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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • Well, I was introduced as

  • the former Governor of Michigan,

  • but actually I'm a scientist.

  • All right, a political scientist, it doesn't really count,

  • but my laboratory was the laboratory of democracy

  • that is Michigan, and, like any good scientist,

  • I was experimenting with policy

  • about what would achieve the greatest good

  • for the greatest number.

  • But there were three problems, three enigmas

  • that I could not solve,

  • and I want to share with you those problems,

  • but most importantly,

  • I think I figured out a proposal for a solution.

  • The first problem

  • that not just Michigan, but every state, faces is,

  • how do you create good jobs in America

  • in a global economy?

  • So let me share with you some empirical data from my lab.

  • I was elected in 2002 and, at the end of my first year in office in 2003,

  • I got a call from one of my staff members, who said,

  • "Gov, we have a big problem.

  • We have a little tiny community called Greenville, Michigan,

  • population 8,000,

  • and they are about to lose their major employer,

  • which is a refrigerator factory that's operated by Electrolux."

  • And I said, "Well, how many people work at Electrolux?"

  • And he said, "3,000 of the 8,000 people in Greenville."

  • So it is a one-company town.

  • And Electrolux was going to go to Mexico.

  • So I said, "Forget that. I'm the new Governor.

  • We can fix this. We're going to go to Greenville

  • with my whole cabinet and we will just

  • make Electrolux an offer they can't refuse."

  • So I brought my whole cabinet,

  • and we met with all of the pooh-bahs of little Greenville --

  • the mayor, the city manager, the head of the community college --

  • and we basically emptied our pockets

  • and put all of our chips on the table,

  • incentives, you name it, to convince Electrolux to stay,

  • and as we made our pile of chips,

  • we slid them across the table to the management of Electrolux.

  • And in the pile were things like zero taxes for 20 years,

  • or that we'd help to build a new factory for the company,

  • we'd help to finance it. The UAW, who represented the workers,

  • said they would offer unprecedented concessions,

  • sacrifices to just keep those jobs in Greenville.

  • So the management of Electrolux took our pile,

  • our list of incentives, and they went outside the room

  • for 17 minutes,

  • and they came back in and they said,

  • "Wow, this is the most generous

  • any community has ever been to try to keep jobs here.

  • But there's nothing you can do

  • to compensate for the fact that we can pay $1.57 an hour

  • in Juarez, Mexico. So we're leaving."

  • And they did. And when they did, it was like

  • a nuclear bomb went off in little Greenville.

  • In fact, they did implode the factory.

  • That's a guy that is walking on his last day of work.

  • And on the month that the last refrigerator rolled off the assembly line,

  • the employees of Electrolux in Greenville, Michigan,

  • had a gathering for themselves that they called the last supper.

  • It was in a big pavilion in Greenville, an indoor pavilion,

  • and I went to it because I was so frustrated as Governor

  • that I couldn't stop the outflow of these jobs,

  • and I wanted to grieve with them,

  • and as I went into the room-- there's thousands of people there.

  • It was a just big thing. People were eating boxed lunches

  • on roundtop tables, and there was a sad band playing music,

  • or a band playing sad music, probably both. (Laughter)

  • And this guy comes up to me,

  • and he's got tattoos and his ponytail and his baseball cap on,

  • and he had his two daughters with him,

  • and he said, "Gov, these are my two daughters."

  • He said, "I'm 48 years old,

  • and I have worked at this factory for 30 years.

  • I went from high school to factory.

  • My father worked at this factory," he said.

  • "My grandfather worked at this factory.

  • All I know is how to make refrigerators."

  • And he looked at his daughters,

  • and he puts his hand on his chest,

  • and he says, "So, Gov, tell me,

  • who is ever going to hire me?

  • Who is ever going to hire me?"

  • And that was asked not just by that guy

  • but by everyone in the pavilion,

  • and frankly, by every worker at one of the 50,000 factories

  • that closed in the first decade of this century.

  • Enigma number one: How do you create jobs

  • in America in a global economy?

  • Number two, very quickly:

  • How do you solve global climate change

  • when we don't even have a national energy policy in this country

  • and when gridlock in Congress seems to be the norm?

  • In fact, there was a poll that was done recently

  • and the pollster compared Congress's approval ratings

  • to a number of other unpleasant things,

  • and it was found, in fact, that Congress's approval rating

  • is worse than cockroaches,

  • lice, Nickelback the band, root canals and Donald Trump. (Laughter)

  • But wait, the good news is it's at least better

  • than meth labs and gonorrhea. (Laughter)

  • We got a problem, folks.

  • So it got me thinking, what is it?

  • What in the laboratory that I see out there,

  • the laboratories of democracy, what has happened?

  • What policy prescriptions have happened

  • that actually cause changes to occur

  • and that have been accepted in a bipartisan way?

  • So if I asked you, for example,

  • what was the Obama Administration policy

  • that caused massive changes across the country,

  • what would you say?

