What a refreshing recognition that the principal purpose of communities is to produce something of value to society. In the increasingly competitive global marketplace, success is a product’s innovation and productivity. That’s been the formula for the nation’s decades of increasing technology-driven prosperity and leadership in science, technology, engineering and math.

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As pointed out, San Diego has made valuable contributions to this STEM economy. And a recent report from a Brookings Institution program, “The Hidden STEM Economy” shows San Diego 10th in 100 STEM-oriented metropolitan areas.

It’s a good foundation to help the nation’s sagging global trade-deficient economy. In contrast, local long-range planning displays a “we’ve got it made” attitude for pleasurable living and pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined, mobility-restricted streets in “sustainable communities.”

There’s lip service paid to a “vibrant economy,” but really it’s more overhead and non-productive jobs. Yes, we must find ways to reduce energy and emissions. But that’s a workplace environment, not an end product for the global marketplace.

This article and the Brookings report constitute a serious wake-up call. We have to get back to innovative work, train our workforce accordingly and stop trying to live in comfort beyond means we haven’t earned.

San Diego’s chronicled history is a bit light about aerospace innovations. Convair’s built-in-San Diego Atlas missile put the first U.S. astronaut in orbit. How about innovation to replace failed urban transportation? There hasn’t been a truly new concept in over 100 years.

Walt Brewer used to live in San Diego and currently lives in Lockport, New York.

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