The Age of Transitions
1. We are already experiencing the dramatic changes brought on by computers, communications, and the Internet. The combination of science and technology with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists has created a momentum of change which is extraordinary. Yet these changes will be overshadowed in the next twenty years by an emerging even bigger set of changes based on a combination of biology, information and nanoscience (the science of objects at a billionth of a meter, from one to four hundred atoms in size). This new and as yet unappreciated wave of change will combine with the already remarkable pattern of change brought on by computers, communication and the Internet to create a continuing series of new
breakthroughs with new goods and services. We will be constantly in transition as each new idea is succeeded by an even better one. This will be an Age of Transitions and it will last for at least a half-century.
2. In the age of transitions, the way we acquire goods and services are rapidly evolving in the private sector and in our personal lives. Government and bureaucracy are changing at a dramatically slower rate and the gap between the potential goods and services, productivity, efficiencies and conveniences being created, and the traditional behaviors of government and bureaucracies are getting wider.
3. The language of politics and government is increasingly isolated from the language of everyday life. Political elites increasingly speak a language that is a separate dialect from the words people use to describe their daily lives and their daily concerns. The result in part is that the American people increasingly tune out politics.
4. Eventually a political movement will develop a program of change for government, which will provide greater goods and services at lower and lower costs. When that movement can explain its new solutions in the language of everyday life it will gain a decisive majority as people opt for better lives through better solutions by bringing government into conformity with the entrepreneurial systems they are experiencing in the private sector.
5. Understanding the Age of Transitions, applying its principles to create better solutions for delivery of government goods and services, and developing and communicating a program in the language of everyday life - so people hear it and believe it despite the clutter and distractions of the traditional language of politics and government - is a very complex process and requires thought and planning.
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We are living through two tremendous patterns of scientific-technological change. Each would be powerful in itself. Combined, the two patterns guarantee that we will be in constant transitions as one breakthrough or innovation follows another.
Those who study, understand and invest in these patterns will live dramatically better than those who ignore them. Nations that focus their systems of learning, health, economic growth and national security on these changes will have healthier, more knowledgeable people in more productive jobs creating greater wealth and prosperity and living in greater safety through more modern, more powerful intelligence and defense capabilities.
Those countries that ignore these patterns of change will fall further behind and find themselves weaker, poorer, and more vulnerable than their wiser, more change oriented neighbors.
The United States will have to continue to invest in new science and to adopt our systems of health, learning and national security to these patterns of change if we want to continue to lead the world in prosperity, quality of life and military-intelligence capabilities.
At a minimum we need to double the federal research budget at all levels, reform science and math learning decisively and modernize our system of health and learning and government administration.
Periods of transition are periods of dramatic cost crashes. We should be able to use the new patterns of change to produce greater health and greater learning at lower cost. Government administration can be more effective at lower cost. Our national security will experience similar crashes in cost.
This combination of better outcomes at lower cost will not be produced by liberal or conservative ideology. It will be produced by the systematic study of the new patterns and the use of new innovations and new technologies to produce better results more cheaply.
The Communications and Computer Revolution
The revolution that has been dubbed the Information Age began around 1965. The earliest recognitions of this vast change were Kenneth Boulding's The Meaning of the Twentieth Century (1964), Peter Drucker's The Age of Discontinuities (1969), Alvin and Heidi Toffler's Future Shock (1970), and their far more useful and analytical The Third Wave (1980). These commentators all understood that the industrial era was being replaced by some new, profound change. As Drucker's title, The Age of Discontinuities indicates, they were not sure what would come out the other end but they were sure it would not simply be a more powerful industrial era.
Computing is a key element in this revolution. The numbers are stunning. According to Professor James Meindl, the chairman of the Georgia Tech Microelectronics Department, the first computer built with a transistor was "Tradic" in 1955, and it had only 800 transistors. The Pentium II chip has 7,500,000 transistors. In the next year or so an experimental chip will be built with one billion transistors. Within fifteen to twenty years there will be a chip with one trillion transistors. However you graph that scale of change, it is enormous and its implications are huge. It is fair to estimate that we are only one-fifth of the way into developing the computer revolution.
Yet focusing only on computer power understates the scale of change. Communications capabilities are going to continue to expand dramatically and that may have as big an impact as computing power. Today most homes get Internet access at 28,000 to 56,000 bits per second. Within a few years a combination of new technologies for compressing information (allowing you to get more done in a given capacity) with bigger capacity (fiber optic and cable) and entirely new approaches (such as satellite direct broadcast for the Internet) may move household access up to at least six million bits per second, and some believe we may reach the 110 million bits needed for uncompressed motion pictures. Combined with the development of
high definition television and virtual systems, an amazing range of opportunities will open up. This may be expanded even further by the continuing development of the cell phone into a universal utility with voice, Internet, credit card, and television applications all in one portable handheld phone.
The S curve of Technological Change
The communications and computer revolution and the earlier industrial revolution are both examples of the concept of an "S" curve. The s curve depicts the evolution of technological change. Science and technology begin to accelerate slowly and then knowledge and experience accumulates they grow much more rapidly. Finally, once the field has matured the rate of change levels off. The resulting pattern look like an S.
These large "S" curves are made up of thousands of smaller breakthroughs that create many small "S" curves of technological growth.
The two "S" curves of the Age of Transitions
We are starting to live through two patterns of change. The first is the enormous computer and communications revolution described above. We are at most only one-fifth of the way through it. The second, only now beginning to rise, is the combination of the nano world, biology, and information. These two "s" curves will overlap. It is the overlapping period we are just beginning to enter and it is that period which I believe will be an Age of Transitions.
The Age of Transitions
The Nano World, biology, and information as the next wave of change
Focusing on computers and communications is only the first step toward understanding the Age of Transitions. While we are still in the early stages of the computer-communications pattern of change, we are already beginning to see a new, even more powerful pattern of change that will be built on a synergistic interaction between three different areas: the nano world, biology, and information.
The nano world may be the most powerful new areas of understanding. "Nano" is the space between one atom and about 400 atoms. It is the space in which quantum behavior begins to replace the Newtonian physics you and I are used to. The world "nano" means one-billionth and is usually used in reference to a nanosecond (one billionth of a second) or a nanometer (one billionth of a meter). In this world of atoms and molecules, new tools and new techniques are enabling scientists to create entirely new approaches to manufacturing and to health. Nanotechnology "grows" materials by adding the right atoms and molecules. Nanotechnology is probably twenty years away but it may be at least as
powerful as space or computing in its implications for new tools and new capabilities.
The nano world also includes a series of material technology breakthroughs that will continue to change how we build things, how much they weigh, and how much stress and punishment they can take. For example, it may be possible to grow carbon storage tubes so small that hydrogen could be safely stored without refrigeration, thus enabling the creation of a hydrogen fuel cell technology with dramatic implications for the economy and the environment. These new materials may make possible a one-hour flight from New York to Tokyo, an ultra lightweight car, and a host of other possibilities. Imagine a carbon tube 100 times as strong as steel and only 46th as heavy. It has already been grown in the NASA Ames Laboratory. This
approach to manufacturing will save energy, conserve our raw materials, eliminate waste products and produce a dramatically healthier environment. The implications for the advancement of environmentalism and the irrelevancy of oil prices alone are impressive.
