In a recent Motion Monitor eNewsletter, we asked whether or not a new President will be able to make a difference on matters that affect engineers. Here's what some of you had to say.
Engineers face critical choice
Whoever is elected President will greatly affect the future for engineers:
If McCain is elected, we'll continue the same policies as the Bush administration — with no significant economic changes. McCain's objective is to keep the wealth in the hands of those who have it now. There will be no new initiatives to give opportunities to emerging industries or technologies. Foreign policy will be based on U.S. self-interest and intimidation. What this means for engineers is less opportunities in the U.S. for new growth markets and technologies such as solar, wind power, battery, and other new energy-related fields. Defense spending will grow because McCain's policies will escalate military conflict and engineers will have opportunities here.
If Obama is elected, efforts will be made to move this country forward. Developing new energy technologies will be promoted and there will be new opportunities for engineers in this field. Tax credits will be given for the development of other new technologies as well, providing further opportunities for engineers. Defense will still be strong, but spending will not escalate to the same degree as under McCain, so in this industry there will be fewer opportunities for engineers.
In short, engineers have the choice of electing a President who will provide opportunities to develop weapons of war or to engineer new technologies for peace. Which opportunities do you prefer?
Obama is wild card
I am not that crazy about McCain, but there is no doubt that he has to win the election. Obama is inexperienced, unknown, and much more of a wild card than McCain; I fear for our economy and defense. With a Democratic house and senate, it will be a nightmare.
Hopeless in St. Pete
I am convinced that our next president “will be able to make a difference on matters that affect all of us.” Just like George W. Bush did. There will be lots of changes — all for the worse. Both McCain and Obama are simply Bush III or Clinton II in different packaging. I work for a small engineering and OEM firm that has no contracts with any government agencies. No matter who is in charge, the federal government will continue its crusade to put small companies out business. I have voted in every election for the last 30 years, but I probably will not vote this year — or ever again. I've finally come to my senses and realized that our lords and masters don't care about the American people.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
No new taxes
Ongoing Wars: Does it really matter who is elected? Generations of Muslims are raised to hate the infidels who happen to be the Western civilization. The only difference between now and the last several centuries is that we are fighting them on their front. No matter who is elected, they cannot and will not turn their back on Israel. Everyone must remember that we haven't had a terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001. One can argue that Middle Easterners are too busy fighting us in their land. If we pull out of Iraq too early, there will be major consequences, such as creating a breeding ground for more terrorism.
We should, however, make the Iraqi government more responsible for the cost of the war and rebuilding efforts. Iraq is experiencing unprecedented profits from the increased price of oil. McCain is much better equipped to handle this area of the world. Obama is fooling himself and a large percentage of the world population if he thinks he can use diplomacy in Iran. Sanctions are the only nonviolent means.
Sagging Economy: Increasing taxes on big business will continue the economic decline. Increasing the government's involvement will also prove ineffective and more than likely destructive. We live in a free enterprise system and we are in a business cycle. It will correct itself over time. Small business makes up 60% of the workforce in the state of Washington. Tax increases on small business owners only lead to hardship resulting in layoffs and less overall tax revenue. Low unemployment needs to be the focus.
Price of food and fuel: It is ludicrous to exclude these two items from the inflationary rate. In the near term, increase offshore drilling and in the long term, provide tax incentives for alternative fuel research, development, and production. Biodiesel using corn, for example, will kill the supply chain for livestock feed and human consumption. This drives the price up, as does the cost of transport.
Job security: See sagging economy above. Basically, tax increases will result in higher unemployment. If I were employed in aerospace or defense and Obama gets elected, I would be very concerned.
Obama reminiscent of JFK
As an independent voter, I try to assess each candidate based on the following: professed positions and opinions, track record (votes, speeches), poise, intelligence, lack of ideological rigidity, and the ability to convey ideas in unscripted situations, hold meaningful discussions on critical topics, and think through a problem logically and objectively. This list is based on the philosophical considerations expressed in The Federalist Paper No. 10, as well as experience and observations.
I am greatly encouraged by Barack Obama on all counts, particularly when compared to John McCain. In many ways, Obama is reminiscent of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in his intelligence, poise, oratorical skills, and ability to reason through problems. John McCain is not. That said, no President can single-handedly turn around a bad economy or bolster science or change society. What a good President can do, however, is bring citizens together and perhaps change the tone of discourse within the country. We need that more than anything. The visceral and vicious partisanship of the last decade-and-a-half has been truly counterproductive.
Given the critical factors facing the U.S. today, we need a President who is capable of clear thought, who is principled but not rigid, and who is open to ideas and will consider them as objectively as he can. Obama is the clear choice. I would expect such things as prejudicial hiring throughout the Federal agencies to cease, for political contraventions of scientific conclusions to be banned, and for a better dialogue to begin.
Prizes foster invention
Obama's belittling of McCain's idea to establish a prize for whoever comes up with a breakthrough battery for practical electric cars is a telltale sign of Obama's novice rating for motivating talent, and his lack of knowledge regarding the history of American technology development. DARPA recently found some million-dollar winners and a working design for their autonomous vehicle contest.
Both the U.S. and Europe have experienced a number of successful prize-driven technology advances. The new auto replacement program will need a new technology. Hybrids are not the answer; they are temporary design kluges. Can you imagine the maintenance costs for two power systems in one, plus the interface system? We need new technology. The best way to motivate the people who can do it is to establish a long term Super Prize to anyone in the world who can lead us to the answer — a Design Patent. McCain has my vote.
Wanted: Thought before action
There is no doubt that Mr. Obama is the best choice. He can unite the country, is very smart, and thinks before he acts. His decisions should be well researched and not “gut feel” hunches. On the other hand, Mr. McCain will only continue the disastrous policies of the administration that owns the most negative national statistics in our history. Thanks to Mr. Bush, we have lost 8 years work on global warming, run up a bankrupting national debt, waged warfare on a weak country that never harmed us, and lost our good name in the world. Thanks to this administration, our children will curse us for being so shortsighted and reckless. I do not know if Mr.Obama will win, but we better hope he does.
Donald B. Patterson, P.E.
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