ball, for that matter) when he lamented, “We invented the game, we taught people how to play the game, and they came back and knocked us off the perch.” The two teams in the 2007 NBA finals, San Antonio and Cleveland, had half and one-fourth of their players from abroad (including the tournament’s Most Valuable Player), respectively. Their players came from Argentina, France, Slovenia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Serbia and Montenegro, Brazil, and the Virgin Islands. No fewer than 28 countries were represented on the rosters of playoff teams. NBA Commissioner David Stern is reported in the abovementioned USA Today article as being “startled at how fast the rest of the world has come along.” To take an example from another sport invented in the United States, fully 44% of the starting line-ups in last year’s major league baseball all-star game were foreign-born. This trend is being replicated in many fields other than basketball and baseball in which, ironically, other nations are successfully adopting our own proven but oft-ignored practices. In the case of economic competitiveness, the nations posting the most remarkable gains in recent years have to a large extent been doing so simply by copying the attributes of our systems of higher education, business management (pre-Enron era), and free enterprise and in many instances implementing them more effectively than we.

David Gergen describes a presentation by Harvard economist Richard Freeman that provides a good summary of the above considerations: Freeman “argued that we have been sugar-coating the impact that China, India, and the former Soviet Union may have on jobs and incomes in America in coming years. Unless we find some answers, our children—and certainly our grandchildren—will be in for a very rough ride.”

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement