Falling behind in S&T

Two new studies are out on America’s crisis in science and technology: AeA’s (American Electronics Association) Losing the Competitive Advantage?: The Challenge for Science and Technology in the United States and The Task Force on the Future of Innovation’s The Knowledge Economy: Is America Losing Its Competitive Edge (the Task Force is a coalition of science, education, and technology industry leaders). These reports come on the heals of the last year’s EIA report (Electronic Industries Alliance)Technology Industry at an Innovation Crossroads: A Policy Playbook Addressing the Future of the U.S. High-Tech Innovation Economy, and the Council on Competitiveness’s National Innovation Initiative. All of these report point out the declining Federal support for R&D and problems with the K-12 educational systems.
I would like to say I am optimistic that these reports will serve as a call to action. But I’m not. While industry leaders issue report and report, Washington, with a few exceptions, is focused on other issues. And the huge budget deficit (which does not even count war or Social security privatization costs) leaves little room for the traditional response of expanding Federal support for S&T research or education.
For this reason, I continue to call for a new approach to the problem, as outlined in the Commission on the Future of the US Economy. Clearly, we can not stay on our present course and the alternatives we have tried in the past are either not available or insufficient. We need some new thinking — and we need it fast.

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