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Hidden Victim of Austerity: State Universities That Educate Our Children

Foolish policies are speeding America’s decline and placing terrible burdens on the next generation.

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The United States therefore is on a path that will lead it far from economic leadership in years to come. The 20th century was the American century largely because educated Americans poured forth innovations and new ways of thinking that spread throughout the world. As American education continues its slow slide downward, only a smaller pool of innovators will get enough education to continue this process. Other countries that support education -- most notably China -- will become the centers of innovation and progress.

American decline is not inevitable; we are the masters of our fate. We need to recognize the danger and confront it. To remove the burden of American decline from our children, we need two things: a renewed commitment to universally accessible education from birth through college, and an understanding that federal austerity harms state and local education by reducing the cascade of tax revenues from the federal government to states and then to cities.

Peter Temin is the Elisha Gray II Professor Emeritus of Economics, MIT, and co-author of The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It (Princeton University Press, 2013).