Is the United States falling behind in the global race for scientific and engineering talent? Are U.S. employers facing shortages of the skilled workers that they need to compete in a globalized world? Such claims from some employers and educators have been widely embraced by mainstream media and political leaders, and have figured prominently in recent policy debates about education, federal expenditures, tax policy, and immigration. Falling Behind? offers careful examinations of the existing evidence and of its use by those involved in these debates.
These concerns are by no means a recent phenomenon. Examining historical precedent, Michael Teitelbaum highlights five episodes of alarm about "falling behind" that go back nearly seventy years to the end of World War II. In each of these episodes the political system responded by rapidly expanding the supply of scientists and engineers, but only a few years later political enthusiasm or economic demand waned. Booms turned to busts, leaving many of those who had been encouraged to pursue science and engineering careers facing disheartening career prospects. Their experiences deterred younger and equally talented students from following in their footsteps—thereby sowing the seeds of the next cycle of alarm, boom, and bust.
Falling Behind? examines these repeated cycles up to the present, shedding new light on the adequacy of the science and engineering workforce for the current and future needs of the United States.
In this chapter we will contend the following: the trust model is a poor fit for the relationships in which plans are embedded. Those relationships warrant, at minimum, decision-makers considering members’ interests as workers at the associated enterprise, which derive from the financial risks of plan investments in other enterprises in general, and arguably the impact of harms that result from the behaviors of specific, sometimes competing enterprises. We express skepticism that these relationships justify taking account of members’ interests other than as members or workers. However it can be justified based on a different line of argument. It concerns the extent to which members (or others) who participate in collective vehicles for investment should retain the voice they would otherwise have with respect to advancement of their interests in the case of their own individual investment decisions. Vindication of a broader range of members’ interests might have merit as a matter of social policy rather than as one of advancing those interests for their own sake.
The foregoing points are made within the context of what is deemed to be decision-makers’ duty
of loyalty. However, we briefly explore the import of what is termed their “duty of care” for the issues explored. In doing so, we assert that the statutory framework that defined that duty was largely devoid of substantive content. The content was supplied by investment theories and practices at best insensitive to the relationships in which plans are grounded. Moreover, those theories and practices embodied problematic claims about the goals that might legitimately be pursued by the enterprises in which plans might invest. These claims stand in tension if not in direct conflict with those of members’ interests that decision-makers might appropriately seek to advance. The foregoing suggests a close or intimate connection between how fiduciary duty, with respect to investment in enterprises, and the legitimate goals that might be pursued by those enterprises are understood.
Recently, Brazil made changes to its retirement system as it concerned public sector workers, changes which in certain ways were similar to those which occurred for most federal workers in the United States somewhat over a quarter of a century ago. Broadly speaking it involved the conversion of a purely pay-as-you-go defined benefit plans to a hybrid of a reduced pay-as-you- go defined benefit plan with a funded defined contribution plan. In the United States, the latter is called the Thrift Savings Plan which now has over 4.5 million participants and nearly $400 billion in assets.
This paper offers a brief history of the origins of the U.S. system up until the changes in question were made, what were among the major factors or considerations which appear to have spurred the changes, a little bit about the constituencies which seem to have driven or resisted change as the case may be, the modifications that were envisioned, and expectations as to the difference that was expected to be wrought from those alterations. It canvases the differences between the then “old” and the “new” systems in relation to what was ostensibly sought to be achieved. It then draws on what is a surprisingly thin literature to describe the outcomes of the changes more than 25 years later with an eye to hoped-for or anticipated results at the outset. We then detail important elements of the new Brazilian system – which is at an early stage – with an eye to similarities and differences between it and the one we have described with a focus on how the outcomes of the system in the U.S. might bear on thinking in Brazil as it moves forward with its own. We conclude briefly with thoughts on the nature and merits of further pursuing the comparison and inquiry.