28 Nov Broadband and other blowback from frustrated voters
Last week’s article on high-speed broadband as a national issue that should be on the tip of every tongue in the Presidential debates elicited some great feedback. Others are starting to question the value that the presidential debates (of both parties) are providing the voters. People want some definitive ideas and answers to complex questions. You could say that this boils down to “Where’s the BEEF (Broadband, Education, Energy, and Feedback)?”
From a reader in Colorado, I got this feedback on last week’s article on the Presidential candidates not focusing on broadband connectivity:
Like you, I am tired of these puffed-up, self-important morons in New Hampshire and Iowa driving national policy and what we define as strategic national issues. If they really spoke for the other 48 (states), this issue along with a handful of other ones would be getting more press then we’ve seen on some of these choreographed, manicured debates of the last three months (for both major parties).
I don’t want some Iowa corn farmer or some New Hampshire ice cream entrepreneur driving national policy out of the gates in January. Frankly, their issues are too narrow for me and lack some of the big picture discussions that we should be having leading up to the 2008 campaign regardless if one is Democrat or Republican. If we have to put small minds out for the debates, let’s at least make them mull some long-term issues besides the war, national health care and global warming. There are other issues that need some attention and we need some direction on. The candidates have already rehearsed answers to the ones I’ve mentioned; this one could be the litmus test for who out there is truly a strategic and original thinker.
At any rate, great article. I know you keep bashing the network infrastructure in our faces, but it is a real issue in a set of American competitiveness issues that we just don’t seem to want to tackle as a nation. I wonder why? The need to get candidates’ views on competitive strategies is important to voters. That does not seem to be happening with the mainstream media.
American competitiveness issues
There are real issues that should be addressed by candidates, as well as correspondents trying to get an insight on where the candidates stand on issues beyond the two or three that everyone is tired of hearing.
One issue is education. No, not the typical campaign mantra that “we need to spend more money for education,” but we need to address what we are focusing on in education and make sure we are not funding obsolete programs and ideas. Before throwing more money into education budgets, some clear accountability as to what is being accomplished needs to be performed.
The three Rs of Rote, Repetition, and Routine might have been good skill sets to prepare a young workforce for Industrial-Age jobs of decades ago, but they do nothing for preparing students in a post-Information Age that could be called the Mobile Internet Age, which is where we are at today.
A competitive workforce today needs new skill sets. They are FACT-based: Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity and Technology skills. In a recent interview at the Illinois Municipal League Conference, these issues were discussed.
Education that falls short of instilling these new skill sets should also fall short in funding and governmental support. How much money is wasted in education today? That is the accountability question that most public school administrators do not want to answer because they are afraid they will lose their bloated budgets.
They face an angrier and angrier school district as parents and taxpayers who have cut back household budgets start to question whether or not school budgets are being wasted.
The lemming approach of school district funding – “No taxpayer left behind” for property tax increases – and paying for waste in education has to stop.
There is a real concern that education needs a big overhaul and that does not mean spending more money blindly. It means getting people in leadership positions that question the status quo and commit to break the logjam of bad ideas and obsolete educational policies.
Energy is another topic that should really be worked on instead of getting some lip service. There is a disconnect as to what is important in transportation and what is being funded. Mass transportation is something that is deemed necessary, yet we also need to look at the areas that are a waste of money.
Having a large diesel bus go down the street with one or two passengers polluting the air with as much as what 26 cars do is NOT mass transit. It is a waste of money. Better management of resources is needed and the grim finality of cutting the service is a real option, and not an unlikely doomsday scenario.
After some initial research on energy consumption, I think it deserves a full column of review. There are some questionable issues when it comes to carbon footprints and just paying a buck a ton to some environmental group to justify huge personal energy consumption like limousines, private jets and yachts. That’s not conservation, that’s a joke.
More debate and discussion is needed
If correspondents and Presidential candidates do not focus on these issues, the means to get these issues under the spotlight is out there. New uses of video-based applications are providing new avenues of discussion. Based on the geometric growth of these new social networks, the mainstream media is failing to “get the message out” and people fed up with a lack of real news are turning to these new technologies to get the discussions out there.
Recently, I was part of a national discussion on broadband with several other people across the country.
Having this type of discussion gets real issues out and hopefully someone in the mainstream media or the campaign staffs realize this is something to focus on.
To summarize, I received this:
We have no shortage of serious issues facing this country, we just lack serious politicians and a serious electorate to discuss and address them. We are going down the road of facing the same problems that are starting to confront European countries that never properly assimilated their immigrants. But anyone who dares raise the issue is labeled a closet racist or a conservative freak. But of course if you support American competitive policies you must be a protectionist, right? Everyone who stands for something is condemned to a little label.
Some of electorate is smarter than what some strategists give them credit for. People are tired of the same speeches and hollow talking points. Today’s critical issues have to be dealt with and many, like the readers who responded, are looking for the litmus test for candidates to see if there are any real choices.
CARLINI-ISM: Whoever has the best-trained workforce is also the toughest competitor whether you are talking about companies or countries.
Recent articles by James Carlini
• James Carlini: Presidential candidates clueless on broadband
• James Carlini: Two-week notices are no longer “customary”
• James Carlini: Singing the wireless blues: Why Wi-Fi is out and WiMAX is in
• James Carlini: Broadband connections critical for regional viability and growth
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.
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