The Housing Chronicles Blog: Notes from the ULI Fall Meeting #4

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Notes from the ULI Fall Meeting #4

During the 2011 ULI Fall Meeting in Los Angeles, Mike Milken (yes, that Mike Milken) gave a very well-attended keynote luncheon speech that was being talked about a lot the rest of the day. Milken, who chairs the think tank Milken Institute in Santa Monica, CA, gave a speech entitled, "Where's Sputnik?" which will also be the title of a forthcoming book.

The general idea is that after the USSR launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit in 1957, it sent many Americans into a psychological panic -- not because of the satellite itself, but because the missile which launched it into space could easily be converted into carrying nuclear-tipped weapons aimed at the United States. However, it also ushered into a period of technological innovation and investments in education that helped to send the country's astronauts to the moon. As a new President Kennedy said in his inaugural speech, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship ... to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Today, although the country faces formidable challenges, if recent history is any indication, there has been not any "Sputnik" moment to restore our previous ambitions. According to the report: In 2005, a distinguished committee of leaders from industry, government and higher education produced a disturbing report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, that spelled out ways to restore America’s competitiveness. Revisiting their report in 2010, the committee concluded that “the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years. The gathering storm increasingly appears to be a Category 5.”

And yet Milken is still an optimist. Offering a comprehensive program for national renewal, Milken's speech (and book) will focus on six challenges – energy, housing, entitlements, education, health and immigration. Milken believes the “American Century” does not have to end, but can be extended long into the future if the public and private sectors, and all of us as individuals, assume greater responsibility for our common destiny.

But you don't have to wait for the book -- you can read his 24-page article on the subject (adapted from his book) by clicking here.

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