If you work for a living, whether you like it or not, you are in a race and
the competition is no push-over. To give you some idea about the scope of this
race, China just became the world’s second largest economy; the number of people
among India’s most intelligent is a greater number than the entire population of
the United States and over one-half of the revenue of America’s Fortune 500 came
from outside the U.S. the last two years. This is a wake-up call!
There is little we can do or even want to do about the globalization of the world’s economy but there is something we can do about how that globalization effects us. U.S. companies, that consider themselves international, fared well during 2009. All but 4 percent of the top companies earned profits. In fact they have created 1.4 million jobs, overseas. Those same 1.4 million jobs, had they remained in the U.S. would have lowered the unemployment rate to 8.9 percent instead of the 9.8 percent with which we currently struggle.
Don’t blame the companies for shipping jobs overseas because of cheap labor. Those companies are growing because of growing demand from countries like Brazil and China. The rapidly expanding middle classes of those countries are driving demand upward at an accelerating pace. The reason for that growing demand?
Growing productivity of the middle classes of those countries is driven by improved education and economic conditions. DuPont, which set the world on fire in the late 1930s with its invention or nylon and today, is still recognized as the world’s most innovative companies sells on one-third of its products in the U.S.
What’s good for American companies is not always good for Americans. DuPont’s workforce in the U.S., during the period 2005-2009, decreased by 9 percent, while increasing by 54 percent in Asia and Pacific countries. That is just the tip of the iceberg and economists worry that the growing trends will place further pressure on the American economy. American has fallen behind in the preparation of its young people to compete in today’s world.
What is our strategy? As best I can tell there is no strategy. Most of us and especially our politicians are to busy focusing on the short term to do anything that will have a lasting effect on the future.
Here is a three point strategy that is the beginning of the beginning and not certainly the total solution.
- Appoint a non-partisan commission to study and recommend broad steps needed to prepare the next generation to compete in a global world. And maybe most importantly, be willing to take the recommended steps, even at personal costs.
- Elect politicians that “see the light” and understand that the “ostrich head in the sand” approach to will not work. That legislation needs to be generated today to deal with the quality of U.S. education. This may mean but not be limited to the elimination of teaching unions.
- Be prepared to make sacrifices to improve the future. An early priority might be to wean ourselves from the addiction we have to oil. Certainly sending billions of dollars, everyday, to people who don’t like us much is less than an effective.