Recently, the Economic Policy Institute issued a report claiming that there is no shortage of U.S. STEM workers and that increases in high-skill immigration are not needed and detrimental to the U.S. economy. In this report, ITIF presents a detailed rebuttal of the EPI analysis to provide a more accurate picture of the high skill labor market. We find that the EPI report's conclusions are simply not supported by the evidence. In fact, the U.S. does not produce enough STEM workers domestically, STEM wages and jobs have grown significantly over the last decade, and high-skill guestworkers are a complement, not a substitute, to American high-skill labor.
Should Government Regulate Illicit Uses of 3D Printing?
3D printing is an important technology that introduces new risks for public safety and intellectual property rights. Although 3D printing opens up new practical challenges, especially around enforcement, the policy questions for 3D printers are not substantively different than for other technologies. We should promote the technology while also ensuring that we have strong enforcement mechanisms and penalties, both domestically and internationally, to punish bad actors who abuse the technology by producing items that would be illegal regardless of how they were created. This will allow consumers to continue to reap the benefits of the technology while also protecting them from its potential harms.
Just the Facts: The Benefits of Information and Communications Technology
A prominent economist once stated, "computer chips, potato chips, what's the difference." The short answer is "a lot." Fifty-five years after the invention of the integrated circuit and 28 years after the first dot-com website was registered, information and communications technology (IT) remains a central driver of innovation and prosperity.
This fact sheet lists 53 documented economic benefits of IT, from jobs and output to competitiveness and innovation.
25 Recommendations for the 2013 America COMPETES Act Reauthorization
The America COMPETES Act, originally enacted in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010, has helped support the science, technology, and innovation enterprise that underpins U.S. economic growth. The impending 2013 Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act affords an opportunity to introduce new or extend effective existing programs and initiatives related to: innovation and technology commercialization; federal institutional reforms to spur innovation; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
Revamping the U.S. innovation infrastructure and spurring additional investment in science and technology can help create the new products, processes, and industries that will drive economic development, job growth, and enhanced quality of life for American citizens. A robust reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act in 2013 can play an important role in bolstering the STEM education, scientific research, technology commercialization, and innovation activities that underpin U.S. economic competitiveness and growth.
Prospering Through Innovation Economics
Europe faces a quandary. The difficult fiscal straits most European nations face precludes “Keynesian” stimulus policies to spur demand. Yet austerity is a recipe for stagnation, even decline. But without austerity, budget deficits threaten the trust in financial institutions. ITIF president Rob Atkinson proposes five approaches to cope with this quandary and for Europe to maintain it's global competitiveness: embrace "innovation economics," embrace Schumpeter, embrace high productivity in all sectors, embrace work, and embrace an anti-mercantilist alliance with America.
The Road Ahead: The Emerging Policy Debates for IT in Vehicles
Just as IT-driven transformations in other industries have created new policy issues, the same will be true in transportation. The automotive industry will likely face some of the same policy debates and challenges previously seen in other industries further along in the technology adoption lifecycle. Chief among these policy debates will likely be concerns about public safety, data privacy and ownership, free speech and decency, liability, and access to wireless spectrum. While this report will not offer answers to all of the questions it raises, it will argue that the policy decisions about IT in the vehicle should be driven, not by narrow interests and concerns, but rather by a broad government mandate to foster innovation in the transportation sector. This will require leadership from both the government and the private sector and cooperation between different stakeholders.
Feeding the Planet in a Warming World
The global agriculture system faces a rapidly growing challenge: in the coming decades it must feed a substantially larger population amidst an increasingly volatile and shifting climate. Already, global food systems are being affected by extreme weather events, including historic droughts, which are leading to higher food prices and greater food insecurity. The negative impacts of global climate change on agriculture are only expected to get worse. Ensuring an expanding, stable, and secure food supply capable of meeting the challenges of climate change requires more resilient crops and agricultural production systems than we currently possess in today’s world. This is without a doubt the chief agricultural challenge of our time.
Unfortunately, agricultural resilience policies are plagued by an inadequate paradigm that places undue confidence in the sufficiency of existing technologies to meet new challenges, and a fear of the uncertainty surrounding new technologies. Some have argued that existing technologies are adequate to face the challenge if uniformly diffused and applied, and if global socioeconomic obstacles like poverty are overcome. To be sure, diffusing the best available technologies is important, and the socioeconomic challenges we face are significant. Efforts to deal with them should be encouraged and expedited. But even in the most ideal circumstances, diffusing existing agricultural technologies and practices is not enough to address the challenges we will face in the coming decades.
In light of this, we propose several solutions. In particular, we argue that the critical, game-changing solutions for building global agricultural resilience will come only from expanding the innovation and adoption of next-generation crops and agricultural practices. We need new and improved crop varieties that use less water, deliver increased yields and improved nutrition, and have built-in means for repelling insect pests, resisting disease, and withstanding extreme heat, cold, rain and drought. Agriculture will need every existing tool in the box, as well as the development of new ones, including the use of demonstrably safe crops improved through modern biotechnology, commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or transgenics.