The nano world makes possible the ability to grow molecular helpers (not really tools because they may be organic and be grown rather than built (what?) We may be able to develop anti-cancer molecules that penetrate your cells without damage and hunt cancer at its earliest development. Imagine drinking with your normal orange juice 3,000,000 molecular rotor rooters to clean out your arteries without an operation.
The nano world opens up our understanding of biology and biology teaches us about the nano world because virtually all biological activities are at a molecular level. Thus our growing capabilities in nano tools will expand dramatically our understanding of biology. Our growing knowledge about molecular biology will expand our understanding of the nano world.
Beyond the implications of the nano world for biology, in the next decade the Human Genome project will teach us more about humans than our total knowledge to this point. The development of new technologies (largely a function of physics and mathematics) will increase our understanding of the human brain in ways previously unimaginable. From Alzheimer's to Parkinson's to Schizophrenia, there will be virtually no aspect of our understanding of the human brain and human nervous system which can not be transformed in the next two decades.
We are on the verge of creating intelligent synthetic environments that will revolutionize both how the medical institutions educate and plan. It will be possible to practice a complicated, dangerous operation many times in a synthetic world with feel, smell, appearance and sound, all precisely the same as the real operation. The flight and combat simulators of today are stunningly better than the sand tables and paper targets of forty years ago. An intelligent, synthetic environment will be an even bigger breakthrough from our current capabilities. Designing a building or an organization will be possible in the synthetic world before you decide to do it for real. The opportunities for education will be unending.
Finally, the information revolution (computers and communications) will give us vastly better capabilities to deal with the nano world and with biology.
It is the synergistic effect of these three systems together (the nano world, times biology, times information) that will lead to an explosion of new knowledge and new capabilities and create an intersecting s curve. We will simultaneously be experiencing the computer/communications revolution and the nano world/biology/information revolution. These two curves create an age of transitions.
This rest of this paper attempts to outline the scale of change being brought about by the age of transitions, the principles that underlie those changes, and how to apply those principles in a strategic process that could lead to a governing majority.
Politics and Government in the Age of Transitions
In the foreseeable future we will be inundated with new inventions, new discoveries, new startups, and new entrepreneurs. These will create new goods and services. The e-customer will become the e-patient and the e-voter. As expectations change, the process of politics and government will change.
People's lives will be more complex and inevitably overwhelming. Keeping up with the changes which affect them and their loved ones exhausts most people. They focus most of their time and energy on the tasks of everyday life. When they achieve success in their daily tasks they turn to the new goods and services, the new job and investment opportunities, and the new ideas inherent in the entrepreneurial creativity of the age of transitions. No individual and no country will fully understand all the changes as they occur, or will be able to adapt to them flawlessly during this time. On the other hand, there will be a large premium placed on individuals, companies and countries that are able to learn and adjust more
Reality and the Language of
Politics and Government
Reality and Language of
Ideas and Realities of
The Age of Transitions
The political party or movement that can combine these three zones into one national dialogue will have an enormous advantage, both in offering better goods and services, and in attracting the support of most Americans.
The new products and services created by the Age of Transitions are creating vast opportunities for improving everyday life. The government has an opportunity to use these new principles to develop far more effective and appropriate government services. Politicians have the chance to explain these opportunities in a language most citizens can understand, and to offer a better future, with greater quality of life, by absorbing the Age of Transitions into government and politics.
The average citizen needs to have political leadership that understands the scale of change we are undergoing, and which has the ability to offer some effective guidance about how to reorganize daily life - which simultaneously has the ability to reorganize the government that affects so much of our daily life. Inevitably, the Age of Transitions will overwhelm and exhaust people. Only after they have dealt with their own lives do they turn to the world of politics and government.
When we do look at politics we are discouraged, and in some cases repulsed, by the conflict-oriented political environment, the nitpicking, cynical nature of the commentaries, and the micromanaged, overly detailed style of political-insider coverage. The more Americans focus on the common sense and the cooperative effort required for their own lives, and the more they focus on the excitement and the wealth-creating and opportunity-creating nature of the entrepreneurial world, the more they reject politics and government as an area of useful interest.
Not only do politics and government seem more destructive and conflict oriented, but the language of politics seems increasingly archaic and the ideas seem increasingly trivial or irrelevant. People who live their lives with the speed, accuracy and convenience of automatic teller machines (ATM's) giving them cash at any time in any city, cell phones that work easily virtually everywhere, the ease of shopping on the web and staying in touch through email find the bureaucratic, interest group and arcane nature of political dialogue and government policy to be painfully outmoded. Politicians' efforts to popularize the obsolete are seen as increasingly irrelevant and therefore ignored.
This phenomenon helps explain the January 2000 poll in which 81% of Americans said they had not read about the Presidential campaign in the last 24 hours, 89% said they had not thought about a presidential candidate in the same period, and 74% said they did not have a candidate for President (up 10% from last November).
The average voters' sense of distance from politics is felt even more strongly by the entrepreneurial and scientific groups who are inventing the future. They find the difference between their intensely concentrated, creative and positive focus of energy and the negative, bickering nature of politics especially alienating, so they focus on their own creativity and generally stay aloof from politics unless a specific interest is threatened or a specific issue arouses their interest.
Projects that focus on voter participation miss the nature of a deliberate avoidance by voters of politics. In some ways this is a reversion to an American norm prior to the great depression and the Second World War. For most of American history people focused their energies on their own lives and their immediate communities. The national government (and often even the state government) seemed distant and irrelevant.
This was the world of very limited government desired by Jefferson and described by Tocqueville's Democracy in America. With the exception of the Civil War, this was the operating model from 1776 until 1930. Then the depression led to the rise of big government, the Second World War led to even bigger government, and the Cold War sustained a focus on Washington. When there was a real danger of nuclear war and the continuing crisis threatened the survival of freedom, it was natural for the President to be the central figure in America and for attention to focus on Washington.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been a gradual slow shift of power and attention out of Washington and back to the state and local communities. There has been a steady decline in popular attention paid to national politics. Those who complain about this pattern and who seek higher turnout and greater public participation misunderstand the mechanisms and patterns that are at work.
Projects that focus on voter participation often miss the nature of this deliberate avoidance of politics. When Republicans designed a positive campaign of big ideas in the 1994 Contract With America, some nine million additional voters turned out (the largest off year one party increase in history). When Jesse Ventura offered a real alternative (at least in style) in 1998 younger voters turned out in record numbers.
The voter as a customer is telling the political-governmental system something profound by his or her indifference. The political leadership class is simply failing to produce a large enough set of solutions in a language that is worth the time, attention, and focus of increasingly busy American citizens.
After a year of traveling around America (23 states) and spending time with entrepreneurs, scientists and venture capitalists, I am increasingly convinced that the American voters are right.
Let us imagine a world of 1870 in which the private sector had completed the transcontinental railroad and the telegraph, but the political-governmental elites had decided that they would operate by the rules of the pony express and the stagecoach. In private life and business life you could telegraph from Washington to San Francisco in a minute and could ship a cargo by rail in seven days. However in political-governmental life you had to send written messages by pony express that took two weeks and cargo by stagecoach that took two months. The growing gap between the two capabilities would have driven you to despair about politics and government as destructive, anachronistic systems.
