When it comes to innovation in science and technology, the United States has been the recognized global leader since the end of World War II. But today that No. 1 position is in jeopardy as many foreign governments strengthen their educational and research programs.Why does that matter?
Sustaining the United States’ leadership position is a serious issue – with far more at stake than national pride. Because it leads to new industries and higher-paying jobs, innovation is directly linked with economic prosperity.There are several billion people in the world outside the U. S. who envy its standard of living. Since their cost of living is so much less, they are willing to work for much lower wages. If they can produce goods like, say, automobiles for a lot less, they will eventually get most of that business. Especially if their products are as good as -- or better than -- U. S. products. And if they become more innovative than the U. S., their products will be better -- as is pretty much already true for cars.
No wonder the U. S. automobile industry is going down the tubes. How many others will follow?
'This isn’t a problem with a short-term fix,' says Alan Porter, co-director of Georgia Tech’s Technology Policy and Assessment Center. 'Beyond our knowledge base, we have nothing else – no natural resources – that gives us a competitive edge in the global economy. We’re fine right now, but in 15 years, this could really bite us.'
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