U.S. Slipping Behind?

An article in yesterday's (6.25.07) Wall Street Journal (my favorite newspaper) suddenly jelled with several other things I have read in the last few days. The Headline: French Firm Vaults Ahead In Civilian Rocket Market.

There was a launch last month of Arianspace's Arian 5 from France's spaceport in French Guiana.

The Administrator of NASA - our guy Michael Griffin - was there and is quoted as saying the huge (20 stories tall) Ariane 5 is "probably the best in the world, very smooth and very impressive." ArianeSpace has "powered past" Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Tellingly, our guys "scoffed" at some of ArianeSpace's technology until they saw it work.

That's one.

That clicked with another story out today (6.26.07) about China taking a big step toward finishing the "longest sea bridge in the world." It's over 22 miles long and also has " the longest cable-stayed structure of its kind" as the center piece.

That's two.

When's the last time you heard about the U.S. building the "biggest, longest, baddest, etc." piece of infrastructure? (Did you hear about the skyscraper in Dubai where all the floors rotate independently? Nothing like that going up in, say, Dallas lately.)

Then the dominoes just kept tumbling down... too many to talk about. But a couple more:

"Chemical maker Huntsman Corp. has agreed to be acquired by Dutch rival Basell Polyolefins for $5.6 billion." That's a huge Salt Lake City based chemical firm going to the Dutch. That in the Wall Street Journal. You probably read that last month GE sold its plastics division to the Saudis.

And: "Iberdrola SA announced late Monday it has agreed to buy Maine-based Energy East Corp. in a $4.5 billion (3.4 billion euros) deal that gives the Spanish energy giant a major foothold in North America." That's from today" SMART MONEY. Iberdrola is a big Spanish company that is the world leader in producing renewable energy. Energy East is a "super regional" energy company using quite a bit of wind energy.

That's three and four.

Point is... I get the feeling the U.S. is losing a step pretty often these days. We keep selling our companies to foreign folks. Other foreign folks are doing breakthrough things daily. Our big news is what? the iPhone? Where are our huge breakthroughs? Heck Archer Daniels Midland is even reaching into Brazil to start making ethanol from sugar cane, they the King of Midwestern Corn. And Detroit is scrounging around in European engine designs to find some high efficiency ideas. Even the Great American Vice cigarette manufacturing is moving overseas. Altria is closing a 2500 employee plant in North Carolina and moving production to Europe.

I want to see some LEADERSHIP from government and the private sector to put the U.S. back in front of a lot more parades. Less concentration on the consumers and more on the innovators. Less money in wierd financial derivatives and more in research and development. Let's trade in some hedge funds for some new edge funds.



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