Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mike for President

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.


reinkefj said...

Sorry, but I don't expect the Teacher's Union to allow any fundamental shift in "education" policy.

If we have any hope, it will be from parents refusing, or being unable, to pay for "education" that doesn't have an ROI. If we have any hope, it will be the children realizing that the "eduction" being offered them is a time waster and the strike out on their own. If we have any hope, it will be from the pre-College students refusing to take on the debt load for an education that doesn't have an ROI.

In short, not a lot of hope.

M. J. Doc said...

With thanks to Dave for bringing attention to M Porter's article. Presenting solution (s) rather than vivisection of the problem is a high anxiety low return activity in these first few days of the post elections season.
Personally I agree with the priority postion both the author and Dave O have chosen have chosen to highlight. As important is that none of the citizens of this nation beleive that their respossibility to the economic, cultural and political "workout" facing the US and the rest of the developed world ended when they cast their ballot last week.
Pick a venue ( education, personnal and professional accountabiliity,undocumented workers, medical care, the penal system ) where your passion and abilities can provide the leverage and energy to chanmge our present trajectory !
The benenfits of those generations before us have made their contribution and will not stand against the challanges and opportunities now before us.
Make an investment, of your intellect and energies as co-dependent and collabrative citizens' of a system that is creaking under the weight of exploitation and under investment by its present members. at minimum what is required is focused attention and investment by individuals whose interest are perhaps parohical and self serving in the short run but not selfish or ment to denie the balance of the po[ulation a even chance to mutually benenfit by those actions Just as every private or NFP organization we have guided and contributed our efforts and funding to make viable the ROI of the system under which we live is in need of the same contribution. Delay is not an option opting out and hoping for insulation is not viable, A sense of urgency and private / public accountability is required in and from every person and instituion in the system.
We tary at our peril.

Dave Opton said...

John, I certainly understand where you're coming from and certainly agree re: the role and responsibility of parents in making sure that their kids understand the value of education and doing all the can to keep them on that path.

Dave Opton said...


Very wll said, and much appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts.