Infrastructure, India and Intellectual Capital

These are three very powerful “I” words – Infrastructure, India and intellectual capital. They are related in one key fashion. The failure of the US to address each of these issues has hastened its forthcoming demise as the world leading economy. China, of course, plays a key role, but we sometimes lose track of the other fastest growing economy in India, who has been creating a technology proficiency that rivals and may surpass Silicon Valley.

Per Vice News, India is well positioned for two key reasons. They have one billion people and are much more heavily focused on STEM education than the US. Even if the US had the same focus, India is three times larger and has been doing major call center and technology outsourcing for US and other companies for years. Now, they have companies that only focus on the domestic market in India. And, one other key is important. Indians who have traveled to the US to be educated are returning home rather than staying here. Why? Opportunity back home and the fact the welcome mat has been thrown away by the current US President for immigrants of color.

The other two “I” words are crucial. India is investing in their infrastructure and intellectual capital. The US has forgotten what got us to a world dominant economy. In the book “That used to be us: How America fell behind in the world it created and how it can come back,” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, it describes an America that used to invest along with a blend of local government and private funding to do great things. Now, we are more concerned with cutting revenue to dare fund things like our dilapidated infrastructure and intellectual capital.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and labor unions have been pleading for years to invest more in our infrastructure. While interest rates were low, it was the ideal time to borrow to invest in depleted assets. Infrastructure investing also would create jobs and enhance productivity, the latter through saving of time by reducing the time when roads, canals, locks and bridges have to be shut down for repair. The President rightfully noted this need on the campaign trail and then shelved a report to do anything about it one month into his Presidency. Who says so? The man he asked to do the report.

Like India, we should be investing in new technologies and our infrastructure. Plus, we should be more welcoming of immigrants, especially those who are educated here. Innovation is portable, so if these folks leave the US, the Innovation will occur elsewhere. This coupled with a better and protective patent system will promote growth.

Like America, India is not perfect. But, they are focused on the future moreso than the US leaders are. We tend to be focused more on protecting legacy industries, than greasing the skids for new ones. Fortunately, other Americans are more forward thinking, in spite of our leaders. But, it would be nice if we helped them out more.

5 thoughts on “Infrastructure, India and Intellectual Capital

  1. Good one, Keith! We are not only ceding our leadership position and alienating our allies, but we are thinking backward instead of forward. More time and money is being invested in obsolete industries, specifically coal mining, and very little attention being given to innovation. The failure to fix our aging infrastructure is going to bite us in the rear before long. Just look at Flint. Look at the condition of our Interstate Highway system. By pursuing America First, which largely translates to “White America First”, we are depriving ourselves of brilliant minds who might have otherwise chosen to come to the U.S. and contribute toward a brighter future. Truly, we are the losers and the rest of the world will move on just fine without us.

    • Jill, thanks. Vice News had a great example of a lock system on the Ohio River that is 100 years old. It breaks and shuts down the barge transport for unproductive periods of days and weeks. This adds huge costs to the distribution system. They mentioned another of a lone tunnel under the Hudson, which often ices over and causes four hours of extra truck time to detour. So, it is not just personal time loss and risk. It costs businesses a great deal. Keith

      • Good examples! I am so glad there are term limits on the presidency, else I can envision us devolving into a third-world nation at some point.

      • Jill, if for some reason this man wins a second, he will try to alter the law to go for a third. At some point, his borrowing from the future making a huge and growing debt problem worse and debasing of global trade will damage the US economy. He will blame it on others, but these decisions have his finger prints all over them. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: The infrastructure investment has bipartisan support. Its major hold up is paying for it. Outside of the Recovery Act (which was accretive to the economy) and John Boehner funding the Highway Trust Fund before he handed the reins to Paul Ryan, nothing has been done.

    More investment in infrastructure would be accretive to a pretty good economy. But, it has to be a blend of public and private funding. Private funding wants to maximize their ROI, while public funding wants to minimize ROI. Major efforts require both kinds of funding as for such investments, the ROI will be small.

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