“Raise your hand if you’re a senior … You’re screwed,” George E. Pataki jokingly told Cornell undergraduates searching for jobs in the face of “tough economic times.”
In his lecture titled, “Economy in Crisis: An Insider’s View on the State of the Economy,” Pataki, the former governor of New York, made efforts yesterday to boost the spirits of his audience at Bailey Hall, telling them “to keep [their] eyes on the big picture.”
Pataki pointed to the optimistic and pragmatic character of the American people as well as to the limited nature of the nation’s government as innate qualities that will ensure that the United States will weather the current economic storm.
“This is the greatest country in the world,” Pataki said. “Americans will never stop dreaming and never stop achieving.”
During his three terms as governor from 1995 to 2007, Pataki dealt with a fiscal deficit by creating over 650,000 jobs and lowering taxes, according to the University.
[img_assist|nid=36862|title=Economic elucidation|desc=Former Governor George Pataki speaks about the economy in Bailey Hall.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Pataki was responsible for balancing the budget for 12 years,” said Erica Call ’11, treasurer of Cornell College Republicans, the group that hosted the lecture. “The U.S. economy is not only in economic distress, but also the New York economy. … Pataki knows a thing or two about the state economy.”
Although Pataki is optimistic about the nation’s future, he pointed to specific problems the country must address in order to progress.
“These are tough economic times, but we know what went wrong,” Pataki said.
From the banks irresponsible leveraging to the sub-prime mortgage loans, Pataki described both Democrats’ and Republicans’ “failure to realize the role of government.”
“[People and companies] weren’t just taking risks, they were jumping off a cliff for the hopes of short-term gain,” Pataki commented.
While Pataki insisted that we need greater oversight, he made it clear that he does not envision an “oppressive big government,” but “limited government that empowers the private sector to grow.”
In terms of economic growth of the private sector, Pataki brought concern to the “hollowing out of the American economy,” in which America is losing all of its manufacturing jobs overseas. Pataki combined this argument with his admonishment of America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“We send three-quarters of a trillion dollars overseas for oil. Where is the intelligence in this?” Pataki asked. “We need to invest in the innovation of human technology … economic explosion of green energy jobs of the 21st century.”
Cornell stands to gain from similar sentiments since institutions of higher education are bastions for such research into new technology.
In addressing the personal concerns of Cornell undergraduates, Pataki remained positive.
“There will be opportunities for all of you to succeed,” Pataki said. “Learn and focus on all the nuances of your course material. Most of all, common sense counts for all the knowledge in the world.”
While Pataki sees the need to spend in higher education, he emphasized the need to ensure that the proper oversight is in place so that such “spending is sustainable.”
Although Prof. Ronald Furry, retired biological and environmental engineering and former department chair and his wife Anne, former Ithaca City School District teacher and former mayor of Lansing, do not have to worry about finding employment, the couple came to hear Pataki, a politician with whom they usually agree.
“We’ve lived in the state of New York all our lives and we’re both interested in politics, especially [my wife],” Ronald said.
When asked what they thought was most important in getting the economy back on its feet, Anne replied, “Getting people back to work and directing the money in the right way to enable jobs.”
Regardless of political views, Ben Neighbor ’10, first vice chairman of the Cornell College Republicans, explained that the purpose of this lecture was to make sure that a diverse group of perspectives are present in the Cornell community.
“We’re always looking to add intellectual diversity, and Pataki shares a conservative view to Cornell students.”
In his opening speech, Ray Mensah, president of Cornell College Repbulicans, thanked Governor Pataki’s son, Owen Pataki ’10.