Similarly, imagine that in 1900 a Washington Conference on Transportation Improvement had been created but the political-governmental elite had ruled that the only topic would be the future of the horseshoe, and busied themselves with a brass versus iron horseshoe debate. Henry Ford's efforts to create a mass produced automobile would be ruled impractical and irrelevant. The Wright brothers' effort to create an airplane would be laughed at as an absurd fantasy. After all, neither clearly stood on either the brass or the iron side of the debate. Yet which would do more to change transportation over the next two decades: The political-governmental power structure of Washington, or the unknown visionaries experimenting
without government grants and without recognition by the elites?
Consider just one example of this extraordinary and growing gap between the opportunities of the Age of Transitions and the reactionary nature of current government systems. The next time you use your ATM card consider that you are sending a code over the net to approve taking cash out of your checking account. It can be done on a 24/7 basis (24 hours a day, seven days a week) anywhere in the country at your convenience.
Compare that speed, efficiency, security, and accuracy with the paper dominated, fraud and waste ridden Health Care Financing Administration with its 133,000 pages of regulations (more than the Internal Revenue Service). As a symbol of a hopelessly archaic model of bureaucracy there are few better examples than HCFA.
This growing gap between the realities and language of private life and the emerging realities of the Age of Transitions on the one hand and the increasingly obsolete language and timid (horseshoe improvements) proposals of the political governmental system convinces more and more voters to ignore politics and focus on their own lives and on surviving the transitions.
This is precisely the pattern described by Norman Nie, et.al in the Changing American Voter. They described a pool of latent voters who in the 1920s found nothing in the political dialogue to interest them. These citizens simply stayed out of the process as long as it stayed out of their lives. The depression did not mobilize them. They sat out the 1932 election. Only when the New Deal policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt penetrated their lives did they become involved. In 1936 Alf Landon, the Republican nominee, actually received a million more votes than Herbert Hoover had gotten in 1932. However FDR received seven million more votes than he had gotten in his first election. It was this massive increase in
participation that made the polls inaccurate and created the Democratic majority, which in many ways survived until the 1994 election. The Republican victory of 1994 by drawing nine million additional voters over its 1990 results (the largest off year increase in American history) used bold promises in a positive campaign to engage people who had been turned off by politics.
There is a similar opportunity waiting for the first political party and political leader to make sense out of the combination of daily life with the possibilities being created by the Age of Transitions and develop both a language and a set of bold proposals which make sense to the average American in the context of their own lives and experience.
This paper should be seen as the beginning of a process rather than as a set of answers. Political-governmental leaders need to integrate the changes of the Age of Transitions with the opportunities these changes create to improve people's lives, develop the changes in government necessary to accelerate those improvements, and explain the Age of Transitions era - and the policies it requires - in the language of everyday life, so people will understand why it is worth their while to be involved in politics and subsequently improve their own lives. Getting this done will take a lot of people experimenting and attempting to meet the challenge for a number of years. That is how the Jeffersonians, the Jacksonians, the
early Republicans, the Progressives, the New Dealers and the Reagan conservatives succeeded. Each, over time, created a new understanding of America at an historic moment. We aren't any smarter, and we won't get it done any faster. However, the time to start is now and the way to start is to clearly understand the scale of the opportunity and the principles that make it work.
Characteristics of an Age of Transitions
Thirty-six years after Boulding's first explanation of the coming change, and thirty-one years after Drucker explained how to think about a discontinuity, some key characteristics have emerged. This section outlines 18 characteristics and gives examples of how political and governmental leaders can help develop the appropriate policies for the age of transitions. However, it should first be noted that there is an overarching general rule: assume there are more changes coming.
It is clear that more scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are active today than in all of previous human history. Venture capitalists are developing powerful models for investing-in and growing startup companies, and in the process they are acquiring more and more capital as the markets shift away from the smokestack industries and toward new models. It is also clear that there is a growing world market in which more entrepreneurs of more nationalities are competing for more customers than ever in human history.
All this growing momentum of change simply means that no understanding, no reform, no principle will be guaranteed to last for very long. Just as we get good at one thing, or come to understand one principle, it will be challenged by an emerging new idea or achievement from a direction we haven't even considered.
Within that humbling sense that the change is so large we will never really know in our lifetime the full analysis of this process, here are 18 powerful characteristics for developing government policy and politics in the Age of Transitions:
1. COSTS WILL CRASH A major pattern will be a continuing, and in many cases steep, declines in cost. An ATM is dramatically cheaper than a bank teller. A direct-dial phone call is much less expensive than an operator-assisted call. My brother used Priceline.com and received four airlines tickets for his family for the price of one regular ticket. We have not even begun to realize how much costs will decline (including health and healthcare, education and learning, defense procurement and government administration). We also have not yet learned to think in terms of purchasing power instead of salary. Yet the pattern is likely to be a huge change in both
purchasing power and behavior for both citizens and government. Those who are aggressive and alert will find remarkable savings by moving to the optimum cost crashes faster than anyone else. As a result they will dramatically expand their purchasing power.
2. A CUSTOMER CENTERED PERSONALIZED SYSTEM With Amazon.com and other systems you can look up precisely the books or movies you want and, after a while, they sense your interests and they begin to bring items to you that you may like. We can consider a personal Social Security Plus account because we already have personal Roth IRA's and 401k's. We can consider a personal learning and personal health system just as we have e-tickets for our Internet purchased airline tickets. Anything that is not personalized and responsive to changes in the individual will rapidly be replaced by something that is.
3. 24-7 IS THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE Customer access 24 hours a day and 7 days a week will become the standard of the future. ATM's symbolize this emerging customer convenience standard. You can get cash 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, yet today's schools combine an agricultural era 9 or 10 month school year (including the summer off for harvesting) with an industrial era 50 minute class, with the foreman at the front of the room facing a class of workers facing him or her, in a factory style school day, in a Monday to Friday work week. Learning in the future will be embedded in the computer and on the Internet and will be available with a great deal of customization for
each learner at his or her convenience and on demand. Similarly, government will have to shift to its customers' needs rather than demanding that the customers make themselves available at the bureaucrat's convenience. These are big changes and they are unavoidable given the emerging technologies and the e-customer culture that is evolving.
4. CONVENIENCE WILL BE A HIGH VALUE As customers get used to one-click shopping (note the shopping cart approach on Amazon) they will demand similar convenience from government. People will increasingly order products and services to be delivered to their homes at their convenience. They will initially pay a premium for this convenience but over time they will conclude that it is a basic requirement of any business they deal with. After a while e-customers will begin to carry these attitudes into their relationship with bureaucracy, and as e-voters they will favor politicians who work to make their lives easier (and therefore more convenient).
5. CONVERGENCE OF TECHNOLOGIES WILL INCREASE CONVENIENCE, EXPAND CAPABILITIES, AND LOWER COSTS The various computation and communication technologies will rapidly converge with cell phones, computers, land-lines, mobile systems, satellite capabilities and cable all converging into a unified system of capabilities, which will dramatically expand both capabilities and convenience.
6. EXPERT SYSTEM EMPOWERED PROCESSES When you look up an airline reservation on the Internet you are dealing with an expert system. In virtually all Internet shopping you are actually asking questions of such a system. The great increase in capability for dealing with individual sales and individual tastes is a function of the growing capacity of expert systems. These capabilities will revolutionize health, learning and government once they are used as frequently as they currently are in the commercial world. If it can be codified and standardized it should be done by an expert system rather than a person. That is a simple rule to apply to every government activity.
