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Whither America's Technological Edge?

Cliff posted about 12 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

United States 1194

baldass_newbie asks: "Ben Stein wrote an editorial titled, 'How to Ruin American Enterprise'. To me, technological innovation is a big outward sign of a successful economy. Sometimes it appears like the U.S. is losing its edge in technology. Well, I was wondering what the Slashdot community at large thinks is wrong (or right) with the U.S. and technological innovation?" The article deals less with technology and more with the society on which said innovation is based, and the problems that may bring it down around our collective ears. Give the article a read, and share your thoughts on whether or not you think it's an accurate assessment on the current and future situation of America's technological advantage.

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america leads the pack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901347)

in first posts!

Re:america leads the pack (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901367)

We also lead the pack in huge penises. At least, I do. Or that's what Taco's mom has said, and she's seen A WHOLE LOT penises in her time. Mostly black ones though.

Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (4, Interesting)

ras_b (193300) | about 12 years ago | (#4901360)

Every time some new, cool tech gadget comes out here, i talk to my friend from Tokyo and he tells me he had it a year ago.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901415)

It doesn't count since we're not a communist state full of a bunch of slant-eyed pan-faced yellow-skinned littledicks still glowing from the bomb we dropped on them. We also don't sell used diapers in vending machines or whatever those pedophile scat tentacle-raping faggots are into. And we don't live in shoeboxes and kill our daughters and DAMNIT we love our families more than the company we work for! Fuckers.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901449)

They should quit putting their research into technology and look into penis enlargement technology, because I understand those gook have really small dicks.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901455)

Fuck gadgets.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901465)

Stupid Jap companies. We should get it first...not them. In America the problems are too many patents that last too long!!!

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901484)

Japanese technology doesn't count since we're not a communist prison filled with of a bunch of slant-eyed pan-faced yellow-skinned littledicks still glowing from the a-bomb we dropped on them. We also don't sell used diapers in vending machines or whatever those pedophile scat-freak tentacle-raping faggots are into. And we don't live in shoeboxes and kill our daughters and DAMNIT we love our families more than the company we work for! Assholes.

Well, let's see (2, Interesting)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | about 12 years ago | (#4901511)

Sure, they have Sony, Matsushita, NEC, Toshiba, etc.*

We've got Intel, AMD, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Apple.*

I think there's a lot more visible innovation going on in the United States. The average joe doesn't hear about the latest and greatest in commodity hardware, but they see commercials for the iMac or whatever every day.

I think it may just be a matter of preception.

*Obviously not all-inclusive lists, sorry if I left your favorite out.

Re:Well, let's see (5, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | about 12 years ago | (#4901573)

Except for maybe AMD and Apple all the companies you listed are moving as much work as they can in Support/Design/Dev to India/China/Russia because the only have to pay $500 USD per month per worker.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901519)

Having the coolest gadgets first means nothing in terms of technological prowess.

- Who invented the transistor?
- Who started the computer industry?
- Who invented nuclear power?
- Who put human beings on the moon and then brought them back safely 6 times

THAT is what is missing. Not the latest tiny-ass minidisc player.

cool != profitable (2)

asv108 (141455) | about 12 years ago | (#4901565)

Tech Edge has nothing to do with how "cool" your technology is, profitability is the key to tech success. Selling the most gadgets at the highest margins is a lot more important than creating a real "cool" device that would only appeal to niche markets.

Accidental irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901578)

Ben Stein writes:
Encourage the belief that all true wealth comes from skillful manipulation and cunning, or from sudden, brilliant and lucky strokes that leave the plodding, ordinary worker and saver in the dust. Make sure that society's idols are men and women who got rich from being sexy in public or through gambling or playing tricks, not from hard work or patience.

This is a funny complaint coming from a guy with his own Comedy Central game show.

Re:Since When Did America Have a Tech Edge? (1, Interesting)

Rorschach1 (174480) | about 12 years ago | (#4901586)

World War II.

U.S. technology is sitll number one (-1, Flamebait)

xo0m (570041) | about 12 years ago | (#4901365)

in my opinion i think the united states technology is still number one. in regard to manufarcutring the technology on our soil, i may not really agree tho. with regard to personal technology like cd players and mp3s players, i would not agree also. however, i do believe that our military utilizes the best technology in the entire world. HERE WE COME SADDAM!!!

Re:U.S. technology is sitll number one (1)

xo0m (570041) | about 12 years ago | (#4901503)

how is it that i have been negatively modded?
please tell me of one militia that has better technology than ours?

Money (4, Insightful)

kkith (551310) | about 12 years ago | (#4901372)

Money is the cause AND downfall of innovation.

Look at Microsoft, RIAA. They make too much money keeping technology in check.

But then again, competiton (for more money) leads to innovation as well.

Maybe it is the balance between the two that is required.

Insightful??? (5, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | about 12 years ago | (#4901482)

"Ummm... money stifles innovation... ummm... maybe it leads to innovation too???"

