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∙ Snobbery denigrates the technician and inventor. Though England and the Continent gave the world the Industrial Revolution, Europe developed nothing resembling the American tradition of inspired tinkerers. Partly this was due to an aristocratic contempt for anyone who works with his hands an attitude that persists among European businessmenpartly to the fact that economics did not demand inventiveness. After 1850, labor shortages and resulting high wages spurred the U.S. to lead the world in mechanizing both its farms and factories, while in Europe, until recently, the labor surplus helped keep wage levels comparatively low even as it kept tiny markets profitable. Europe came to exalt its scientists, with the exception of engineers. For a long time, they were regarded as too lowly in Britain even to take lunch with top-crust executives. Says Novelist C. P. Snow: "For some reason, it is not quite U to be an engineer."
Thousands of British and German technicians accept U.S. jobs each year, lured partly by higher status and pay (often double) or driven out by the lack of scope they find for their talent at home. Britain is alarmed at "the brain drain," but its wage freeze and rising unemployment have only increased the itch to leave the land of disincentives, where a $5,500-a-year "young executive" can be in the 44% income tax bracket.
∙ Education is inadequate. Much European scientific and technical schooling remains excellent, though it is difficult to generalize. Whatever the quality of European education, it lags disastrously in quantity. First-rate education still reaches only a handful of the elite. Europe generally separates prize pupils from the herd at the ages of ten to 14. With some variations, the chosen few thereupon receive superb training (including university degrees) at state expense; the rest are consigned to mere trade schools or to work. Europe not only overlooks educating the second cut among its students, but also provides no opportunity for late bloomers. Thus it turns out too few scientists, technologists and managers to keep up with its industrial expansion. In Germany, only 8% of college-age youths actually enter universities, as against nearly 40% in the U.S. England has 120,000 college studentsabout the enrollment of City University of New York. "Universities," says Lord Bowden, until recently Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, "still behave like successors to medieval monasteries."
The Magic Mobility
In Britain and Italy, but more so in Germany, lone professors usually run academic departments or institutes with Napoleonic power and lifetime tenure. In total control of curriculums and funds, they are accountable to no one, usually cooperate with no one, and brook only the presence of underlings to help teach. "Germany," says former Harvard President James Bryant Conant, "has the best university system in the worldfor the 19th century."