Lately I’ve been hearing comments about things like declining research competitiveness, bright young Indians choosing to stay in India instead of come to the U.S. to seek their fortune, and comments about how even the research that is being done in American universities is increasingly being done by foreign students. Some international talent(which presumably has scores of advisors helping with these decisions) is even choosing to be paid in euros instead of dollars. The troubling thing about this is that instead of these comments coming from the more rabble-rousing section of the web, they’re coming from intelligent, well-read people with a worldly perspective. If you were looking for the proverbial “canary in a coal mine”, wouldn’t you think these people would be about the best indicators you could find in that respect?
While I like to think that Steve’s post was particularly prescient, in fact if you were listening to the same sources he apparently has been, it’s blindingly obvious. I don’t claim to be anywhere as smart as the people I linked to above, but I don’t think you really need to be if you’re listening to the right people, and overwhelmingly they’re saying there’s a problem.
Of course, we didn’t get ourselves in this mess overnight (become a consumer economy instead of production economy, as Maitri so deftly puts it), and we won’t dig ourselves out of it overnight either. Let’s just hope that our years of neglect of the educational system turn out better than our years of neglect of the levee system.
I don’t think that America’s importance is declining so much as the rest of the world is inclining. What I mean is that America was the first to make leaps and bounds as far as global progress goes, but has spent to much time being fat and happy instead of working on further progress. During this time it has been easy for other countries and nations to continue their progression and even learn from the mistakes of the US.
Yeah, I’d agree with that. It’s not all gloomy on the outlook, because it seems like some countries (China) are determined to NOT learn from our mistakes. The important thing, though, is that we’ve fueled our innovation, at least since WWII, by brain draining the rest of the world, and we aren’t going to have that source in the future.