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Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?
mathematics. But competitiveness is a long-term challenge and much remains to be donein the months ahead.
Meanwhile, our competitors have not been standing still. The World EconomicForum dropped America from first to seventh place in its ranking of nations’ preparednessto benefit from advances in information technology; the number of US citizens enteringengineering school declined still further; the remnants of the legendary Bell Labs, thebirthplace of the laser and the transistor and the home of many Nobel laureates, were soldto a French firm; a new generation of semiconductor integrated circuits—the mortar of themodern electronics revolution—was introduced; the largest initial public offering in history was conducted by a Chinese bank; another $650 billion has been spent on US publicschools while the performance of its students on standardized science tests of those aboutto graduate declined further; American companies once again spent three times more onlitigation than on research; and in July, for the first time in history, foreign automakers soldmore cars in the United States than American manufacturers.
The competitiveness issue as seen some 18 months after the National Academies’study was completed is the topic of this essay. Its content is based on congressional testimony and a series of lectures by the author and thus offers a less formal but updatedversion of the findings in the Academies’ report. Although this essay draws heavily on thatreport and other sources, the views expressed herein are those of the author.