To the editor:

Just as the 20th century was American, the 21st may be that of the Chinese, given their population of 1.3 billion vs. our 340 million.

But what may make the 21st century more certainly Chinese, if we continue to dither and spend most of our time on politics, is the large disparity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates. In 2016, there were 4.7 million STEM college graduates in China, compared to 368,000 in the United States, a ratio of 8 to 3 vs. a population ratio of 3 to 8. Thus, China is turning out STEM graduates in far greater numbers than their population would suggest.

With the high cost of education in the United States, evidenced by $1.3 trillion in student debt, the number of STEM graduates may well decline, making the situation worse.

The only way we can remain competitive is to do what our government did so successfully after World War II with the G.I. Bill, and what all of the Western Democracies do, namely have college education government-funded through taxes, just as we fund primary and secondary education.

Louis Zirin



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