By Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Alex Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. Hank Campbell is founder of Science 2.0. They are authors of the forthcoming book Science Left Behind. The views expressed are their own.
On Global Public Square last month, Fareed Zakaria made the case that the U.S. economy is struggling in part due to poor investment in science. He based this conclusion on two claims: First, that federal research and development (R&D) investment has declined over the past several years and, second, that American students have fallen behind in science education.
The first claim, while true, only tells part of the story. As we discuss in the upcoming Science Left Behind, American R&D investment has been relatively consistent for the past 30 years, never dropping below 2.3 percent of GDP. Though the federal portion of U.S. R&D investment has fallen during this period, the private sector has actually picked up the slack. Indeed, the most recent estimate for 2012 shows that the U.S. will spend approximately 2.85 percent of its GDP on R&D.
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Investing in pure science may sound like a Great idea, but the sad part is a majority of students will never use their knowledge when working at MacD's or Walmart. Invest in engineering and management related skills...because lets face it, America will never lead the world in manufacturing, only in the design end of product development.
The USA has moved further and further away from being a manufacturer of goods and a large pool of skilled trade workers with a mindset that manual labor shouldn't be performed to people with any kind of an education. This is the biggest and most damaging factor to the US economy than anything else and it is precisely what is utterly ignored by the vast majority of the politicans.
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