I know the new Congress is going to be
very busy. But if I could make one suggestion, it would be for
someone with oversight (like Rep. Ed Markey )
to host some hearings on this topic:
How do we accelerate technology?
For six years the Bush Administration
has been claiming that its laissez faire big corporate plan for the
technology industry will work. And for six years the pace of change
has been decelerating.
This, more than anything else, is
responsible for our trade troubles. China can’t adapt as fast as we
can to technological change. India lacks the infrastructure to adapt.
Russia is mainly an oil supplier. Yet all these countries have gained
enormous power in the last six years, and America has lost power,
because the pace of American innovation has slowed.
When was the last time you were excited
about something in the computing field, something really new and
different? It’s been a long, long time.
Sure, we have better game machines –
foreign-made game machines. But our data now moves at a snail’s pace
compared to what our competitors enjoy. Our software companies have
spent their time replicating the past – re-building applications
for open source or re-creating a stale, slow, small file version of
the online world in the case of cellular.
We keep falling behind.
But these are alligators. The swamp we
need to drain is the dearth of American innovation, the slowdown in
the computer area especially, the sudden disconnect between
cutting-edge research in biology and chemistry and invention.
And as Robert Woodruff taught over 80 years ago, the way to get positive change starts with asking the right question.
In 1990 the U.S. Had 19% of the world’s
output. By 2000 we were up to 29%. Now we’re likely down to 19%
again, as manufacturing has cratered and technology has moved
Re-creating the creative force of the
1990s is central to getting our economic mojo back, and to taking the
battle to our economic rivals.
We need to talk about it. And we need
to do something about it. A plan for what to do can follow the talk.
But first we need popular attention focused on this, because this
question is really the whole ballgame for the American economy, for
Americans’ future, and for paying down America’s debts.