Ed Driscoll

Ahead Of The Curve By 15 Minutes, Part Deux

Yesterday, we looked at Europe’s long-running malaise and then pondered whether or not “a similarly European worldview percolates amongst America’s left”. We linked to a Jonah Goldberg essay from May, in which he wrote that the answer is yes indeed, it does. “The ideas, assumptions and prejudices held by the statistically typical Democratic voter, according to [a recent] Pew study, are quite simply, European”.

On Tech Central Station tonight, James Glassman wonders if America as a whole is becoming too European, adding, “don’t expect much soon in the way of European economic transformation”:

. This is the life they have chosen — one in which, they believe, the state relieves them of the stress of a market society. But the price is very high. Surveys show rampant European unhappiness and pessimism. European birth rates have fallen so sharply that populations are headed for steep declines. Why? Sadly, couples don’t place a high priority on bringing children into the paradise they’ve created.

But Europeans will have to find their own path. My concern is with Americans. Is it inevitable that, as we grow more prosperous, we will become more like Europe — losing initiative, insisting that our governments coddle us?

I worry that we are beginning to see the initial signs of just such a turn for the worse. A distinguished 20-member panel of experts convened by the National Academies, America’s top science advisory group, has warned in a new study that the U.S. “could soon lose its privileged position” as the world’s top innovator and growth engine. With competitors “who live just a mouse click away,” we stand to lose high-paying jobs, especially to Asia.

Key statistics: The number of U.S. doctorates in science and engineering peaked in 1998. In 1970, the U.S. accounted for more than half such degrees; by 2010, just 15 percent. By 2010, China will produce more science and engineering doctoral graduates that we will.

The whiners think that we can opt out of a globalized world, cocoon ourselves in protectionism. In fact, if we take that course, the crack-up will come sooner.

The Academies panel takes a more constructive course, with a list of that focuses on science teaching in high school and college and on more government spending on basic research in science. I agree. It’s also imperative that we cut our lofty corporate tax rates, which are sending thousands of good jobs abroad.

But government action is only part of the solution. The personal counts more. America has a choice: more like Europe, or more like Asia. Actually, Asia has become more like America in recent years, so the real choice is whether we want to be complacent Europeans or to our hard-working, compassionate, imaginative American selves.

In other words, over the long run, whose values will win? Red or Blue America? Also known as, Hard or Soft America.