In the wake of this week’s jobs report, here is a Businessweek article from the July 1, 2010 in which Andy Grove, lays out a path to American economic renewal. If anyone has the chops for this, it’s Grove. One of the three founders of Intel, he helped light the fire that gave us Silicon Valley and changed the world.
The bad news is that Grove’s formula depends on intelligent and focused government action. In 2010, that didn’t seem as hopeless as it does now. Yet perhaps ideas are like seeds; the good ones grow, even though they may take a while to germinate.
One key problem, according to Grove, is our loss of hi-tech manufacturing jobs, not only because of the human cost, but because of our loss of the expertise that production brings. He says the US has already fallen too far behind to ever catch up in technologies like solar panels and batteries for fuel efficient cars. “Not only [do] we lose an untold number of jobs, we [break] the chain of experience that is so important in technological evolution. As happened with batteries, abandoning today’s “commodity” manufacturing can lock you out of tomorrow’s emerging industry.”
Grove suggests we need an employment-centered economy and political leadership. He cites the performance of several Asian economies, including China, the source of so much hand-wringing in the face of perceived U.S. decline.
Grove recommends government incentives to aid the growth of key industries and keep the manufacturing base at home. He ends the article with a chilling bit of history:
Most Americans probably aren’t aware that there was a time in this country when tanks and cavalry were massed on Pennsylvania Avenue to chase away the unemployed. It was 1932; thousands of jobless veterans were demonstrating outside the White House. Soldiers with fixed bayonets and live ammunition moved in on them, and herded them away from the White House. In America! Unemployment is corrosive. If what I’m suggesting sounds protectionist, so be it.
I suggest everyone concerned with employment and US technical expertise take a moment to read what Grove has to say: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_28/b4186048358596.htm