A great opinion piece by Thomas Friedman focused in on the two key components that will ultimately decide whether America’s dominance throughout the 20th Century will come to an end with China forging ahead in the 21st.
With the world as we know it completely interconnected at a level that was frankly unimaginable 100 years ago, creativity and imagination matter. Ipods might be made in China but they are imagined in the U.S. The U.S. is as Friedman puts it, “the world’s greatest dream machine.”
With that said however, Friedman also discusses another key factor that differentiates China and the U.S., but is narrowing quickly – good governance. China’s censorship and tactful control of its citizens is well-documented. Yet, so is America’s suboptimal repsonse to its biggest issues of the day: education, financial regulation, debt, health-care, energy and the environment.
These critical issues are fracturing the country and paralyzing our leaders to creatively imagine up workable solutions. Gerrymandering of political districts, the cable news sector, and the internet encourages segregation of ideas. Pick a side, Democrat or Republican, and don’t give in no matter what.
The U.S. business community only comes to Washington to lobby for their own interests providing very little commentary on national issues affecting U.S. citizens at large.
Obama was elected to build a bridge and bring people across from both sides. He has a long way to go and I do not envy his job. Yet with a more active and understanding citizen-base, we, rather than our elected officials, can press ahead for change. After all, 95% of the rhetoric today is coming from us, not them.
All in all, continued suboptimal responses to these critical issues will catch up to us regardless of how much imagination we engender. China will patiently wait.