7. MIDDLEMEN DISAPPEAR This is one of the most powerful rules of the Age of Transitions. In the commercial world, where competition and profit margins force change, it is clear that customers are served more and more from very flat hierarchies, with very few people in the middle. In the protected guilds (medicine, teaching, law and any group which can use its political power to slow change) and in government structures there are still very large numbers of middlemen. This will be one of the most profitable areas for political-governmental leaders to explore. In the Age of Transitions the customer should be foremost and every unnecessary layer should be eliminated to
create a more agile, more rapidly changing, more customer centered and less expensive system.
8. CHANGES CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE The record of the last thirty years has been a growing shift toward new ideas coming from new places. Anyone can have a good idea, and the key is to focus on the power of the idea rather than the pedigree of the inventor. This directly challenges some of the peer review assumptions of the scientific community, much of the screening for consultants used by government, much of the credentialing done by education and medicine, and much of the contractor-certification done by government. This principle requires us to look very widely for the newest idea, the newest product and the newest service, and it requires testing by trial and error
more than by credentialing or traditional assumptions.
9. SHIFT RESOURCES FROM OPPORTUNITY TO OPPORTUNITY One of the most powerful engines driving the American economy has been the rise of an entrepreneurial venture capitalism that moves investments to new opportunities and grows those opportunities better than any other economy in the world. There is as yet no comparable government capacity to shift resources to new start-ups and to empower governmental entrepreneurs. There are countless efforts to reform and modernize bureaucracies, but that is exactly the wrong strategy. Venture capitalists very seldom put new money into old corporate bureaucracies. Even many of the established corporations are learning to create their
own startups because they have to house new ideas and new people in new structures if they are really to get the big breakthroughs. We need a doctrine for a venture capitalist-entrepreneurial model of government including learning, health, and defense.
10. THE RAPIDITY OF BETTER, LESS EXPENSIVE PRODUCTS WILL LEAD TO A CONTINUED PROCESS OF REPLACEMENT Goods and services will take on a temporary nature as their replacements literally push them out the door. The process of new, more capable and less expensive goods and services, and in some cases revolutionary replacements which change everything (as Xerox did to the mimeograph, and as the fax machine, e-mail and pc have done), will lead to a sense of conditional existence and temporary leasing that will change our sense of ownership.
11. FOCUS ON SUCCESS Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have a surprisingly high tolerance for intelligent failure. They praise those who take risks, even if they fail, over those who avoid risks, even if they avoid failure. To innovate and change at the rate the Age of Transitions requires, government and politicians have to shift their attitudes dramatically (and it would help if the political news media joined them in this). Today it is far more dangerous for a bureaucrat to take a risk than it is to do nothing. Today the system rewards (with retirement and non-controversy) serving your time in government. There are virtually no rewards for taking the risks and
sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding. Yet in all the other areas of science, technology, and entrepreneurship the great breakthroughs often involve a series of failures (consider Edison's thousands of failed experiments in inventing the electric light and how they would have appeared in a congressional hearing or a news media expose). Setting a tone of trying, and rewarding success while tolerating intelligent failure, would do a great deal to set the stage for a modernized government.
12. VENTURE CAPITALISTS AND ENTREPRENEURS FOCUS ON OPPORTUNITIES This is similar to focusing on success but refers to the zone in which energy and resources are invested. It is the nature of politics and government to focus on problems (schools that fail, hospitals that are too expensive, people living in poverty) when the real breakthroughs come from focusing on opportunities (new models of learning that work, new approaches to health and healthcare that lower the cost of hospitals, ways to get people to work so they are no longer in poverty). Venture capitalists are very good at shifting their attention away from problem zones toward opportunity zones. Politicians
and the political news media tend to do the opposite. Yet the great opportunities for change and progress are in the opportunities rather than the problems.
13. REAL BREAKTHROUGHS CREATE NEW PRODUCTS AND NEW EXPECTATIONS Before Disney World existed it would have been hard to imagine how many millions would travel to Orlando. Before the Super Bowl became a cultural event it was hard to imagine how much of the country would stop for an entire evening.
Before faxes we did not need them, and before e-mail no one knew how helpful it would be. One of the key differences between the public and private sector is this speed of accepting new products and creating new expectations. The public sector tends to insist on using the new to prop up the old. For two generations we have tried to get the computer into the classroom with minimal results. That's because it is backward: The key is to get the classroom into the computer and the computer in the child's home, so learning becomes personal and 24/7. Doctors still resist the information technologies that will revolutionize health and healthcare, and which will lower administrative costs and decrease unnecessary deaths and
illnesses dramatically. In the private sector competition and the customer force change. In government and government protected guilds the innovations are distorted to prop up the old and the public (that is the customer) suffers from higher expense and less effective goods and services.
14. SPEED MATTERS: NEW THINGS NEED TO GET DONE QUICKLY There is a phrase in the Internet industry, "Launch and Learn," which captures the entrepreneurial sense of getting things done quickly. It suggests that you launch your business or your new product and learn while you are building it. As one Silicon Valley entrepreneur suggested, he had moved back from the East because he could get things done in the same number of days in California as the months it would have taken where he had been. Moving quickly produces more mistakes but it also produces a real learning that only occurs by trying things out. The sheer volume of activity, and the speed of
correcting mistakes as fast as they are discovered, allows a "launch and learn" system to grow dramatically faster than a "study and launch" system. This explains one of the major differences between the venture capitalist-entrepreneurial world and the traditional corporate bureaucracies. Since governments tend to study and study without ever launching anything truly new it is clear how even further the gap gets between the public and private sectors in an Age of Transitions. Today it takes longer for a Presidential appointee to be cleared by the White House and approved by the Senate than it takes to launch a startup company in Silicon Valley.
15. START SMALL BUT DREAM BIG Venture capital and entrepreneurship are about baby businesses rather than small businesses. Venture capitalists know that in a period of dramatic change it is the occasional home run rather than a large number of singles that really make the difference. The result is that venture capitalists examine every investment with a focus on its upside. If it does not have a big enough growth potential it is not worth the time and energy to make the investment. Government tends to make large risk-averse investments in relatively small controllable changes. This is almost the exact opposite of the venture capital-entrepreneurial model. The question
to ask is: "If this succeeds, how big will the difference be, and if the difference isn't very substantial, we need to keep looking for a more powerful proposal."
16. BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS IS THE FIRST BIG PROFIT OPPORTUNITY While most of the attention in the Internet market is paid to sales to the final customer, the fact is that that market is still relatively small and relatively unprofitable. However, there is no question that Internet based systems such as Siebel and Intelisys are creating business-to-business opportunities that will dramatically lower the cost of doing business. Every government, at every level, should be rationalizing its purchasing system and moving on to the net to eliminate all paper purchasing. The savings in this area alone could be in the 20 to 30 % range for most governments. The opportunities for
a paperless system in health and healthcare could lead to a crash in costs rather than a worry about rising costs.
17. APPLYING QUALITY AND LEAN THINKING CAN SAVE ENORMOUS AMOUNTS Whether it is the earlier model of quality espoused by Edwards Deming or the more recent concept of lean thinking advocated by James Womack and Daniel Jones, it is clear that there is an existing model of thinking-through production and value, on a systematic basis, and creating more profitable, less expensive approaches. The companies that have really followed this approach have had remarkable success in producing better products at lower expense, yet it is almost never used by people who want to rethink government.
