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ment rate (as a percentage of the total labor force) was 13.4% in 1990. By 1993, it had risen to 15.6%. By 2004 the unemployment rate declined to 4.5%.51 Since 1995, Ireland’s economic growth has averaged 7.9%. Over the same time period, economic growth averaged 2% in Europe and 3.3% in the United States.52

History is the story of people mobilizing intellectual and practical talents to meet demanding challenges. World War II saw us rise to the military challenge, quickly developing nuclear weapons and other military capabilities. After the launch of Sputnik53 in 1957, we accepted the challenge of the space race, landed 12 Americans on the moon, and fortified our science and technology capacity.

Today’s challenge is economic—no Pearl Harbor, Sputnik, or 9/11 will stir quick action. It is time to shore up the basics, the building blocks without which our leadership will surely decline. For a century, many in the United States took for granted that most great inventions would be home-grown—such as electric power, the telephone, the automobile, and the airplane—and would be commercialized here as well. But we are less certain today who will create the next generation of innovations, or even what they will be. We know that we need a more secure Internet, more-efficient transportation, new cures for disease, and clean, affordable, and reliable sources of energy. But who will dream them up, who will get the jobs they create, and who will profit from them? If our children and grandchildren are to enjoy the prosperity that our forebears earned for us, our nation must quickly invigorate the knowledge institutions that have served it so well in the past and create new ones to serve in the future.

CONCLUSION

A few of the tiles in the mosaic are apparent; many other problems could be added to the list. The three clusters discussed in this chapter share a common characteristic: short-term responses to perceived problems can give the appearance of gain but often bring real, long-term losses.

51

Ibid.

52

R. Samuelson. “The World Is Still Round.” Newsweek, July 25, 2005.

53

The fall 1957 launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite, caused many in the United States to believe that we were quickly falling behind the USSR in science education and research. That concern led to major policy reforms in education, civilian and military research, and federal support for researchers. Within a year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and DARPA were founded. In that era, science and technology became a major focus of the public, and a presidential science adviser was appointed.



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