Sputnik vs Spudnut: One of these things in not like the other

Predrag Boksic | perceptron
Ever want to punch yourself in the metaphorical nuts? Check out Sarah Palin's facebook page, where she communicates with her hordes of slobbering followers. The latest missive is entitled Sputnik vs Sputnut, and is a direct response to Obama's State of the Union.
"Now, in a recent interview I mentioned analogies that could relate to solutions to our economic challenges, including the difference between a communist government’s “Sputnik” and the private sector’s “Spudnut.” The analogies I mentioned obviously aren’t comparable in size, but highlight a clear difference in economic focus: big government command and control economies vs. America’s small businesses...

I believe and trust in the strength of America’s private sector. But I sometimes fear that the current administration in Washington distrusts or discounts the individuals who have built this country; hence their belief that only a distant bureaucratic elite in D.C. can make decisions for our small businesses that will provide American opportunity. This administration’s thinking is wrong. We don’t need a command and control economy that “invests” our money in their half-baked ideas. We need freedom, reward for hard work, and a re-invigorated sense of personal responsibility and work ethic, especially among our young people."
Well, I'm not an expert (wait, I am an expert), but let me put it this way. One of these things is a national endeavor that pushed the known limits of science and engineering, explored the universe, demonstrated national prestige and power, inspired a generation, lead to whole new industries, and produced an immense degree of wealth through commercial spin-offs, while the other one is a donut made with potato flour.

I don't agree with the necessity for freedom, rewards, a sense of personal responsibility, and work ethic, and that the young are the future, but magic ingredient in the tasty fried concoction* that is our future is vision. Because small business owners think on their scale, they think small. Yes, Google and Apple and Facebook and so on, but the government built the internet, the government funded the science that made the microprocessor possible, and I guarantee you that the government will have a hefty hand in whatever comes next. And as for our young people, while apparently Sarah Palin herself isn't actually anti-education, calls to eliminate the Department of Education, no national standards or nonsensical, mechanistic national standard, and making the quality of a school entirely related to the wealth of the surrounding neighborhood, creating generational cycles of poverty, is not the way to go about it. Businesses don't have the long-term vision, incentives, or capabilities to ensure America's prosperity into the future. I can't guarantee that large scale Federal projects will save this country, but I can ensure you that to reflexively squash them all is to doom us to mediocrity.

*(damn you spudnut, you've made me hungry, and all the donut shops are closed now)


  1. I'm surprised that we're taking on Palin. I thought the philosophy was to ignore her and she will go away ?

    Its worth noting ( though I only scanned the article ) that Palin's essay would be convincing to someone who lacked a rudimentary grasp of science and economic policy. Its easier to construct a convincing argument than a correct argument. This makes me wonder how many times we've been guilty of a similar crime here on WeAlone ( my post on "3D printers aren't all that great" comes to mind ).

  2. We have a philosophy?

    You're probably right, but I sincerely hope that people will recognize that one of these things is (quite literally) rocket science, and the other one is not, and that there is a difference.

    What exactly do you mean by "3D printers aren't that great" as a bad post? I think it maybes a great anodyne to (http://www.economist.com/node/18114327?Story_ID=18114327&CFID=156120896&CFTOKEN=67140740). 3D printing requires a lot of supervision and tweaking, and it seems like that will remain a basic condition of the tech.

  3. I meant the philosophy of liberal America was to ignore Palin until she goes away. She's like a mythical creature that will cease to exist once we stop believing she exists.

    I've elaborated on the 3D printing note in a new post.