If you managed to watch the debate last night, you’re probably just as frustrated as everyone else at the way the candidates behaved. I’m not talking about physical behavior, but the verbal arguments. Every other line was about how the other candidate wasn’t telling the truth about certain subjects. I guess “not telling the truth” is the new way of saying “you’re lying” without coming off as confrontational.
This may be how debates have been run since the founding of this country (heck, the campaign of Jefferson vs Adams was probably the worst mud-slinging campaign of all time), but don’t you think in the age of instant information that twisting the truth only breeds distrust? What does it tell you about the candidates when every spin they try and weave can be blown apart by going to a site like FactCheck.org?
It’s time we adapted the political discourse to the 21st Century.
We need to sit these candidates down face to face and ask them the hard questions. If they try and spin a lie, the moderator should be informed via something akin to Twitter and call them on it right then and there. “I’m sorry Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t always been anti-slavery. In fact, just last week in Kentucky you told the audience you weren’t concerned about slave rights.” Can you imagine how incredible that would be? Facts would be facts, lies would be lies, and each politician would be responsible for the words they say.
This may seem a little harsh, but these people are vying for the office of President of the United States of America. This isn’t a show like Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann where the commentators aren’t held accountable for their lies mistakes.
The American people deserve more from the candidates and this method of debating (only three debates, are you kidding me?) is incredibly outdated. Let’s get the candidates to speak the truth and stop this incessant parlay which makes every debate seem like a tie.
Fareed Zakaria is everywhere these days, articulating a message similar to those in my own book The End of the American Century. But I think he underestimates the seriousness of the situation facing the United States.
His was the lead article last summer (May/June) in Foreign Affairs issue on “Is America in Decline?” His book The Post-American World appeared shortly thereafter, and soon became a best seller. As an editor of Newsweek, his columns appear there regularly, and the October 20th issue of the magazine featured him on the front cover, with the title “The Bright Side” against a cheery yellow background. He even has his own television show, “Fareed Zakaria’s GPS,” where last week he endorsed Barack Obama as the best hope for America’s future.
Zakaria argues that it is not so much that the U.S. is in decline, but that other powers have risen, requiring the U.S. to deal with them with more consultation and compromise. He believes that the U.S. “has the strength and dynamism to continue shaping the world” (Foreign Affairs) and that “the world is moving our way” (The Post-American World). He sees a “silver lining” in the current economic crisis, in that the country will be forced “to confront the bad habits it has developed over the last few decades” (Newsweek).
These bad habits include spending and consuming more than we produce, leading to record levels of household debt, which has grown from $680 billion in 1974 to $14 trillion today. Spiraling consumer debt has been matched by the government. “The whole country has been complicit in a great fraud,” he writes in Newsweek. He quotes the economist Jeffrey Sachs: “We’ve wanted lots of government, but we haven’t wanted to pay for it.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviews Barack Obama (on 10/31/08) who highlights near term demands (and opportunities) for ‘Smart Grid’ investments needed to bring the US infrastructure into 21st Century.
‘Big Grid’ could replace ‘Big Oil’ as a major story for 2009, as it becomes clear that the regulatory frameworks of our electricity utilities are not designed to support growth of utility scale wind and solar, micro-distributed power generation, and energy storage. All these things are disruptive!
Our elected officials should spend less time promising that they will “deliver” change and more time helping society prepare for the change that is coming because it is going to be massive.
After almost two years of campaigning, it is finally here: Election Day! Change is in the air, but not for the reasons one might expect.
Regardless of a person’s preference for Obama, McCain, Nader or one of the other candidates, I don’t actually believe they (or any politician for that matter) will be the primary instrument of change in the near future. That mantle will instead belong to technology.
Let me just provide a quick glimpse from the world of technology through the lens of a single day—today.
I began my morning by reading this article on a “solar power game changer.” The piece describes how a new antireflective coating now allows for the “near perfect” absorption of sunlight. In other words, society is one step closer to solar technology replacing a number of conventional energy sources. Politicians can clamor all they want about “clean coal” and “more drilling” but my hunch is that technological advances will render their opinions and policy suggestions moot.
Next, I stumbled across this article discussing a new “heart-patching” technology. Combined with yesterday’s announcement by a Medtronic official that the “medical device industry is done,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that health care is quickly moving in the direction of preventative care.