Please, don't drink and moderate!

huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901375)

So he took time away from bitching about everquest destroying his family to write something eh, good for him.

Fuck you (-1, Flamebait)

SteweyGriffin (634046) | about 12 years ago | (#4901386)

Losing our edge?

Welcome to Slashdot. Home of the most, the best, and the brightest technology professionals in the world. Born and bred in America.

Any questions, you Communist fuck? You better go now, you probably have a terrorist meeting with Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin.


Re:Fuck you (1)

ChrisNowinski (606426) | about 12 years ago | (#4901476)

Ben Stein is an ultraconservative. Like Penn and Baldwin he's a piss-poor actor, but at least play fair with his politics - he and Ahrnold are the Penn and Baldwin of the right.

Well (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901387)

To me, technological innovation is a big outward sign of a successful economy.

Actually, increased productivity is a big outward sign of a successful economy. Innovation (not necessarily technical) allows us to do more with less and, as such, is a driver of productivity.

Does slashdot get all of it's articles from fark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901388)

Just wondering cause you know fark acknowledges /. as the source when an article is discovered there

Stein is talking in generalities. . . (4, Interesting)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 12 years ago | (#4901390)

. . .that, while well-founded, don't quite strike home. Not everyone can write kernels, develop new languages, create new products, etc. As long as there is a creative minority, innovating at the usual furious pace, we don't have a real problem. The problem, as **I** see it, is a growing divide between the Tech Elite and Everyone Else. Sort of a Morlocks and Eloi situation. . . .while we're out being technological innovators and implementors, the schools, etc, are pushing out more and more marketeers, lawyers, admin assistants, MCSEs, etc. . .

Re:Stein is talking in generalities. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901505)

Nice contradiction. First, you say that not everyone can be an innovator. Then you bitch that there aren't enough of them. Why don't you read Paul Ehrlich's 'The Population Bomb'. Unfortunately, highly intelligent folk don't produce as many offspring as those of lower intelligence, or so Flaming Paul says. You know, man, not everyone is that smart, and no everyone can write a kernel...why force unqualified people into important professions? I don't want Bill the Janitor (even if he IS head of the department) writing the next Linux kernel; that will be responsible for my business. I think its more a Charmin vs Store Brand deal....

Re:Stein is talking in generalities. . . (4, Insightful)

Dr.Stress (113010) | about 12 years ago | (#4901541)

Not everyone can write kernels, develop new languages, create new products, etc. As long as there is a creative minority, innovating at the usual furious pace, we don't have a real problem.
But the creative minority has to come from somewhere, ideally from an educated population. I think Ben Stein's point, with regards to education, is that by dumbing down the curricula in schools so much, we are depriving ourselves of creating new generations of the "tech elite" or "creative minority". This IS a serious problem. And we DO need to address it NOW, not wait until the rest of the world passes us by and we become a shell of a nation.

Re:Stein is talking in generalities. . . (1)

IndoorCat (627272) | about 12 years ago | (#4901572)

a growing divide between the Tech Elite and Everyone Else. Sort of a Morlocks and Eloi situation...

with the tech elite as the Morlocks toiling unseen to provide for the Eloi who are busy looking for the 'any' key.

Translation, please? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901392)

Could some one translate this into Democrat for me please? I think I agree, but I'm not sure...

Re:Translation, please? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 12 years ago | (#4901493)

I know. It's like someone opened the Cranky Curmudgeon template in Word or something, but forgot to put in any content.

Re:Translation, please? (0, Funny)

ChrisNowinski (606426) | about 12 years ago | (#4901567)


We are dumb because:
1. Schools Suck. Thus, we must privatize!
2. Big Corporations can get sued! NO MORE LAWSUITS!
3. Corporations are held responsibile for their bad actions!
4. Actors, like me, are too rich!
5. Corporations are free to do to much stuff without oversight (yes, there's a conflict here)
6. The law does not command TOTAL INFORMATION RESPECT
7. Drug use is cool!
8. The traditional family is being attacked!
9. We are letting stupid Mexicans in the country
10. People are taxed on their inheritance!
11. We got a socialized medical system at some point!
12. We allow religion!

Stein is an ultraconservative. In Democrat?
1 Asshole
2 Asshole
3 Asshole
4 Asshole
5 Asshole
6 Asshole
7 Asshole
8 Asshole
9 Asshole
10 Asshole
11 Asshole
12 Asshole
13 ...

Metafilter discussion (4, Informative)

X_Bones (93097) | about 12 years ago | (#4901395)

MetaFilter had an interesting discussion on this article a couple of days ago. Link here [metafilter.com] .

bueller (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901396)

bueller, ferris bueller?

Not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901398)

Everytime the US enacts one of these ridiclous profit protection laws, other countries follow suit. So we'll always be the #1 producer of new tech. Just at a slower and slower pace.

USPTO... (4, Interesting)

Cyclopedian (163375) | about 12 years ago | (#4901400)

Look no further than this monstronity that very nearly approves everything in sight. Brainless patents and lawyering have held up innovation far worse than actual technological competitiveness.


