In yesterday's State of Union address, President Obama said this:
We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world…By 2035, 80% of America's electricity should come from clean energy sources. Within 25 years, 80% of Americans should have access to high-speed rail. Within five years, communications businesses should be able to deploy high-speed wireless to 98% of all Americans.
I am deeply troubled by his speech. Competition is good among countries, just like competition among firms. I am generally for competition. But it seems that Obama does not have the current US budget situation in mind – he said the nation needs to address its rising budget deficit but couldn't afford to back away from new spending on programs that he said would allow the U.S. to compete with rising powers like China and India.
Further, his lofty goals just reminded me of central planning in socialist economies. Since when the pace of innovation can be dictated by government spending? Did Google, Facebook, Apple's iPad/iPhone come out of government plan?
And there is a reason for relative backwardness of American rail travel – because the auto travel is the most convenient and most advanced in the world – compare the traffic jams in Chinese cities. China needs to have its high-speed railway, because Chinese population is four times larger than the US and heavy pollution is everywhere – this is probably China’s best option. You can't just develop high-speed railway simply because China is doing it. Have some sense of economics, please.
And finally, Mr. President – China is not another Soviet Union.