Intel CEO: Candidates Ignore Tech Debate

"This is what you don't see being debated by our two presidential candidates today," Craig Barrett told several thousand workers from the high-tech industry at the Gartner Symposium ITXPO at Walt Disney World.

In the past decade, 3 billion people from India, China, Russia and Eastern Europe have joined the world economic system, Barrett said. Many of them have well-educated engineers and they're going to compete with the United States for jobs, he added.

"What we're debating about instead is how we're going to protect a textile worker in South Carolina," Barrett said. "The future of the United States is not pillowcases."

Unlike the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik in 1957, which was a sudden wake-up call in the United States that the nation was falling behind technologically, the current decline has been incremental, said Barrett, who described Americans as "blase" about information technology.

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"The United States, unfortunately, is very good at ignoring incremental messages," he said.

Barrett said the nearly $20 billion the United States annually spends on agricultural subsidies could be better spent on education and research and development.

"What do you think the industry of the 21st century is going to be? Agriculture?" he said. "We're sending our workers into the marketplace with a disadvantage: their education.

"We'll wake up to that eventually. I wish it was part of the debate. But you didn't see it in any of the three presidential debates."

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