To the editor:
Any successful business devotes an adequate portion of its earnings to maintaining its productivity and building its strength for the future. Similarly, nations must direct a sufficient part of their productivity to maintaining and developing the functions of government that are needed to support a prosperous society.
The United States is not now devoting enough of its productivity to the functions that are essential if we are to compete economically with other advanced and developing nations. For one thing, we are failing to invest adequately in education. About a quarter of our young people don’t graduate from high school, and many of those who do graduate lack the skills that would allow them to pursue further education or enter the workforce at other than a menial level. We have reduced funding for higher education drastically, making it unattainable for many students or forcing them to borrow excessively to finance their education. Altogether, we need to train many more young people to fill the jobs that exist in our technology-driven economy. Estimates are that some 2 million jobs in America are going unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the essential qualifications. Greater investment in education would prepare more skilled workers who could fill well-paying jobs, which would allow them to afford the goods and services that help drive a prosperous economy.
Many other government activities that contribute to the country’s productivity similarly lack sufficient funding. We know that major investment is needed in roads, bridges, air and rail facilities, and research. Agencies for public health and safety, the orderly regulation of commerce, the judicial system, and a host of other services also require more support.
We must invest adequately in all of these government functions if this nation is to compete successfully in today’s world. Our government is currently failing to give such support, largely because of our reluctance to raise enough tax revenue to provide for it. Many other developed and developing nations are more willing to tax to invest in the government functions essential to a productive economy and may therefore be expected to gain economic advantage on us in the years ahead.