Friday, July 11, 2014

Breakout by Newt Gingrich

I found the book Breakout by Newt Gingrich both exciting and frustrating. He details the amazing innovation taking place in the world today. That’s the exciting part. Then he describes the opposition trying to kill the wonderful advances being made simply because they threaten the status quo. He makes a powerful case that the bureaucratic and regulatory apparatus has become a stagnating and retrogressive instrument. Notice the most highly regulated areas, health care, education, and transportation are the least innovative.

He states his thesis: Even as pioneering scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs apply their genius and industry to overcoming some of our most serious problems, there are institutions, interests, and individuals hard at work to thwart this breakout.

This is a fight, he believes, not between right and left, but between the future and the past. Will we stayed mired in the old and regulated to death (sometimes literally as we will see) or will we move forward into a future filled with innovative and almost miraculous solutions.

Onto the good news. And the bad.

Education: The internet has provided an unbelievably new way to teach and deliver education around the world using the best methods and teacher available. Khan academy is doing just that. The educational blob would love to see Khan and his ilk killed in the cradle so as not to disrupt their monopoly.

Medicine: We have the technology to personalize medical like never before. 3D printers are able to print human organs! Cell phones can test you and transmit medical information to your doctor. New drugs are being developed that show surprisingly effective levels of treatment. But you will die waiting for these innovations if the FDA has it’s way. Either they require enormously expensive testing taking time and resources or they have no way to test it at all therefore some of these discoveries will never be approved. 

Energy: Fracking is changing the face of energy in this country in previously unimaginable ways. We have access to enough oil and gas to power us into the distant future. Yet the Luddites are doing all they can to end this fracking revolution and get us away from fossil fuel.

Transportation: Self. Driving. Cars. Hallelujah! I can’t wait! To be able to read/sleep/talk on my phone while driving 100mph - glorious. Letting your car drop you off at work, take your kids to school, go pick up your husband, then take you out to dinner. Imagine! No parking problems. The car drops you off and parks itself miles away, then comes when you call it! But how can the Dept. of Transportation even begin to consider such a thing. The regulations for self-driving cars don’t exist. And driverless cars will never fit in their rubric. Not to mention the salivating lawyers. Sigh. How are we ever going to get the flying cars the Jetsons promised us if we can’t even figure out how to put a self-driving car on the market?
Space: We are in the embarrassing position of having to buy seats on foreign space craft for American astronauts. To meet this challenge, the private market is offering prize money to private firms that can send a man into space. And the challenge has been met at far lower costs than the political and bureaucratic NASA could do it for. In fact, offering prize money is a great way to spark all kinds of innovation. Rather than wasting billions of dollars, the government could give it away to private innovators and wait and see what happens! 

Government: Stacks of rule are stifling inventions in many areas. In fact the regulatory state, built up over the last 60 years, is now costing the average American family $277,000 annually. This means the median income should e $330,000 a year. Regulation comes with a cost. The paralyzing behemoth that is our government has broken down in competency, common sense, and the rule of law. We need to destroy the beast and decentralize power. Ordinary American citizen need to be empowered to make decision that affect them. He tells of a story where a tree fell in a stream backing it up and threatening to flood the town. The simple, common sense plan to remove the tree was thwarted when it was discovered that approval from a federal bureaucrat was needed before the tree could be removed. Does this even make sense??

Poverty: American compassion has resulted in more poverty. This is an area in deep need of breakout in the correctional system, housing, and welfare.

America is capable and poised to see many more breakout if only we will not let the “prison guards of the past” cripple us.

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