We spend so much time reading bad news- think national debt, entitlement reform, inflation, deflation, de-leveraging, low rates, and foreign threats- that we forget that the US is an incredibly dynamic and resilient place.
Our nation has survived a lot of lumps, and while we sure have some tough sledding in the decades ahead to get our debts and promises back in line with our means, there is good reason to believe that not only is that achievable, but our means are also likely to increase.
So today’s article is a ray of sunshine from one of my favorite big thinkers, Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes. The title of the Wall Street Journal article is “The Future Is More Than Facebook” and it appeared in this 5/17/12 edition of The Journal.
The article makes the point that with Facebook’s IPO, we’re at the end of an era in Silicon Valley, and poised for a new wave of innovation. Now, Silicon Valley cycles are a lot like dog years, so the next big thing will be old news in 18 months or so, but that’s another story.
The point today is that social networking is a dynamo that did not exist a decade ago- billions and billions of dollars of value were created out of nothing, in a decade. And it was a pretty bad decade for the rest of the stock markets. New waves of innovation in the years ahead will create new billionaires and these new, massive upheavals will sustain our preeminence.
Some really well said points are below:
The debate about whether America will own the global economy in the 21st century or else become a dude ranch for rich Chinese and Brazilians hinges on whether innovation can break out of the box. Can it go mainstream and transform the really big things: transportation, energy, electricity, food production, water delivery, health care and education?
If it can’t do that—or if it is thwarted by high taxes and complex regulation—then welcome to the new normal of 2% annual growth. Our future will become sadly familiar. Just follow Spain, France and Great Britain down history’s sinkhole of lost status and influence.
Despite this alarming warning, Karlgaard takes the high ground and gives a compelling vision of what the wealth, innovation, and capital of our country can accomplish when applied to the big problems of our world. He continues:
Manufacturing? America will own the mid-21st century. Geopolitical instability and rising oil prices will wreck the late 20th-century rationale for outsourcing. Chinese labor costs are rising 20% a year while robotic costs are dropping by 30% a year. Do the math.
“Made in the USA” is set to have a major comeback. The showstopper will be 3-D printing, which makes physical objects from a digital file. It will turn our artists into artisanal manufacturers and reward American-style creativity.
Energy? America’s natural-gas and shale oil boom will bridge us to 2030 or so when solar energy and algae-based fuels will be closer to market parity and begin to make a real contribution. One of the companies who are making the use of solar energy grow across the country is Sandbar Solar & Electric. As long as I’m on the topic of the natural-gas boom, what key technology made this happy surprise possible? High-tech horizontal drilling. Who knew? We were all too busy fiddling with our iPhone apps to see it coming.
Question: If America could have only one of the following—Facebook, Twitter or horizontal drilling—which would be the smarter choice?
Happily, we don’t have to make that choice. America remains the world’s innovator, a country without limits.
Wow– I sat up straight and saluted at this. What a refreshing vision of what can be. Thanks Rich!
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