"One Click Shopping" is Innovation (1)

clevelandguru (612010) | about 12 years ago | (#4901564)

As long as USPTO thinks "One Click Shopping" is an innovation and protects it.. There is no prospects for any innovation in this country.

Well, duh. (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | about 12 years ago | (#4901402)

C'mon, this is obvious:

How long can America keep pumping out students whose test scores are in the cellar for industrial nations and expect to maintain an edge in technology? As it stands, a lot of our brains are already imported from India and China.

I live in CA, which should stand as a dire warning to the rest of the country: They limit their property taxes, their schools go underfunded, and as a result California natives largely end up working to repair the cars and wash the floors of the well-educated from elsewhere.

The US needs to get serious about education, and fast. With the tech boom and the world shinking as it is, this is a really bad time to be stupid.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901486)

Your solution is to raise property taxes in an area where real estate is already prohibitively expensive? Discouraging people from buying isn't a good idea...

Re:Well, duh. (5, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | about 12 years ago | (#4901506)

The US needs to get serious about education, and fast. With the tech boom and the world shinking as it is, this is a really bad time to be stupid.

It's not just the government. American parents pay lip service to education, but don't really set either a good example nor push their children to excel. I remember in school the classes always had a mix of real poor performers to really good students. The difference was not the teachers, but their home-life and parents. Parents get the kind of education system they want. If they don't care, don't expect the government to care either.

[Insert your favorite bash to blame for this here]

CA schools have money, they just waste it... (4, Informative)

aquarian (134728) | about 12 years ago | (#4901509)

The real problem with CA schools is bureaucratic inertia and waste. LA, for example, has approximately one administrator for each teacher on its payroll. And guess whose salary is higher?

Ben Stein is great (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901412)


Excuse me while I whore for Karma (2, Interesting)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | about 12 years ago | (#4901414)

Well, I was wondering what the Slashdot community at large thinks is wrong (or right) with the U.S. and technological innovation?"

Well, that's easy. Big business doesn't like innovation. They like the semblance (sp?) of innovation to encourage you to buy "new" things, but completely and truly new things cost money, take away from the bottom line, and transition periods are where big companies tend to get replaced. Thus, we have to fight for innovative products, no matter how useful they are, and we only get them because some company "goes rogue" - such as portable MP3 players.

The only innovation we get is innovative ways to protect the old guard - like copy protection that arguably erodes consumer rights (I say consumer in the global sense, being a non-USian so I can't really say my rights as a US citizen :).

What?? Read the article first!? (4, Funny)

MagikSlinger (259969) | about 12 years ago | (#4901423)

Give the article a read, and share your thoughts

But that violates the /. tradition of posting your thoughts and never reading the article! Heck, some members don't even think about what they're posting.

Re:What?? Read the article first!? (1)

epfreed (238219) | about 12 years ago | (#4901501)

Oh yea?! I might not know what I am posting about, but I think you are dead wrong about me not reading what you think I am posting about or responding to you, and you responce. Wrong.

Re:What?? Read the article first!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901502)

Fuck Off And Die.

Re:What?? Read the article first!? (2, Funny)

rmadmin (532701) | about 12 years ago | (#4901582)

You mean I'm not the only one on /. that reads the post, hits 'Read More', and tries to figure out what the article has in it by what other people reply with? I don't feel so alone now!

Innovation? (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 12 years ago | (#4901424)

I think my firm is outsourcing this to a an "offshore," in Hyderabad...

We get better performance for the IT dollar this way.

Note to mods:
This is not a troll. It is satirical and possibly unfunny, as it reflects a sad ironic observation about technology funding. A "troll" in the classic, USENET sense, is hallmarked by its intention and context - not by its content. A "troll" is successfull, because it is a perfectly acceptable message designed to provoke unacceptable attention or responses.
Thanks for listening!

The USA is failing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901428)

Its being beaten by Europe and south asia, dont forget chinas determined efforts.

Ben , ben ... who cares (1, Insightful)

ultraslide (267976) | about 12 years ago | (#4901429)

Poor Ben Stein.

Born and raised in privelage then appointed to work for Nixon as an economic advisor. Soon thereafter we had the worst economy since the depression. A lawyer who hates lawyers (except the corporate ones). This is the man who will destroy our nation and destroy any hopes of innovation. "End the common right to sue, then we'll have innovation" "End the teachers unions and privatize the schools"

In essence ... "Give control of the coutry back to the rich becasue they know whats best"

Sorry Ben no sale. Even with the accasional liberal attitude your allegiance is clear.
"I pledge allegience to money !!!!"

increase even more the number of lawyers (1)

kedi (583806) | about 12 years ago | (#4901430)

Increase even more the number of lawyers per inhabitant, and top it off with the highest number of police, military, security agencies, and journalists like Mr. Benjamin J. Stein.

One of the biggest problems (2)

Alethes (533985) | about 12 years ago | (#4901432)

I think one of the biggest problems that stifles innovation in the technology sector of the US, at least, is a distorted understanding of how patents should work.

School (5, Interesting)

seanadams.com (463190) | about 12 years ago | (#4901433)

7) Encourage a mass culture that spits on intelligence and study and instead elevates drug use, coolness through sex and violence, and contempt for school.

This IMHO is the big one. I went to school in England until about age 12, and then came back to a private school in California. Overnight, I went from doing trig, chemistry, latin, greek, french, to gluing fucking popsicle sticks together. I kid you not, our schools are WAY behind the rest of the world.

If you're an American parent, PLEASE either ship your kids over to Europe, or home school them yourself. American society is way too fucked up to allow for anyone to get a decent education. You would not believe the social pressure - I remember it well, and I had to fight it tooth and nail in order to succeed.

Re:School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901556)

Nice over generationalization. Turning your individual experience into the entire nation's. You know what? Just because you got picked on in high school, everyone in America is stupid and despises education? Get over it, man. Doing well in school hasn't been "cool"...ever! It doesn't mean that everyone has decided to abandon education.

And judging from America's well-renowned system of colleges and universities, I think it just might be possible to get a decent education in America. /sarcasm

Re:School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901570)

I spent the past two years working in the UK. I was not impressed with the skill level in the Uk and in Europe. Sure European grade schools may be slightly more accelerated. However, the university systems in Europe are lacking compared to the states.

Re:School (5, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4901583)

trig, chemistry, latin, greek, french, to gluing fucking popsicle sticks together,

Wow. You must have gone to an old-skool school :) I'm proud to state that the school I went to is in the top 5% of all comprehensives - it's mixed, non selective and state run. We never did latin or greek, that's rather highbrow. We only learnt French because, well, we're right next door to them. Trig at age 12? Man, we didn't do that until we were 15 or 16 (gcses). I dunno how Brit schooling compares to American, but you're experience seems to have been a lot better than normal.

Oh, and for any Yanks wondering - such articles are regularly published in UK media too, and all the parents stress about lack of quality schooling and how India will kick our ass etc. I think it's a western thing, rather than American.

Ben Stein (0, Flamebait)

ChrisNowinski (606426) | about 12 years ago | (#4901435)

Please. Since when did right-wing propiganda merit the front page? Will we be writing things like blogosphere and linking to rightwingnews.com next?

Ben Stein is nothing but a Limbaughesque hack. This article reads like the Christian Coalition playbook. "Sneer at hard work and thrift" "Mock and belittle the family." Every single thing he cites is nonexistant extremist fraud.

Re:Ben Stein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901542)

You didn't read point twelve where he supported science over mysticism. Granted he's right wing but not Lumbaugh-like. Most points make sense.

Bleh (0, Insightful)

sstory (538486) | about 12 years ago | (#4901441)

This is just a laundry-list of the Right wing. All that was missing is "Put mandatory christianity back in schools." What pessimistic older person doesn't get around to complaining about how much everything's going to hell, these kids nowadays don't learn nothin, nobody's got any respect anymore.... They said it long before America, they said it 100 years ago, 50 years ago, they said it in the 80's, the 90's as standards of living go through the roof, as incomes double, triple,...and they'll say it long after America.

Ben forgot (2, Funny)

jhampson (580482) | about 12 years ago | (#4901448)

13. Replace Jimmy Kimmel with a hot chick.
14. Profit!

My question is... (2)

1155 (538047) | about 12 years ago | (#4901450)

is Ben Stein a slashdotter? :)

Corrupt laws, perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901451)

Why innovate when it's so much easier to hire lawyers to bend or break laws for your profit, or buy new ones from congress? With the whole patent/copyright fiasco, companies trying to legislate profit rather than earning it, and everyone afraid to try something different for fear of not conforming, is it any wonder that not much new gets done?
We made much more progress when it was possible for a small group, or even one person, to get something done, but these days trying something like that is just an invitation to all the corps to squash you like a bug on the sidewalk.

Well, he seems largely correct... (3, Insightful)

perry (7046) | about 12 years ago | (#4901457)

Ben Stein's comments seem to be reasonably accurate, if you read them. We do indeed live in a country with a crippled education system, general contempt for intellectual activity among the bulk of the population, etc. I don't agree with absolutely everything he said, but overall, it is hard to argue.

All the foul language and no-nothing replies I've seen here in response to his article are evidence for his contentions, by the way.

Re:Well, he seems largely correct... (2)

GMontag (42283) | about 12 years ago | (#4901563)

Finally, a clueful post that I can agree with.

I heard his comments refrenced on one of the political shows this weekend. He is right on the money in his general criticism of what is going on in the US right now with overbearing courts and bad school systems ruining several generations at one swipe.

