Vice-President Joe Biden gave what I thought was an excellent speech this afternoon at the National Green Energy Summit 4.0. There was a particularly compelling portion of his speech in which he provided historic precedent to defend public investment in science and technology. He said:
You know, this negative argument that we hear all the time is not new to America. There are naysayers in the political leadership who hold the view that government has absolutely no role and should not be setting a vision for the future providing setting seed money for anything.
I would argue that at every juncture they have been proven wrong. Had we listened to those voices back in 1774 private enterprise and the government would not have collaborated to build the rifles with interchangeable parts that were needed to win the Revolutionary War.
Had we listened to those voices in 1843 Congress would never have collaborated with Samuel Morse to build a demonstration telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore unleashing a telecommunications revolution.
Had President Lincoln listened to those voices during the Civil War He wouldn’t have paid private railroad companies $16,00 for every 40 miles of track on the Transcontinental Railroad they laid down.
And if President Eisenhower had listened to those voices in 1957 he would never have invested the $25 million in research in an endeavor called APRA which invented ARPA-NET which became the Internet.
And if President Kennedy had listened to those voices we would have never have reached the moon and reaped the incredible benefits that flowed from that effort.
And I can assure the President and I are not going to listen to those voices and hope to God you aren’t either. Because in the words of President Obama, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”