This question and answer at yesterday’s Twitter town hall with President Obama (transcript here) are not to be missed. Listen and learn:
MR. DORSEY: Mr. President, 27 percent of our questions are in the jobs category, as you can see from the screen over here. Our next question has to do about jobs and technology. It comes from David: “Tech and knowledge industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing. Why not be realistic about jobs?”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s not an either/or question; it’s a both/and question. We have to be successful at the cutting-edge industries of the future like Twitter. But we also have always been a country that makes stuff. And manufacturing jobs end up having both higher wages typically, and they also have bigger multiplier effects. So one manufacturing job can support a range of other jobs — suppliers and the restaurant near the plant and so forth. So they end up having a substantial impact on the overall economy.
What we want to focus on is advanced manufacturing that combines new technology, so research and development to figure out how are we going to create the next Twitter, how are we going to create the next Google, how are we going to create the next big thing — but make sure that production is here.
So it’s great that we have an Apple that’s creating iPods, iPads and designing them and creating the software, but it would be nice if we’re also making the iPads and the iPods here in the United States, because that’s some more jobs that people can work at.
And there are going to be a series of decisions that we’ve got to make. Number one, are we investing in research and development in order to emphasize technology? And a lot of that has to come from government. That’s how the Internet got formed. That’s how GPS got formed. Companies on their own can’t always finance the basic research because they can’t be assured that they’re going to get a return on it.
Number two, we’ve got to drastically improve how we train our workforce and our kids around math and science and technology.
Number three, we’ve got to have a top-notch infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing, and we’ve got to look at sectors where we know this is going to be the future. Something like clean energy, for example. For us not to be the leaders in investing in clean energy manufacturing so that wind turbines and solar panels are not only designed here in the United States but made here in the United States makes absolutely no sense. We’ve got to invest in those areas for us to be successful.
So you can combine high-tech with manufacturing, and then you get the best of all worlds.
As Tonto asked the Lone Ranger: “What you mean ‘we,’ kimosabe.”
UPDATE: Catch more of the artist at work here.