The $64 Trillion Question (Part 2)
In some of its pronouncements and actions, the Obama administration has suggested it is re-embracing this model. It has called for doubling exports, initiated a number of industry-specific programs like the promotion of green tech industries and bullet trains, and has appointed auto bailout adviser Ron Bloom to the newly created post of “manufacturing czar” to advocate for manufacturing within the policy process.
Yet, the administration seems ambivalent. These initiatives have not been carefully considered, and the commitment to them appears to be half-hearted. Moreover, some of the key factors necessary to renewing our prosperity have been overlooked altogether. Thus, on the present track, it’s unlikely that the administration will be able to follow through on creating the American renaissance it promised.
The administration has tagged for special development support certain industries that it believes will be able to compete globally and create lots of jobs while also serving important social and political ends. Particularly attractive among these have been the so-called green industries: They’re high tech. They’re the future. And they are an important part of our energy and environmental strategy.
So, the administration has allocated special funding for the development of wind farms and wind turbines, advanced batteries, solar cells, and bullet trains. Now, despite the mythology of American entrepreneurial and technological virtuosity, it is important to understand that Germany, Denmark, Japan, Korea, France, and China already have large government-funded programs to develop these same industries and are well ahead of the United States in all of them. Indeed, the Europeans and Japanese have had bullet trains for over 30 years. That’s why the administration’s support has been absolutely crucial to keeping existing U.S.-based operations viable and to attracting a few newcomers as well. But will the Obama team’s efforts be enough?