If you’ve follow the news over the last 2 to 20 years, you’d notice the US has a few housekeeping issues. Folks can prattle on about the various ways we’re hurting, but in short, we’ve discovered a consumption based economy is prone to bubbles and isn’t sustainable without a real economy to back it up. Apparently, when we were flipping homes and making crazy money from questionable financial machinations, the money that we saw coming in from seemingly nowhere collapsed – much like the inevitable plummet of Wile E. Coyote after noticing he’d been running for some time in mid air.
OK, so we weren’t solvent. Apparently farming out every single manufacturing job in the country to mainland China has come with some cost, chiefly a $245 Billion trade defecit.
And we can’t expect the government to fix issues like these anytime soon because they’re embroiled in their own fruitless efforts to fix our national balance sheet. Kinda like everyone else, the nation has racked up some hefty credit card bills. And, you know when a family has money problems, it causes fights. Congress can’t pass anything bipartisan anymore, so it gestures and threatens and filibusters. About the only thing they were able to work together on in the past 10 years is blowing all the cash that helped drive up our debt in the first place.
So we can’t expect to leave High School and make a living on an assembly line any more. America needs to train for tomorrow’s jobs, right? Except, if you take just a passing look, you’ll notice our public Education system is up sh-t’s creek also. Any number of documentaries (see Waiting for Superman – it made me cry) will show you that we don’t produce Engineers and Architects like we used to. But, those are what tomorrow’s economy demands. If we can’t even improve on dropout rates from the nation’s high schools, we don’t stand a chance when 30 years down the road the demand for high tech employees doubles or triples.
Overall, if you look at how the US is doing versus other countries that we’ve traditionally look at condescendingly in the past, we’re not doing so hot. We put the space race on hold – no more Nasa flights to the moon, and a mission to Mars is now left to Science Fiction writers. Since we’ve shipped all the factory jobs overseas, Engineering shops are slowly following, and if you continue the trend, next to go are the corporate offices. Like it or not, we’re a take hike away from accelerating that trend.
All this to say, it feels like our prospects in the US aren’t looking great for the next fifty years. So if the economy is feeling hollow with no great future, I think the one thing we can always turn to – which continues to be true through good times and bad – is that America is still the cool kid on the block.
Half of China’s wealthiest would rather live in the US. We’re an open society; Jersey Shore proves this fact. Where else in the world would something so hideous have a chance to exist? Sure, Finland has great students, but I’ll bet they all want XBoxes and iPhones. And I bet you if I played Black-Eyed Peas in Brazil, people would recognize the song from a commercial and have the same response as we do in America (shameful, mild enjoyment). You know how suburban kids either look like Justin Bieber or Jay-Z wannabes? Same goes for German kids.
You may not have great odds at equipping your family with a great education or jobs in the US, but if they make it out of college, we’ve oodles of venture capitalists to fund all of their hair-brained schemes. Part of why we mourned so much for Steve Jobs is because we treasure his sort of ballsy, driven creativity that builds American empires like Apple. America takes risks and sometimes wins big.
If we can find away to fix our balance sheets, economy, educational system, retirement system and government – or at least delay the pain and let our children deal with our mess – America’s fabric makes it an awesome place for influence to start from. We may not always find a way to profit from it, but the US is still a global center for “cool”. Hopefully its value holds up.