The View From 1776
Monday, May 03, 2004
Followup - Education vs Outsourcing
The New York Times, the socialist propaganda paper of record, reports that the United States is falling behind other countries in scientific research, but fails to draw the obvious conclusion.
Today’s New York Times carries the following article:
May 3, 2004 U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences By William J. Broad
The United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation, according to federal and private experts who point to strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers in major professional journals.
Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America’s, apparently with little public awareness of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry, national security or the vigor of the nation’s intellectual and cultural life.
“The rest of the world is catching up,” said John E. Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that tracks science trends. “Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the U.S.”
Why is this happening? The Times’s explanation is standard socialist dogma: “[Senate Minority Leader Tom] Daschle accused the Bush administration of weakening the nation’s science base by failing to provide enough money for cutting-edge research.”
Liberals’ answer to every problem is collectivized, socialized management by intellectual planners, just what the French originators of socialism prescribed. And, as always, it’s a materialistic, Marxist approach: not what is taught or how people are motivated, but strictly material inputs, typically more money.
This is a hardy perennial: the conviction that only socialist intellectuals have the foresight to perceive the future needs of the nation and only the National State is able to plan and to direct research successfully. In socialist theory, all economic and political activities should be planned by intellectuals, then implemented by social engineers and bureaucrats. The masses’ role is simply to follow orders. As Bill Bradley put it when announcing his retirement from the Senate, liberals prefer the bureaucrat whom they know to the individual whom they can’t completely control.
Senator Daschle’s argument was made by Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors after the 1992 election. At that point the liberal mantra was that the United States had fallen behind Japan, Inc. and Germany, because American corporations were focused short-sightedly on next quarter’s EPS and didn’t take the long-range view that characterized the giant Japanese and German corporations whose investments had to mesh with government plans.
After Japan fell off the economic cliff and Germany began suffocating under the weight of its socialist labor union regulations and welfare-state costs, we didn’t hear much more about the need to put America’s future in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. The surge of technological innovation associated with the internet permitted Clintonians quietly to abandon their original plans for The Brave New World.
In addition to this empirical refutation of Senator Daschle’s knee-jerk reaction, we can look back at earlier decades when American technology was a good as any in the world. And where did the big technological breakthroughs occur? In corporate facilities like AT & T’s Bell Labs, IBM and General Electric research labs, and with individual inventors who gave us things like xerox photocopying and polaroid photography. The Federal government was concentrating on giant mainframe computers while Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were producing the first Apple computers in their garage.
But let’s suppose for a moment that Senator Daschle’s socialistic instincts have some degree of merit. Where will the government find the additional scientists to use additional Federal funding productively? Maybe the Feds could outsource the new research to India.
The Times’s article does acknowledge indirectly that large numbers of Indians and orientals in the past studied engineering, physics, chemistry, and so on at American universities and remained here to work for American companies. Now, however, the globalization of business lures higher percentages of them back to their homelands.
After several decades of Federal meddling in education, beginning with President Johnson’s Great Society, the Federal courts and the teachers unions have combined to overcome even the most dedicated and well-intentioned teachers. Disruptive students can’t be disciplined. And education aims, not to teach subject matter, but to discredit America’s past and condition students for a future socialistic society.
As long as American schools turn out students who lack proficiency in reading, writing, and the hard sciences, liberals’ strategy of spending more money on Federally-supported research will be no more successful than spending more money on schools in D.C. and Newark. It will provide pork for legislators’ home districts, but little else.