The Public Interest

The MITIzation of America?

Amitai Etzioni

Summer 1983

FOR half a dozen Democratic study groups, caucuses, a think tank, and-more indirectly-from statements by several Democratic presidential hopefuls, a new theme is rising: industrial policy. It calls for the next Democratic administration, in consultation with business and labor, to formulate a set of industrial priorities. Chosen industries (high tech, especially computers, usually lead the list) are to be showered with public funds and benefits. Losing industries (autos and steel, for example) are to be “sunset” and their workers moved to other industries after “retraining.” (Some suggest reconstructing the losing industries-with public funds and guidance-to become winners.) In these ways the government is to help American business adapt more rapidly to the changing technological environment and to the competitive world overseas. An often repeated line is, “We did Japan and Germany a favor by bombing out their steel mills; now we must take out our own obsolescent ones.”

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