Does John McCain “Get” the Knowledge Economy?

Logo: McCain for PresidentWe’ve previously discussed Barak Obama’s comprehensive, and somewhat idealistic, technology plan for the federal government. He proposes establishing a CIO, and I discussed what we have learned from introducing this role at the state level. He’s idealistic, and perhaps naive.

But John McCain’s still-emerging approach seems to be based on near-complete disregard. There, I’ve said said it, now please read on and let me know if you see this differently.

Congressional Quarterly covers former FCC chair Michael Powell’s work on the McCain technology agenda. Its corner stones are: lower capital gains taxes, immigration policy, trade liberalization and tax rebates. I have no problem with these worthy issues, except that a tech policy should include policies that involve technology.

What about net neutrality, privacy, or using the Internet to open up government to citizens?

“Those issues are in the weeds,” Powell said. “They’re the FCC’s issues. A lot of the FCC’s issues aren’t ‘president of the United States’ issues. I understand how people want to talk about them, but some of it is inside baseball.”

Kevin Werbach provides a provocative analysis of this statement in Circle ID:

As chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, John McCain was exposed to a wide range of tech policy issues. On the other hand, he admits he’s “computer illiterate.” Ask yourself how you’d feel about working for a corporation where the CEO doesn’t know how to use a computer. No matter how smart, someone who can’t open a web page, type a letter on a word processor, or compose an email message, is going to be fundamentally out of touch with the daily experience of every member of the knowledge economy.

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