Last week: Governor Scott is asking Florida businesses the best way to return taxes to residents and fuel further economic growth. Eliminate the sales tax on commercial leases. Invest in the reform of the homeowner’s insurance market. Target and eliminate Medicaid fraud. Continue reforming automobile insurance and support Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Atwater’s efforts to hold insurers accountable.
Looking ahead: Recent reports tell us we are not creating enough jobs to build strength into the economic recovery, and those jobs that are created are not in the technology field. Focus on investing in meaningful education reforms, retraining efforts for under-employed people and supporting business infrastructure.
Last week: This week I attended the City of Deerfield Beach’s first budget hearing, and I encourage all South Florida residents – renters and property owners – to attend their respective city and county meetings. Doing so is the only way to make our governments of the people, for the people. Local governments control most of your local property tax bills, and impact the way you live your life and run your business. Attend and make sure our elected representatives are making South Florida the best possible destination for people, families and businesses which will transform our economy.
Looking ahead: The unfolding events at Fukushima, Japan, mystify me. There are unfortunately several other communities that have suffered catastrophic damage to nuclear reactors – Three Mile Island and Chernobyl to name but two – surely these and the IAEA, the US and the French authorities could advise the Japanese on how to remediate. At bare minimum the Japanese government should take charge: this is no longer a local emergency but a national disaster and international threat that will impact travel, energy production, food stocks and several other industries immeasurably.
Last week: A little talk about movement is taking shape: we are slowly realizing that we live in a region and not just cities or a county. Our 3 county leaders now meet on issues of mutual interest; the Urban Land Institute has been working to develop a framework to address our regional challenges; and with issues like the pollution of the Indian River Lagoon from outflows from Lake Okeechobee, individuals are recognizing the need for regional solutions. I am 100 percent in favor of regional approaches, and I encourage others to get involved.
Looking ahead: Come October the political elite will again be blaming each other for the huge deficits we currently run, and dodge serious discussion of how to fix them. The National Association for Business Economics found that 43 percent of its surveyed members are more concerned with the long-term deficit, stretching into the 2020s and 2030s, than they are about the problems in the next 10 years. Many economists state that we need both spending restraint as well as increased revenue in order to cure our budget shortfalls.
Last week: Water use, water quality and stewardship of our unique natural environment really need to be better understood by the general public. Sen. Joe Negron is leading legislative investigations, which is good, and Florida Atlantic Unversisty has deep insight to the causes and solutions that should be heard and promoted.
Next week: Ethics in business, ethics in public policy. We need to train people to be in positions of authority, making sure everyone knows the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. Clear repercussions should be spelled out for transgressors.
Last week: Our children are going back to school soon, and parents are faced with the challenges of keeping their loved ones safe on the way to school, at school, on the way home and at evening activities. They have to wrestle with the question of who to trust with the care of their most cherished ones. Recent news highlights the fact that it is almost impossible to figure out which grown-ups their children can be around safely. We need to look at our society closely to fix it because our hearts will continue to be broken if we do not.
Looking ahead: Regional mayors getting arrested, local ethics ordinances being challenged and fought over, Congress’ trust level at an all-time low, and a former member of Congress being sentenced prison time: it is high time we fundamentally examine what we expect of those we entrust with making policy for our government.
Last week: The Army Corps of Engineers' renewed consideration of the widening and deepening of Port Everglades is encouraging and the progress on the PortMiami tunnel is impressive as well. We have good physical trade infrastructure, we have the Network Access Point (NAP) of the Americas for internet connectivity, and are developing better rail infrastructure. This is promising and we mustn't let up because preparing and improving our infrastructure is vitally important to our economic competitiveness.
Looking ahead: The recently heightened terror alerts overseas should serve as a wake up call to us in the homeland. We need to be sure our infrastructure — airports, sea ports, electricity plants, rail facilities and internet fiber — is secure and protected. South Florida has some of the most trafficked and used infrastructure — like MIA, the Network Access Point (NAP) and Port Everglades — in the U.S. and it is worryingly vulnerable.
Last week: Continued turmoil in the Middle East reminds markets that the Suez Canal is a vital international shipping route. If Israel and Turkey could repair their relationship a unique role could be played by these two democracies in a region of uncertainty. The Turkish market is large, well-educated, dynamic and young. The Israeli tendency for creativity and entrepreneurship is well known and too; it too is democratic and inclusive of minorities. If the two led their region into peace and exported their ideals the Middle East could be forever, positively transformed into a massive market of bright, young, democratic and creative consumers and drivers of innovation
Looking ahead: China's economy is the world's 2nd largest, and with sustained growth above 5% - it is forecast to hit 2013's 7.5% target – the compounding of that growth means that the US will be overtaken within a generation as the largest economy on Earth. Increased invention, creativity and innovation are imperative in order for the US not to find itself in a world much more difficult to influence and perhaps even for us to recognize with today’s perspective. A focused Union-wide effort, not unlike the space race, can modernize infrastructure and enable entrepreneurs to flourish, powering us into the 21st century as leaders.
