When I say Mike for president I am not talking about Jordan. Actually I'm just expressing the thought that a lot of sports fans do when they are passing accolades along about one of their idols.
In this case however I am not talking sports, I am talking about America's ability to compete in the world economy - a game I think most of us would agree we cannot afford to lose and yet if you read Michael E. Porter's recent article in the October 30th issue of BusinessWeek it feels like a game which while it may not be out of reach (yet) it is one where we need to put some points on the board in a big way.
Porter is, as most know, one of the leading gurus on competitiveness. In this most recent piece called Why America Needs an Economic Strategy (talk about an understatement!) Porter lays out in words that even I could understand both the need and some proposed solutions.
I should say as an aside that it is really nice to see someone do more than just write about "the problem" (as if we didn't know!) but also take the time to try and show the reader a "way out." This is also one of the reasons that I am such a fan of Tom Friedman who often does the same thing.
Anyway, what caught my eye was not just the subject which I found of immediate interest, but after reading it, I was pleased to see that he too was pounding the drum on one of the subjects about which readers of this blog will recognize as one about which I have pretty strong feelings - read public education. Here's what Porter had to say on the subject:
"A final strategic failure is in many ways the most disconcerting. All Americans know that the public education system is a serious weakness. Fewer may realize that citizens retiring today are better educated than the young people entering the workforce. In the global economy, just being an American is no longer enough to guarantee a good job at a good wage. Without world-class education and skills, Americans must compete with workers in other countries for jobs that could be moved anywhere. Unless we significantly improve the performance of our public schools, there is no scenario in which many Americans will escape continued pressure on their standard of living. And legal and illegal immigration of low-skilled workers cannot help but make the problem worse for less-skilled Americans."This is not to say that there are not other strategic failure factors that Porter brings to the reader's attention, but for sure this one is super critical.
Presidential elections remind me of the sort of hopeful feeling that many of us feel on New Year's eve. A new beginning and a chance to make move forward with a "clean slate." An over simplification to be sure, but it is still hard to not feel some of that even though we know that the issues that we there on the 31st don't go away on the 1st.
All that said, and since we by this time tomorrow we will have a new President elect, and since I am a bit of an idealist anyway, I hope that the president and members of both houses will have read this article and will take it to heart, especially the closing paragraph which says:
"The new Administration will have an historic opportunity to adopt a strategic approach to the U.S.'s economic future, something that would bring the parties together. America is at its best when it recognizes problems and accepts collective responsibility for dealing with them. All Americans should hope that the next President and Congress rise to the challenge."Yeah, I know, but somewhere in the past I must have been related to Don Quixote.