30.9.11

LOSING THAT EDGE.

Our President suggests that there's something wrong with his constituents, and Roger Kimball disagrees.
Who told you that America had lost its competitive edge “over the last couple of decades”? Whoever it was, you should sack him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Like Koko in the Mikado, I have a little list, and I offer it to you, Barack, free and for nothing, without tax or levy:

Google. Yahoo. Facebook. Microsoft. Intel. Apple. Cisco. Adobe. Oracle. Wikipedia. YouTube. Twitter. Sun. Amazon. eBay.
What do these world-bestriding colossi have in common? One thing is, they’re American companies. What other country can field a tenth as many innovative tech companies? None.

No, there is nothing flaccid about American business. There’s plenty of keenness on its “competitive edge.” It’s far and away the most productive and innovative economic machine in the world.

What’s “gone soft” and lost its “competitive edge” is American government, which can’t see a pile of money it doesn’t wish to expropriate in order to feed its “spread-the-wealth-around” socialist appetite and which sees government as the adversary rather than the enabler of business. That’s the rotten softness we have to worry about.
When it comes to world-bestriding colossi, why stop with the tech companies?

There's General Electric, most recently providing serious diesel freight locomotives to the Continent.

There's Nucor Steel, which at my most recent pass through the directory of steel plants, now melts more raw steel than the successors to U. S. Steel and Bethlehem.

There are the BNSF, Union Pacific, and CN Railroads, which have put capital into infrastructure improvements at a rate that the Highway Commissioner can't emulate, even with the various transportation and stimulus bills.  (To some extent, the freight railroads resist the plans to speed up passenger trains on lines already crowded with freight traffic.   Routes the new economy has bypassed, such as Chicago-Detroit, can be sold for conversion to passenger lines, and such lines might even have potential, unless the college bubble pops.)

2 comments:

David said...

"When it comes to world-bestriding colossi, why stop with the tech companies?" Good...I"m glad you made that point. Too many people these days are using "technology" as a synonym for "computer stuff."

Unfortunately, though, it *is* true that the regulatory environment, along with tax policy, makes it easier to start and grow a software, computer services, or computer electronics company than one which has a high profile in the physical world.

Stephen Karlson said...

Perhaps the regulatory environment is a challenge, but a recent issue of Trains had a photo essay on the double-tracking of the Santa Fe through Abo Canyon (imagine the kind of gash in the earth Wile E. Coyote is eternally plopping into) to prevent delays of up to three hours to intermodal trains, and on a recent trip to Indianapolis I went past a new Steel Dynamics minimill just east of Crawfordsville. Steel Dynamics is a new steel company from the late 1990s.

I noticed your gripe about the misuse of technology to mean computers at your own place. An elephant harnessed to a bale ring is technology, and no computer can emulate it.

All the same, heavy industry isn't completely dead. The computers might control the pipe mills, but those oil country projects are going to buy a lot of seamless tube.