July 07, 2008
What U.S Competitiveness Crisis?
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Education | Gathering Storm | Science Policy: General | Technology and Globalization
For some time we have noted the tendency of some in the S&T community to claim that a crisis exists in United States Competitiveness, with the solution being large and immediate government investments in R&D budgets. Others, including Paul Krugman and Amar Bhidé argue that the notion of "competitiveness" is itself incoherent placing claims of a crisis on dubious claims.
A new report out by The Rand Corporation, titled U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology (PDF), seeks to shed some light on this debate, asking : "So, who is right? Is U.S. leadership in S&T in jeopardy?"
The answer they come up with is "No":
The United States continues to lead the world in science and technology. . .
It is an interesting report and a valuable contribution to the debate. My view of the long series of claims that the U.S. is experiencing a competitiveness crisis reflect a flawed understanding of data and analysis in this area, a willingness to exploit jingoistic rhetoric for political gain, or a crass effort to boost R&D budgets based on an argument that sells well in Washington. The reality is probably a combination of all three.
But even if the U.S. is not experiencing a competitiveness crisis, complacency is not really an option. The Rand report makes a number of sensible suggestions:
* Establish a permanent commitment to a funded, chartered entity responsible for periodically monitoring, critically reviewing, and analyzing U.S. S&T performance and the condition of the S&E workforce.Posted on July 7, 2008 07:20 AM
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