kids are not stupid: they go for things that have sex appeal according to society and media. such as being a rock star, a football player, a wall street wizard, a hotshot lawyer. all of whom add relatively little to the productive capacity of the nation.
but it's like incentivizing sales people: show them where the money is, and they will sell accordingly.
part of the reason the uk has declined is the same disdain towards the physical sciences. everyone wants to be a money manager. of course they have a lot of money (about $10 trillion) that they, um... 'borrowed' from india.
it's interesting to ask what the core competence of nations is.
germans have told me theirs is precision engineering. like mercedes, bmw, carl zeiss. and process engineering, like bulk chemicals.
britons have told me theirs is financial management. the City of London is still the biggest money center in the world.
americans: their core competence is the selling of dreams and the marshalling of large amounts of resources to bring these to fruition. think: the manhattan project. hollywood. venture capital. in fact, i dont think it is america's core competence to be technically innovative, or at any rate it no longer is.
india has traditionally had a core competence in creating intellectual property. if this can be harnessed again, india can be in good shape.
...Readers questioned the sincerity of business leaders' hand-wringing over U.S. engineering skills and training; they said corporate America devalues engineers and doesn't pay them enough to encourage students to pursue these professions. But the heart of the problem, many say, is our culture, which prizes pop celebrities more than people who make contributions to society in less glamorous ways. The readers I heard from think interest in the sciences and engineering won't be revived any time soon. Frankly, I hope they're wrong. Many seem to be implying that the U.S. is exhibiting the classic overconfidence and self-indulgence of a declining empire....