Innovation: Leading The Great American Comeback

If we want a strong economy we need to do something about it. We need to reverse course and try another strategy. I suggest one based on innovation of entrepreneurs, rather than new federal spending on government jobs.
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If we want a strong economy we need to do something about it. We need to reverse course and try another strategy. I suggest one based on innovation of entrepreneurs, rather than new federal spending on government jobs. Americans need to work together to revive our innovation-driven economy. Last year, CEA started the Innovation Movement, a coalition of citizens, now nearly 100,000 strong, who believe innovation and entrepreneurship are key to America's comeback.

Today we release "Innovation and the American Dream," a video that urges all Americans to get involved in making that vision a reality. Watch it, share it with your friends, show it to your children, send it to your congressional representatives - and, most importantly, join the movement.

With ingenuity, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, Americans lead the post-industrial knowledge economy. Most of the greatest innovations this past decade, spanning from Google's search algorithm to Apple's iPhone to Facebook, were conceived and designed here. Our people have the ingredients for success; we only need Washington to get out of the way, stop bashing business and support an environment where entrepreneurs can compete and pursue their dreams.

Our nation is in a great transition, what theorist Richard Florida calls a"great reset." When economies slow, businesses buckle down and head to the labs. They move capital toward innovation. As Florida observes, electric power, modern telephony, and the street and cable car systems were all invented during tough economic times.

Today's post-industrial information economy has led to a 30-year economic and innovation boom, adding 20 million jobs to creative, professional and knowledge sectors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects these sectors could add another seven millions jobs over the next 10 years.

But those jobs are at risk today because of a business bashing government resulting in a paralyzed economy. The Innovation Movement suggests less animosity, lowered government spending and a policy environment that favors entrepreneurs.

We need lawmakers who:

Prioritize spending and cut the deficit. As Harvard business historian Niall Ferguson put it, "Call the United States what you like - superpower, hegemon or empire - but its ability to manage its finances is closely tied to its ability to remain the predominant global military power." No more bank bailouts, and forget about another Cash for Clunkers. We're staring at a federal deficit that eats 11.2 percent of the U.S. GDP, and it's time we cut it.

Embrace international trade and open markets. Congress has yet to pass three long-stalled trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that would reduce tariffs for U.S. exporters. Global capital markets allocate money efficiently, and economic cooperation across nations enhances diplomacy and security. It's time to loosen the grip on nationalism and embrace global markets.

Modernize visas to allow talented immigrants to study and work in America. Throughout American history, immigrants have been key to our economic prosperity. Immigrants to our country founded more than half of all Silicon Valley start-ups created in the past decade, according to Duke University researcher Vivek Wadhwa. Half of all Silicon Valley engineers are foreign born, up from 10 percent in 1970, and about 40 percent of all U.S. patents go to immigrants. These immigrant-founded companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2005.

Support a free-market economy where entrepreneurship can flourish. I agree with Richard Florida: "Entrepreneurship should become the fourth R, right alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic." Our lawmakers certainly could have benefited from its instruction in their own K-12 curricula. Legislators cannot view entrepreneurs as the economy's saving grace while shackling them with regulations, and discouraging capital formation and investment. It's time for lawmakers to shift course and approach policy from the view of those looking to start or expand a company.

As our new Innovation Movement video well states: "It's not too late for us to change course. If the innovative American people are free to choose our own ideas and pursue our opportunities, we can bring our economy back to life from the ground up." But we need Washington's help to champion policies that set innovation free.

Join me in fighting for innovation so that we may together celebrate another great American tradition - the Comeback.

Gary Shapiro, author of an upcoming book on this subject, is the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents more than 2,000 U.S. technology companies. CEA sponsors the Innovation Movement, a grassroots organization of Americans who believe innovation will power future U.S. economic growth. To join the Innovation Movement, visit:

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