As for a different poster's comment that it is just Right Wing propoganda, or some such, and it is just missing "Christianity in schools" invective that people cluless of Right Wing ideology seem to shoot:
1)the "Right Wing", as in true Conservatives, embraces freedom of choice, especially in religon
2)Ben Stein is not Christian

Bad economy may cause more innovating? (2)

dagg (153577) | about 12 years ago | (#4901458)

Could the current "bad" economy actually encourage more people to innovate? People hurt by the current economy will have to do one (or maybe two) of these things:
  1. Work at McDonalds.
  2. Become a car salesman.
  3. Do nothing until the economy comes back (if they actually saved money while they could).
  4. Innovate something new and get the economy moving again.
I hope that the smart downtrodden will choose #4. And I hope that a few of those people will succeed.

pretty sensational (1)

tps12 (105590) | about 12 years ago | (#4901463)

I will be the first to agree that the USian tech sector is not what it once was, but to say that it's "whithering" seems a little pessimistic. We're in a slump, but I'm sure we'll bounce back, stronger than before.

How can I be so sure? Simply because nobody else has what it takes to match us: a devotion to free enterprise, a strong workforce, a wealth of natural resources, social mobility, and a government and military that will do whatever it takes to protect those things. Many places have some of these characteristics. Asia has free enterprise, but locks workers into slave wages, offering no motivation to work efficiently. Europe has decent working conditions, but lacks natural resources and smothers industry. South America and Africa don't have the strong governments necessary to protect economic interests.

In the end, the US is the only nation that can give the technology industry all that it needs to flourish.

Too late (2)

FreeLinux (555387) | about 12 years ago | (#4901464)

technological innovation is a big outward sign of a successful economy. Sometimes it appears like the U.S. is losing its edge in technology.

America lost it to the Japanese several years ago. America is actually showing signs of catching up again.

6a. (4, Interesting)

RalphTWaP (447267) | about 12 years ago | (#4901466)

Blockquoth the poster evermore:

6) While you're at it, discourage respect for law in every possible way. This will dissolve the glue that holds the nation together, and dissuade any long-term thinking. Societies in which the law can be clearly seen to apply to some and not to others are doomed to decay, in terms of innovation and everything else.

And now for an addendum

6a. Specifically construct laws so riddled with inaccuracy of purpose, incomprehensibility of intent, impossibility of execution, immorality of effect, and plain lack of common sense, that everyone is criminalized equally, and proven innocent $ub$antially due to their per$onal $olvency. Particularly good results may be achieved if the laws in question are ignored as technicalities by the traditionally moral masses.

inspiration for this post, and the poster believes the original article, was gained largely through understanding the logical basis of the works of Ayn Rand, all credit as it is due

Ben Stein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901468)

Not everything Stein says is correct.
Nor is Ben Stein.

Ben Stein is anti-abortion. He also claims one the greatest problems facing inovation today is the inheritance tax?

Clearly Ben Stein is a right wing conservative pain in the ass. Teachers unions create stupid children? I don't think so.

Remember this is Ben Stein and he is massively biased to the hard right.

Re:Ben Stein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901575)

I also am against the murdering of babies for the sake of convience.

in the case of rape? public castration of the rapist and then the possibility of abortion of the child that MUST be performed within the first 5-7 weeks. this goes for fathers and step fathers doing the nasty with their children... public castration FIRST then the abortion right away!

these little bitches that go out and screw everything they can find then want an abortion because a child is inconvienent? no way in HELL.

health, rape, incest... the ONLY reasons for it.. everything else is plain MURDER of babies. and anyone else saying so is a supporter of murder.

Greed and lawyers (1)

mkg (40510) | about 12 years ago | (#4901469)

Summed up: Greed and lawyers will ruin the prosperity and freedoms that so many people before us gave their lives trying to achieve. It's sad really. Lawyers make the laws instead of enforce them. Microsoft, Disney, RIAA, MPAA, just about every large corporate presence employs armies of lawyers to make sure that as many freedoms as possible are converted to "subscription liberties". I fear for our children, for they will be relegated to living their lives amongst mindless, mediocre drones. Our tech indistry will implode because before long, there will be more lawyers managing software licenses than developers creating software. We have diluted almost everything in life to nothing more than a quick fix for quick personal satisfaction. It's really too bad.

Current state of antitrust legislation (2)

BWJones (18351) | about 12 years ago | (#4901470)

Well, to start with, we can include the current state of anti-trust legislation in, for example, the Microsoft anti-trust case and the access that enough money has in determining legislation and legal opinion.

In yet another example of questionable practices in our legal system, the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] is reporting [washingtonpost.com] that given the states budget crisis, Microsoft would not only fight any appeal the states chose to make in the Microsoft anti-trust lawsuit, but the company would also contest any legal costs states might be able to recover from litigation. However, if those states and the District of Columbia were not to appeal, Microsoft would be happy to cover the legal expenses and provide an extra amount of money to "help enforce the settlement deal".

I would argue that this continues the stranglehold that Microsoft has on innovation. What does this say about our legal system and technological innovation? Perhaps another question from this would be: How does one distinguish between appropriate settlement money and outright bribes?

