lobbies cause you to pay more for anything that has sugar in it, from cereal to candy bars. They are keeping your costs high.

Huge borrowing by the federal government to pay for a two-front war while our government and companies like GM failed to implement energy diversification and efficiency have put us in a perilous period. Our financial base is melting down.

With China and India’s growth, energy prices are always going to be at a premium until we maximize our energy alternatives, from free solar and wind, to new sources such as hydrogen, etc. We could develop fusion reactors, which would be safer than today’s nuclear plants and do not produce weapons material or radioactive waste.

It will take a new America dedicated to innovation and new technology to get us back into super power status. We need to pick people for positions based on competence, not family connection or how cute they might be. We need to pick a President who has a plan and a new global vision for America. We must develop new technologies from NASA to Main Street.

Success will take each American thinking outside the box from here on out. Our ship of state has been heavily damaged. It will take innovative action from all of us, from Main Street to Wall Street, to rebuild the roads and rail of tomorrow, the value of our dollar and our country’s financial and technical base. I know we Americans can do it. Our future depends on it. Happy 4th.

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