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U.S. Industry Needs Solutions, Not Small-Minded Thinking

GOP 4In all candor, at least on matters of social conscience, I’ve always leaned just a tad to the left. And count me among those who often find themselves wishing our president had been a little less middle-of-the-road and a bit more strident in breathing life into many of the issues he had campaigned for these past two elections.

But on the same token, I should represent the lowest of low-hanging fruit for the current Republican party. I’m a 60-something white male who’s also, by the way, a successful small businessman, an employer, and a higher bracketed tax payer. You’d thinkGOP 3, in other words, I’d be the exact guy the GOP was targeting this next go around.

Apparently not.  In fact, far from it.

But rather than me railing about what a wasteland of ideas the GOP has become, and how much it’s been hijacked by smokescreen social issues, religious fervor, and low-tax/small-government blindness, let me just play for you something I saw last on The Daily Show late last week.  (And god bless Jon Stewart.)

Look, I’m a small businessman trying to compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. I don’t need pithy sound bytes and stale, unworkable ideas.  I need a broad-based investment in infrastructure. I need a coherent international trade and energy policy. And I need a government that is not necessarily smaller (and, god forbid, small minded), but GOP 1one that embraces science, that looks forward instead of back, and that works hand in glove with businesses like mine to find new and different ways (and funding mechanisms) to help us compete for new business.

I need, in other words, creativity, vision and fresh thinking. I need new ideas. I need innovative solutions.

Not a bunch of small-minded circus clowns with their heads in the sand.

When it Comes to Infrastructure, China Dreams Big

China infrastructureA while back I wrote about the extent to which China trailed us, not so much in manufacturing output, but in the institutional knowledge a country accumulates after a century’s worth of heavy industry.

For all its potential and exponential growth, China, for example, had yet to learn the importance of clean water and air. It had yet to appreciate the value of healthy and emotionally engaged workers, or well-managed natural resources. It had yet to China bridgeembrace the need for education; much less higher education, and had no idea what do to during an economic slowdown, or worse, a steep downturn.

It also remained disdainful of free flowing of ideas, peaceful dissent, and any and all information emanating from places other than the motherland.

I mentioned too that China had a woeful infrastructure and that all the manufacturing capability in the world would be of little use without a network of quality roads and portals to support it.

China tunnelWell, given the fact that centuries ago China undertook the building of a great stone wall to keep its foes at bay in what was, arguably the single most ambitious public works project in history, is it any wonder that of all the things I pointed out just a few years ago the country is doing its best to fix what had always been deemed an archaic infrastructure?

Because, as the New York Times pointed out last week, not only has China committed billions in infrastructure spending, it is doing it in ways that promise to be not only difference makers, but modern day equivalents of the Great Wall.

Among the projects that have been built or started since I wrote my piece on China’s shortcomings:

  • $2.3 billion for the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge
  • A $36 billion tunnel, twice as long as the tunnel under the English Channel, linking two seaports separated by a mountain
  • The world’s second tallest office building
  • The world’s largest shipping container port, which extends a full 20 miles into the sea
  • The largest commercial building in the world, complete with its own artificial sun and big enough to house the U.S. Pentagon three times over
  • A $17.5 billion wind farm capable of producing 20,000 megawatts by 2020
  • A freight rail link between China and Spain that allows goods and materials to be bulk shipped back and forth between the two countries — a distance roughly twice the width of the U.S. — in just 20 days.

China highwayLook, we can talk all we want about American superiority, but if as a country we remain insistent on playing politics and nickel-and-diming over whether or not to repave a road or rebuild a bridge while our biggest competitor continues to dream big and continues to spend whatever it takes to — in the name of commerce — move mountains and part seas, just how long do you figure that superiority is going to last?


On Infrastructure and Wayward GOP Leaders

State of the UnionAs I was watching the State of the Union address last night, a zillion thoughts crossed my mind, and I wanted to share two of them with you today.

First, when the President was talking about the need for rebuilding our infrastructure – something about which I have been crowing for years – I thought to myself, “When did Republicans become so anti-business?” Because while public safety is certainly growing more and more at risk as our infrastructure ages, the real danger to all that crumbling concrete and rotting steel is to our nation’s economy, or more to the point, to the thousands of U.S. businesses that fuel it.

And yet Republicans these days seem utterly hell-bent on thwarting the President at every turn – more so, anyway, than staying true to their mission and doing what they Infrastructure Cartooncan do to help the American businessman. (And I won’t even get into the Tea Party here, and how those bozos have proven time and time again they have no interest whatsoever in the greater good or the big picture, and are interested only in trying to somehow prove themselves right.)

But in the Republican leadership’s zeal to ensure its party wins back the Oval Office in 2016, it seems a few politically ambitious zealots have proved themselves all-too-willing to let the country rot if doing so will further their own political agenda.

But what those win-at-all-cost GOP zealots have seemingly lost sight of is the fact that all their obstructionism is putting businesses like mine at risk – businesses that are trying desperately to compete in a global marketplace and for whom the #1 Party of Noreason for sleepless nights is an ever-crumbling network of bridges, tunnels, roads, seaports, airports and telecommunications conduits and connections.

Which leads me to my second thought.

When, in god’s name, did Republicans also become knee-jerk opponents to public works projects? Seriously. Do they really hate the President that badly?

And, along those lines, has the far right’s unsettling disdain for science now been extended to include American history?

Consider: last night, even without doing any research or opening a book, I called to mind two of the most vital public works Hoover Damprojects in U.S. history – Hoover Dam and the interstate system – and the fact that both were conceived and spearheaded by Republican Presidents and both made a reality through the joint efforts of a Congress that was clearly more concerned with the greater good than the next election.

That, I suppose, is what happens when one of our political parties turns the keys over to people whose calling card is the fact they were C students, and proud of it.