In this essay, I argue that we should not fear losing our technology edge.

In doing the cost-benefit analysis on government funding of scientific research, one factor that should not be given weight is national competitiveness. I can see worrying about our ability to compete in military technology, but not in civilian research.

I really do not care if Japan “wins” in consumer electronics, or China “wins” in civilian space exploration, or South Korea “wins” in broadband connectivity. What I care about is earning a good return on investment in scientific research. If “winning” in one particular area requires spending money beyond the point where it is cost-effective to do so, then I would rather be the loser.

For Discussion. Is there a value to leadership in civilian technology that goes beyond what might be captured by analyzing return on investment?