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Newt Gingrich on Technology

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


NASA bureaucrats hijacked the great space adventure

One of the great disappointments of my life has been the hijacking of the great space adventure by the NASA bureaucracy. Space should be an area in which American innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship are producing constant breakthroughs that increase our economic capability, improve our quality of life, and raise our prestige around the world. Instead, space has been hijacked by dull, inefficient, and unimaginative bureaucracies and transformed into an expensive, risk-adverse, and sad undertaking.

I propose a dramatically bolder approach. NASA currently has plans to spend twenty years getting to Mars at a cost estimated of up to $450 billion. A very significant amount of that time and money will be spent studying, planning, and thinking. We would get much further much faster if we simply established two prizes: a tax-free $5 billion prize for the first permanent lunar base and a tax-free $20 billion prize for the first team to get to Mars and back.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.187-191 Dec 18, 2007

Establish three high-speed rail corridors; NY-MA; FL; & CA

The French & Japanese have made substantial investments in creating high-speed rail corridors. The Chinese are now following their lead. The US has 3 corridors that are very conducive to this kind of high-speed train investment. We could build a system between Boston and Washington; from Miami to Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville; and from San Diego to San Francisco.

There are three problems with trying to build high-speed systems in the US and, not surprisingly, all three relate to government.

  1. Union work rules make it impossible, at least if Amtrak has anything to do with it.
  2. Pork barrel politicians waste money subsidizing absurdly uneconomic routes
  3. Regulations and litigation involved in large-scale construction have become time- consuming and expensive.
I support a 21st century rail system that is privately built, run efficiently, and capable of earning its own way. The US should have a railroad system that works for us, and not for the Amtrak bureaucracy and their unions.
Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.211-212 Dec 18, 2007

Invest in scientific revolutions: energy, space, environment

[We can meet] the triple economic challenges of an explosion in technological knowledge, an increasingly competitive world market, and the rise of China & India by implementing:
  1. A new system of civil justice to reduce the burden of lawsuits and to incentivize young people to go into professions other than the law.
  2. A dramatically simplified tax code that favors savings, entrepreneurship, investment, & constant modernization of equipment & technology.
  3. Math & science education [that encourages] young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully with other well-educated societies.
  4. Investing in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world--particularly in energy, space, & environment.
  5. Transforming health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org, “Issues” Sep 1, 2007

Focus on investing in science and discovery

To meet the challenge of investing in science & discovery, I believe we should focus on the following areas:
  1. Math & science education: We must fundamentally change the way we educate our children about science & discovery, to produce more math & science students.
  2. Increased funding for the NSF (National Science Foundation): Increase annual funding from $4.7 billion to $15 billion
  3. We must fund large-scale marquee projects like Internet-based astronomical data and collected.
  4. High priority for CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  5. Mobilize a movement in favor of scientific research
  6. Space: space exploration has a proven record of achieving major scientific breakthroughs.
climatology data.
  • Reserve room in science budgets for non-traditional research because peer review is ultimately a culturally conservative and risk-adverse model.
  • Prizes to advance science like the $25,000 prize Charles Lindbergh
    Source: Saving Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.180-189 Sep 22, 2003

    Nanotechnology combined with biotech will transform society

    We are living through two patterns of change. The first is the enormous computer and communications revolution. We are at most only 1/5 of the way through it. The second, only now beginning to rise, is the combination of nanotechnology, biology, and information.

    Nanotechnology allows us to “grow” materials by literally adding the right atoms and molecules to one another--a material technology breakthrough that changes the way we build things and how much they weigh. One example is that nanotechnology makes possible molecular “helpers” which could hunt cancer cells or clean clogged arteries.

    The information revolution (computers and communications) impacts this technology in exponential ways, giving us better capabilities to deal with the nanoworld and with biology. It is the synergistic effect of these three systems together--nanotechnology multiplied by biology multiplied by information--that will lead to an explosion of new knowledge and new capabilities.

    Source: Savings Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.173-177 Sep 22, 2003

    Supports federal investment in space for science & discovery

    Space exploration has a proven record of achieving major scientific breakthroughs that directly affect our lives both from the research that takes place in space and the process itself. Some of the most important research being done anywhere on nanotechnology is carried out by NASA.

    Space exploration has also been the most successful vehicle for translating the need to invest in science and discovery to the American people. It is a visible, tangible, results-oriented program that instills national pride and helps us quickly understand why research is important. There is something magical about space exploration that microscopes and lab coats cannot convey.

    The NASA community is aware of how incredibly important it is to continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge and its benefits to our society, starting of course with the astronauts themselves.

    Source: Saving Lives and Saving Money, by Newt Gingrich, p.189 Sep 22, 2003

    Statistical adjustment of census begets political adjustment

    The Constitution requires the census for apportioning House seats and other offices. And population patterns figure in the formulas for distributing federal money. The Founding Fathers intended that the census should be an actual count of people. The expression in the Constitution is “actual enumeration.”

    It is almost certainly those in poor neighborhoods who get undercounted. The liberal Democrats have been proposing that we eliminate the present system altogether and substitute for it something they call “statistical adjustment.” Under this system, the census would count only 90% of the people. Then a statistical adjustment would be made to get to 100%. Republicans are committed to what the Constitution says. A statistical adjustment would be unconstitutional. In addition, we are convinced that “statistical” adjustment will inevitably lead to “political” adjustment. The incentive to corrupt the census adjustment process would be virtually beyond limit.

    Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p.136-38 Jul 2, 1998

    Television is the wasteland of cynicism

    Gingrich is fond of putting himself in the place of the inner-city seven-year-old, a child used to violence, in a home without books, and, in too many cases, an unhappy young mother. The child watches television programs that portray businessmen as evil, politicians on the take, and policemen taking bribes. (He calls television "the wasteland of cynicism.") "If you're a little kid today who reads too much or speaks English that's too good, you get beaten up."
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 53 Jun 1, 1995

    Televise Congress: "C-Span is more real than being there"

    C-Span, the cable industry's cooperative network, had been televising Congress since the year Gingrich arrived in Washington. Gingrich understood that an overwhelming number of C-Span viewers were voters. In a memorable line to Atlanta reporters, Gingrich said, "C-Span is more real than being there."
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.103 Jun 1, 1995

    Tax credit for inner-city computers: "Let them eat laptops"

    Gingrich's appetite for wide-ranging ideas--a sort of political version of "grazing" restaurants that specialize in light plates over sumptuous main courses--has led the intellectual class to dismiss him, despite his doctorate on European history from Tulane University. One Atlanta columnist was fond of using "loopy" to describe Gingrich's menu of interests and solutions. Even the Speaker himself is capable of recognizing his scattergun approach. "Maybe it's a nutty idea," he told the House Ways and Means Committee in January 1995, after mentioning that all policy options needed to be up for discussion, including a tax credit for laptop computers for very inner-city child. "Let them eat laptops," replied the opinion writers.
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 12 Jun 1, 1995

    Co-founded Congressional Space Caucus

    When Gingrich went to Congress in 1979, he focused on national defense, foreign policy, and the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars"). Ever the futurist, Gingrich co-founded the Congressional Space Caucus, leading critics to dub him "the congressman from outer space."

    In "Window of Opportunity," Gingrich wrote: "Imagine that the National Security Council had understood that an America which aggressively moved ahead in space would overawe the Russians. Imagine that business and individual leaders had been far-sighted enough to understand that a space industry would spin off earth-based jobs, using satellite antennas, new medicines, large surfaces and zero-gravity alloys. Finally, imagine a generation of educators who understood that young people need inspiration to motivate them to learn math and science, and that space was the adventure most likely to produce young Americans anxious to master these technical fields so essential to our survival."

    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 40-41 Jun 1, 1995

    Abolish tax deferral for media sales to minorities

    In January, 1995, Republicans in the House moved to strike a 17-year-old preference in broadcast law that allowed station and cable system owners to defer capital gains from the sale of a property if it were sold to minorities. Murdoch's Fox Television Stations division was trying to sell its WATL-TV in Atlanta to a minority group financed by the Chicago Tribune Company. He stood to defer some $30 million in taxes through the sale. After the House killed the program, an exemption for Murdoch and the Tribune Company, was inserted in the Senate bill by Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois. Her amendment was approved in a House-Senate conference committee. Gingrich said he was opposed to the amendment and wanted the program abolished altogether, but th House was powerless to negotiate the one exemption away. President Clinton said he would refuse to veto the bill for much the same reason--it was a sound measure overall.
    Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p.200 Jun 1, 1995

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    Page last updated: May 28, 2011