We are now in the transition from the Information Age to the Shift Age. In recent columns I have positioned the recent financial melt down and global economic collapse as the beginning of a painful transitional restructuring between ages. Just as the 1970s with all its stagflation and unprecedented turmoil was the transitional period between the Industrial Age and the Information Age, so is this time a transitional period between the Information Age and the Shift Age.
Many people will say that pursuing aspace-based solar powerenergy campaign is too ambitious, that there are more immediate solutions to get us through our economic/energy crisis until a time when spaced-aged, science fiction-inspired future tech can be safely explored further. They might say that we already have a head start with nuclear, oil and coal, as well as other greener alternatives like wind, water and Earthbound solar. They would be dead wrong.The truth is...
The Takeaway's Host John Hockenberry interviews the CEO of Sentilla and explores the huge opportunity around the convergence of energy and information. The era of 'smarter energy' systems is likely to be more efficient and profitable because it taps the integration of software, sensors and energy storage.
The truly worrying part is that this hiccup is not related to high oil prices, which have fallen off considerably in the past month, but instead the ongoing home mortgage collapse which some predict will cost us in the $1,000,000,000,000 (IMF estimate) to $2,000,000,000,000 (Goldman Sachs) range. This confirms that we are deeply vulnerable in at least two separate yet critical areas, making any subsequent surprises all the more worrisome for fear of a chain reaction or even a fourth turning.
The Trillion Dollar Question: Just how bad is this going to get?
According to the big-wigs, the situation is ugly but not entirely hopeless:
Presidential candidate Barack Obama says, “I don’t think that we’re … necessarily going in the direction of the Depression. ... There are some similarities, though, to what happened back in the late 20s and early 30s and what’s been happening now, and the biggest similarity is how we’ve been dealing with Wall Street and what’s happening in the financial markets.” – Reuters
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledges that we’re going through a difficult time and that housing is “at the root” of the troubles but that we’ll get past those “in months as opposed to years.” – Bloomberg
Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, seems to concur with the notion of a period of deep shift:
“This is a once in a half century, probably once in a century type of event. We shouldn’t try to protect every single institution. The ordinary cost of financial change has winners and losers.” – Bloomberg
President Barack Obama's video/web overture to the Iranian people marks not only a strategic shift in U.S. policy toward the country, but also a fundamental change in tactics better-suited for an increasingly connected world.
Now let's see how Iranian leaders Mahmoud Ahmanadinejad and the Ayotollah respond.
The Obama Administration is following through on a major campaign promise: funding basic energy science.
Do you want Hope? (Or maybe long term optimism!)
Stop looking for 'short term' solutions and quick fixes to global energy challenges. We need disruptive breakthroughs that enable new energy systems and business models.
Start with basic science.
A Good Day for Energy Science Today, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science announced that it will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over the next five years as we attempt to 'accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy'. The 46 new multi-million-dollar EFRCs [PDF list] will be established at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the United States with partnerships extending around the globe.
The EFRCs will focus on a wide range of projects (PDF) 'ranging from solar energy and electricity storage to materials sciences, biofuels, advanced nuclear systems, and carbon capture and sequestration' and will engage 'nearly 700 senior investigators and employ, on a full- or part-time basis, over 1,100 postdoctoral associates, graduate students, undergraduate students, and technical staff.'
Getting Serious about CleanTech Industries Building a Bridge to Molecules: A Nano-Bio Energy Age The 'Cleantech' Industry vision promoted by entrepreneurs, activists and political leaders is not likely to be based on technologies and energy systems that exist today. (Translation: We are at the beginning of this new era of energy. And it is not likely to be an extension of the past or present!)
How do you create cleantech industries?
Be the economy that launches the Industrial Age of Nanoscale Molecular Engineering.
Learn how to manipulate carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, light, enzymes and metals at the nanoscale (1 billionth of a meter)- and you have the new 21st century drivers of economic growth.
Nanoscale materials science and Bio energy sciences are growing into giant new industry sectors that will dwarf today's major industry sectors. Science is the foundation for real green collar jobs of the future.
Smart Money - Right Time, Right Ideas, Right Teams Funding Basic Science not Mystery Science- Nano is no Joke!
Over the past few months Americans have been trying to grasp what each presidential nominee will bring to the table once inaugurated as our Commander-in-Chief this coming January.
With looming issues that include the economy, the war in Iraq, and gas prices, there has been little emphasis placed on how either John McCain or Barack Obama feel about the government’s role in science and technology despite a growing group of citizens who want the issue debated.. These individuals believe that the future of America’s science and technology sectors are crucial to the success of our economy, world image, and ultimately our well-being.