As we approach the US election, mentioning politics is not entirely avoidable. But not blind rhetoric — this has some science and math discussion in it.
[H]ow have we Americans been able to afford the endless trade deficits that propel world development? Simple. Science and technology. Each decade since the 1940s saw new, U.S.-led advances that engendered enough wealth to let us pay for all the stuff pouring out of Asian factories, giving poor workers jobs. Jet planes, rockets, satellites, electronics & transistors & lasers, telecom, pharmaceuticals… and the Internet. How I’d love to see a second “National Debt Clock” showing where we’d be now, if we (the citizens) had charged just a 5% royalty on the fruits of U.S. federal research. We’d be in the black!
The first decade of the 21st Century — the Naughty Oughts — was the first (since the 1940s) that saw no such technological tsunami, making America rich enough to buy from the world. As the internet boom petered out, we could have made sustainable energy our Next Big Thing. It was proposed, and the rate that China and Germany are getting rich off solar and wind is most impressive!
By coincidence, that was also the decade when the Fox War on Science hit full stride. When science became the right’s enemy number one.
If not for that, and Bush cuts on R&D and all the rest, would we have had another renaissance and tech-driven boom by now? I cannot prove might-have-beens. But it is no accident that this failure of the expected decadal innovation wave happened in the wake of an epochal and telling event. When the GOP banished from Capitol Hill all of the advisory panels on sci and tech that had helped Congresses to legislate wisely for 60 years.
The math part is pretty straightforward:
Remember, we paid for Big Bird and the other stuff just fine, under Bill Clinton. If you’re serious about looking for the reasons we’re in a mess… look at what changed.
And the conclusion
The bad news? Unbelievably, in the present election, the citizenry might actually re-hire the gang that did all this to us. Proving that hypnotism and incantations can trump facts — fooling some of the people, all of the time. Enough of the people.
The lesson is simple: do not re-hire the dopes who made the mess. Who committed the first half dozen travesties. If you do, future generations will have you to blame.
Seriously: do not re-hire the dopes who made the mess