September 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Zakaria: Germany as a model for U.S.

Tonight at 8pET, there'll be a GPS primetime special on CNN – Restoring the American Dream: Getting Back to Work. I dig into the unemployment crisis and look at how to create more American jobs.  The other day I talked to Brooke Baldwin about some of the key points I'll raise in the special, including the example Germany sets for the U.S. Here's the transcript:

Brooke Baldwin: I want you to sit there and I want you to channel your inner Steve Jobs. Let's say you invent some gizmo, some kind of technology, you believe in this thing. Who knows, maybe it has the power to change the world. Did you know this? If you want to get a patent on said invention, the average time it takes to get that is three years, three years to get a patent.

That is supposed to change starting today. Today the president signed this overhaul of the government's patent system. So if you watch us daily - come on, a lot of you do - you have heard him ask Congress time and time again to take action on this. Well, they did. And the White House is saying that this will start creating jobs today.

Fareed Zakaria has been drilling down on jobs. He's got a special airing Sunday night. Fareed, let's begin with this patent reform. Three years ago to get a patent and now it looks as though maybe we're getting that fixed. How does expediting a patent, the whole process, create jobs? Obviously the White House also thinks it's a good bit of news. Do you agree?

Fareed Zakaria: I do agree. I think that the big problem for most small businesses, start-ups as you put it, some inventor with a mad idea. In the initial stages you don't make much money. In fact, you lose money. If it takes you three years to get the patent, very few venture capital firms or angel invest are willing to give you money. So you lose money for three years while you get your patent approved. So by the time you get your patent, you've gone out of business.

So the idea here is to really make a quicker up-or-down decision. It doesn't mean you'll always get the patent but if it means you'll know sooner whether you'll get it. That way if you get it, you're still around as a viable firm. It's part of a whole series of things we need to modernize. We've sat on top of the world for so long. We haven't looked at our whole governmental system from taxes to regulations to things like this patent process and asked ourselves, how does the rest of the world do it? What are the best practices out there? How do we benchmark and make sure we're competitive to attract the best capital in the world, the best people in the world? We've tended to assume, well, we're number one. Well, guess what, we're not number one in a lot of areas of.

Brooke Baldwin: Reality check, U.S. And as you and I were talking yesterday, you said, look, here is a great idea to help us create jobs. Issue more tourist visas, and folks from overseas will spend their money here. It sounds easy enough. You say you have a number of other ideas like that. You've spoken to a lot of people for this special who offered some ideas. Give us a couple of more ideas.

Fareed Zakaria: The biggest easy idea, not easy but the most immediate idea, is really infrastructure, rebuilding America's bridges, roads, airports, new smart grid, powered grid, all that. Why is that the best idea in the short term? Because right now, no matter what you do, you give tax credits, tax incentives, cut the payroll tax, businesses aren't hiring because there are isn't much demand. Consumers are paying down debt. We're not spending a lot of money in the mall.

This is one area, infrastructure, which isn't dependent on consumer demand. The government can just start modernizing our infrastructure. And we have desperate needs here. We used to be among the top five in the world in the infrastructure according to the World Economic Forum. We now rank 23rd which means we have the worst infrastructure of the advanced industrial world.  So this is a win-win because we can get people to work and we can rebuild our infrastructure, which will produce more economic activity. Every study has shown that better infrastructure pays for itself very quickly.

Brooke Baldwin: Obviously, Europe, we talk a lot about Europe. I know you do on your show. Europe is hurting as well economically speaking. To hear some folks say it, it's the Germans. The Germans are tired of bailing out the slackers over there. I know Fareed Zakaria, it's not that simple.

Fareed Zakaria: It's not that simple because one of the reasons they have been doing it is that a lot of German banks own all the debt of the Greeks and the Italians and things like that. So when with you look at the Greek situation, you have to understand the reason the Germans are doing it is partly self-interest. They don't want their banking system to collapse, and German banks own a lot of the Greek debt. But there is something to learn from Germany and we talk about this on the special. Germany has maintained its manufacturing capacity, really remarkably. It's supposed to be the case that once you become rich you don't make stuff anymore. We all become management consultants and massage therapists and things like that. That's the service economy.

Well, the Germans still make stuff and they make a lot of it. And why are they able to do that? We explore that, try to explain how you could have a revival of American manufacturing that would bring back what is really at the heart of the American dream, which is a good job for an average person, not a guy with a fancy college degree. That's what the Germans have been able to do, and that's an area we really could learn a lot about. 

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Topics: From Fareed • Jobs • United States

soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. justin

    susan you make a perfect point

    September 21, 2011 at 10:17 am | Reply
  2. canisprudens

    Fareed, don 't wait any longer. Move to Germany! I, for one, do not want American to be like any other country. We do not need a model to copy. We are America, the model for every country. We ARE exceptional. They want to be like us. Why give up what we already have and no one else does? If people like you are always pining to be something else, please go there and be happy.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  3. Paul McLaughlin

    don't get me started

    October 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  4. don't click here

    I relish, lead to I discovered exactly what I was taking a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

    September 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Reply
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