Jeff Manber, a Reagan administration appointee who worked on science and technology policy, told TheDC that “Newt gets it” on technology policy. Government investments in computing by the Defense Department led to the creation of the consumer Internet, he explained, and government spending on NASA during the 1960s powered growth in computer chips and satellites.
Even within the GOP, there are splits in the business community regarding different approaches to job creation.
Some, like Viewfinity CEO Leonid Shtilman, a former professor at Tel Aviv University and the City University of New York, want a focus on entrepreneurial work instead of trade wars overseas.
“It is not realistic to compete with China, India and Korea in heavy industry since the wages are really different,” he told TheDC in an email.
“The attempts of some presidential candidate to point to unfair trade are not serious, since even if you devaluate Chinese currency by 100 percent, the wages in China will be much lower than in USA,” he said. “The only way to compete is to create a new agenda for development in potentially growing areas, like new energy, nanotechnology and material research. … [W]e need to create an atmosphere of respect for the sciences.”
Stina Ehrensvard, CEO of the Palo Alto, Calif., tech firm Yubico Inc., is one tech player who wants the president to unleash more government investment. He told TheDC that he “advises” the White House to speed up government spending and regulation to “drive innovation and mass implementation” of online security for Internet companies.
Ehrensvard reckons that firms like PayPal, Facebook and Google are today’s versions of what Apple and Microsoft were the 1980s: job-creating engines of American economic growth.
But too few American students are equipped to take many of those jobs today.
Todd Brabender, a spokesman for Neumont University, a technology college in Utah, told TheDC about a recent marked “decline in qualified and engaged U.S. students exploring tech degrees and careers.” His school is beginning to recruit in China for interested students, he said.
As the philosophical battles heat up during this election year, the arguments over America’s tech-jobs future have intensified — including among those who believe a less tech-obsessed employment culture is a good thing for business.
“America has not declined in technology, but has achieved a bittersweet victory of sorts in multiple dimensions via its outsourcing arrangements to both China and India,” said Phil Lieberman, the CEO of Lieberman Software in Los Angeles.
“In return for peace and the promotion/insertion of capitalism and a mutated form of democracy into these regimes, America has achieved peace and cooperation from former serious combatants,” he told TheDC. “America has also been the recipient of below domestic market value products and services.”
During that December Iowa debate, Gingrich cast his lot with those who see Lieberman as short-sighted.
“I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important, and where frankly it is tragic that NASA has been so bureaucratized,” Gingrich added. “Iowa’s doing brilliant things, attracting brilliant students. I want to give them places to go and things to do. And I’m happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way.”
Along these lines, the London-based New Scientist journal recently called Gingrich “Newt Skywalker” after he won the South Carolina GOP primary, no doubt alluding to the former speaker’s passion for big science projects.
In the current tech-jobs climate, however, President Obama may soon be cast in the role of Darth Vader when voters go to the polls in November. Or perhaps Emperor Palpatine.
This story was updated after publication to include a quote from the CEO of Simply Hired.