I am just watching US Senator Barack Obama speaking at Google about his bid to become the next US president . He has announced plans for allowing greater citizen oversight of the government including having all government data in open file formats (a great idea – the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a large amount of data online in Excel format). But his most significant item so far is to have a National CTO (Chief Technology Officer). It’s an idea that seems totally obvious now that I’ve heard it and leaves me wondering why I never thought of it before!
Barack understand technology, wants a functioning democracy, and gets a +5 Insightful from me for the CTO idea!
He also announced a plan to double federal funding for basic scientific research as part of a measure to make the US more competitive with other countries. He mentioned the US standing in the world as a problem (it’s the first mention of this that I’ve heard from anyone in the US government) and notes this as an issue which limits the ability of the US to save lives in regions such as the Darfur. He also claims that there is no clash of civilisations and cites his experience living in a Muslim country as helping to build bridges.
When discussing his reasons for running he said that he believes that he can bring his country together to solve problems better than other candidates. That’s the type of thing you often hear and ignore in political campaigns. It is often difficult to believe that someone wants to be famous and powerful for anything other than the most selfish reasons. But Barack gives me the strong impression that he is genuine.
He stated a plan to shut down Guantanamo bay (presumably just the prison and torture aspect – I’m guessing that he is not intending to close the military base) and to stop “rendition” (sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured).
His plans for education are innovative, as part of educating young children (0-3 years old) he stated an aim to teach parents to read so that they can read to their children! It’s sensible and obvious once you have heard it, but no-one seems to have publicised that idea before. He announced that he will increase teachers’ salaries.
He describes the US as having an “empathy deficit“, it’s obvious to almost everyone outside the US but not something that many people in the US realise.
He wants decisions to be based on facts and is determined to use facts when dealing with health insurance companies.
I just wish that we had some politicians like him in Australia. In terms of policy the Greens politicians would agree with him, but the combination of great policies, insight, and excellent delivery seems a lot better than any of the options in Australia.
Update: Changed the post (including the permalink) to have the correct spelling of Barack. Mental note – double check the spelling of everything in the permalink.