chapter  5
6 Pages

The Moral Equivalent of Defeat (1981)

WithLester Thurow

The United States has fallen to tenth among all nations in per capita gross national product (GNP). It ranks behind almost every country in northern Europe except the United Kingdom. When Great Britain was no longer economically able to play its traditional foreign policy role, there was a larger, more economically powerful and more geographically defensible country—the United States—ready to take its place. If US workers were to acquire new equipment as fast as their Japanese competitors, America would have to invest almost thirty percent of its GNP. But raising investment from ten to thirty percent of the GNP creates another problem. The United States will have to adopt Japan's techniques or invent new ways of making technological improvements consistent with worker self-interest. Higher productivity growth will mean policies to stimulate new investments, but will also require actions to speed up disinvestment. Instead of protecting dying low-productivity industries, the United States must discard them faster.