18. PARTNERING IS ESSENTIAL No company or government can possibly understand all the changes in an Age of Transitions. Furthermore, new ideas will emerge with great speed. It is more profitable to partner than to try to build in-house expertise. It allows everyone to focus on what they do best while working as a team on a common goal. This system is prohibited throughout most of government, and yet it is the dominant organizing system of the current era of startups. As government bureaucracies fall further and further behind the most dynamic of the startups (in part because civil service salaries cannot compete with stock options for the best talent), it will
become more and more important to develop new mechanisms for government-private partnering.
These initial principles give a flavor of how big the change will be and of the kind of questions a political-governmental leader should ask in designing a program for the Age of Transitions. They can be refined, expanded and improved, but they at least start the process of identifying how different the emerging system will be from the bureaucratic-industrial system that is the heart of contemporary government.
The Principles of Political-Governmental Success
In an Age of Transitions
In the Age of Transitions people will be so busy and the sheer volume of new products, new information, and new opportunities will keep people so limited in spare time that any real breakthrough in government and politics will have to meet several key criteria:
1. Personal It has to involve a change that occurs in individual people's lives in order for them to think it is worth their while, because it will affect them directly. Only a major crisis such as a steep recession or a major war will bring people back to the language of politics. In the absence of such a national crisis political leaders will not be able to attract people into the zone of government and politics. Instead they will have to take government and politics into people's lives by using the new technologies and new opportunities of the Age of Transitions to offer better solutions that will really affect people's lives.
2. Big Ideas The change has to be large enough to be worth the time and effort of participation. People have to believe that their lives or their family's lives will really be affected by the proposals or they will simply nod pleasantly at the little ideas but do nothing to get them implemented. If you would attract millions of new people into the process you have to have ideas big enough and personal enough to be worth their time and effort.
3. Common Language New solutions have to be explained in the language of every day life because people will simply refuse to listen to the traditional language of political and governmental elites. People have become so tired of the bickering, the conflict, and the reactionary obsolete patterns of traditional politics that they turn off the minute they hear them. New solutions require new words and the words have to grow out of the daily lives of people rather than out of the glossary of intellectual elites or the slogans of political consultants.
4. Practical The successful politics of the Age of Transitions will almost certainly be pragmatic and practical rather than ideological and theoretical. People are going to be so busy and so harried that their first question is going to be "will it work?" They will favor conservative ideas they think will work and they will favor big government ideas that they think will work. Their first test will be "will my family and I be better off?" and their second test will be "can they really deliver and make this work?' Only when a solution passes these two tests will it be supported by a majority of people. Note that both questions are pragmatic and neither
is theoretical or ideological.
5. Positive The successful politicians of the Age of Transitions will devote eighty per cent of their time to the development and communication of large positive solutions in the language of everyday life and the gathering of grassroots coalitions and activists to support their ideas. They will never spend more than twenty per cent of their effort on describing the negative characteristics of their opponents. When they do describe the destructive side of their opponents it will be almost entirely in terms of the costs in the lives of Americans of the reactionary forces blocking the new solutions and the better programs (study FDR's 1936 and 1940 campaigns for models of this
lifestyle definition of the two sides-the helpful and the harmful. FDR was tough on offense but more importantly he cast the opposition in terms of how they hurt the lives of ordinary people.)
6. Electronic The successful large, personal, positive, practical movement of the Age of Transitions will be organized on the Internet and will be interactive. Citizens will have a stake in the movement and an ability to offer ideas and participate creatively in ways no one has ever managed before. The participatory explosion of the 1992 Perot campaign in which tens of thousands of volunteers organized themselves and the internet based activism of the closing weeks of the 1998 Ventura campaign are forerunners of an interactive, internet based movement in the Age of Transitions. None has occurred on a sustainable basis yet for two reasons:
First, no one has come up with a believable solution big enough to justify the outpouring of energy beyond brief, personality-focused campaign spasms lasting weeks or a few months.
Second, no one has mastered the challenge of building a citizen-focused genuinely interactive system that allows people to get information when they want it, offer ideas in an effective feedback loop, and organize themselves to be effective in a reasonably efficient and convenient manner. When the size of the solution and the sophistication of the system come together we will have a new model of politics and government that will be as defining as the thirty-second commercial and the phone bank have been.
Big Solutions at a Big Event as the Defining
Activity of a National Campaign
Twice Republicans have successfully used "Capitol Steps" events to define their goals in a dramatic way. In 1980 the Republican Senate and House candidates gathered on the Capitol steps with Ronald Reagan and George Bush and made a series of key promises including the thirty per cent cut in income tax rates and strengthening the military. A month later a number of little known underdog candidates were elected to the Senate by narrow margins and to almost everyone's surprise the Republicans had captured control of the Senate for the first time in nearly a generation. In elections won by 7,000 and 14,000 votes the final legitimacy and focus given to the candidate by standing next to Ronald Reagan and pledging
big changes was almost certainly decisive.
In 1994 the Republican House candidates stood together on the Capitol steps and pledged to implement a Contract with America. Their sincerity and the scale of their proposal changed the campaign and drew nine million additional people to the polls.
The two events have to be seen within the context of a long buildup and an intensive, focused follow through between the event and the election. In both cases the issues had been developed over many months. In both years the candidates had been using the major issues for months before the big event. In both cases candidates and campaigns were poised to take the message home and use advertising, speeches, debates and editorial boards to continue driving home the big solutions. In both cases outside activists had been recruited, encouraged and coordinated to continue building the power of the ideas. The events only mattered within the larger context of these preceding and following activities.
In both cases the key messages were resonating off existing understanding among the American people rather than trying to communicate or sell something new. Tax cuts had been a key issue in the 1978 Congressional campaigns, Jack Kemp and Bill Roth had been articulating supply side economics for four years, Reagan had campaigned throughout the spring on the need for a tax cut and it was in the Republican national platform. In 1994 the calls for a balanced budget, welfare reform, tax cuts, and stronger defense were the echoes of a generation of conservative and Republican speeches. In both cases we were trying to build a responsive chord with proposals the American people already knew about.
The key is the long development of a set of proposals the Presidential nominee is committed to and willing to campaign on, their general acceptance by the party within the leadership of the Presidential nominee, their articulation throughout the spring and summer, their inclusion in the national platform, and their use during the fall campaign with a decisive symbolic moment occurring as the entire team gathers to prove it is a team and to pledge to implement the proposals. Only by having a process of this type can the proposals be driven home strongly enough to define October.
Proposals Big Enough to Attract the American People and to Define the 2000 Election on Terms Favorable to Republicans
The following proposals can be explained in the daily lives of Americans, apply some of the solutions available in the Age of Transitions, and will improve life enough to be worth the attention and then support of a vast majority of Americans.
1. Social Security Plus - Every American deserves the right to save a portion of their FICA tax and control it in a tax-free account which could be invested in a broad range of instruments. This will save Social Security permanently without a tax increase or a benefit cut. It will ensure that the poorest worker will have a savings account within six months of starting to work, and within a few years will be a saver and investor with a piece of the action.
For younger Americans this can produce retirements at three to six times the wealth they will get from the government system and it will protect the system from collapsing when the baby boomers retire. For older Americans this step, if coupled with the end of the penalty for working, the abolition of the death tax, and the guarantee that they would get every penny, including cost of living increases which is due them, would reassure them that we had improved their lives.
