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Jump-Starting America Proposes to Lift All Boats, Not Just the Yachts

The American economy looks relatively sound on the outside, but the reality is quite different, say Simon Johnson, Faculty Director of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, and coauthor and MIT Economics Professor Jonathan Gruberin a new book due in April: Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream.

In this somewhat radical and highly anticipated prescription for the U.S. economy, Johnson and Grubernote that job opportunities and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few crowded coastal enclaves. Corporations and investors are disproportionately developing technologies that benefit the wealthiest Americans who live in the most prosperous areas of the country. The result of these developments is the destruction of middle class jobs in middle America. To turn this tide, they say, we must look to the lessons of the original American success story and embark on a plan that will create the industries of the future—and the jobs that go with them.

Impact on the economy of the “Big War”

Johnson and Gruber look back at the middle of the 20thcentury when massive public investment generated breakthroughs in science and technology that helped win World War II, innovations that then propelled the most successful economy the world has ever seen. Private enterprise built on these breakthroughs to create new industries such as radar, jet engines, digital computers, mobile telecommunications, life-saving medicines, and the internet. And those breakthroughs became the catalyst for broader economic growth that generated millions of good jobs. As Johnson and Gruber say, “We lifted almost all boats, not just the yachts.”

Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson tell the story of this first American growth engine and provide the blueprint for a second. They believe that their visionary, pragmatic, and possibly controversial plan will lead to job growth and a burgeoning economy in regions across the country that have been left behind.Jump-Starting America is the untold story of how America once created a legendary—and enormously successful—economic model and, most important, how it could be done again.