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Feedback On Dave's End of Year Sermon
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 21:40:30 -0500

Please see my note at the end


Dave
_____________________________________


Dave,


Your end of year note made me reflect a little on why we
are so apathetic. I'm in my 30's now, and like many of my
colleagues in Silicon Valley, not very nationalistic. Every
entreprenuer I know takes the view that going offshore is
okay if it is cheaper, and furthermore they are not
involved in the public policy debates to keep R&D here.  As
far as I can tell, they rarely think of giving much back to
the system that provided the environment for their success,
or what would happen w/out a tax base to support the people
who are not skilled enough or motiviated enough to work.
I'm not proud of this, but its true.


I believe that what you predict, the U.S. losing its
leadership in R&D, will probably come to pass. Especially
since the Cold War model of funding for R&D has largely
dried up, and the Info Highway is replacing it as the
reason for investment. (Politically shaky ground to base a
national future infrastructure on compared to the age old
national defense reason -- because there is no single
bipartisan vision.)


If what you fear comes true, and U.S. technology leadership
goes away, the jobs our children have may not resemble
those of our generations'. They may be working for U.S.
branches of companies based elsewhere. Or they may be doing
jobs that are not even contributing to the consumer
society.  (Not a bad thing per se.)


Our generation's apathy (even worse for Generation X) may
be partly due to the fact that we have not lived through a
world war... We want the believe in a global economy and to
believe we will live in one small peaceful planet like
cyberspace, even at the cost of a continued decline in the
U.S. economy.  "Who cares WHERE they work" can be heard a
lot. This is a major shift, and the technology you helped
create will enable it for the first time in history.  Cold
War inventors are a bit like Einstein after the bomb in
reverse, hoping we don't use peace to destroy life as we
know it!


The question we need to grapple with is whether we can make
this shift to a global economy without major upheaval as
the tax base declines.


It is a good time to rexamine why we do what we do. Matthew
Fox has written a good book on this topic called
_Reinventing Work_.  It is about creating jobs in areas
where work is needed, as opposed to demanding of our govt
that we hang onto old industries and old nationalistic,
models of industry and research.


Technology leadership will come from all over the world.
Technology itself has enabled this. We have problems to
deal with locally and nationally as we make the shift.  But
the answer is not keeping it all here - it is finding new
models of work for all sorts of Americans in the global
economy so we have a tax base at home.


Sally Atkins




Sally Atkins (415) 723-4076




____________________________


To: satkins () lindy stanford edu (Sally Atkins)
From: farber () cis upenn edu (David Farber)
Subject: Re: A bit more (last I promise) on my Year end editorial


Sally,


My guess is that we will end up with a society that is
dangerously split between those who do well in the agrarian
society you envision and those who are trapped in endless
poverty and who eventually will either fight and give us
endless Watts or be quiet and starve (bet is on the
former). Also a society which drifts toward more central
and powerful and isolated government. It aint the US we
know


Dave


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