“Meanwhile, the United States hobbles itself with laissez-faire dogma and ­government-bashing ideology.”

April 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

So now, two Japanese lost decades later, a generation has passed. Again Americans are worried about decline; again we fear that an Asian economic superpower — now China, of course, not Japan — will eat our lunch. For those old enough to have lived through the competitiveness debate of 20 years ago, Edward Luce’s new book, “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent,” will seem awfully familiar.

As with Japan then, so with China today. Its advantages include a nimble government, a shrewd industrial policy, enormous investment in infrastructure, motivated and diligent students and workers, piles of savings. Meanwhile, the United States hobbles itself with laissez-faire dogma and ­government-bashing ideology. America is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. Bad enough that we no longer have a shoe industry; worse yet that we are handing our competitors the industries of the future — computer chips (a generation ago), clean energy (today). “If America is to restore its competitiveness,” Luce writes, “it will need to do many things, few of which will be possible without a much more effective federal government. In today’s world, smart government is a critical ingredient of national competitiveness. Unless America can address government’s role in a more pragmatic light, it may doom itself to continued descent.”

Time To Start Thinking, Edward Luce

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