Re:Current state of antitrust legislation (1)

jumpingfred (244629) | about 12 years ago | (#4901536)

To whom are we loosing our technical leader status to? It seems to me it is Japan, India and Korea. I don't think that these countries have a strong tradition of the Government breaking up companies that get to big.

Religion (4, Insightful)

1stflight (48795) | about 12 years ago | (#4901471)

Ever notice how much our technological edge gets dulled by the fear and power of the religous right? No cloning, stem cell research, animal organ transplant research, all because, "it goes against God's will." To which I say if God had wanted us to be illiterate, cave dwelling, dying at 30 idiots, then we'd all still have fur, and the skyscrapper would be a foriegn as the airplane. Religion has dulled America's edge and will continue to do so, so long as we fail to stop using it for a crutch.

Somebody Set Us Up the Bomb (1, Flamebait)

Superfreaker (581067) | about 12 years ago | (#4901472)

Looking at Russia, and the rest of the former Soviet Union, we can see that technical ability and an educated society does not necessarily mean a thriving economy. Though, I strongly feel that they will rebound stringer than ever because of those two things.


A Better Question... (2)

LordYUK (552359) | about 12 years ago | (#4901474)

How do we win his money??

Can I moderate Mr. Stein -1 Flamebait? (5, Informative)

Doktor Memory (237313) | about 12 years ago | (#4901490)

9) Develop a suicidal immigration policy that keeps out educated, hardworking men and women from friendly nations and, instead, takes in vast numbers of angry, uneducated immigrants from nations that hate us.
Uh huh.

Whatever you might happen to think about our current immigration policy (I don't like it much myself), there's no getting around the fact that this is hyperbolic bullshit. The vast majority [usdoj.gov] of illegal aliens in the US are migrant workers from Mexico. (Following Mexico are El Salvador, Guatamala and Canada. You have to go all the way down to #17 before you find a country with any substantial terrorist activity: our "ally" Pakistan [usdoj.gov] .) Say what you will about Mexico, but it is not exactly a hotbed of anti-American radicalism.

The rest of this article is exactly the sort of mixture of over-stressed common sense and batshit insanity that I would expect from a former Nixon toady. [imdb.com]

Re:Can I moderate Mr. Stein -1 Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901554)

no - pay attention to what you read - these are what need to be done to finish the job - he explicitly states that they are NOT the current state of affairs, though we have made progress towards them

Re:Can I moderate Mr. Stein -1 Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901581)

"Say what you will about Mexico, but it is not exactly a hotbed of anti-American radicalism."

That's just what we want you to think Gringo!

- The Mexicans

Same ol Same ol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901491)

Well this is traditional conservative thought applied to technology. What's new here is the focus, not the methods.

Let's see... (2, Insightful)

anonymousman77 (584651) | about 12 years ago | (#4901494)

Export tech jobs, import people to do tech jobs.

If we look at the economics of the situation, there is no reason for anyone to become a programmer anymore.

There is only an incentive to become a pencil pushing manager or a lawyer.

I'm not trying to troll or to get flamed here. If you think about it, this is a huge reason why we have all these problems!

The obvious Slashdot-addendum (2, Insightful)

kavau (554682) | about 12 years ago | (#4901498)

13) Encourage powerful, monopolistic companies to rest on their fat assets (pun intended) and squelch any competition by their sheer size and market domination. Allow them to stamp out any potential competitors before they become a real threat to the established company. This will discourage innovation and widespread use of better products.

This is rich (2, Insightful)

Cheapoboy (634792) | about 12 years ago | (#4901499)

3) Create a culture that blames the other guy for everything and discourages any form of individual self-restraint or self-control this from the man who said mmorpg's should be illegal because his son was 'addicted' to them. cute.

...and this is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901504)

The best electronics come from Japan. The best cars come from Europe. The Koreans build the biggest supertankers. The best jet fighters come from Russia. The Indians have all your IT jobs anyway. And the thing that no one on this board will argue with...the Finnish write the best operating systems. It's over guys...you've lost. You're just cruising on momentum now, and friction is kicking in.

Join fingers...let's code for America (-1, Troll)

SteweyGriffin (634046) | about 12 years ago | (#4901508)

You know what? I'm not putting away $15,000 a year for my son's college tuition for nothing.

He will go to either Stanford or Carnegie Mellon and major in EE or CS. Then he'll graduate and hopefully get a job with a Fortune 500 company as an IT specialist/consultant.

I don't want this constant contracting-out of IT jobs and project to India. Why is Microsoft over there courting the Indians? Because there's talent, and they're hungry, and oh, they work for $5.00 a day.

So please, if any of you are in significant positions in technology companies in the northeast or out in California, I urge you to keep jobs at home. Just look here at the Slashdot crowd -- most of us are unemployed, or currently in college. The job market is tough right now and only getting tougher.

I will not let my kid go to medical or law school, so he must be an engineer. But I sure as hell hope there is still a tech industry in America by the time he graduates in 2014.

