Jay Stowsky

Recent Articles

Conversion to Competitiveness: Making the Most of the National Labs

If they didn’t exist, we’d have to build them.

F or nearly fifty years, U.S. military superiority has depended on American technological preeminence financed through public spending by the national security establishment. At the peak of the Cold War during the 1980s, the Pentagon, the Department of Energy, NASA, and the intelligence agencies together spent more than $60 billion a year on defense-oriented research and development-- nearly two-thirds of all government-funded R&D outlays during the Reagan years. This public investment didn't just build weapons. It created a technical archipelago of immense value, whose crown jewels are the three national weapons laboratories at Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore in California. With the Cold War over, the national labs will either be gradually defunded as relics or reborn as civilian technology centers of development. Today America's commercial technology base is eroding in the face of stiff, government-assisted competition from foreign firms. This erosion...