Interesting piece on Pittsburgh in the Times yesterday. Made me think about growing up in Houston during and after the oil boom. Houston remade itself much the same way Pittsburgh has, by reducing dependence on a single industry and diversifying into cleaner, more sustainable industries, like computers, education and healthcare. While for both cities there was a ton of painful dislocation, both have emerged as much better places to live and work. Obama and the circus they call Congress should make a concerted effort to do for the nation what these cities have done for themselves.
Investment, government or private, into "green" technology (and I don't mean ethanol from corn, I mean genuinely beneficial stuff), healthcare and education are critical and will pay dividends for decades. Tax the shit out of oil if you don't want the gov't spending money, so that the "market" will be incented to develop the technology. We need a coherent approach and not to rely on the fits and starts of the price of a barrel of West Texas Light Sweet Crude. Provide for universities to really ramp up their research. Do it in places that are currently dependent on a single, or precious few, industries that do not have real good prospects (automakers in Michigan come to mind). Give EMU a boatload of cash to start a fuel cell research center. Retrain the auto workers to be the labor for these new industries. Gamma Boy's take on college as an investment notwithstanding, let's do something about it.
If we take the examples of H-town and the 'Burgh as our map, we should be able to develop something thoughtful and coherent that makes solid, lasting improvements to peoples' lives and to the economy.