One point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901518)

11) Have a socialized medical system that scrimps on badly needed drugs and procedures, resorts to only the cheapest practices and discourages drug companies from developing new drugs by not paying them enough to cover their costs of experimentation, trial and error.

I think that this might be better worded as:

11') Have a corporatized medical system that scrimps on badly needed drugs and procedures, resorts to propaganda and scare tactics, and discourages drug companies from developing innovative new therapies for important conditions by instead making it more profitable to litigate patents in courts, spend billions on "marketing" and "education campaigns" that are propaganda at best and kickbacks and bribery at worst. Have an employer-oriented system where it is more profitable to take the premiums and run, where there is no long-term liability since most people will change jobs or retire before they will incur the health penalties for neglected care in their youth.

I think he hit them on the nose (1)

pardasaniman (585320) | about 12 years ago | (#4901520)


Follow the rules.

Educate kids

Work hard

I think this entails a lesson that good parents have taught kids for years.

However I do feel that these 3 truths of society are degrading in North America:

Educate Kids Each passing generation of children moreso regards homework as punishment than the previous, much unlike their asian counterparts. Children will only learn as much as they want to, not based upon how much cash you put into a school.

Follow the rules When you ask someone about piracy, they say "If I can get something for free, I will.

Work Hard It seems everyone wants the job which they work the least in.

In no particular order... (2)

occam (20826) | about 12 years ago | (#4901524)

Microsoft (thanks to Bill Gates and cronies)

Software Patents (thanks to Bruce Lehman and lawyer cronies, formerly of USPTO)

Tail-wagging-dog Politics (i.e., Congress-people succumbing to copyright stakeholders special interest taxes on CD media, etc.)

Status Quo Mentality from top (e.g., RIAA, "safe" bet managers deploying MS) and bottom (e.g., job security minded grunts recommending MS).


A little more business integrity, legal industry integrity, congressional knowledge and integrity, and IT staff knowledge and integrity!

Of course, many (not necessarily US) efforts are countering some of these issues including Linux, other open source projects, and even the Mac OS X which seems poised to set a higher standard in home/small business/enterprise client computing.

Innovate or restrict? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901527)

Read the story below this one and ask the question again. Amercian corporations spends more of its time on restricting technology than inovating.

Make it illegal to do something new or different. (2)

JohnA (131062) | about 12 years ago | (#4901529)

Seriously... our government has become more interested in preserving outdated business models rather than creating an environment that encourages innovation.

A quick visit to the Your Rights Online [slashdot.org] section of this very website shows how the legislative and judicial enviornment of the country is completely biased in the direction of existing monopolistic policies and companies.

If we want to encourage innovation, we need to remove the laws that treat each American individual as a suspect if they do anything outside a scientifically created generic American profile.

But what do I know, I'm just a open-source developer of cryptography solutions... :-)

I've got another one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901533)

13) Protect entrenched industries from innovative upstarts. Favor licensed spectrum over ultrawideband, copyright cartels over internet companies, etc.

One long rant (1)

Ost99 (101831) | about 12 years ago | (#4901534)

That was one looong rant.
But I have to say I agree to more of it than I'd like to admit (I don't much like economist...)

I must say I totally agree with him on point nr. 1, the basis for a innovative society is quality education for the whole population. He may not have said so, but that was what point 1 boils down to.

As for his 2, and 3, I think he's a bit of base. Granted the legal system in the US is quite fucked up, but businesses beeing targeted by lawsuits when harming others (through neglect or intentionally) is hardly the biggest problem.

As far as I can see he doesn't talk about the *real* dangers to innovation in the US. The totally fucked up patent system, and big monopolic players in important technology sectors. When you have players with much power and influence working activly against innovation (MPAA, IRAA) and owners of ridicolusly broad patents going after everyone and his grandmother for patent infrignation. Well, the US ends up a nation of lawyers, not inventors.

Now, that was my rant.

He has some good points (1)

axafg00b (398439) | about 12 years ago | (#4901537)

I both agree and disagree with Ben's points. I think he is looking at 'society' as a fixed point in the stream of time, when in reality, the American society has always derived its' strengths from the constant change and motion of its' people. But let's face it - as a father of a teenager, I have to fight an unending battle against the soft-core pr0n pushed by big media. Like any good newsie learned in Jschool 101, the way to succeed in the media is to pander to the lowest common denominator. In turn, your lesser expectations result in lesser performance, and so on and so forth. I think the tax code in this country is ridiculous, the health care system is a joke if you need serious care, and the legal system is one that is sold to the highest bidder. With all of that, I would not trade my life in the US for another. We still have the environment that allows for anyone who has the initiative and the ideas to try them and to hopefully succeed. TOMA, axafg00b

but... (2, Interesting)

elluzion (537796) | about 12 years ago | (#4901543)

Technology is based on two concepts, innovation and imitation. You can get just as rich through imitation as you can through innovation. The Japanese made their initial mark not by inventing great gadgets, but by taking inventions and making them better. In fact, without adequate imitation, an invention is doomed.

