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Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future
are of slightly greater concern to respondents than are issues of national security and terrorism. On the eve of the 2004 presidential election, the Gallup organization asked respondents what issues concerned them most. Terrorism was first, ranked “extremely important” by 45% of respondents; next came the economy (39%), health care (33%), and education (32%).43 Only 35% say that now is a good time to find a high-quality job; 61% say that it is not.44 Polls, of course, only provide a snapshot of America’s thinking, but presumably one can conclude that Americans are generally worried about jobs—if not for themselves then for their children and grandchildren.
Investors are worried, too. According to a Gallup poll, 83% percent of US investors say job outsourcing to foreign countries is currently hurting the investment climate “a lot” (61%) or “a little” (22%). The numbers who are worried about outsourcing are second only to the numbers who are worried about the price of energy, according to a July 2005 Gallup poll on investor concerns.45
DISCOVERY AND APPLICATION:KEYS TO COMPETITIVENESS AND PROSPERITY
A common denominator of the concerns expressed by many citizens is the need for and use of knowledge. Well-paying jobs, accessible healthcare, and high-quality education require the discovery, application, and dissemination of information and techniques. Our economy depends on the knowledge that fuels the growth of business and plants the seeds of new industries, which in turn provides rewarding employment for commensurately educated workers. Chapter 2 explains that US prosperity since World War II has depended heavily on the excellence of its “knowledge institutions”: high-technology industries, federal R&D agencies, and research universities that are generally acknowledged to be the best in the world.
The innovation model in place for a half-century has been so successful in the United States that other nations are now beginning to emulate it. The governments of Finland, Korea, Ireland, Canada, and Singapore have mapped and implemented strategies to increase the knowledge base of students and researchers, strengthen research institutions, and promote exports of high-technology products—activities in which the United States has in the past