Wednesday, May 11, 2005

MORE DOOM 'N GLOOM ON AMERICA'S TECHNOLOGICAL FUTURE: More bellyaching from BusinessWeek on the lack of "technological leadership" in U.S. culture. I completely agree that we should be placing a greater emphasis on math and science in the schools, but if there is one thing I learned in life, it's that people do what they want to do, and they won't necessarily change because someone else tells them to. Moreover, I am not buying the notion that India and China are going to be running roughshod over us in the next decade, simply because they are producing scientists and engineers en masse. Scientific knowledge is one thing, but practical business application is something else.

Regarding India, people love to focus on the hype surrounding technical outsourcing, but conveniently forget that India is also regarded as having one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Combine that with the odious caste system, and the statist economy, and it's hard to imagine how businesses can reasonably prosper. I will concede that India has made great strides in the last decade in progressing its society and economy, but there is a long way to go before India will become a viable force (other than providing cheap labor) in the world economy.

As for China, the communist system and lack of free markets is a huge obstacle. One of the biggest challenges for China is to develop the hard institutional infrastructure of a market economy. The centerpiece of that infrastructure is a rule of law that protects property rights and limits the power of government. Therein lies the difficulty, for the CCP is unlikely to give up its power and let freedom reign. However, forces calling for economic and political change are strong. And the further the market advances, the more costly it will become for the CCP to try to reverse it.

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