  • You might say Obamacare, except for those were not voluntary changes.

  • As we know, only half the states have opted in.

  • We might say the Recovery Act, but those didn't require policy changes.

  • The thing that caused massive policy changes to occur

  • was Race to the Top for education.

  • Why? The government put a $4.5 billion pot

  • and said to the governors across the country, compete for it.

  • Forty-eight governors competed,

  • convincing 48 state legislatures to essentially

  • raise standards for high schoolers

  • so that they all take a college prep curriculum.

  • Forty-eight states opted in, creating a national [education] policy from the bottom up.

  • So I thought, well, why can't we do something like that

  • and create a clean energy jobs race to the top?

  • Because after all, if you look at the context,

  • 1.6 trillion dollars has been invested in the past eight years

  • from the private sector globally,

  • and every dollar represents a job,

  • and where are those jobs going?

  • Well, they're going to places that have policy, like China.

  • In fact, I was in China to see what they were doing,

  • and they were putting on a dog-and-pony show for the group that I was with,

  • and I was standing in the back of the room during one of the demonstrations

  • and standing next to one of the Chinese officials,

  • and we were watching, and he says,

  • "So, Gov, when do you think the U.S. is going to get national energy policy?"

  • And I said, "Oh my God -- Congress, gridlock, who knows?"

  • And this is what he did, he goes, he says,

  • "Take your time."

  • Because they see our passivity as their opportunity.

  • So what if we decided to create

  • a challenge to the governors of the country,

  • and the price to entry into this competition

  • used the same amount that the bipartisan group approved in Congress

  • for the Race to the Top for education, 4.5 billion,

  • which sounds like a lot, but actually it's less than

  • one tenth of one percent of federal spending.

  • It's a rounding error on the federal side.

  • But price to entry into that competition would be,

  • you could just, say, use the President's goal.

  • He wants Congress to adopt a clean energy standard

  • of 80 percent by 2030,

  • in other words, that you'd have to get 80 percent

  • of your energy from clean sources by the year 2030.

  • Why not ask all of the states to do that instead?

  • And imagine what might happen,

  • because every region has something to offer.

  • You might take states like Iowa and Ohio --

  • two very important political states, by the way --

  • those two governors, and they would say,

  • we're going to lead the nation in producing

  • the wind turbines and the wind energy.

  • You might say the solar states, the sun belt,

  • we're going to be the states that produce solar energy for the country,

  • and maybe Jerry Brown says, "Well, I'm going to create

  • an industry cluster in California

  • to be able to produce the solar panels

  • so that we're not buying them from China

  • but we're buying them from the U.S."

  • In fact, every region of the country could do this.

  • You see, you've got solar and wind opportunity all across the nation.

  • In fact, if you look just at the upper and northern states

  • in the West, they could do geothermal,

  • or you could look at Texas and say,

  • we could lead the nation in the solutions to smart grid.

  • In the middle eastern states which have access to forests

  • and to agricultural waste, they might say,

  • we're going to lead the nation in biofuels.

  • In the upper northeast, we're going to lead the nation

  • in energy efficiency solutions.

  • Along the eastern seaboard, we're going to lead the nation

  • in offshore wind.

  • You might look at Michigan and say, we're going to lead the nation

  • in producing the guts for the electric vehicle, like the lithium ion battery.

  • Every region has something to offer,

  • and if you created a competition,

  • it respects the states and it respects federalism.

  • It's opt-in. You might even get Texas and South Carolina,

  • who didn't opt into the education Race to the Top,

  • you might even get them to opt in. Why?

  • Because Republican and Democratic governors

  • love to cut ribbons.

  • We want to bring jobs. I'm just saying.

  • And it fosters innovation at the state level

  • in these laboratories of democracy.

  • Now, any of you who are watching anything about politics lately

  • might say, "Okay, great idea, but really?

  • Congress putting four and a half billion dollars on the table?

  • They can't agree to anything."

  • So you could wait and go through Congress,

  • although you should be very impatient.

  • Or, you renegades, we could go around Congress.

  • Go around Congress.

  • What if we created a private sector challenge to the governors?

  • What if several of the high-net worth companies

  • and individuals who are here at TED decided

  • that they would create, band together, just a couple of them,

  • and create a national competition to the governors

  • to have a race to the top

  • and see how the governors respond?

  • What if it all started here at TED?

  • What if you were here

  • when we figured out how to crack the code

  • to create good paying jobs in America -- (Applause) --

  • and get national energy policy

  • and we created a national energy strategy from the bottom up?

  • Because, dear TEDsters,

  • if you are impatient like I am,

  • you know that our economic competitors,

  • our other nations, are in the game

  • and are eating us for lunch.

  • And we can get in the game or not.

  • We can be at the table or we can be on the table.

  • And I don't know about you,

  • but I prefer to dine.

  • Thank you all so much. (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

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