Globalization Requires Safety Net, U.N. Says
By Michael A. Fletcher and Christopher Twarowski
Washington Post, 2008-07-02

A Baffling Global Economy
By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post, 2008-07-16

Obama's Factory Factor
By Harold Meyerson
Washington Post, 2008-08-21

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Will America ever get its manufacturing back?
Not unless we move to level a steeply tilted playing field:
China and a host of other nations
offer generous subsidies to companies locating their plants there,
while the United States shuns such mercantilist strategies.
But even if we moved toward mercantilism,
we’d still have to confront
the global economic order of the past quarter-century.

American banks and corporations
have already made immense capital investments,
bringing their technology and expertise
to nations with far cheaper workforces.

There’s no evidence that they’ve hedged their bets
with contingency plans to reinvest in Ohio.

Besides, once you shutter enough factories,
reopening or rebuilding them --
and their equivalently shuttered supplier and transportation networks --
is no simple matter.
Nor is reacquiring skilled crafts workers
in industries such as precision machine tool manufacturing,
which have largely been offshored.

Beware the New Globalism
All hail the coming regionalist revolt
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-12-10


Start-Ups, Not Bailouts
New York Times Op-Ed, 2010-04-04

Here’s my fun fact for the day, provided courtesy of Robert Litan,
who directs research at the Kauffman Foundation,
which specializes in promoting innovation in America:
“Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S.
were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,” said Litan.
“That is about 40 million jobs.
That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.”

If we want to bring down unemployment in a sustainable way,
neither rescuing General Motors nor funding more road construction
will do it.
We need to create a big bushel of new companies — fast.
We’ve got to get more Americans working again for their own dignity —
and to generate the rising incomes and wealth we need
to pay for existing entitlements,
as well as all the new investments we’ll need to make.
It was just reported that Social Security this year
will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes —
a red line we were not expected to cross until at least 2016.

But you cannot say this often enough:
Good-paying jobs don’t come from bailouts.
They come from start-ups. And where do start-ups come from?
They come from smart, creative, inspired risk-takers.
How do we get more of those?
There are only two ways: grow more by improving our schools
or import more by recruiting talented immigrants.
Surely, we need to do both, and we need to start
by breaking the deadlock in Congress over immigration,
so we can develop a much more strategic approach
to attracting more of the world’s creative risk-takers.
“Roughly 25 percent of successful high-tech start-ups over the last decade
were founded or co-founded by immigrants,” said Litan.
Think Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google,
or Vinod Khosla, the India-born co-founder of Sun Microsystems.

That is no surprise.
After all, Craig Mundie, the chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft,
What made America this incredible engine of prosperity?
It was immigration, plus free markets.
Because we were so open to immigration —
and immigrants are by definition high-aspiring risk-takers,
ready to leave their native lands in search of greater opportunities —
“we as a country accumulated a disproportionate share
of the world’s high-I.Q. risk-takers.”

In addition, because of our vibrant and meritocratic university system,
the best foreign students who wanted the best education also came here,
and many of them also stayed.
In its heyday, our unique system also attracted
a disproportionate share of high-I.Q. risk-takers to high government service.
So when you put all this together, with our free markets and democracy,
it made it easy here for creative, high-I.Q. risk-takers
to raise capital for their ideas and commercialize them.
In short, America had a very powerful, self-reinforcing engine
for growing innovative new companies.

“When you get this happy coincidence of high-I.Q. risk-takers in government
and a society that is biased toward high-I.Q. risk-takers,
you get these above-average returns as a country,” argued Mundie.
“What is common to Singapore, Israel and America?
They were all built by high-I.Q. risk-takers and all thrived —
but only in the U.S. did it happen at a large scale
and with global diversity, so you had this really rich cross-section.”

What is worrisome about America today is the combination of
cutbacks in higher education,
restrictions on immigration and
a toxic public space that dissuades talented people from going into government.
Together, all of these trends are slowly eating away at
our differentiated edge in attracting and enabling
the world’s biggest mass of smart, creative risk-takers.

It isn’t drastic, but it is a decline —
at a time when technology is allowing other countries
to leverage and empower more of their own high-I.Q. risk-takers.
If we don’t reverse this trend, over time,
“we could lose our most important competitive edge —
the only edge from which sustainable advantage accrues” —
having the world’s biggest and most diverse pool of high-I.Q. risk-takers,
said Mundie.
“If we don’t have that competitive edge,
our standard of living will eventually revert to the global mean.”

Right now we have thousands of foreign students in America
and one million engineers, scientists and other highly skilled workers
here on H-1B temporary visas,
which require them to return home when the visas expire.
That’s nuts.
“We ought to have a ‘job-creators visa’ for people already here,” said Litan.
“And once you’ve hired, say, 5 or 10 American nonfamily members,
you should get a green card.”

We need health care, financial reform and education reform.
But we also need to be thinking just as seriously and urgently about
what are the ingredients that foster entrepreneurship —
how new businesses are catalyzed, inspired and enabled
and how we enlist more people to do that —
so no one ever says about America
what that officer says to Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”:
“Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.”

[I think a lot of Americans have a bit, or more than a bit, of risk fatigue right now.
Innovation sounds good to Friedman, but what about the basics?
What about the old, tried and true, products and services?
We need to ask why America is no longer competitive in providing those.]