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The conservatism of big things

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 19:15
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David Goldman writes,

America won’t stumble its way back to national greatness. We have to hit on all cylinders at the same time, something we have not done since Ronald Reagan was in office. America’s decline in productivity, competitiveness, and skills is so advanced that nothing short of a focused national recovery plan will save us from a decline like that of the post-war United Kingdom. We need a national initiative to restore American technological supremacy, basic infrastructure, labor force participation, and above all a sense of national purpose and morale.

Our point of reference should be Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, a mustering of intellectual and entrepreneurial resources to leapfrog the Asian competitors who now threaten to gain a technological edge that we may never reverse unless we reverse it soon. This is the conservatism of big things: the melding of national defense and space exploration with an opening of opportunities to a new generation of entrepreneurs.

…Our national security requirements and economic needs are complementary. America’s technological edge in defense is under severe challenge. We confront a host of new prospective threats: satellite-killer technologies, ship-killer missiles, hypersonic missiles designed to defeat our air defenses, new radar designed to defeat existing stealth technology, and cyberwar, to name the most visible. Russia’s S-400 and S-500 may now be the best air defense systems available. China’s anti-ship missiles and stealth submarines may neutralize American aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific. Quantum computing and other technologies threaten the security of communications. Our power grid is vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse weapons. It is easy to talk about getting tough with Russia and China. But it is not clear that we would win a sea war with China in the South China Sea or a land war with Russia in the Ukraine, for example.

Goldman goes on to show by graphs and words what has been happening to our economy, and he concludes,

We are in a depression in all but name.

…It is a slippery slope. If we continue to lose ground, we may never have the chance to come back. Nothing short of a great national effort will give us the chance to come back. And the first thing that is required is for an American president to declare that a great national effort is underway, with the sense of purpose that informed the Eisenhower and Kennedy responses to Russian gains in space during the 1950s, or Reagan’s commitment to win the Cold War and defend America from missile attack. There are many individual things that must be done, but there is one big thing that must be done. That is to identify a national goal and commit the full resources of the United States to achieving it.

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