I don't really think that is true. Just read Science and Nature on a regular basis. Lots and lots of new insights and discoveries by mostly US centers. It can and should be better - we're on a Red Queen type journey and much of our problems can be solved either by dropping us back into the Bronze age or moving forward understanding our world and how to live in it. Standing around staring at the scenery isn't going to get society very far.
Although I don't doubt for a second that US centers produce first-tier research, I am also inclined to believe that publishing in Nature is far easier when you come from a big US center. So, it is, in a way, a self-sustaining situation. Friends who have been to famous US centers (Dana-Farber, NIH, MIT), find it far more difficult to publish when they come back to Europe, and that is even after having established connections around the world.
With respect to TFA, I would just like to add two parallel phenomena that possibly contribute to the apparent "lack" of funding for young scientistis:
- Research is becoming exorbitantly expensive, therefore grants are more likely to be big and only distributed to the people at the top. Funding twenty young researchers with 100k is unfortunately much less productive than funding a big consortium with 2M because the barrier of entry (equipment, regulatory overhead etc) is very high.
- The PhD "inflation" means that today a scientist is considered senior/lab head after one and maybe two post-docs. It used to be that after the PhD someone would get a tenure-track job and the associated funds. Today this step occurs at a later age. Naturally, researchers under 35 are seen as "beginners" while a hollywood star or athlete is seen as a veteran at age 35. Such is life for the modern scientist...