The raison d’etre of Opportunity.us is to further enhance and maintain equality of opportunity in the United States. Undergirding equality of opportunity are what we’d like to call “capability factors” – or in other words, the building blocks of success. These are the foundations of any successful society –rule of law, infrastructure, public health, education, national security, and the focus of this snapshot – innovation.
As our political system further calcifies, progress on capability factors has halted – stalling the ability for many younger Americans to rise due to poor public education, increasing healthcare costs, poor infrastructure, byzantine and outdated regulations, and many other roadblocks. One of the bright lights in our society is the continued innovation ubiquitous in our markets, our non-profit sector, and the municipal and state levels of government. Opportunity.us is passionate about protecting and nurturing innovation through sound public policy and support for friendly policymakers.
A recent Harvard Business School study highlighted the deterioration of competitiveness in the American political system and decline of the U.S. business environment. The overall report is worth a read, but for the purposes of our snapshot, this chart was of particular interest. Michael Porter and his fellow researchers polled HBS alumni on elements of the U.S. business environment in 2016 and as you can see, one of the strengths identified by an overwhelming majority of respondents is “innovation.” While many analysts found that the areas that are primarily the responsibility of government have eroded, innovation remains a key strength. Why does this discrepancy matter and what does it mean for the cultivation innovation in the U.S.?
- Just because innovation is thriving outside of the Federal government, that doesn’t mean the failure of our national politics is a non-issue – federal agencies oversee everything from food safety to key aspects of our education system and failures here reverberate throughout society. Congressional politics and the presidency really matter for innovation. Perhaps this is a case for a more constrained federal state — nevertheless, the status-quo exists and is dampening our success now.
- Our era demands innovation – in many ways it’s the connective tissue that allows for critical progress on the other “capability factors.” For example, a terrifying new strain of pneumonia was discovered in China earlier this year. It’s drug-resistant and contagious and these types of bacteria are becoming more common worldwide. What healthcare policy reforms can catalyze the critical innovation in antibiotic research and development? Now take this example and extrapolate across every facet of modern society – you’ll see a theme.
- With the tax reform package looking likely to pass, it’s important to note that some key provisions affect innovation in the private sector, including a provision that requires companies to write off their R&D investments over five or more years instead of in a single year. On the plus side, the final legislation eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax allowing many companies to reduce their tax bill due to tax credits for investments in research, equipment, etc.