In Time to Reboot America, Thomas L Friedman remarks that (according to Fortune) General Motors “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.” He says we can’t continue to be “dumb as we wanna be” and that:
…our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. In fact, we as a country have become General Motors — as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.
That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.
It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets. If we allow this money to be spent on pork, it will be the end of us.
The photo is Oval Office reproduction – Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library – Independence, Missouri by Marshall Astor – Food Pornographer. You can see some of that food pornography in his Flickriver, and over on his blog he has a cool video of Earth Kitt, who passed away yesterday.
I picked it because while Friedman sometimes upsets me, I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that the next few months are critical to the future of our nation. We’ve been stumbling down a golden road for the last decade or so. I think as we start to slip and fall on it we are all beginning to see that the gold is just faded and peeling paint and we haven’t amassed any real riches.
I for one am willing to invest in America, to make financial and lifestyle sacrifices and to really work on the behalf of building a better nation and world.
I sure as hell am not going to give any money to people to develop new instruments of financial deception though.
I hope that the man who sits at that desk in just a few weeks and the team he has assembled feel the same and will make the same effort and inspire others to do so as well. I also hope that they will try and drag our governmental apparati into this century and out of the Truman era.