On the heels of my earlier post, I came across this article by Tony Blair on MSNBC/Newsweek: “Europe is falling behind“.
Complaining about globalization is as pointless as trying to turn back the tide. There are, I notice, no such debates in China. They are not worrying about potential threats but are busy seizing the opportunities in ways that are transforming their society and ours as well. So, too, are the other emerging economies in Asia and South America. I am proud that the United Kingdom’s economy has grown twice as fast as Germany’s and four times as fast as Japan’s since 1997. I am, however, painfully aware that China has been growing three times as fast as the U. K.
Each of these fast-developing economic powerhouses has labor costs a fraction of those in Europe and North America. All can import technology and are working hard to develop their own. Foreign capital is flowing in to help them. We have to understand that competition can’t be shut out. In the end, it can only be beaten.
Britain should be well placed to take advantage of this new emphasis on knowledge. …But there is no room for complacency. The U.K. and Europe—already lag badly behind the United States, with the emerging economies catching up at a breathtaking pace.
Nearly three out of four of the world’s top information-technology companies and almost half the top 300 firms ranked by R&D spending are American. India is producing more science graduates than Europe. China has trebled its spending on research and development in the last five years. On any relative index of a modern economy—skills, R&D, patents, IT—Europe is falling behind.
I can see why the Prime Minister is worried. But some of his claims (such as below) sound hollow (I should know; My wife is deeply involved with this effort):
…We have also put sustained investment into education. …Thanks to this record investment allied to reform, we have thousands more teachers, modernized school buildings, improved literacy and numeracy and rising standards at all school ages….
I am not sure that there are any easy answers – and I do not really see improved literacy and numeracy (neither does this Daily Mail article)