I was traveling via Los Angeles International Airport — LAX — last week. Walking through its faded, cramped domestic terminal, I got the feeling of a place that once thought of itself as modern but has had one too many face-lifts and simply can’t hide the wrinkles anymore. In some ways, LAX is us. We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance. China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest and build. We spend, borrow and patch.
And this contrast is playing out in the worst way — just slowly enough so the crisis never seems acute enough to take urgent action. But, eventually, infrastructure, education and innovation policies matter. Businesses prefer to invest with the Jetsons more than the Flintstones, which brings me to the subject of this column.
I had a chance last week to listen to Paul Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, the microchip maker and one of America’s crown jewel companies. Otellini was in Washington to talk about competitiveness at Brookings and the Aspen Institute. At a time when so much of our public policy discussion is dominated by health care and bailouts, my public service for the week is to share Mr. Otellini’s views on start-ups...Personally, I prefer to invest with the Simpsons--soon to become the longest running TV show ever--over both the Jetsons and the Flintstones. The residuals on Bart and the gang must be stratospheric.
Update: Whereas Mark Steyn is a Flintstones man all the way, arguing
You'd have made a ton more money if you'd invested in The Flintstones, which is a classic, instead of The Jetsons, which is a cheap knock-off with the veneer of modernity — or, as Tom would say, an airport VIP lounge with a bad facelift. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have invested in The Flintstones, while the U.S. military has invested in The Jetsons, and we're the ones desperate to negotiate with them. Maybe it's all more complicated when you leave the terminal and get in the cab. But happily, when you're Tom, they usually send a driver . . .