I don't think the current or future world market will really be made up of number one and number two, but it will become (as it has for a long time now) more of a world market where different nations cooperate. As technological development bridges national boundaries, it will become more and more difficult to decide who is number one as far as technology goes.

Say a new invention comes out that improves brain surgeries. The gadget was invented in Japan, based on research done by an aliance between universities in the US and Sweden. How do you allocate points for that? You can't, really.

As usual, statistics are meaningless.

I do agree with much of what Ben had to say, though.

You go, Ben... (2)

TopShelf (92521) | about 12 years ago | (#4901546)

Face it, he's right on the money here - the road to success these days is seen to be a quick payoff rather than the result of hard work. Hopefully, the recent Wall Street scandals will prompt more action in the opposite direction, like the Coca Cola Company recently announcing that they won't produce earnings estimates, which unduly focus attention on quarter-by-quarter performance.

Tort reform and liability law need a SERIOUS review as well - the amount of money awarded in many of these cases is patently absurd, and they only encourage more suits.

How to make America lose its edge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901547)

Here's the best way to do it: Attack the educational system. Especially since 9/11, the enemies of modern science education have done remarkably well going after what they perceive as "evil" subject matter (i.e., biological evolution, chemistry, geology, cosmology, etc.) and are replacing it with various forms of fanaticism (i.e., creationism.) People seem to forget that there was a huge concerted national effort to educate our children in math and sciences the LAST time there was a major national crisis (the Cold War and the launch of Sputnik.) These days lots of people treat science as if it were dirty.

I'm sure this probably sounds offensive to anybody who might believe this stuff, but the only thing I would say is that if you don't want your kids learning these things, then take them out of the class! It is downright sinister when religious people feel it is their duty to dictate what OTHER PEOPLE's kids should and should not be taught. I believe in freedom and you should be able to take your kids out of classes, but when you attack science in general you are attacking American ability and are weakening the country. That I cannot stand for, and patriotic Americans should not sit back and let it happen.

Not a troll, just getting some things off my chest.

Anyone? Anyone? (1)

miguel_at_menino.com (89271) | about 12 years ago | (#4901550)

"Well, I was wondering what the Slashdot community at large thinks is wrong with the U.S. and technological innovation?"

Anyone? Anyone?

Another Right wing blowhard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901557)

Give me a break. Just because not every american is a chest beating, flag waving, brainwashed dittohead does not mean that we are in decline. We have been, and still are the most productive people on earth. Our work ethic is second to none and we live in a culture that holds as fundamental that you always deserve the fruits of your labor. There is no better incentive to invent. As for school, I am sick of hearing about how stupid American students are. I am a student, and I am not stupid. My student friends are not stupid. I work my ass off. Anyone who thinks that our system is dumbed down so that anyone will get by with "flying colors" is dreaming. Commentators like this are just trying to get you riled up because they think limp wristed liberals are ruining our culture with all their soft talk of "tolerance" and "helping". Get over it.

Family (1)

Snoopy77 (229731) | about 12 years ago | (#4901559)

8). Mock and belittle the family. Provide financial incentives to people willing to live an isolated existence, vulnerable and frightened. This guarantees that men and women of sufficient character to bring about innovation will be psychologically stifled from an early age.

Okay, so this has little to do with technology, but if any society wants to thrive, wants to be successful, then it needs to uphold the family unit as sacred. How many lives are ruined because of divorces, abuse, neglect?

Stuff the problem that America might be losing it's grip on the technology trophy, you are losing your children, your future. And I pray that the rest of the world would stop following the same path America has already trod.

He forgot another one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901569)

13. Make sure you have a president who embodies the above qualities.

(Karma sux - post AC)

Political correctness took over (2)

heroine (1220) | about 12 years ago | (#4901571)

40 years ago the answer to any percieved threat was to build a huge, technologically defiant thing and launch it into space. Americans felt a need to assert their sovereignty back then. Freedom was right. Life was important. Political correctness eventually grew to where it is now immoral to defy any threat but instead accept whatever fate is handed us because we're part of a big happy family. Now the Muslims aren't bad, big business is bad for stealing from the poor. You can't develop technology because that would degrade our respect for suicide bomber nations. Attitudes changed since the 60's. The big technological spending of the 60's became the medicare, correctional institutions, welfare, and terrorist payoffs of the 90's. Political correctness finally took over the fundamentals like human life and freedom.

Can i sit and watch the future (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4901579)

I hope America gets fucked for the lack of a better word. I hope US commericalism and the government itself strangle themselves with their greed and stupid laws and realise waaaay after, that its to late and they must suffer for it. Everything seems to be locked down and controlled to tightly.

I hope the rest of the world over takes them, especially China and Russia, O the irony!

Though i will feel sorry for you US citizens its something that has to happen so that people learn and something will change, hopefully a cultural revolution. If nothing does happen then it shows certain individuals liked getting fucked up the ass thinking its a good thing while everybody else gets some pussy (rest of the world).

I hope this happens...but only for the hope of a better future.
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