The Common Sense Man Delivers Again, This Time Along With the Common Sense Woman

April 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thomas Friedman delivers again.  In today’s New York Times Op-Ed column, Start-Ups, Not Bailouts, Mr. Friedman lays out the facts when it comes to job creation in America.  He reports on a recent Kauffman Foundation Study showing that, in the 25-year period from 1980 to 2005, almost all net new jobs were created “by firms that were five years old or less.”  His position?  What’s needed is innovation.  What’s needed is a surge in new, cutting-edge businesses.  In his words:

Message: If we want to bring down unemployment in a sustainable way, neither rescuing General Motors nor funding more road construction will do it. We need to create a big bushel of new companies — fast. … But you cannot say this often enough: Good-paying jobs don’t come from bailouts. They come from start-ups. And where do start-ups come from? They come from smart, creative, inspired risk-takers.

And to get more “smart, creative, inspired risk-takers,” we need to revamp our schools to graduate more of them and we need to recruit talented immigrants.  Mr. Friedman suggests that the former will take some time (it’s hard to argue with that), but that the latter can be more readily addressed with modest changes to immigration policy.  He cites Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy, and his assertion that the force behind the incredible prosperity in the U.S. has been immigration: “we as a country accumulated a disproportionate share of the world’s high-I.Q. risk-takers.”  As Thomas Friedman rightly points out, “immigrants are by definition high-aspiring risk-takers, ready to leave their native lands in search of greater opportunities.”

Arianna Huffington, my common sense woman of the day, as well as co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, concurs.  In her recent post, When It Comes to Innnovation, Is America Becoming a Third World Country?” she recounts her experience as participant in a panel addressing this very issue as part of The Economist’s “Innovation: Fresh Thinking for the Idea Economy.”  Like Mr. Friedman, Ms. Huffington has a firm grasp of the subject and equal passion for the possibilities.  She details a disturbing list of reasons for the decline of innovation in this country, including disappointingly low student math and science scores, reduced government funding, and the current economic crisis.

She suggests a three-pronged approach to the issue.  As I mentioned, she agrees with Thomas Friedman that immigration reform is necessary, and lauds The Start-Up Visa Act currently co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar.  In addition, Ms. Huffington believes that a dramatic increase in the availability of high speed internet access is critcial to our economic success and national security.  While a proponent of President Obama’s propsed National Broadband plan, she does not think that the timeline, 2020, is nearly aggressive enough.  Lastly, as with Mr. Friedman, Ms. Huffington is an advocate of “innovation in the green economy.  One proposal that would jumpstart the green economy is the creation of a Green Bank … Such a bank would also help loosen the available credit for small businesses, and establish the reliable source of funding entrepreneurs need to know will be there if they devote themselves to green technologies and start ups.”  This concept is being pushed through Congress by Congressman Reed Hundt, who is currently joining Congressman Ed Markey in trying to make the Green Bank proposal part of the next jobs bill. Which makes sense, since, according to Hundt’s group, a Green Bank would create about four million jobs by 2012.”

Two incredibly smart, creative, innovative people suggesting that government doing its part to ease the way for the private sector to do theirs.

Seems like common sense to me.


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