Electing a Tech Savvy President is Imperative — Meet Presidential Candidate Francis Suarezby@ralphbenko
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Electing a Tech Savvy President is Imperative — Meet Presidential Candidate Francis Suarez

by Ralph BenkoJuly 19th, 2023
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Francis X. Suarez is the only 2024 presidential candidate who seems to know his way around tech. He is famous for his Direct Tweets to tech startups saying (and meaning) “How Can I Help You?’ Tech started flocking to Miami. Now FX wants to scale up from mayor to president.

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According to knowledgeable expert economists, something like 85% of our economic growth derives from technological innovation. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Romer, among others, has demonstrated the truth of this.

The Tech-Ignorant Weirdness of the Presidential Field

How weird is it, then, that only one of the current 2024 presidential candidates – Miami’s Mayor Francis X. Suarez (Let’s call him FX) – seems to know his way around tech?  FX seems the only one out of the dozen-and-a-half presidential aspirants to get the importance of tech.

Tech-truculence, from the Army’s circling Klaatu and Gort’s flying saucer on the national mall in 1951 to the crazed fatwa of current SEC chair Gensler against the blockchain sector, isn’t partisan.  Luddites have been with us since, well, the fictional Ned Ludd.

Almost none of the aspirants for a presidential nomination, from any party, have shown much awareness of the importance of technology (tools!) to general prosperity.  This curious absence is present at both “the grownups’ table” (the Donks and the Pachyderms) and “the kiddies’ table” (“No Labels” and the Green Party).

Enter FX Suarez, “America’s Wunderkind” Mayor

Miami’s Mayor (and former president of the National Conference of Mayors) Francis X. Suarez alone has, with complete intentionality, lured billions of dollars of finance and emerging tech companies to Miami. How?

It started with his cutting taxes and crime to generationally low levels. Couple that with some real passion to make tech firms feel wanted and welcome. Suarez is famous for his Direct Tweets to tech startups saying (and meaning) “How Can I Help You?” Tech started flocking to Miami.

And, with it, unrivaled prosperity.  Now FX wants to scale up from mayor to president. Pay attention!

Suarez was written up by Forbes’s Peter Lane Taylor two years ago as “America’s Wunderkind Mayor.”

On December 4th, 2020 at 5:41 p.m. PDT, tech entrepreneur and Founders Fund Principal Delian Asparouhov tweeted from San Francisco, “ok guys hear me out, what if we move silicon valley to Miami?”

At home putting his kids to bed 3,200 hundred miles away, 43-year old Miami mayor Francis Suarez fired back two minutes later: “How can I help?”.

By 10:00 p.m. EDT, Asparouhov’s thread was going viral. When Suarez woke up the next morning, the venture capital intelligentsia from Menlo Park to Austin to Boston were calling it the “tweet heard round the tech world” (it now has more than 2.5 million impressions and counting).

“In Miami, we’re offering an alternative. There are two basic things that people who are creating great companies want while simultaneously creating thriving communities: They don't want to be taxed any more than they have to, because they often know that that money is not being spent effectively. And secondly, they want to feel welcome.”

FX’s savvy is, of course, on the enterprise, not the engineering, side.  But he’s at home with emerging tech.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Use a Computer

Donald Trump was a Twitter maniac. All that takes is the mastery of one app and a smartphone keyboard. Trump, like Hilary Clinton, doesn’t use a personal computer.

“Donald Trump isn’t exactly tech-savvy either. The New York Times reported on Nov. 6 that Trump “does not use a computer,” which explains why he was perplexed at his campaign spending millions of dollars on digital ads. Court notes analyzed by the Times have revealed that while Clinton was blundering about emails as secretary of state, Trump seemingly wasn’t using them at all. “I don’t do the email thing,” he said in 2007. Six years later, he’d moved forward just a touch, saying he used email “very rarely.”

“Indeed, the only known photograph of him using a computer was produced 45 minutes into his Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session this year, when aides realized the only way to verify that he was the one typing was to photograph him in front of a computer—having, we presume, just magisterially struck a key.

“This, perhaps, explains his amazement at his son’s computer skills, expressed during the first presidential debate: “I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable,” he said, ostensibly explaining the need to fight cyber warfare. God, help us.”

Except FX, the rest of the presidential field is as close to luddite as is Trump. Sometimes one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at Trump’s grasp of technology, for instance when he suggested that we drop nuclear bombs on hurricanes. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.  (So far.)

