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Bill Gates talks competitiveness

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions this week heard testimony from Microsoft's Bill Gates on "Strengthening American Competitiveness for the 21st Century." (And I'm being good and not mentioning that the committee video of the session posted -- in Real Media format. You can also see it here.)

Just a snip of his testimony:

Any discussion of competitiveness in the 21st Century must begin by recognizing the central role that technology and innovation play in today's economy. The United States has a great deal to be proud of in this respect. Many of the most important advances in computing, healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing, and many other fields have originated here in the United States.

Yet when I reflect on the state of American competitiveness, my feeling of pride is mixed with deep anxiety. Too often, it seems we're content to live off the investments previous generations made, and that we are failing to live up to our obligation to make the investments needed to make sure the U.S. remains competitive in the future.

We know we must change course, but we have yet to take the necessary action. In my view, our economic future is in peril unless we take three important steps:

First, we must equip America's students and workers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today's knowledge economy.

Second, we need to reform our immigration policies for highly skilled workers so that we can be sure our workforce includes the world's most talented people.

And third, we need to provide a foundation for future innovation by investing in new ideas and providing a framework for capturing their value.

This continues to seem to be a very important issue, not only for the country, but also for this community. Yesterday, I posted that DOD CIO John Grimes speaking at IPIC this week mentioned he is concerned about technology being built other places, but what if more control of IT moves to other countries. There are significant ramifications, it seems to me.

The competitiveness issue is one that the Silicon Valley has really rallied behind. There was talk about the issue in the last Congress, but not much yet in this Congress. And it seems like this is an area where lawmakers can really make a difference.

We can hope.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Mar 08, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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