What’s next for America and her economy? Day after day I read about the decline of the United States of America. I see the politicians who can’t get out of their own way in order to pass legislation that might make the recovery come sooner. I see and hear the Tea Party and the most liberal of liberals fighting each other. I am disappointed by the anger my friends display for people of the other party, whether they be friends from the left, or friends from the right. So I look for any hope of good news.
Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t. Because of what I believe, I have a very hard time picturing the United States of America becoming a nation of impoverished beggars. My family history shows me that people can have nothing, not much in the way of education, no family money to speak of, and they can achieve great things. Did anyone on my family tree become a billionaire? Not yet. But, with very little in the way of luck and good breaks, they did rise from almost nothing to people who owned businesses, who owned homes, who raised successful children and grandchildren. I consider that a success.
To tell me that those same people–who may have lost some of what they had a few years ago–are going to wallow in their temporary failure and not rise above it, is something I am just not going to buy. Every single member of my family, of my group of friends, of my associates is looking for a way to dig out of this mess, and to climb back up and out. Some have found new jobs; some, like me, have started new companies and careers; some are working two jobs instead of one higher-paying one. I don’t think we are any different than most Americans. If you give us just a sliver of a chance to re-invent ourselves we will.
There will always be people who are unsuccessful, and there will always be people who see the worst in everything and rejoice when bad things occur. Beyond that extreme is where I think the truth lies. They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and even in the worst of times there are opportunities for those who seize them. Forbes magazine had this article recently which addresses some of the opportunities that could be coming in the very near future. Read this excerpt and tell me what you think:
Mr. Mills, a physicist and founder of the Digital Power Group, writes the Forbes Energy:
“Devices and products are already appearing based on computationally engineered materials that literally did not exist a few years ago: novel metal alloys, graphene instead of silicon transistors (graphene and carbon enable a radically new class of electronic and structural materials), and meta-materials that possess properties not possible in nature; e.g., rendering an object invisible—speculation about which received understandable recent publicity.
This era of new materials will be economically explosive when combined with 3-D printing, also known as direct-digital manufacturing—literally “printing” parts and devices using computational power, lasers and basic powdered metals and plastics. Already emerging are printed parts for high-value applications like patient-specific implants for hip joints or teeth, or lighter and stronger aircraft parts. Then one day, the Holy Grail: “desktop” printing of entire final products from wheels to even washing machines.
The era of near-perfect computational design and production will unleash as big a change in how we make things as the agricultural revolution did in how we grew things. And it will be defined by high talent not cheap labor.
Finally, there is the unfolding communications revolution where soon most humans on the planet will be connected wirelessly. Never before have a billion people—soon billions more—been able to communicate, socialize and trade in real time.
The implications of the radical collapse in the cost of wireless connectivity are as big as those following the dawn of telegraphy/telephony. Coupled with the cloud, the wireless world provides cheap connectivity, information and processing power to nearly everyone, everywhere. This introduces both rapid change—e.g., the Arab Spring—and great opportunity. Again, both the launch and epicenter of this technology reside in America.
Few deny that technology fuels economic growth as well as both social and lifestyle progress, the latter largely seen in health and environmental metrics. But consider three features that most define America, and that are essential for unleashing the promises of technological change: our youthful demographics, dynamic culture and diverse educational system.
First, demographics. By 2020, America will be younger than both China and the euro zone, if the latter still exists. Youth brings more than a base of workers and taxpayers; it brings the ineluctable energy that propels everything. Amplified and leavened by the experience of their elders, youth and economic scale (the U.S. is still the world’s largest economy) are not to be underestimated, especially in the context of the other two great forces: our culture and educational system.
The American culture is particularly suited to times of tumult and challenge. Culture cannot be changed or copied overnight; it is a feature of a people that has, to use a physics term, high inertia. Ours is distinguished by incontrovertibly powerful features, namely open-mindedness, risk-taking, hard work, playfulness, and, critical for nascent new ideas, a healthy dose of anti-establishment thinking. Where else could an Apple or a Steve Jobs have emerged?
Then there’s our educational system, often criticized as inadequate to global challenges. But American higher education eludes simple statistical measures since its most salient features are flexibility and diversity of educational philosophies, curricula and the professoriate. There is a dizzying range of approaches in American universities and colleges. Good. One size definitely does not fit all for students or the future.
We should also remember that more than half of the world’s top 100 universities remain in America, a fact underscored by soaring foreign enrollments. Yes, other nations have fine universities, and many more will emerge over time. But again the epicenter remains here.
What should our politicians do to help usher in this new era of entrepreneurial growth? Liquid financial markets, sensible tax and immigration policy, and balanced regulations will allow the next boom to flourish. But the essential fuel is innovation. The promise resides in the tectonic technological shifts under way.
America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.”
And in the end, I concur!!!
Social Cindy over and out….