Social Security Plus is particularly better for African American males who have a lower life expectancy than other Americans and as a result transfer an average of $10,000 in FICA Tax to other people. Social Security Plus would allow them to pass their savings on to their family and would be a big improvement for African Americans over the current system.
Hispanics have the lowest rate of savings of any group in the country. Social Security Plus would create, overnight, a retirement savings account for every working Hispanic. It is a powerful tool for increasing the wealth of younger Hispanics and Hispanic families.
By transferring well over a trillion dollars from the control of government back into the private sector Social Security Plus will lower interest rates, increase the availability of capital and increase economic growth.
Properly communicated in personal terms and in the language and media of a variety of groups, and with the support of activist-advocates from all those groups, the advantages of Social Security Plus should draw an entire generation of younger Americans from all ethnic backgrounds into politics in order to get the reform that will dramatically improve their lives and increase their wealth. For more information see www.Social Security Plus.org.
2. Max Tax - More take-home-pay for every American both in the short run with a big tax cut and in the long run with lower taxes in general. In everyday language "more take-home-pay" is more real and more powerful than "tax cuts" (which is a political term which then translates into more take-home-pay).
The current budget surplus gives us an opportunity to have a major tax cut and the Age of Transitions gives us an opportunity to modernize and privatize government until we cap all taxes (state, federal, and local) so that no American pays more than 25% of their income in total taxation. The two goals are reinforcing but not identical.
First, there should be a large tax cut because the surplus is created by the American taxpayer and they deserve their own money back. Furthermore, any money left in Washington will be spent by politicians to expand government and please interest groups. Therefore the choice is simple; with a surplus you either have a tax cut or bigger government. Thus in the immediate future a big tax cut should be favored both to help taxpayers with more take home pay and to keep government in Washington from growing.
Second, there should be a ten-to-fifteen year goal of modernizing and privatizing government to bring all taxation down to a maxtax of 25%. For forty years Americans have told Reader's Digest that they favor a maximum tax of 25% of their income. In peacetime if you work all of Monday and part of Tuesday for the government you should be allowed to work the rest of the week for yourself, your family, your voluntary charities, your religious institution, and your own retirement.
Readers of Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion know that America historically was a very low tax nation. Prior to 1930 there was a 150-year history of limited government with limited taxation in peacetime. The theory was that strong citizens and active communities could work within limited effective government in a pattern that maximized freedom and minimized the dangers of dictatorship (this is the heart of the 18th century Whig critique of the British political system which was the basis of Jefferson's model of government).
We have had a 70-year experiment in large centralized bureaucratic government. As Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion makes painfully clear this experiment was very costly in lives wasted and people trapped in poverty. One of our greatest achievements was the welfare reform that liberated over fifty percent of the people on welfare and returned them to jobs and to school. In some states we now have so few people on welfare there is a real opportunity to get every one of them to work.
The next stage after balancing the budget and welfare reform is to set as a goal the dramatic modernization and privatization of government so that taxes could be capped at 25% (state, federal, and local combined) of an individual's income. This may seem a grandiose goal. Yet remember that in 1970 when Governor Ronald Reagan first proposed welfare reform at the National Governor's Conference he was defeated 49 to 1. Not a single Republican Governor voted with him because the idea was too bold. By 1996 we had won the argument so decisively that in a New York Times poll 92% of the American people favored welfare reform including 88% of the people on welfare.
America today ranks behind a number of other countries in the successful privatization of government functions. Yet the Age of Transitions is going to make possible dramatic improvements in goods and services at lower costs simply by bringing together modern technology, entrepreneurship and venture capital approaches to transform obsolete and archaic government services. Consider just a few examples of the changes that are possible and that provide both better services to the citizen and lower taxes.
First, British and French water systems have never been government run. The result is a higher level of technology and management skill than most government run systems. When Atlanta contracted out its water system it saved the city 44% a year. The seven major cities that have privatized their water so far have run from 20 to 50% in savings with the average being about a third. That would amount to $500 million a year for New York City if it contracted out its water operation. The citizens get better water at lower cost.
Second, only 18% of the child support that is due is actually paid to the children. That means 82% of the children who should be getting child support from a responsible adult are being denied the money. Government is so incompetent that $3 billion is actually sitting in the bank because it has been paid but the government can't find the children. Minimalist attempts at private contracting within the current system routinely fail because the public employee unions simply sabotage them. Apparently, union dues are more important than children. Liberal politicians sympathize with children in poverty, but not enough to fight the unions that elect them.
Yet we live in an age when Visa, MasterCard and American Express all do a good job of finding their card members and getting them to pay. We live in an age when private collection companies would make a big profit collecting more money for more children. Only our commitment to the obsolete model of bureaucratic enforcement keeps these millions of children in poverty.
Here is a privatization that would be more compassionate, more humane, and would enforce responsibility while lifting children from poverty and would lighten the burden on the taxpayer all at the same time. This could also be a major commitment which would speak to millions of single mothers and to grandparents in immediate human terms about directly improving their lives (and as such this item might become a major proposal in a capitol steps event and in a campaign platform).
Third, ZooAtlanta went from being an $800,000 a year city bureaucracy run so badly it was on the verge of losing its accreditation to being a privately run $11million a year research institution of world renown. There is a nationwide move toward privatized zoos with entrepreneurial leaders, such as Terry Maples in Atlanta. It is creating better institutions with more aggressive, creative energy, a greater focus on the public and much lower cost to the taxpayer.
These are simply three examples of the opportunities for privatization and modernization. Any serious look at Europe or Latin America would yield dozens of examples of formerly government run systems now being run better at lower cost and with greater customer satisfaction in the private sector. For more information see www.MaxTax.org.
Modernizing and privatizing government to get the maximum tax down to 25% is perfectly compatible with paying down the federal debt. A smaller debt means smaller interest payments and therefore lower taxes. A series of annual debt payments combined with annual tax cuts would achieve the goal of a smaller debt, a smaller government, lower taxes, more take-home pay, and greater economic growth, with lower interest rates. In 1997 we cut taxes and balanced the budget by controlling government spending. Controlling government spending will allow you to cut taxes and pay down the national debt. The alternative is to neither cut taxes nor pay down the debt but instead divert the money. We should drop the argument of tax cuts
versus debt reduction and simply do both. Our children will have lower taxes, better incomes, lower interest rates and a healthier country.
3. End the Death Tax As a simple, single goal we should abolish the death tax immediately. Abolishing the death tax is a 79-15issue (Zogby, January 2000) among the American people. This is not a new development. In 1982 abolishing the death tax was on the California ballot and it won by 65-35 despite the opposition of much of the media.
People intuitively know that it is wrong to punish grandparents for saving for their grandchildren. People also intuitively know that if government has already taxed the money once it should not be able to tax it again. Finally people know that the very rich use lawyers and trusts to avoid the tax while the real losers are the workers who lose their jobs when the family business is sold.
This tax hurts economic growth by diverting money to lawyers and loopholes, and by discouraging economic activity among the elderly. We would have a bigger economy, with faster growth, with more jobs, and with greater wealth if we abolished the death tax.
4. Use Technology to Empower the Disabled Every American with a disability should be connected with the best technologies and given the best opportunity to truly pursue happiness as their Creator endowed them with the right to do.
