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America's 21st Century New Deal

I would like to pose the question of what might a contemporary version of FDR's New Deal. So, a New Deal, for you and me in the internet age. What public works projects would help our country for the next century? My thoughts immediately turn to concepts like massive solar farms (could they work in deserts!?) wind farms, high speed rail, a smarter electrical grid, etc. In a world of 3D Printing what is possible for the infrastructure of a world superpower (and the world too!)

I want people to consider a point too, in how we design infrastructure: The Romans built aqueducts more than 1500 years ago, they can still transport fresh water to people today. Why do we build disposable infrastructure? Is it worth it to save a penny here, as opposed to investing in future safety, stability, and prosperity.

Post your ideas, think outside the box please! No pessimism, just ideas please.

  • Jun 12 2013: Whats with all the hate on TED? Not useful.

    Let me shift the concept from what seems like a Pro v. Con debate on the New Deal of the 1930's, and instead discuss what can be done to improve our infrastructure. What should our goals be regarding energy? How could 3D printing change the way we perceive industry? Please stop arguing like small children and if you don't like what someone else says just ignore it. So, this is no longer a New Deal question but a question of improvement of our country, something that interests us all. If you'd like to post any good TED talks on the subject please do.

    I did not post this so I could watch people tear each other down; Grow up.
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      Jun 13 2013: You can go in and edit the thread intro if you like, since it is your thread, if you want to shift the focus.
  • Jun 12 2013: I would set a goal of ridding education of all remnants of the "Factory Model" which became the norm in the Industrial Revolution and would bank the future on a model optimized for the Information Age by 2025. Education can be turned into a giant lab where kids produce "intelligence" and grow the future. They will be in ideal seats to know what the priorities should be regarding infrastructure and energy. I don't even think most of us are qualified to dictate priorities given that we came though the "factory". So, facilitating change would start with giving the next generation the commission to LEAD US (rather than the other way around).
  • Jul 8 2013: I'm not sure how 3D printing would play a part, but a project I'd really like to see (perhaps as a TED competition) is how to retrofit the millions of 'disposable' post-WWII tract homes for more sustainability. Mike Reynolds (of Earthship fame) did a little with this, but there doesn't seem to have been much traction for it.

    Rooftop solar has made a good start, but given that most of the energy usage is in heating/cooling the space, it would be more efficient to lighten that load in the first place. Current insulation is useful, but not enough, and the standard designs often don't make any use of natural ventilation or lighting. Similarly, most of our water use goes to irrigation, and we don't use rainwater catchment for that...and we could. Particularly given that 80% of the population lives in cities, it seems almost criminal that we don't.

    All of those concepts could be modified for use in larger, public or commercial buildings, of course. But given the huge number of residential subdivisions that are now at the 50 to 60 year mark, and seriously needing repair, it would seem a good investment for both the individuals and the society as a whole to find a way to make those structures last a lot longer, rather than having to tear them down, lose the embodied value/cost, and start entirely over.
  • Jun 12 2013: James, I appreciate your insight into the structure of education, I'm assuming you've seen a Ken Robinson talk or two?
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    Jun 11 2013: more and more economists agree that the new deal elongated the great depression which otherwise would have been over in a few years. i certainly agree to that notion. in this light, wanting a new new deal sounds not the way to go.
  • Jun 11 2013: Those who want to and did lower wages don't want to raise taxes. Doesn't make sense to me. Expect higher taxes or more hungry people.
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    Jun 11 2013: My idea of a new deal that would work is to cut government in half, get rid of all subsidies, stop all military expenditures except for actual defense, disband all public unions, get the goverment out of the healthcare business completely (there would have to be a transition), out of the retirement business completely (there would have to be a transition). Get rid of the alphabet soup of government agencies such as the department of energy, fed education, vouchers for public education, farm bureau, etc etc

    There would be a boom to the economy and the standard of living.
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        Jun 11 2013: You are speaking from a Keynesian perspective.

        Government jobs do not create value because no one would pay for what those jobs produce because the jobs are not created by market demand in either price or the product they produce. As a result they do not contribute to economic activity.

        This is what happened during the Great Depression and is occurring now. FDR thought as you did and created lots of government jobs and the economy stayed in a recession for 15 years just like now with Obama. The corollary is when Calvin Coolidge cut the government by 50% and turned the recession of 1920 (you probably have never heard of the great recession of 1920) into the roaring 20's.

        I will not debate this with you. If you are interested go to the Mises institute web site, there are a plenty of articles about this subject.
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        Jun 12 2013: You have NO idea what you are talking about. I'm not going to spend countless posts demonstrating your ignorance on this subject as after thoroughly discrediting everyone of your memes you will still say yea but.

        You do not know basic economics.
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          Jun 12 2013: Pat, maybe a link to a specific article on the Mises Institute website would be fruitful if it is simple enough for you to find and link. Conversations often have silent readers who are following along to learn but do not enter the debate themselves because they are not well-acquainted with the subject.

          Just a thought.
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        Jun 12 2013: Lamar on the off chance you care to get your head out of your ass this would be quite educational, but I doubt you can do this

        To all others these links are recommended as these are couple of quality dudes the complete opposite of Lamar: