Innovation Files has moved! For ITIF's quick takes, quips, and commentary on the latest in tech policy, go to itif.org

Time for America to Throw in the Competitiveness Towel

flag

In 1871, America became the largest economy in the world. 144 years later we need to admit that while we’ve had a good run, it’s time to let other countries have their turn. China just overtook us as the largest economy last year. And other nations, like India, are on their way up.

So I say, let’s stop being selfish. We can get used to being number 2, or even number 20. We’re America after all, we can do anything, including lose gracefully.

Besides we don’t want to hurt other nations, especially those poor ones. We have lots more money than the Chinese and Indians. Why then are we trying to compete with them and not letting them have our high wage industries that they need more than us. If they want to take our aerospace, machinery, heavy equipment, computers, software and life sciences industries, who are we to say no, even if they use unfair methods to win. After all they are poor, so it’s okay for them to cheat.

Now it is true, as China specialist Michael Pillsbury writes in The Hundred Year Marathon, that China has been working surreptitiously and diligently to replace America as the global hegemon for decades. But so what? We can trust China to not only look after our interests but the interests of freedom and democracy around the world. And that way we won’t have to pay all that money to DOD to keep the world safe. The Chinese will do it for us.

Finally, as Paul Krugman and most of the economic establishment in Washington wisely tell us, the United States doesn’t even compete with other nations. If they get all our high wage industries we’ve always got tort attorney jobs to fall back on.

So let the other guys have their day (or century) in the sun. To make sure that happens, it’s imperative that Congress does its share. It can start by not reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank. After all, the only thing this institution does is play a critical role in helping U.S. companies export products so that U.S. workers can keep global market share in high-wage industries. And to make matters worse, it returns a profit to the U.S. Treasury. Who wants that? Time to let these greedy companies lose out in global competition and let their workers get real jobs, like flipping hamburgers or maybe being economists.

After Congress disposes of this pesky export enabler, there will be plenty more to do. (Who said this was a do-nothing Congress?) Next up, take on the corporate tax code. Yeah, to be sure, at 35 percent the U.S. rate is already the highest in the world. But this is not enough; after all we are still the second biggest economy in the world and we lost only one-third of our manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years. So Congress should not only get rid of the innovation-enabling R&D credit, but also raise the corporate rate to at least 45 percent; hey, why not an even 50 percent. That’ll send a clear message to companies that America doesn’t welcome their jobs and that they and we are better off if they send them to other, more needy nations. After that we can focus on cutting federal spending on science and technology; zeroing out the federal gas tax and the highway trust fund; and putting an end to all high skill immigration (those foreign scientists can just go and invent and create great companies in their own nations anyway.)

Just think of all the goodwill America will accrue from letting all these other nations have our best jobs. No more anti-Americanism. No more jealousy. As Randy Newman sings in Political Science: “No one likes us, I don’t know why / We may not be perfect but heaven knows we try / But all around, even our old friends put us down.”

After we get rid of Ex-Im and take all these other measures to help our friends overseas, they won’t be able to say that anymore. Happy days will be here again. And America will be riding low, just where we belong.

Print Friendly

About the author

Robert D. Atkinson is the founder and president of ITIF. Atkinson’s books include Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage (Yale, 2012), Supply-Side Follies: Why Conservative Economics Fails, Liberal Economics Falters, and Innovation Economics is the Answer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), and The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005). Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Oregon.