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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Left Behind 

Via our esteemed colleagues at Cool Aqua: In Kansas, a coalition of contemptible knuckle-dragging flatheads has grabbed national headlines by "revising" the official definition of science to incorporate the supernatural. Meanwhile, a frightening report commissioned by Congress has gone all but unnoticed; it concludes that globalization, combined with the ongoing evaporation of America's traditional advantage in science and information technology, could lead within the next decade to the demise of the middle class as we know it:
In recent congressional testimony, Norman Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, offered a glimpse into the findings, and they're not pretty. It concludes that only a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort can reverse the erosion of U.S. science and technology markets . . . .

Augustine, who chairs a national committee on prospering in the global economy, told the House of Representatives Committee on Science, that "America faces a serious and intensifying challenge with regard to its future competitiveness and standard of living. Further, we appear to be on a losing path."
"Without quality jobs, our citizens will not have the purchasing power to support the standard of living which they seek, and to which many have become accustomed; tax revenues will not be generated to provide for strong national security and healthcare; and the lack of a vibrant domestic consumer market will provide a disincentive for either U.S. or foreign companies to invest in jobs in America," he warned.

He cited projections from Goldman Sachs analysts indicating that, in about a decade, 80 percent of the world's middle-income consumers will live in nations that are not considered industrialized now.

Augustine said that the end of the Cold War, the expansion of aviation, and the development of technology have eliminated barriers, unleashing almost "three billion highly motivated, often well-educated, new capitalists" into the job market . . . .

While the standard of living is high now, it will not be if current trends catch up, he said.

"The consequences of these developments are profound," Augustine said. "Soon, only those jobs that require near-physical contact among the parties to a transaction will not be opened for competition from job seekers around the world. How will America compete in this rough and tumble global environment that is approaching faster than many had expected? The answer appears to be, "not very well" -- unless we do a number of things differently."

The report suggests 20 actions, based on four major recommendations, to bolster competitiveness. The recommendations are to: increase the country's talent pool by improving mathematics and science education in America's schools; sustain and strengthen commitments to long-term basic research; develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from inside the U.S. and abroad; and ensure that America is the premier place for innovation.


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