a speech Tuesday at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.,
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt called for an innovation bailout, a bold government-funded effort to create jobs by rebooting America's energy infrastructure, and a reformation that restores trust in government by using technology to increase openness and civic participation.
"This may be the toughest economic time that most of us will face in our lifetimes," said Schmidt, who also serves as chairman of the board for the New America Foundation and as a member of President-elect Barack Obama's Transition Economic Advisory Board.
Nonetheless, Schmidt proclaimed his optimism. "I'm an optimist," he said. "It's important to say that up front. America is a remarkable place."
One reason for that is the vast amount of information now available to people around the world, a revolution in which Google has played a major part. "In our life time, almost all people will have access to almost all the world's information," he said. "That is a remarkable achievement." He expects that trend to accelerate as billions of people start accessing the Internet through their mobile phones.
America now has the opportunity to apply the technological principles that created the Internet economy to the nation's energy infrastructure, Schmidt suggested. And what's needed, he believes, is a balance between unfettered capitalism and socialism.