Treading water can save your life, but in some cases, it’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Today, American competitiveness is at risk and there are scores of examples all around us. While other countries have made gains, our programs in materials science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry have atrophied. Cutting research budgets and driving risk out of the system may make sense in an age of budgetary pressures and fiscal realism. But it is the equivalent of treading water when what we really need to do is swim for the shore. Nobody is going to save us. We have to save ourselves.