I feel the biggest problem is the US governments need to tell everyone that they MUST have a college education. Many jobs in the US used to be manufacturing jobs and skilled trades jobs, but once you have a college degree, are you really going to be willing to work on an assembly line making BLU-Ray players?
I think we need to abolish the Department of Education in the US, and ask your state legislators to allow school voucher programs for your children. You could send your child to a trade school, for instance one that focuses on Automotive Technology - that child could then open a business and hire employees.
I went to college, but my current business has nothing to do with the degree I received. I paid off over $30,000 in useless loans, that if I went to a trade school, I could have avoided. Education in the US is a scam, perpetrated by the Teacher’s Unions to keep themselves rich, and us dumb.
We have a defacto economic policy that supports the "productivity" of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate to the detriment of others. I don't know how to fix it, but let's start with http://www.getmoneyout.com/ and Occupy Wall Street.
As for costs, how about a sane national health care system? And the USA should be able to add tariffs or penalties for places where they "like" heavy metal pollution, child labor, unsafe factories, massive government industrial subsidies and acid rain (because good luck getting voters in the USA to "like" those things).
The division I was in went to India. Most of another. The issue wasn't salary the issue was insurance and taxes. The liabilities insurance was raised to 100% of gross salary. In one fell swoop everyone was using 2x money from the gold vault. Wholesale downsizing and moving occurred. And this was on top of outrageous energy costs driven by a small self serving group in the state government. - That forced more overseas.....
Sure this level of research is mainly western, but the next level of research - that takes breakthroughs and makes them useful - is increasingly asian.
Fundamental research only helps USA as a nation if it can be delivered into industry. That is not happening.
I've been reading quite a few academic computer science papers recently and was stunned to see how many are asian. Of those coming from US universities most were asian students.
As to why there is no Chinese Steve Jobs... think about it in terms of the state of development of consumer culture.
In USA, heavily oriented towards relatively frivolous technologies, you get a Steve Jobs-like person working in shiny pixel toys like iphones. ie. a person filling societies wants.
In much of asia people are still looking for relatively basic goods. The wants are very different. There certainly are Steve-Jobs like people but they are delivering more basic products at far more aggressive price points.
While SJ and Apple maybe made the breakthroughs that make people wonder how a phone could be made so cool, companies like Huawei make the breakthroughs that make people wonder how it can be done so cheaply.
Some technology headlines from the last several days:
10/06: Spin-based ‘magnetologic gate’ to replace silicon chips (University of California, Riverside).
10/10: Graphene shows unusual thermoelectric response to light (MIT).
10/10: Graphene ‘Big Mac’ may replace silicon chips, say graphene discoverers (University of Manchester).
I can not remember the last time I saw really new, original, revolutionary technology research, from a non-western company or institution (and the U.S. is prominent in this body of work). I know it is difficult for some people to tell the difference, but almost everything I have seen from the east is evolutionary not revolutionary. I have seen a number of articles lamenting this fact ("Why is there no Chinese Steve Jobs?") so I am not some lone crack-pot. All of you, "reasonable", people out there need to wake up and spend just one moment considering the possibility that you just might, possibly, be wrong about something.
R&D and manufacturing salaries in U.S. too high compared to the rest of the world? What planet are you living on? People are desperate to get good manufacturing jobs in the U.S. (although in the past they did not get the training/background because of artificial demand created by central planning in legal/government/finance/real estate). A lot of opinions here are just saying things like, "We need central planning like this other country". No we don't, we are Americans and we should build on our strengths. I have developed new technologies for my company in my spare time using materials bought with pocket change (the jingling-coin kind). Do you think, maybe, we are looking to the wrong people for leadership and solutions. America does not need to be fixed, it just needs to be unleashed!
Offshoring is about hiding taxable revenue; cost is a lagging secondary, particularly with the wage inflation in China and India.Close the tax-free loophole and the USA will wake up. If companies threaten to leave, tax the crap out of their US-citizen execs so they leave and renounce citizenship as well :-)
Semiconductor manufacturing employs very few people. Location decisions are driven by cost of capital considerations, environmental compliance, taxes and subsidies. Subsidies which can take many forms are a major factor and one could argue that there has not been a subsidy-free factory built in the last 30 years. Worker productivity has nothing to do with where the jobs are. If it were, most new fabs would be in the US.
Perhaps we should examine how the tiny country of Germany manages it:
European Union (minus internal trade) $1,952,000,000,000 2010 est.
People's Republic of China $1,581,000,000,000 2010 est.
$1,303,000,000,000 2010 est.
$1,289,000,000,000 2010 est.