The US needs more of the scientific elite in positions of power if it wants to get out of the hole it dug for itself

The US needs more of the scientific elite in positions of power if it wants to get out of the hole it dug for itself

People around the world have made plenty of New Years’ resolutions this month. Most of them have been done in the hopes that they will help them become better, happier people. Bigger entities, such as corporations and even entire countries, also seem to have undergone some level of soul-searching as they’ve come under increasing levels of scrutiny in the past few years. Facebook has had to grapple with their privacy issues, and they are now looking inward to determine new standards on how they use data. Canadian politicians have taken a bolder stance on the global stage against countries like Saudi Arabia and China, and made their values and stances very clear.

It’s time the US did the same.

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For decades, a key tenet of the US’s relationship with the world has been the idea of the “other” – a demonic ideological threat to the sovereignty and sanctity of the United States. This has been, in turn, entities like Nazi Germany, the USSR (the Soviet Union), and Islamic State. Today, however, the biggest threat to the US is itself. The US refuses, for example, to adapt to using more renewable energy (China has added solar cells to their national grid that can generate 130 gigawatts of solar energy per year). It has horrifically inconsistent foreign and economic policies. The country seems to be digging itself into a deeper and deeper hole, which runs contrary to so many other growing states positioning themselves as potential successors as the world’s hegemonic power/most dominant state (looking at you, China).

The US hasn’t done itself many favours with the policies it’s enacted in the last few years. The country has in some ways stagnated, and in others has lost what leads it has had over other countries in various industries. This has led the US to take bizarre stances on certain issues, such as pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord on the basis that the climate change deal “handicaps the United States economy” – or so says US President Donald Trump.

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Luckily, there’s a fix for this, and one that is tried, tested, and true. If more policymaking powers were given to the country’s scientific elite, the US’s leaders might once again see the bigger picture with some clarity. With facts and knowledge, the country could stop its slow decline as a top global power. The Communist Party of China has used this to great effect. In 2006, it started a 15-year “Medium- to Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology”. It has an ever-growing Ministry of Science and Technology. Taking an idea from China might seem unpalatable to many Americans, but the fact is that having scientists – not politicians – making important decisions would prove beneficial to the long-term prospects of a country.

Furthermore, if the US were to adopt such a policy, other democracies would follow suit – paving the way for a world of data-driven decision-making.

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Take a hard look at yourself, US

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