Interesting article from Fred Kaplan at Slate:
“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” Obama said. As a result, we need to fund “a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the space race,” with particularly strong investments in biomedicine, information technology, and clean-energy technology. In the same section of the speech, he likened this funding effort to “the Apollo Project,” which later put a man on the moon.
Yet later on in the speech, Obama proposed, starting this year, to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years,” a step that, he boasted, would “bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”
It’s hard to see how he or the Congress can resolve this contradiction—Kennedy-esque vigor and investment on the one hand, Ike-like torpor and penny-pinching on the other. He said much of this extra money could be freed up by eliminating subsidies for the oil companies. First, good luck on that. And second, that alone won’t free up enough.
The article does, however, go into some detail about the history of Sputnik and how brought new technologies into the mainstream, in particular the microchip.
So, what do you think? Is it possible to have a “Sputnik” moment, and to react to it without increasing domestic spending? Is the private sector up to the task? Are they willing? Or do we need to restructure our government spending a bit and make it work with Federal money?
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