Renewing American Competitiveness 重塑美国竞争力
June 16, 2008 | Flint, Michigan
It’s great to be at Kettering—a university that is teaching the next generation of leaders and training workers to have the skills they need to advance their own careers and communities.
For months, the state of our economy has dominated the headlines—and the news hasn’t been good. The subprime lending debacle has sent the housing market into a tailspin and caused a broader contraction in the credit markets . Over 360,000 jobs have been lost this year, with the unemployment rate registering the biggest one-month jump since February 1986. Incomes have failed to keep pace with the rising costs of health insurance and college, and record oil and food prices have left families struggling just to keep up.
Of course, grim economic news is nothing new to Flint. Manufacturing jobs have been leaving here for decades now. The jobs that have replaced them pay less and offer fewer, if any, benefits. Hardworking Americans who could once count on a single paycheck to support their families have not only lost jobs, but their health care and their pensions as well. Worst of all, many have lost confidence in that fundamental American promise that our children will have a better life than we do.
So these are challenging times. That’s why I spent last week talking about immediate steps we need to take to provide working Americans with relief. A broad-based, middleclass tax cut, to help offset the rising cost of gas and food. A foreclosure prevention fund, to help stabilize the housing market. A health care plan that lowers costs and gives those without health insurance the same kind of coverage members of Congress have. A commitment to retirement security that stabilizes Social Security and provides workers a means to increase savings. And a plan to crack down on unfair and sometimes deceptive lending in the credit card and housing markets, to help families climb out of crippling debt and stay out of debt in the first place.
These steps are all paid for and designed to restore balance and fairness to the American economy after years of Bush Administration policies that tilted the playing field in favor of the wealthy and the well-connected . But the truth is, none of these short-term steps alone will ensure America’s future. Yes, we have to make sure that the economic pie is sliced more fairly, but we also have to make sure that the economic pie is growing. Yes, we need to provide immediate help to families who are struggling in places like Flint, but we also need a serious plan to create new jobs and industry.
We can’t simply return to the strategies of the past. For we are living through an age of fundamental economic transformation. Technology has changed the way we live and the way the world does business. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the advance of capitalism have vanquished old challenges to America’s global leadership, but new challenges have emerged, from China and India, Eastern Europe and Brazil. Jobs and industries can move to any country with an Internet connection and willing workers. Michigan’s children will grow up facing competition not just from California or South Carolina, but also from Beijing and Bangalore.
A few years ago, I saw a picture of this new reality during a visit to Google’s headquarters in California. Toward the end of my tour, I was brought into a room where a three- dimensional image of the earth rotated on a large flat-panel monitor . Across this image, there were countless lights in different colors. A young engineer explained that the lights represented all of the Internet searches taking place across the world, and each color represented a different language. The image was mesmerizing —a picture of a world where old boundaries are disappearing; a world where communication, connection, and competition can come from anywhere.
There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world; that the only chance to maintain our living standards is to build a fortress around America; to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries. I disagree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can make us worse off .