Concerned about the ability of the US to compete in the global economy, Senators on both sides of the aisle gave support to a bill that offers more funding for research, and more investments into science and technology education. On the face of it, a law supporting research and science education sounds like a good thing. But it should be noted at the outset that the alleged gap between the output of technical schools in China and India and the US has been overstated. Also, while much of this money will flow towards universities, it should also be seen as a business subsidy, since a lot of technical research that's done at universities goes into actual products. This might explain why a number of technology trade associations quickly praised the bill. What's funny is that there are plenty of political and intellectual leaders that would disparage things like agriculture subsidies (for distorting the market), but then have no problem supporting subsidies for R&D. The problem in both cases is that simply throwing money at a problem rarely solves it. If the US really thinks it has a problem in terms of competitiveness, which is debatable, then it needs to be serious about fostering competition. Unfortunately, some measures, like lifting trade barriers, are a lot less politically palatable than funding more R&D, which makes for a great soundbite.
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