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Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?
Our institutions—the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine—are deeply concerned about the nation’s ability to compete during the 21st century. Prompted by a bipartisan request from Congress, we undertook a study that culminated in the report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing andEmploying America for a Brighter Economic Future, released in late 2005.
We were subsequently encouraged as President George W. Bush introduced his American Competitiveness Initiative and as both the Senate and House passed bills based on ideas from the report and from others. At least one newspaper in every state of the Union had an editorial page item indicating the need for action on this issue. We held a major meeting with more than 1,000 participants from all 50 states—both in person and virtually—to discuss ideas for actions that could be initiated at the regional, state, and local levels. Yet, we still have a long way to go for our nation to be competitive in future decades, when our children and grandchildren will need jobs and desire a standard of living at least as good as today’s.
This essay, by Norman Augustine, the chair of the committee that developed the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, provides a timely update on the proposals raised in the report. As he has in speeches throughout the country, Norman Augustine continues to make the case that action is needed so that the United States remains competitive in the 21st century. Although the responsibility for the content of this essay rests with the author, we fully support the goals that he expresses in it.
In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences presented Mr. Augustine with its most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal, to honor his contributions to the vitality of