Biden, at least, has the imperfect but constructive (and bipartisan) CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to his credit. And sports an Apple watch and uses the Apple News App.

Why Consider Suarez Tech Savvy?

Consider the human terrain.

As reported by the University of Miami, Suarez stated:

“If you would have told me … that the next day I was going to send out a tweet that was going to be seen by 2.7 million people and lead me to talk to Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, the Winklevoss twins, Fred Ehrsam, Bryan Armstrong from Coinbase, Kevin O'Leary, Kevin McCarthy, Nikki Haley, Dave Portnoy, and all the people that have come through our office, I would have told you, you were crazy,” he exclaimed. ‘I would have told you there's no way you can create a world where all these things are going to collide and that Miami would go from relative obscurity in tech to being the most talked about city in America and in the world and tech in six months,’ Suarez added.”

Tech is the wellspring of prosperity. Let’s explicitly recognize this as such.

It is important, for us, that those who aspire to become our paramount leaders also recognize that fundamental fact.  Tech means tools to enhance productivity, from the shovel to the rho calculus-enabled blockchain.

Tech supremacy also is important to America for many other reasons. Alas, most politicians seem mired in a technologically primordial era.

As if they still use manual typewriters. Or, yes, really, quill pens.

Make America Prosper Again

If you, like me, wish to MAPA (Make America Prosper Again), America needs to take, and even raise, its customary but now imperiled lead in innovation.

Enter the Dragon

China, our chief rival, gets it!

In October 2019, president of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping declared:

“The application of blockchain technology has already extended to digital finance, Internet of Things, intelligent manufacturing, supply chain management, digital asset trading and other fields. At present, major countries in the world are accelerating the development of blockchain technology. China has a good foundation in the field of blockchain. It is necessary to accelerate the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation, and actively promote the development of blockchain and social-economic integration. … It is necessary to strengthen basic research, enhance the original innovation ability, and strive to let China take the leading position in the emerging field of blockchain, occupy the commanding heights of innovation, and gain new industrial advantages.”

We can get it too! And we’d better!

Prosperity Through Technology!

As I wrote at Newsmax in 2020,

“Per [the Hon. Norman] Augustine, numerous studies including those that won Robert Solow and Paul Romer Nobel Prizes in Economics, demonstrate that as much as 85% of the long-term growth in America's economy is attributable to advancements in science and technology. The payoffs from the successes of federal R&D dwarf the cost of the failures. This inconvenient truth is supported by abundant evidence, however horrifying to libertarians.”

And as Christopher Mims wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

“Taxpayer-funded basic scientific research has again and again paid huge dividends to society, both in improving our quality of life and boosting our economy. Indeed, many of the industries the U.S. dominates these days, like software, were seeded in a Silicon Valley where the U.S. government was the area's first and most important venture capitalist. Since the mid 1960s, the proportion of U.S. gross domestic product spent on public R&D has gone from a peak of 2% to the present figure of 0.6%, and the U.S. went from first in the world in terms of such spending to 13th. China rocketed ahead, and has done other forward-thinking things like co-locating manufacturing with its publicly funded R&D centers, allowing a direct translation of that research into new industries and millions of new jobs.”

Or while I was writing about Suarez at Newsmax,

“Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer proved that much of our long-term economic growth comes from scientific and technological innovation. As capably summarized by Charles I. Jones:

"Romer developed endogenous growth theory, emphasizing that technological change is the result of efforts by researchers and entrepreneurs who respond to economic incentives. Anything that affects their efforts, such as tax policy, basic research funding, and education, for example, can potentially influence the long-run prospects of the economy. Romer's fundamental contribution is his clear understanding of the economics of ideas and how the discovery of new ideas lies at the heart of economic growth. His 1990 paper is a watershed.

Suarez not only talks the tech talk. He walks the tech walk, exemplifying and embodying entrepreneurial culture.

As proto-supply-sider Peter Drucker reportedly taught Ford’s then-CEO Mark Fields (an observation reportedly framed and hung in Ford’s board room for decades):

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

And Suarez generates innovation-friendly culture. This is a big deal.

As an aside, where do I get off preaching about prosperity?  Well, I was an O.G. early days supply-sider. As noted by Roll Call among others, I was the founder of the Prosperity Caucus (which still continues to meet mostly monthly, now virtually, nearly 40 years later).

Voodoo 1.0

I was an early member of Rep. Jack Kemp’s supply-sider “cabal,” fighting for economic growth policies against stagflationary Establishment conventional wisdom. We merrily endured (and endure) endless Establishment ridicule (“Voodoo Economics!” “Trickle Down!”).

