Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Obama stimulus plan smells a bit funny

Hey, don't get me wrong, I think we need a stimulus plan, and I think Obama's on the right track. But when I watched his address last week, it had a funny smell to it. It was odd to me that he was emphasizing broadband, taking all medical records electronic, and getting computers in every classroom.

And then I remembered Eric Schmidt standing there behind Obama as part of his economic team, and if I were Eric Schmidt, I would see these kinds of government investments as pure manna from heaven.

I actually like the idea of making broadband generally available, so that everyone has access to it. That sounds like a good thing. But is that truly a priority? What happened to the greening of our infrastructure? I didn't hear a peep about that.

Then there's this thing about getting computers in every classroom. I hope they're not thinking that in and of itself will make our kids smarter and more competitive. I'm a computer guy, but I personally don't believe that computers necessarily make for smart and self-sufficient kids. I do know they can easily make kids who are hyper-restless and unable to focus, and kids who sit around all day staring into computers and video games.

Human beings live in a body, and working with a computer all the time (I speak from grim experience) takes you "out of the body." The body is key to learning, and computers (and TVs) remove all need for the body to be engaged, so what you get is shallow learning. No, I don't have data to back it up. My blog, my opinion.

I just wish I had seen a more balanced proposal to improve education, instead of focusing on broadband and computers. Why not more investment in science and research? Why not more investment into music and the arts, which allow for a more rounded and creative populus? And again, why the focus on computers, when there are so many other things we can focus on?

And what's this about medical records? Why is that important to our economy, and more importantly, why does it take top billing in his weekly address? But one thing I know: Google has been very interested in medical records.

Silicon Valley has been behind Barack Obama in a big way. In general I think that's a great thing, and in general I believe Obama is a huge, huge improvement to what we have had for the last eight years-plus. But when I see stuff like this, I just sigh. The whole thing smells to me of the same old politics, sorry...

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