This report explains why advanced agricultural innovation, including the development and deployment of next-generation transgenics, is an essential response to the growing challenges of food security and climate change. We begin by highlighting the nature and magnitude of the likely impacts of climate change on agricultural production systems. We then discuss the potential of advanced agricultural innovation, including the development and deployment of advanced crop varieties, to meet these challenges by creating improved crops with greater resilience to climate variability. Finally, we outline three policies that should be implemented on global and domestic scales in order to create a more robust agricultural innovation ecosystem capable of producing the next-generation crop technologies needed to feed a rapidly growing population on a warming planet. These policies are:
- Boost global public investment in advanced agriculture innovation. Over time, private investments in agricultural innovation have steadily increased, while public investments have stagnated or declined. As a result, the character of agriculture research has shifted to near-term product development, while largely ignoring the early-stage research capable of generating new technology platforms and breakthroughs in next-generation biotechnology. Governments, transnational institutions, and nonprofits need to reverse this trend. For instance, the U.S. Congress should triple its current investments in agricultural research and development (R&D) from roughly $5 billion to $15 billion per year. This would reverse a decades-long decline in public investments to support breakthroughs in genomics, biotechnology, and agronomics that the private sector will not deliver quickly enough on its own—if at all. Delivering these breakthroughs and encouraging continued incremental innovations is critical to boosting crop productivity and climate resilience as well as offering U.S. biotech companies future competitive advantage in a warming world.
- Governments worldwide should reform GMO regulations. There is no agricultural policy change that could be adopted with more positive impacts and fewer downsides than drastically reducing regulations applied to crops improved through biotechnology. Foods derived from crops or animals improved through biotechnology have been subjected to more extensive scrutiny than any other agricultural product in human history. Humans and livestock have consumed billions upon billions of meals derived wholly or in part from these improved agricultural varieties for nearly two decades, which have sustained a strong record of safety for humans and the environment. Yet these innovative products, which are developed and brought to market with precise, predictable and safe techniques, are subjected to regulatory obstacles that dwarf those faced by older products and obsolete technologies, some with genuinely problematic legacies.
Authoritative bodies have repeatedly examined these issues and concluded that the regulatory burdens on advanced biotechnology are not justified by science, data, or experience. These misunderstandings must be challenged, and scientific evidence must be restored to its primacy as the basis for making regulatory decisions about food safety
- Create or strengthen institutions to serve as Centers of Innovation Excellence. Feeding the planet requires a wide array of productive agricultural systems. Climate change is impacting these systems in a variety of ways. Worldwide cooperation to quickly advance and deploy innovative and adaptable agricultural technologies is therefore essential. Just as in the “Green Revolution,” agricultural stakeholders around the world must work together to speed the development and deployment of next-generation crop technologies.
The challenges facing agriculture over the coming decades are so great and complex that they must be met by organizations with commensurate strength and the ability to solve complex problems. Numerous existing organizations at the national and international level have some of the capabilities needed, but none have all that are required. All of these organizations need additional resources to bring their capabilities to the required level and to enable the global networking and cooperative, multidisciplinary approaches that are necessary. National agricultural research systems in a number of countries, colleges and universities, the private sector, and international consortia like the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) must all be strengthened and expanded to engage global innovation communities cooperatively and in a realistic way to face the challenges that loom.
A Policymaker’s Guide to Internet Tax
Within the first two months of 2013, identical bills in the U.S. House and Senate have been introduced that would provide a federal framework in which states could opt to require remote sellers to collect state sales taxes. A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to permanently extend the moratorium on taxation of Internet access, the Florida legislature passed a law to tax Internet sales from out-of-state sellers, and the online retail giant, Amazon, has agreed to collect a 6.35 percent sales tax from consumers in Connecticut. Are these decisions inconsistent or unrelated to one another? Why should Amazon pay taxes in Connecticut and not in, say, Oklahoma? There is no shortage of interest among states and localities in new or better-enforced sources of revenue from the Internet, yet in the current legal environment of Internet taxes, there is confusion over the most appropriate policy options moving forward.
This guide explains the state of current law and how policymakers should approach taxing online, digital activity. It focuses on four particular areas: the Internet tax moratorium, multiple and discriminatory taxes of digital goods, discriminatory taxes on wireless services, and the collection of sales taxes for online purchases of products. Too often these issues are confused, or even worse, lumped together by the bumper-sticker debate between “Don’t Tax the Net” and “Level the Tax Playing Field,” but in fact these issues are distinct and deserve distinct policy responses. ITIF believes Congress should address each of these four areas through proposed legislation.
The report focuses on four pieces of federal legislation and recommends:
- An Extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which prohibits taxing of Internet access, multiple taxes on Internet transactions, and discriminatory taxes on online transactions, and sunsets on Nov. 1, 2014. ITIF is in favor of making the moratorium permanent to prevent unnecessary and excessive taxation that could reduce the benefits of the digital economy.
- The Digital Goods and Services Fairness Act should prohibit state and local governments from creating multiple or discriminatory taxes on digital goods and services. ITIF calls for passage of the bill because it will help ensure a fair, consistent, and non-discriminatory tax system.
- The Wireless Tax Fairness Act imposes a five-year moratorium on all new discriminatory taxes on mobile phone services or providers. ITIF is in favor of the bill, to prevent undue taxation on the wireless economy, but argues the moratorium should be made permanent.
- The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes states to require collection of sales and use taxes on goods sold online. ITIF calls for the passage of the bill to reduce discrimination against sales from traditional, brick-and-mortar companies, and increase overall tax fairness.
Estimating the Potential Benefits of an EU-US Free Trade Agreement
An EU-US FTA would signal to the world the seriousness with which both parties take true free trade, and that more than anything else would animate the global dialogue in favor or more serious multilateral trade liberalization.
Breaking Down Federal Investments in Clean Energy
The United States has failed to create a comprehensive energy policy that provides robust and consistent support for innovation. Although the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulated public investments in energy innovation, many of these programs and incentives have since expired or concluded, leaving the energy innovation ecosystem underfunded and skewed towards supporting deployment incentives over technology R&D, demonstration, and manufacturing.