We fought for policies that propelled the Dow, from 813 in November 1979 when Reagan declared his candidacy, to, eventually, its dizzying 30,000+ heights today.  More Voodoo please!

Our original 70’s era supply-side policy mix was to stabilize the dollar (preferably, in theory, through gold, in practice emulating the mechanics of the gold standard by Fed Chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan).

We thereby brought inflation down from double digits to around 2% for two generations. That held until Donald Trump pistol whipped Fed Chairman Powell into sinking the dollar, inevitably leading to… inflation. Now Powell, with the shrewd political support of Biden, is subduing inflation, setting the stage for more growth.

And by cutting marginal tax rates. Tax cuts?

We old guard supply-siders squeezed the juice from tax rate cuts (not tax cuts per se, as we lowered rates and closed loopholes). We set in motion the process that cut (carrying with it the vote of Sen. Joe Biden and many other Democrats) the top marginal income tax rate from 70% to 28%.

President Bill Clinton largely followed Reagan’s economic policy playbook in most respects and improved it by passing welfare reform. Clinton’s regrettable raising of the top rate to 39% was more than offset by his cutting the capital gains rate to 20% and by his continuing commitment to a stable dollar.

Cambrian Explosion era supply-side policies helped foster a flood of venture capital. That, in turn, turned the orange groves of Silicon Valley into geysers of prosperity.

Thus, I had a small but real practical role in enacting policies that generated many trillions of dollars in new wealth.

As I reflected here:

“Our [supply-side] policy mix was ridiculed by the Republican establishment, specifically George H.W. Bush, as ‘voodoo economics.’ And ridiculed by the Democratic establishment as ‘trickle-down’ (an insult originally coined by Will Rogers to ridicule Herbert Hoover, the supply-siders' poster child for bad economic policy).

“The supply-side posse persisted despite ridicule. Washington reluctantly took the "riverboat gamble." Over the ensuing four decades, the (relatively) stable dollar and (relatively) low tax rates doubled real per capita GDP from $30,000 to nearly $60,000. Per the St. Louis Fed, U.S. nominal GDP soared from $2.7T to $26T, world nominal GDP from $11T to $96T.”

And, note, per supply-side founding father and America’s leading futurist George Gilder states in his new Amazon bestseller, Life After Capitalism, the Meaning of Wealth, the Future of the Economy, and the Time Theory of Money, GDP drastically understates the increase in prosperity the world has enjoyed over the past 40 years.

Still, we can do better. Alas, the supply-side’s fin de siècle success turned the GOP into a bunch of Cargo Cultists for Tax Cuts. W’s and Trump’s tax cuts, disinformationally promoted as “supply-side,” were, unlike Kemp’s, mostly fat cat tax cuts.

They provided miniscule (if any) cuts in marginal income tax rates for workers. There were whopping cuts for the mercantilists and corporations.

Hey!  That’s the GOP’s donor class.  But … it’s not your grandaddy’s’ supply-side!

The whole point of supply-side economics was, and ought still be, to create across-the-board equitable prosperity, to echo JFK whose tax-cut architecture we stole fair and square, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The 21st century mostly has been coasting on the work of Reagan and Clinton. As such, the economic growth rate in this century has been half that of what we achieved in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Voodoo 2.0

What to do?

It’s a brave new world.  A world, in fact, of Exogenous Growth Theory, a wonky phrase coined by Romer to explain, and prescribe policies of, tech-driven economic growth.

A vault from a $26T GDP (up from a nominal $2.7T when the original supply-siders went to work) to a real $50T, or more, GDP will not be propelled primarily by future tax rate cuts.  It will be propelled, if at all, by technological development.

So, will the American voters choose the grievance-complainer-in-chief of the 30% red-hatted MAGA Republican faction, former president Donald Trump?  Will we choose the pugilistic anti-Woke governor, Ron DeSantis?  The pious former vice president, Mike Pence? Or…?

I can only repeat the petition by the plucky damsel-in-distress to Gort imploring him not to destroy Earth:

Klaatu barada nikto!!!

Will Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez – the Make America Prosper Again champion of technology – capture the fancy of a fickle electorate? As Niels Bohr once stated, “It is very difficult to predict -- especially the future.”

Stay tuned….

Suarez brought the highest levels of prosperity to Miami. He offers to bring it to America.  Will America rise to the occasion?

All opinions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of any of the entities with which he is affiliated.