Innovation in The State of the Union

Obama hammered on innovation throughout his State of the Union. Mostly he meant technological innovation, and to a certain extent, innovation in education. But nothing about social innovation. Republicans fired back that government innovation is an oxymoron. Really? The Columbia River Hydro System? The Manhattan Project?  (OK, maybe you don’t like those two, but nevertheless…) Vaccines? The Interstate Highway System? Transistors and much of the computer industry? Landing a man on the moon? The internet? The graphical user interface? And much, much more, all brought to us in large part thanks to your federal government.

The fact is that innovation is all around us, in communities, in business, and yes, even in government. The trick is to encourage useful innovation, and to ignore the trivial (salad shooters) and discourage the harmful (mortgage-backed securities, leveraged debt swaps).

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