Magna Charta: Welcome Back, Ross Perot

So, EDS is gone (again), subsumed by HP. But, lo and behold, H.

So, EDS is gone (again), subsumed by HP. But, lo and behold, H. Ross Perot is back, just in time for the presidential elections. Now, you can view his slides about the dangers of the federal deficit and debt online, any time you want. Or, hear him posit that the only silver lining in the state of the nation’s education is …. “there’s no place to go but up.’’ If you want to hear the facts from everyone’s favorite Dallas billionaire and erstwhile presidential candidate on energy, education, health care and other major public issues, all you have to do now is go to PerotCharts.

A typical exigesis is his set of “challenge charts” on “U.S. Primary Energy Consumption By Source and Sector 2007” and there is also of course is classic case against U.S. government spending that he used to put on handheld slides back in 1992, when he ran for the White House. The federal deficit that was $4 trillion when he made it an issue in his race for the presidency is now $9.4 trillion. You can hear him on the site rail against the $1 billion a day of debt that is building up, when you go to his “instrument panel” for citizen knowledge and action on the “serious economic issues” facing either incoming president, Barack Obama or John McCain, and the country. They are not named, but the purpose of the site is clear: Perot wants to influence public thinking as the Nov. 4 election approaches. He hopes people are still listening. “ It’s one thing to promise me free candy forever, but where are you going to get it?,’’ he told radio talk show hostess, Rita Cosby, on WOR in New York. Unlike at least one of the aforementioned candidates, his natural reaction is to use computer services, now available on the Web, to get his points across. Perot, of course, is as responsible as any single person in this country for developing the idea that software or hardware could be supplied as a service to corporations. He left IBM in 1962 and founded Electronic Data Systems Corp., which as recently as 1993 thought it could overtake IBM as the world’s largest supplier of communications, computing and related consulting services to businesses around the world. He sold EDS to General Motors for $2.6 billion in 1984, which would be the equivalent of about $5.5 billion today. So his successors did build value. Perot, of course, went off and ended up competing with both IBM and EDS, with a new company, Perot Systems. Then, the man turned patriotic national hero partly due to his daring rescue of two EDS employees from an Iranian prison, ran for president as a third-party candidate. He roiled the election, taking 18.8% of the popular vote, although not a single electoral vote. That time around, he actually led the race, which included incumbent George H.W. Bush and upstart Bill Clinton, in June. But he pulled out in July and irrevocably damaged his credibility by claiming Republican antagonists tried to disrupt his daughter’s wedding. He never proved the claim, publicly. Now we’ll see whether his resumption of his chart-led detailing of the various economic and education crises facing this country have any effect on this presidential election. The problem, he says, is we don’t use “the engineering process” to solve complex problems in the economy or society. Not surprisingly, he says destroying the middle class is destroying the country – and thinks fellow Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens’ wind-based energy policy deserves “serious consideration.” He lambasts Obama's thinking on off-shore drilling. So far, he hasn’t been seen squaring off with Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann, Greta van Susteren or Shepard Smith on any of the major news networks. As he himself says, his daily life is never dull, but often strange. You can visit Perot and even send him a message if you want -- if you can answer the single security question on the site. Remember, this is the man who had the plaque behind his desk: “Eagles don't flock, you have to find them one at a time.’’

You can also listen to his interview with guest radio show hostess Rita Cosby on August 8 here. Or go back and see how he used to present his ideas, in 1992: