POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Fareed Zakaria: The U.S. is slipping, by most measures of global competitiveness … A generation ago, America had the highest percentage of college graduates in the world. Today we’re ninth and falling … the country’s innovation culture has been corroded by a widespread search for “easy progress” and quick fixes

Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 4, 2011

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Fareed Zakaria

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Fareed Zakaria writes in TIME (10/17/11) …

  • Barack Obama has apparently committed blasphemy. In an interview in Florida on Sept. 29, he dared to say that America had gotten “soft.”
  • The denunciations have come in fast and furious from the right. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Eric Cantor and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are all shocked–shocked–that the President could say such a thing.
  • The evidence on the topic is pretty clear … The U.S. is slipping, by most measures of global competitiveness.
  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation finds that in category after category–actual venture-capital funding, research and development–the U.S. has dropped well behind countries like Japan, South Korea and Sweden. The foundation measures 44 countries and regions on their efforts to improve their competitiveness over the past decade. The U.S. comes in next to last.
  • Perhaps the most crucial measure of our ability to compete in a global economy is our educational attainment, especially in science, math and engineering.
  • A generation ago, America had the highest percentage of college graduates in the world. Today we’re ninth and falling.
  • Federal, state and local governments now spend less of their money investing for the future. Health care and pensions are devouring budgets everywhere, and whatever their virtues, it is difficult to mark them as producing a more competitive society. The federal government spends $4 on every adult over 65, compared with $1 on every child under 18. That is a statement about our priorities, favoring consumption over investment, the present over the future, ourselves over our children.
  • Conservatives used to believe in confronting hard truths, not succumbing to comforting fairy tales. Some still do.
  • In a bracing essay in the National Review, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and a politically active libertarian, describes how America has, well, gone soft. He notes that median wages have been stagnating for decades and argues that the country’s innovation culture has been corroded by a widespread search for “easy progress” and quick fixes. “In our hearts and minds,” Thiel writes, “we know that desperate optimism will not save us.”
  • So when you hear someone like Eric Cantor recite one of these feel-good mantras (“U.S.A., No. 1!”), think of that well-chosen phrase: desperate optimism.

read the entire article at … http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,2096319,00.html

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One Response to “* Fareed Zakaria: The U.S. is slipping, by most measures of global competitiveness … A generation ago, America had the highest percentage of college graduates in the world. Today we’re ninth and falling … the country’s innovation culture has been corroded by a widespread search for “easy progress” and quick fixes”

  1. Obama’s “sin” is that he is not a hard-right-winger. Only right wingers are allowed to say that America has gone soft!
    Further, the right wing makes the argument that America has gotten soft in order to support militarism and the “hard choices” concerning killing other people (and getting US soldiers killed). (So hard! Right wingers never put themselves or their families in harm’s way.) The left wing talks about America going soft to try to garner support for improving education, infrastructure, etc.
    This is Lakoff’s father vs. mother paradigm, I believe …
    The easy solutions, it seems, are invariably those offered by the right wing: bomb your enemies rather than work with them in any way; give tax cuts to the rich rather than affirmatively create jobs and build infrastructure, because “the market” will do the work for us.
    We’ve seen enough to know that the right wing is wrong, haven’t we?

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