A week ago today, Jonathan Gruber, Ford Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delivered a fascinating and insightful 20-minute speech based on a book that he co-wrote and an new idea that he says is gaining traction.
Titled Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream, Gruber delivered the speech during the East Tennessee Economic Council‘s “Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.”
Citing the massive investments in R&D and science education immediately after World War II, Gruber raised concerns that “we have no longer pushed the scientific frontier” that created the high-value, middle class jobs. The result is the U.S. now ranks 12th in the world in public investment in R&D, a position that Gruber said must change.
He advocated for increasing federal R&D investment by one-half of one percent of GDP, using “some of that money to set-up new tech hubs, much like ORNL could do with Knoxville. I’m pleased to say this idea has really caught on.”
His comments were clearly aligned with a big idea that ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia has been promoting for a year, based in part on this Brookings Institution report issued about a year ago.
You can hear his speech – or rehear it if you attended the event – at this link.