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Government Bets on the Future with STEM has Made America Great
Guest Author: Theodore “Ted” C. Kraver Ph.D.
Many ideologists call for tax reductions and decreased public spending to improve the economy —a scheme that has been proven to do the exact opposite. Unfortunately, some of these leaders have been successful and we have paid a high price. Our nation’s public debt has soared into the $Trillions. Our nation’s public roads and much of our other transport infrastructure are deteriorating for lack of maintenance, repair and upgrades as traffic levels and cargo weights increase. As a result we waste a $100 Billion a year in time and gasoline because a low gasoline tax. In Arizona our annual investment per student in education is of the lowest in the nation assuring that a large percentage of students fail to receive an education which addresses their needs.
History tells us that USA’s rise to dominance has been due to our 200 year history of funding public schools for the three R’s (steM), the creation of public high schools (SteM), and finally our public career education schools and college system (STEM). Each period of history has had a huge increase in USA economic power and citizen well-being caused by wise government investment in emerging technologies. In the 19th century it was steam boats, railroads and water ways. The 20th century saw huge dams, the Panama Canal, airports and aviation breakthroughs, and bio-medical products, the rural electric grid and Tennessee Valley Authority, the Eisenhower highway system, and then the Internet. Each of these required immense amounts of public funding for emerging technologies that were sourced from taxes.
“Tax and Spend and Prosper” was the way of our forbearers. When an anti-tax sentiment problem arose they addressed it. General George Washington and his patriots crushed the Whiskey Rebellion which was all about not paying taxes. More recently other rich countries have raised taxes commensurate with the needs of their citizens. In the USA our taxes have been constant as a percent of Gross National Product for 60 years. Compared to peer countries our wealthy individuals and corporations pay lower income taxes. As a result our system of leadership fails to fully implement the findings, knowledge and skills of our scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians for our nation’s advantage.
I believe that a major cause of the current decades of the Great Recession, unique in the history of our nation, is the lack of bold risk taking by our leaders. The Arizona STEM research and practice has produced the “know how” and talent pouring out of our and public research universities and driving high tech enterprises . The scope is broad from electronic to biotech to aerospace to education technologies. What we need are folks in leadership that will implement a STEM based “Tax – Spend” vision in the public sector to support the “Prosper” in the private sector and for our citizens.
We have an opportunity between now and November 4th, election day. Do your part.
Reference: Porsches, Potholes and Patriots, Nicholas Kristof, NY Times, July 3rd, 2014.