The Age of Transitions is going to create marvelous opportunities to enhance the lives of Americans and, especially, to improve the lives of Americans with significant disabilities. We should be committed to doubling scientific research and development in the federal budget and totally overhauling both the bureaucratic structures and the anti-work, anti-common sense rules of the federal government. The 120 federal agencies currently dealing with disabilities administer public policies that clearly discourage work and undermine families, while encouraging the warehousing of people in costly institutions. We need to make capital investments in people, rather than "maintaining" them in lifelong dependence on
the government. Citizens with significant disabilities are denied freedom and opportunity by existing policies that require them to be indigent and unproductive in order to be eligible for healthcare insurance and other essential supports.
With improved access to technology and opportunities, people who have previously been perceived as unable to contribute to society can be productive. If we are to empower citizens with significant disabilities, and if society is to benefit from their abilities, we must redesign all federal and state disability programs to foster independence and dignity. The current "maintenance" model is a slow death that fosters dependence and dehumanization. An "empowerment model" will reattach these Americans to life and afford them the same opportunities other citizens take for granted - the opportunities to live, work and learn in their communities.
This is a perfect example of a bold solution in the context of an Age of Transitions that simply leaves behind all the bureaucratic rhetoric of the old system. The new technologies can be developed with stunning speed. The Internet can create markets and opportunities for those with significant disabilities in ways yet unexplored. Accomplishing reform that reduces the barriers to work for people with disabilities will serve the best interests of both the taxpayer and citizens with disabilities. Eliminating the institutional bias in Medicaid long-term care policy will strengthen American families and enable people with significant disabilities of all ages to enjoy lives with greater dignity and independence.
There are hundreds of thousands of severely challenged Americans whose lives would be dramatically improved by these changes. They, their families and those whose lives they touch will flock to a movement that takes seriously the challenge of bringing together the discoveries of science, the creativity of entrepreneurs and the needs and talents of Americans with disabilities.
5. Health and Healthcare Health and healthcare can be dramatically improved for virtually every American and in the process the price will come down.
The obsolete system we currently have kills an estimated 98,000 Americans a year in hospitals by inappropriate medicine (report by the Institute of Medicine). Two-thirds of those (about 65,000 dead Americans a year) are caused by inappropriate prescriptions for people whose current drug prescriptions or past history make the new prescription lethal. Hundreds of thousands of additional Americans are re-hospitalized annually through inappropriate prescriptions. The human and financial cost is a significant part of our health budget.
The Age of Transitions has already invented solutions that would save 50,000 plus lives and several billion dollars a year. Doctors should enter their prescriptions in a palm pilot or other computerized device, patients should have computerized health records, and a computer should check each new prescription against the patient's record to make sure they will not be killed or sickened by the new drug. All the technology is available but each part of the system clings to its obsolete arguments about an earlier era. Only the patient and the society are harmed.
Patients ought to own their own health records and they should be electronic. Billing should be electronic and the patient should be able to review it for accuracy (imagine a restaurant that refused to let you see the bill). Patients ought to have access to full knowledge about their health situation and to the most current developments that might affect their survival.
Litigation laws must be reformed to protect doctors and hospitals that voluntarily report their errors. The system will keep lying to itself and to us if the price of honesty is a lawsuit that bankrupts. Some system of balance between the right to sue and the vital importance of honest self-reporting must be found.
Citizens should have the true patient's right to take their tax deductibility and buy their own health insurance if they don't like the HMO or the insurance company their employer has chosen. Group health insurance as a tax-deductible item is an accident of a 1943 wage price decision to help workers without increasing inflation. We do not need to abolish group insurance; we simply need to take the first step of giving workers the right to take their share of the deduction if they disagree with their employer's choice.
The argument that individual insurance is too expensive is simply technologically ignorant. Within a year or two the Internet will allow aggregated individual accounts without agents' commissions (unless state laws artificially block them). If Amazon can sell books then Internet health can sell individual policies at low costs.
Every citizen should be allowed 100% deductibility in buying health insurance so everyone is on an equal footing. In the Age of Transitions every citizen should have their own health insurance and this requires a Fair Care approach of creating a focused tax credit for the working poor. It would also require changing Medicare and Medicaid into vouchered systems to return the power of purchasing health insurance back to individual Americans.
The absurdity of the Health Care Financing Administration's 133,000 pages of regulations and the fact that HCFA continues a paper system when clearly every bill should be electronic (which would save billions of dollars and decrease fraud by allowing patient review of their own record) should be all we need to know to abolish HCFA and replace it with an entrepreneurial model for encouraging the most modern delivery of health and healthcare at the lowest cost.
We should favor doubling the federal science budget as rapidly as possible and across the board. As the public follows events like Michael J. Fox's battle with Parkinson's disease, there is a growing constituency for finding solutions. The movement that recognizes the value of scientific advance and is prepared to make it an extremely high priority will have a vast coalition of people who support that goal. The investment should be broad rather than narrowly focused on the National Institutes of Health because the basic sciences such as math, physics, and chemistry provide the underlying principles and technologies that make possible the scientific advances at NIH. For example, brain sciences require a significant
investment in mathematics and physics to develop the tools to study the human brain as it is operating.
6. Learning Learning is a primary requirement of success in the Age of Transitions. Everyone will have to learn all his or her lives. Our current failure in bureaucratic, government-run education is clearly a threat to our success in the next quarter century. Some key steps need to be taken:
First, learning must be seen as lifetime and wherever possible systems should be learner focused, Internet based and available on a 24/7 basis.
Second, every school should deliver good education or be closed. Children should not be sacrificed for union dues or bureaucratic comfort.
Third, every child deserves a publicly financed education but their parents should determine whether the school is meeting their child's needs and if the school is failing the parents should have the right to send their child to a school (public or private) that they believe will prepare their child for a lifetime of work and citizenship.
Fourth, teachers should have a disciplined environment in which to focus on teaching. Master teachers and star teachers should be paid commercially competitive salaries. Teaching should become an entrepreneurial and missionary endeavor and great teachers should have access to stock options, salaries and bonuses that make teaching a competitive profession again (note the measure is student success not accreditation, certification, years in service, etc.) Startups and companies could be encouraged by tax breaks and changes in SEC rules to donate stock to pools for star and master teachers. The first teacher millionaire who earned the money by education achievement would dramatically change a lot of thinking about
teaching as a profession.
Fifth, colleges and universities are unnecessarily expensive. There are dozens of new technologies and systems in the Age of Transitions that can lower the cost of higher education and make it dramatically more accessible for all Americans. There are virtually no incentives, and a lot of roadblocks and hostilities, to any effort to modernize and rationalize higher education, and yet the cost to the family, the taxpayer, and the student are growing absurd. We should be for better learning, at lower cost, and with greater convenience for all Americans.
7. Safety and National Defense There are at least seven major steps we must take to rebuild America's strength and provide for our security in an increasingly dangerous world:
A. Focus resources on helping Colombia win its war against the drug cartel. Colombia is vastly more important to America's immediate interests than Kosovo or Bosnia and yet we have starved the war in Colombia and ignored the needs of our neighbor. We should undertake all steps necessary to support democracy in Colombia and to destroy the drug cartels' ability to survive in that country.
B. Build a global missile defense system that is capable of protecting our troops on overseas deployments, our allies' cities, and our homeland. Such a system can only work if it is space based. We could someday lose a city or an expeditionary force because the diplomats and the lawyers prevailed over the scientists and the engineers. We should be committed to building the best system we can develop and giving our people and our allies the maximum protection against a limited missile attack.
C. We need a much more sophisticated intelligence capability if we are to monitor terrorist groups, a wide variety of countries, and several emerging centers of power simultaneously. There will be a great need for more human intelligence about terrorists and for more human analysis about complex events. Those who complain that the intelligence agencies overlook things should realize that intelligence is even more thinly stretched than the military and that the requirements of a decentralized real time world have dramatically expanded the burden on the intelligence agencies. We will also have to rethink hiring and salary policies if the intelligence agencies are to have any access to the new sciences that have
attracted venture capital support and priced government out of the market.
D. We must completely overhaul the failed policies of not protecting our secrets. From penetration of the political process by Chinese and Indonesian sources to penetration of the nuclear laboratories by foreign spies to a scathing report by the State Department Inspector General there has been a government-wide failure to protect American secrets. This has to be reversed and American security has to be reestablished.
E. The danger of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical) is so great, and the loss of life would be so major, that a Homeland Defense system must be established to prepare for the health, security, and reconstruction requirements of a terrorist or rogue state attack on one or more American cities using a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon of mass destruction. The danger is greater than people believe and the complications of dealing with such an attack are enormous. A prepared America could save hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of lives. This requires a coordinated effort by the military, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Center for Disease Control, the FBI and
state and local authorities.
F. Research and development should be launched to develop a next generation military and intelligence capability. The Age of Transitions will require a series of leapfrog disruptive technological advances if the United States is to maintain its current lead over the rest of the world. The tendency of all bureaucracies is to focus on risk avoiding incremental change. In a period of dramatic scientific and technological advance that will allow others to catch up with us. Our goal should be to create a bloc obsolescence of the current American defense system and its replacement with a next generation model around 2010 and then a second replacement wave around 2020.
G. The Pentagon remains a massively hierarchical bureaucracy in a world of small venture start-ups. Our goal should be to symbolically reduce the Pentagon to a triangle by eliminating at least forty per cent of the mid level management, decentralizing and returning focus to the forces in the field rather than the bureaucracy in the city.
8. Safety at Home People have every right to demand that government keep them and their families safe. Protecting ourselves from violence is one of the most important obligations of government. In the current setting we need to take three decisive steps toward a safer America. Two of them are short term and the third is long term:
First, we have to focus the resources to win the war on drugs. We have to sharpen the focus on discouraging drug use in America. A decline in drug use has a significant impact on violence and we have all too often focused on almost anything but winning the war on drugs.
Second, the program developed in Richmond, Virginia to lock up felons who are picked up with guns has dramatically lowered the violent crime rate in Richmond. It is a federal program that works without registering guns. By focusing on criminals crime goes down. We will expand the proven success of creating safer cities to every part of the country by focusing on the criminal rather than harassing the innocent. If this program were currently in use across America thousands of innocent people would be safe who will become victims of violent crime due to our failure to expand this program. We will save those citizens and their families by aggressively going after the guilty.
Third, over the long run we have to reintegrate adolescents, and especially adolescent males, into adult society. The Age of Transitions will create many opportunities for young people to be engaged in far more exciting activities than standing on a street corner being led by a peer their own age. This is a longer term solution but in the most violent and lost parts of our culture nothing less than reintegration into healthy relations with adults and opportunities to do real work for real rewards will suffice to keep some young people from decaying into destructive and self destructive behaviors.
9. Scientifically Based Environmentalism The Age of Transitions is going to make possible dramatically more powerful understanding of the environment and of how we can manage our role on the planet to have optimum biodiversity and economic growth. We should pioneer breaking out of the current regulatory-litigious-bureaucratic and political sloganeering approach to the environment and develop a much more powerful and positive model of integrating scientific knowledge into decision making.
Global warming is a perfect example of the gap between scientific knowledge and political rhetoric. Tens of billions of dollars have been allocated for various Kyoto Conference agreements and other measures to "fix" a problem that is considered "conventional wisdom" in the political world. However, we are learning new information every day that casts, at the very least, a reasonable doubt as to how much we actually know about the existence of global warming or its potential causes.
We have just learned, for instance, about a new phenomenon - only 3 years in discovery - called the Pacific Dacadal Oscillation, which scientists believe may put us on the brink of a change in climate patterns that could last 20 or 30 years (Washington Post, 1/20/00). It affects the Pacific Ocean - a third of the earth's surface - and these scientists believe it would take ten years of data before they could "declare with confidence" that they knew what it meant, because it involves fluctuations and reversals in temperature, and has the potential to affect weather from China to the Sahara.
Rather than having an ideological fight over global warming we should insist that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NSF, NASA and the National Academy of Sciences develop a ten-year thorough strategy for dramatically increasing our understanding of weather and climate. Only then will we have the knowledge to make decisions about large changes in the society.
Similarly many of our clean air problems will be solved if hydrogen fuel cell technology continues to develop.
Finally a sophisticated monitoring system for the rain forests, combined with corporate leadership in developing strategies for protecting the rain forests, could lead to a dramatic improvement in their survivability.
These are examples of a more aggressive science and technology, modern management and free enterprise based approach to a healthier environment, greater biodiversity, a growing economy, and expanded freedom.
The Particular Challenge for 2000
For change to be successful in 2000 it is essential that we sincerely and aggressively communicate in ways that are inclusive and not exclusive, particularly with the Hispanic population. Our political system cannot sustain effectiveness without being inclusive. There are two principle reasons this strategy must be pursued:
1. A majority in the Age of Transitions will be inclusive. The American people have reached a decisive conclusion that they want a unified nation with no discrimination, no bias and no exclusions based on race, religion, sex or disability. A party or movement that is seen as exclusionary will be a permanent minority. The majority in the Age of Transitions will have solutions that improve the lives of the vast majority of Americans and will make special efforts to recruit activists from minority groups, to communicate in minority media, and to work with existing institutions in minority communities. For Republicans this will mean a major effort to attract and work with every American of every background. Only a visibly
aggressively inclusive Republican Party will be capable of being a majority in the Age of Transitions.
2. The ultimate arbiter of majority status in the next generation will be the Hispanic community. The numbers are simple and indisputable. If Hispanics become Republican the Republican Party is the majority Party for the foreseeable future. If Hispanics become Democrat the Republican Party is the minority Party for at least a generation. On issues and values Hispanics are very open to the Republican Party. On historic affinity and networking among professional politicians and activist groups Democrats have an edge among Hispanics. There should be no higher priority for American politicians than reaching out to and incorporating Hispanics at every level in every state. Governors George W. and Jeb Bush have proven
Republicans can be effectively inclusive and create a working partnership with Hispanics. Every elected official and every candidate should follow their example.
These are examples of the kind of large changes that are going to be made available and even practical by the Age of Transitions. The movement and Party which first understands the potential of the Age of Transitions, develops an understanding of the operating principles of that Age, applies them to creating better solutions, and then communicates those solutions in the language of everyday life will have a great advantage in seeking to become a stable, governing majority.
This paper outlines the beginning of a process as big as the Progressive Era or the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the Republicans, the New Deal, or the conservative movement of Goldwater and Reagan. This paper outlines the beginning of a journey not its conclusion. It will take a lot of people learning, experimenting, and exploring over the next decade to truly create the inevitable breakthrough.