Government offers seed money for innovation
The Republican Party cannot do anything significant to boost economic development in East Kentucky for a very simple reason: They don't believe in public policies that might work.
They say government needs to concentrate on better schools and leave the rest to the marketplace. That method usually doesn't work because markets are blind and repeatedly take the suboptimal path-dependent course.
Much as the GOP denies it, government research in areas such as defense, public health, climate conditions and information systems has historically led to innovations that yield benefits to the private sector.
Take, for example, federal government research into shale technologies about 30 years ago, when the Morgantown Energy Research Center began the Eastern Gas Shale Project, which eventually worked out the basics of shale extraction.
About the same time, the Department of Energy was developing 3D mapping.
We exalt Silicon Valley but don't remember that the Internet was preceded by the ARPANET, or that the iPhone inherited essential research into touch screens and artificial intelligence from the Defense Department.
Government commits to serious spending at the beginning of the innovation process when risks are high. Everyone knows that markets would not dare tread into that field.
Pett's turn to shine
Now is the time. Worldwide media must respond. The blood of those who died for this freedom require those who make profit from it to stand up and do their part. Rouse Joel Pett up and turn him loose. From time to time, he is capable of really good stuff. This is his chance of a lifetime to shine.
Beware the new treaty
Right now big banking, software, pharmaceutical and tobacco corporations are lobbying our government to negotiate the dirtiest deal you've never heard of. The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations took place in Washington D.C this month. TPP is a massive agreement that sets up new regulations for the economy. It will affect our standard of living, our ability to make a living wage and our lives in negative ways.
The reason you haven't heard about this agreement is because major corporations and government officials, including our Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, don't want you to know what's in the deal, such as food safety standards, environmental protections and local labor laws.
But the scariest part of the TPP deal is that it gives corporations the power to sue our government over laws that hinder corporations' business and profit.
Let your government know that trade agreements that affect our lives so drastically should not be discussed behind closed doors and any and all agreements that take power away from the people and give it to money-hungry companies should never see the light of day.
Be bold, save energy
I was born and raised in the "Athens of the West." Lexington has always represented the best of both old and progressive Kentucky to me.
However, after moving to California, it is evident my hometown and state have far to go.
The most stark difference, other than beautiful and consistent landscaping of public spaces, is the seemingly pervasive sustainable energy production, both municipal and private. Municipal buildings and parking structures and awnings are solar paneled, and many private homes employ solar energy to lower grid dependence to 1965 cost levels.
The degree to which private business is embracing post-installation, cost-free energy is astounding when compared to other states.
It would do Lexington's taxpayers well to prod the Urban County Council to adopt an aggressive energy initiative. Taxpayer dollars are being spent on purchasing electricity from Kentucky Utilities when more free energy falls from the sky most days than the entire state uses.
The council can continue to waste tax dollars, padding the bank accounts of wealthy investors, or it can be bold. One thing is most assured, the sun will always rise.
San Jose, Calif.