At the end of July I was invited to be a panelist for the latest Forum of the Middle Class Prosperity Project in the US Senate in Washington DC, convened by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Elijah Cummings. The project was set up to examine some of the key challenges facing middle-class America and this particular Forum’s focus was on “Building the Economy of the Future: Why Federal Investments in Science and Innovation Matter”. It was great to discuss these issues with other panelists, including Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
American public and private investment in R&D is under threat as I have detailed in my work (and as this recent article in the New York Times highlighted). I focused on three related points which I believe pose a real threat to future American innovation, growth and competitiveness. (1) An increasingly timid public sector that is being forced to cut back its investments; (2) An increasingly financialised private sector is also reducing investment in innovation; and (3) the current dysfunctional narrative about ‘wealth creation’—concerning who the “innovators” and “risk takers” are—has allowed a small group of economic actors to reap an increasingly large share of the rewards from innovation. This both increases inequality and hurts the prospects for future innovation.
If you’re keen to read further, don’t miss the new US edition of my book, The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths (Public Affairs), with revisions including a new introduction, out in October 2015. I hope it will help to focus attention further on these issues in the run up to the 2016 Presidential elections.