How the U.S. Has Gone Soft

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In his latest column for TIME, Fareed Zakaria rebuffs conservative fury at President Barack Obama for having suggested that the U.S. has gone a bit “soft” and lost its competitive edge. As others have before him, Zakaria trots out concrete stats showing how U.S. education and performance standards have slipped and how the nation lags, particularly in the sciences, behind countries in Europe and Asia. The solution lies in a shift back to older values and policies that first built up the U.S. Zakaria writes:

Federal, state and local governments now spend less of their money investing for the future. Health care and pensions are devouring budgets everywhere, and whatever their virtues, it is difficult to mark them as producing a more competitive society. The federal government spends $4 on every adult over 65, compared with $1 on every child under 18. That is a statement about our priorities, favoring consumption over investment, the present over the future, ourselves over our children.

Read the rest of the column here.