Global Competition: The New Reality

by John Young



The article presents several issues related to global competition. Since mid-1983, the author had been the chairman of the President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness, which included leaders from industry and labor, from high-tech and basic sectors, from large and small businesses, from government and academia, and even both Democrats and Republicans in the middle of an election year. The significance of the nation's competitiveness problem can convey with a definition. This definition was a matter of choice with the Commission, and it demonstrates what is at stake in being competitive. As a nation, one is not going to lower the wages in order to compete. At least nobody the author had met has ever offered to cut his or her paycheck in honor of this worthy cause. The challenge, then, is to earn our wages in an interdependent and highly competitive global economy. One-fourth of the goods produced in the world cross-national borders, and fully 70 percent of the goods produced here in the U.S. compete against products made abroad. No single indicator gives an adequate accounting of the performance. In showing how the balance sheet looks for American competitiveness the Commission identified five different trends, all of which point to a declining ability to compete.

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