Taking Control: Politics in the Information Age

Overview

Drawing on in-depth interviews and research from the private sector, this study demonstrates how open, information-driven systems perform and can be used by government to solve our major problems, including quality education, health care, protection of the environment, and public safety. In the 1950s, when America was the world's single industrial giant, three out of four U.S. workers were engaged in manufacturing. Forty years later the industrial age is over: in 1996, almost 50 percent of the workforce relies on...
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Overview

Drawing on in-depth interviews and research from the private sector, this study demonstrates how open, information-driven systems perform and can be used by government to solve our major problems, including quality education, health care, protection of the environment, and public safety. In the 1950s, when America was the world's single industrial giant, three out of four U.S. workers were engaged in manufacturing. Forty years later the industrial age is over: in 1996, almost 50 percent of the workforce relies on computers and fewer than one in six hold factory-related jobs. Though the economic landscape has been transformed, few politicians of either party seem to have noticed. Human capital has replaced investment capital as the necessary ingredient of the new economic age. Empowered by the microprocessor, "knowledge workers" - educated, adaptive, and technologically adept - are identified here as a powerful new constituency. Unmoved by ideology or hierarchy, these individuals are team players who believe in sharing information but are suspicious of authority. Disdainful of public policy based on outdated assumptions, they have confidence that "a government can be redesigned to do more with less."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Arguing that the computer age requires new politics and public policies, Winograd, a v-p of AT&T in California, and Buffa, a Colorado lawyer, offer a grab bag of observations and prescription. Both are members of the influential neoliberal Democratic Leadership Council. Some of their dry report is predictable, some is practical and some is Pollyannish. Drawing on recent election results, they argue credibly that the emerging "new information age constituency" will support candidates who want to use government more efficiently. Winograd and Buffa support market-driven government regulation, cuts in corporate welfare, worker training for welfare recipients, boot camps for nonviolent criminals and replacing the income tax with a national sales tax (including an exemption for the poor). More dubious are their assumptions that the health-care market can be made to evolve into a universal insurance system, their hope that video conferencing can extend elite educational opportunity (and relieve affirmative action pressure) and their call for a single national presidential primary in which new media, rather than retail politics, prevails. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Arguing that the computer age requires new politics and public policies, Winograd, a v-p of AT&T in California, and Buffa, a Colorado lawyer, offer a grab bag of observations and prescription. Both are members of the influential neoliberal Democratic Leadership Council. Some of their dry report is predictable, some is practical and some is Pollyannish. Drawing on recent election results, they argue credibly that the emerging 'new information age constituency' will support candidates who want to use government more efficiently. Winograd and Buffa support market-driven government regulation, cuts in corporate welfare, worker training for welfare recipients, boot camps for nonviolent criminals and replacing the income tax with a national sales tax (including an exemption for the poor). More dubious are their assumptions that the health-care market can be made to evolve into a universal insurance system, their hope that video conferencing can extend elite educational opportunity (and relieve affirmative action pressure) and their call for a single national presidential primary in which new media, rather than retail politics, prevails.
Kirkus Reviews
When the machines of the information society take over, will the old political machine throw a rod? Two Democratic Party activists answer in the affirmative.

Noting the profound economic shift in the last half-century, which began with three in four workers being employed in manufacturing and is ending with a labor force largely centered on the knowledge or service industries, the authors suggest that decentralized, nonhierarchic organizations (including a streamlined government) are best equipped to respond in a timely way to new social and economic demands. For all the info-wonking of a Newt Gingrich or an Al Gore, the authors assert, neither right nor left understands this profound economic shift and the demands it makes on organizations of all kinds. Their call for a new politics, however, is less than resoundingly made. Hard-pressed to explain why Republicans won the 1994 elections, given their putative devotion to industrial-age politics, Winograd and Buffa prophesy the victorious rise of a "New Democrat" who will equip people to help themselves and crush the Contract with America. That prophecy seems to be mere wishful thinking, and the authors are no more specific elsewhere in the book, which abounds with airy pronouncements. There is, for instance, their assertion that the only way to address critical questions of public policy is to "give up old ways of thinking and explore new possibilities for the future." This is a manifesto rich in data (the authors note that in 1995 Americans sent 2.2 billion fax messages abroad), but frustratingly short in thought-through ways to realize the authors' call for "an entirely new political structure, in which each citizen will have the ability to take control of his or her own economic destiny."

Students of the Information Age will find little new here, but Winograd and Buffa still offer useful points for debate.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805044898
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 89
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Politics in the Information Age 1
1 The Death of Industrial Age Politics 8
2 The Birth of a New Constituency 27
3 Reinventing American Government 47
4 Preserving the American Commons 64
5 Reengineering American Government 85
6 Rethinking Entitlements 102
7 Reforming More Than Welfare 120
8 Replacing Crime with Community 140
9 Rethinking Race Relations 159
10 Empowering America's Schools 181
11 Retraining America's Workforce 202
12 Creating a Learning Economy 221
Conclusion: The New American Social Contract 243
Acknowledgments 259
Notes 260
Selected Bibliography 283
Index 285
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