Seeing the Round Corners

HEADS UP, the new day for Seeing the Round Corners “GOING LIVE” is Tuesday each week.

May 19, 2020

In light of the economy resulting from just a two-month shutdown due to the pandemic, today’s column may be more than just poignant – it may morph into a catastrophic warning. The powers that be now categorize the economy in more dire shape than the Great Recession of 2008.

Readers, ask the question, “Have you the reader observed implementation of any of the recommendations made by the National Academies titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm:  Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future?”

PART V – PROSPERING IN THE 21st CENTURY                   

November 26, 2012

In January of 2011, President Obama signed the reauthorized America COMPETES Act (America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act), Public Law 110-69, August 9, 2007). It was set to expire in the 2010 fiscal year.

The President stated just prior to signing the legislation, “This is our moment . . . We’ve got to rebuild on a new and stronger foundation for economic growth. We need to do what America has always been known for:  building, innovating, educating, and making things.”

The legislation was hailed as a “major milestone on this Nation’s path to building an innovation economy for the 21st century – an economy that harnesses the scientific and technological ingenuity that has long been at the core of America’s prosperity, and applies that creative force to some of the biggest challenges we face today,” according to John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.

he 2005 report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, (hereinafter the Gathering Storm) presented in previous editions of Seeing the Round Corners was revisited by the Committee that originally produced the report for the purpose of determining progress and change. No doubt the financial meltdown emboldened the significance for America’s competitive position in the world.

The Committee’s overall conclusion:  “The outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years.” That ominous conclusion was based on a number of reasons and “factoids.”

During that five-year time period, the challenge to America’s competitive position has grown because of two primary reasons:  1) the financial and economic meltdown of 2008; and 2) the rapid and persistent advance of education, knowledge, innovation, investment and industrial infrastructure throughout the world. Such foreign countries as Europe and Asia, as well as many others, took note of the Gathering Storm report and have aggressively pursued many of the recommendations more so than the U.S.

The Committee acknowledged the “many other daunting near-term challenges” faced by the U. S. government and industry, but expressed the belief that the “crucial strategic issues of U. S. competitiveness” are being allowed to slip below the surface.

The National Academies also expressed the purpose and intent of the updated report was to “inform the public and policymakers, rekindle and advance an urgent national dialogue, and stimulate further strong and sustained bipartisan efforts to ensure the future competitiveness, innovative capacity, economic vitality and job creation in the o

Now, to what the Committee found as a result of its revisit to the Gathering Storm report.

Two pieces of legislation were responsible for enabling and implementation of a number of the Gathering Storm recommendations:  1) the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA); and 2) the America COMPETES Act; respectively. It should be pointed out that both pieces of legislation were passed with set time-limited periods. AARA was presumed to be a two-year initiative, and America COMPETES Act to expire after three years.

The reauthorized America COMPETES Act signed by President Obama in January of 2011 represented one of the necessary requirements set forth by the Committee for America to address its competitiveness challenge; one that it acknowledges is an “undertaking that will require many years, if not decades.”

The second requirement the Committee stressed necessary for America was to “institutionalize funding and oversight of the Gathering Storm recommendations – or others that accomplish the same purpose – such that funding and policy changes will routinely be considered in future years’ legislative processes.”

The Committee was blunt in its admission of just how monumental some of the recommendations were, citing as an example, the suggestion for doubling the research budget in the fiscal conditions existing during the year of the report (2005) and the revisit in 2010.

The Committee took the unusual position stating emphatically “. . . actions such as doubling the research budget are investments that will need to be made if the nation is to maintain the economic strength to provide its citizens healthcare, social security, national security and more. One seemingly relevant analogy is that a non-solution to making an over-weight aircraft flight-worthy is to remove an engine.”

The ability of America and Americans to compete for jobs in the evolving global economy was the focus of the original Gathering Storm report, noting that the possession of quality jobs is the foundation of a high-quality life for the nation’s citizenry.”

America has been on a perilous path in recent decades, according to the Committee and the National Academies, and the outlook is daunting with regard to sustained competitiveness should America continue on this perilous path.

Next week, additional findings of the Committee when it revisited the Gathering Storm and a few “factoids” discovered along the way. Examples:  Of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 suppliers, 5,000 are in China; IBM’s once promising PC business is now owned by a Chinese company. Those two are just a few of the real eye openers.

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