Is America Losing Its Competitive Edge?

Second crisis blindsides U.S. by Thomas Friedman Thursday, April 22, 2004

Thomas Friedman worries that we are neglecting our advantage in innovation.

We are actually in the middle of two struggles right now. One is against Islamist terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, and the other is a competitiveness and innovation struggle against India, China, Japan and their neighbors. And while we are all fixated on the former (I’ve been no exception), we are completely ignoring the latter. We have got to get our focus back in balance, not to mention our budget. We can’t wage war on income taxes and terrorism and a war for innovation at the same time.

And what is the Bush strategy? Let’s go to Mars. Hello? Right now we should have a Manhattan Project to develop a hydrogen-based energy economy — it’s within reach and would serve our economy, our environment and our foreign policy by diminishing our dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the Bush team says let’s go to Mars. Where is Congress? Out to lunch — or, worse, obsessed with trying to keep Susie Smith’s job at the local pillow factory that is moving to the Caribbean — without thinking about a national competitiveness strategy. And where is Wall Street? So many of the plutocrats there know that the Bush fiscal policy is a long-term disaster. They know it — but they won’t say a word because they are too greedy or too gutless.