I assume you are referring to Indian H1B employees when you wrote
"Next we sent our software development work overseas, or shipped foreign workers by the tens of thousands to US companies, many living 6 to an apartment and working for much less than Americans. Those were jobs for nerds, anyway."
I think you are at best misinformed. I am an Indian who graduated from a top US school and work at a top tier management firm that cannot find skilled Americans even in this bad economy. Just look at your schools to know the reason why. The minimum pay on a H1B visa is $60K and I make around twice that amount. Oh by the way, Indians as an ethnic group have the highest per capita income in the country. I want to stay and start my own company in the US but the immigration mess of mixing legal & illegal immigration has ruined my plans. So I will take my ideas back to India where I will use my free US degree paid for by US taxpayers to start my own business. America wants the best minds from the world but if you make it difficult to stay and contribute they will go elsewhere.
I do understand your feelings about the decline of US. In fact, as an Indian I feel that a stronger USA is better for the world. Unfortunately, politicians of all shades in most democracies do not care about the electorate they are more bothered about the lobby and special interest money.
When manufacturing was being shipped abroad the USA should have held other countries to the same labor & environmental conditions. It would have helped better the lives of people across the globe.Contrary to popular belief in the US, labor laws in India are very union & labor friendly unlike in the People's China where unions are banned.
Oh by the way before you go on a rant about software developers from India. Please see that US-India trade is evenly balanced unlike US-China trade.
I rest my case.
First we lost our manufacturing base. Protect our environment and let them dump the hazardous wastes in their own countries. Who wants to work in some factory, anyway?
Then we sent our services and support jobs overseas, people don't care if the person answering the 800 number have a foreign accent. Who wants those jobs, anyway?
Next we sent our software development work overseas, or shipped foreign workers by the tens of thousands to US companies, many living 6 to an apartment and working for much less than Americans. Those were jobs for nerds, anyway.
Now we're shipping our RnD overseas, and loosing the battle for technology leadership with the countries we thought 20 years ago were 'only good enough' to work at slave labor rates on assembly lines so we could buy the products cheap in Walmart, while the workers at the store were paid so little they qualified for food stamps and government health care programs for the poor and indigent.
Why is this surprising? China has four citizens for every one in the US, and they count 1 out of 6 people on the entire planet. All they had to do is start digging themselves out from under an suthoritarian, restrictive regime, and they can flourish. It's a work in progress.
The article does say that R&D in the US is still growing, but R&D spending in China probably had and has a lot more growing to do.
The fact that our corporations are spending R&D funds in China and elsewhere, and even sending people overseas for that work, much more so than the other way around, is also the result of a much more open system.
This has worked out well for us in the past. But these days, there seems no end to the unfettered greed of corporate executives. Anything can be taken to excess. These guys are so focused on making their 10s of millions of dollars annual incomes that they don't bother to think long term.
Then again, remember how history taught us that southern plantation owners needed slave labor to be profitable? Did they bother to think of the long term consequences? Nope. We'll have to muddle through once again.
yeah: Jim O'Neill predicted that China was the most important of the BRIC countries. Fascinating to read to about that: http://www.amazon.com/Growth-Map-Economic-Opportunity-Beyond/dp/1591844819#reader_B005OH9LTK