Last week: There is more to the royal baby than a quaint tourist attraction. I am British-born, and know that the U.S. threw off the yoke of a cruel monarch centuries ago, yet I see great value in a monarchical system of government. Consider the prolonged gridlock in the U.S. federal system: one side is often obstructionist in the face of the other occupying the presidential seat. The incumbent is supposed to govern in the interest of the people and free him/herself of party bickering, but that rarely happens. A modern monarch ensures the state is above politics and a rock of continuity, freeing party politicos to argue and seek out public consensus.
Looking ahead: The economy is showing signs of life: the NYSE repeatedly hits record highs, and unemployment claims are down. The problem is that general sentiment is still neutral at best. People ask where the jobs are, when business investment is coming. While profits improve and unemployment remains above 7 percent, we are left wondering if automation really will be so successful to make humans obsolete, especially with 3D printing making an impact in manufacturing. A similar question was raised at the start of the industrial revolution and answers were found as increasingly high-tech products necessitated increasingly educated workers. The ingenuity of the human species will continue to innovate and create new industries with its increased knowledge.
Last week: Florida v. Zimmerman has been litigated, and a verdict rendered. The matter should be at an end, but is far from it. We — the multi-racial state of Florida — sued Zimmerman and lost. Period. The fallout from this case is not surprising, but is desperately disappointing. If the criminal justice system is broken and racist, fix it by looking to the root causes: education, education, education. With a good education all members of society will have equal opportunities to thrive, and institutional bias in the legal system will recede, as will the need to build huge prisons. Invest in education.
Looking ahead: NSA-leaker Snowden has prompted concern about online privacy — from both the government and industry. Is President Obama’s “Do Not Track” initiative viable, or will it stifle technology development? The hoped-for insights into healthcare management, which are under development in the Research Park, for example, might not be forthcoming if companies were not able to aggregate vast amounts of data to draw conclusions and extract price efficiencies. There are other companies proposing that we monetize our individual pieces of data, deciding who can access them. We, as a society, have to have the conversation of how to balance these macro needs against our individual datasets and privacy.
Last week: The delayed implementation of the Affordable Care Act is a major story: it represents a temporary reprieve for small businesses struggling to figure out its implications. Delay merely puts off the inevitable however, and the burdens the Act imposes will continue to impact spending, investment and hiring decisions of the engine of our economy. On a macro level one has to consider Michael McConnell's assertion that the President's actions are a grave example of executive overreach.
Looking ahead: Let's take a moment to celebrate our regional university, the engine of economic growth and the learning ground of our children. FAU has joined Conference USA, giving South Florida greater exposure nationally and a better platform to build its athletics program; the Administration is acting assertively to ensure that the next president finds a cohesive academic and research institution ready to reach its potential; and academic freedom was protected by Deandre Pool kept his teaching job. Higher education should be a time when students challenge and test society's norms, how else can they be independent thinkers. Go Owls!
Last week: Education reform is essential to the well-being of our economic future. The hot topic in Florida now is the cost of higher education, particularly with the doubling of federal student loan interest rates. If the Legislature and Governor are serious about restraining the cost of a college degree for working families then they must invest our state funds into institutions of higher learning, and not just UF or FSU, so that the universities do not feel obliged to increase tuition to fill gaps. Complement this increased investment by looking to other laboratories of democracy like Oregon, that are finding new ways to make college affordable and
Looking ahead: It’s always struck me as odd that a country founded by immigration would consider the topic so politically toxic. Can Republicans and Democrats not agree that the US needs immigrants to work in the agricultural sectors as well as highly educated innovators to fill the thousands of “wanted” ads in our technology companies, and that it is nigh on impossible and undesirable to find and deport 12M people? It seems we’re already in mid-term election mode; is anyone else tired of the constant political campaigning by both sides? Where’s the common sense? Where’s the public service and sense of doing the right thing because it’s the right thing?
Last week: The spectacle of a rogue CIA contractor playing "Where's Waldo" in international airports has captured attention; the more important topic however, is the program he exposed and its implications for the relationships between government and citizen and business and customer. We now have the opportunity to reassess our own digital footprints and reevaluate our relationships with companies we interact with and our governments. How much data should be captured, stored and shared without our explicit agreement each time a transaction occurs? The answers will guide the long term business plans of technology companies and the development of new businesses in the metadata space.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun