US engine of creativity and innovation stuck in neutral, needs to shift into high gear

It’s the job of the president to exhibit world-class leadership to inspire others to use their creative and innovative talents to generate progress.


How many times have we heard it said that America is the leader, the exceptional nation in the world? Countless, endless. Sad to say that’s no longer the case and has not been for some time. America’s engine of creativity and innovation has been stalled and must be restarted again with new, more powerful fuel.

When did we see the last great, creative, innovative development take place in this country? It was the creation of the internet that began in the late 1960s, with further development over a period of several decades, until the world wide web became a reality in about 1990.

We have seen many creative and innovative developments in the medical field that have kept America right at the top of those world rankings. Those in this field are still coming up with other great solutions to serious medical conditions. 

Unfortunately in the associated fields of the US healthcare and the manufacture of prescription drugs that has simply not been the case. Medical coverage for Americans lags far behind that of the other 31 developed nations of the world. This extremely costly system, with its massive paperwork requirements, with many Americans not having coverage, is like a person with a very serious medical condition that is not being addressed. 

In the field of prescription drugs there is a huge problem in that some 80 percent of the ingredients in U.S.-branded pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs come from either China or India, with the largest majority of them coming from China; and, as we know China is at the center of the coronavirus problem in the world.  

How in the world has this US government, over some time, allowed the manufacture of these ingredients to be taken over by China? That is as reckless and irresponsible as it can be, and it is all because of Corporate America’s #1 objective is to make profits paramount. Because of the coronavirus, it appears that the supply of those ingredients will be hugely impacted and this will become a national security issue. 

Let’s talk about education, critically important to any nation, and where the US stands in world rankings. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), regularly does these rankings and here is what it concluded between 2018 and 2019. The study included students from some 80 nations and their.scholastic performance in mathematics, science, and reading.

The average score for the combined math, science, and reading for the US was 25th in the world. I have monitored this OECD world ranking process over the years and the US result has continuously been in that area of 25th. In the category of science, it was 18th and in math, it was so bad let’s not even talk about it. This is mega-miles from being exceptional.

Our national infrastructure: the quality and condition of the US infrastructure, based on various studies, ranks from 10th to 13th, a very sad state of affairs, and a national embarrassment to say the least. 

The electric car, with Tesla leading the way, is one of the few really creative, innovative moves into the future that we have recently seen.  

Concerning the U.S. space program, in late July of 2019, Igor Arbuzov, the head of Russia’s major rocket engine manufacturer JSCf, NPO Energomash, said his company had signed a new agreement with the United Launch Alliance on the delivery of six RD-180 rocket engines for Atlas V rockets, with delivery in 2020.

How is it that we have had to depend on Russia to supply these engines for all these years instead of building our own? 

The U.S. has no bullet trains, not even any form of high-speed rail systems. Japan, China, and European countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain have had them for years.

 “Many countries have built and developed high-speed rail to connect major cities including:

BelgiumChinaDenmarkFranceGermanyItalyJapanMoroccoThe NetherlandsRussiaSaudi ArabiaSouth KoreaSpainSwedenTaiwanTurkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan

Only in Europe does high-speed rail cross international borders. China had 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) of high-speed rail as of December 2018, accounting for two-thirds of the world’s total.”[ 

China is developing a magnetic levitation bullet train that will hit 370 mph. 

If you wanted to travel by train, 712 miles from New York City to Chicago, it would take 22 hours, with a transfer in Washington, DC. The China bullet train, the Shanghai Meglev, whose speed is 267 mph, would cover that distance in about 2.7 hours, about 19 hours less. Can you believe that, comparing a bullet train with the US Amtrak system which is archaic? 

Here’s where the US is way ahead of the rest of the world. That is in endless wars, a massive military empire. Among the developed nations of the world, it is also #1 in societal violence, prison incarnation and, most certainly, in mass shootings.

While I was making notes in connection with this article about creativity and innovation I happened to hear some commercials on the TV in which the words, “Innovation comes to those who defy convention” were spoken. How very true that is. Too bad we’re not thinking that way.

Who leads the world in the development of solar energy? It’s not the U.S., it’s China, followed by Japan, then Germany, all in front of this country. 

Who leads the world in combating climate change? It’s not the U.S., it’s Denmark, then Finland, Norway, New Zealand, followed by Australia, Canada and, finally, the U.S. 

It’s bad enough when your engine is stuck in neutral and you are going nowhere but it’s far worse when you are going in reverse in many areas. Here are two good examples: the Iranian Nuclear Agreement had brought that nation’s nuclear development to a standstill. It had been working quite well, the UN inspection teams were closely monitoring it, and the various nations that also were a party to it were satisfied with it. 

And then our nuclear expert, Trump, who said it was not working at all suddenly withdrew the US from it. What an airhead! Not only did he take that senseless action but he also withdrew the US from the critically important Paris Climate Accord at a time when all the nations of the world were trying to work with each other to deal with climate change.

I don’t know why but I have this feeling that the main reason that the American engine of creativity and innovation is stuck in neutral is this country’s archaic government. let’s call it a political version of Amtrak. It is like an albatross wrapped around the neck of America, suffocating it. 

This decline in creativity and innovation didn’t just happen when this pathetic current president, Trump, was elected in 2016, but it has certainly reached a low point under him. Without question, he has no interest in leading the world, none at all, and he sure doesn’t know how to lead this country. He should be, but is not, inspiring the American people to do great things.

Here are just two areas that, with the proper leadership from a president, America could make great achievements; they are the development of alternate forms of energy such as solar and wind power and the initiation of a massive program to repair and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. 

If we had a president who would make these two areas a top priority, and he or she would lead the Congress, together with the involvement of appropriate businesses, to invest huge amounts of taxpayer dollars on solar, wind, and other forms of new energy, it could eventually phase fossil fuels out of use in America. It wouldn’t happen overnight but when it did, it would have a tremendous impact on climate change as well as bringing to end wars that break out over who will control the sources and distribution of oil.

Secondly, bringing our deteriorating infrastructure, including the use of high-speed rail and bullet trains, into world-class conditions would greatly benefit this nation’s commerce, upon which it is so heavily dependent. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has stated that “crumbling infrastructure represents a significant roadblock for American small businesses, according to the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index. A majority of respondents say that highways, local roads, and bridges are critical to the success of their companies.”

Further, from product damage to employee safety, small business owners are dealing with the day-to-day costs and concerns of stalled infrastructure investment. By 2025, our crumbling infrastructure will have cost businesses $7 trillion.”

At times individuals come up with innovative ideas and often, as we saw with Social Security and Medicare, the president, and Congress work with individual businesses to initiate new, innovative programs. It’s the job of the president to exhibit world-class leadership to inspire others to use their creative and innovative talents to generate progress.

So, this can be done in the case of new energy development and infrastructure repair and rebuilding and that will be a start. What it will take is for new leadership to emerge but that can’t happen unless and until we have a new president that is up to the task. And the only way that this can be done to turn America back into the right direction is when its people turn out in massive, record-breaking numbers in the November 2020 election and give the task of leadership to a new president. 


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.