Posted tagged ‘Arizona’

Arizona shootings: time to reflect

January 10, 2011

Not many days ago I wrote a post on this blog pointing out the dangers to society when some people get easy access to firearms. It is terrible when this takes on more meaning than I had expected, but Saturday’s events in Tucson, Arizona, should make everyone in the United States think again, and much more seriously, about proper gun control.

But there are also other lessons. One of them is about the impact of excessively partisan and hate-filled speech in politics. As is now fairly well known, Gabrielle Giffords was one of the ‘targets’ identified by Sarah Palin on a US map identifying politicians to be removed from power because of their support for the healthcare Bill (her ‘map with gunsights’ has been taken down by her, but is still available on some websites). The rhetoric of some American politicians has become crazily extreme, to the point where people (as we now see) can be put physically at risk.

The United States is a country I admire very much for all sorts of reasons, but right now it needs to stop in its tracks to reflect on what has happened, and how it has allowed itself to become a place of unreasonableness, intolerance and violence.

A letter from Arizona

December 15, 2008

This blog is coming to you from Arizona. On Monday morning I shall be attending an event hosted by Arizona State University in honour of President Mary McAleese, who is on a visit to the United States right now. At the event President McAleese will be arguing the case for knowledge-intensive investment in Ireland, and others (myself included) will be highlighting the role that universities play in creating the right conditions for such investment. And I shall also mention the mutual advantages that have already been achieved through the strong cooperation between DCU and Arizona State University.

The President will, I am certain, be extremely effective in her advocacy – she is an extraordinarily powerful representative of Ireland’s interests on such occasions.

It will be worthwhile also for the various officials from Ireland who will be present at this event to consider the successes that have been achieved in recent years in Arizona, under Governor Janet Napolitano. The Governor has helped to change fundamentally the strategy of this state. In many ways Arizona has a number of disadvantages. It is relatively peripheral in terms of its location; it has a fairly hostile climate, with desert conditions and temperatures that for several months every year are extremely high; it has not historically had a major industrial presence; it had a deficit of public investment in infrastructure; and until earlier this decade it had a major budget deficit. The geography and climate are of course the same as before, but a lot of other things have changed. There has been a strong focus on public investment within a balanced budget, on innovation and skills, and on attracting and retaining high-tech investment. Two other key people have supported this policy direction: Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, and Bill Harris, CEO of Science Foundation Arizona. 

Like the rest of the world, Arizona has experienced the effects of the credit crisis and the economic downturn. As in Ireland, the state has had to cut or delay funding under a number of headings. However, it has done this in the context of a number of key strategic choices, allowing funding to be developed further for some priority areas and projects. University infrastructure, and education and research more generally, have been supported strongly in the Governor’s budget for 2009.

It is clear that an early economic recovery will be helped – in Ireland as in Arizona – by the resolute pursuit of some key strategic decisions, which will need to involve strong support for higher education. In Arizona it is to be hoped that this policy direction will continue under a new Governor, as Janet Napolitano is set to join the cabinet of President-elect Barack Obama. In Ireland it is top be hoped that that the Government will work with the universities to ensure that there is a funding and resourcing environment that will allow them to succeed as magnets for new high value investment and the development of indigenous enterprise and innovation.