I wrote this on March 14, 2012.
Our culture, our children, are falling behind each day. In China, kids march and wear uniforms. Average students take high level math classes at an early age. Our kids need to understand they’ll not only be competing against others in the room for a job, they’ll be competing against kids all over the world -- for a job. As parents and adults, we must embrace what Globalization means for our country and our children.
Globalization has forever changed things. You could give Apple, Intel, or Exon all the tax breaks in the world and that's not going to stop them from making chips in Shenzhen, and outsourcing the manufacturing of heavy equipment overseas. No amount of tax breaks will change the fact that what drives business for them or any other business is demand. No amount of tax breaks will change the fact that Americans can't compete with the cost savings overseas. Things will only get worse until Americans embrace two concepts; 1. we’re all going to have to pay more to get out of this. 2. investment is part of igniting the growth of manufacturing and the hiring of American workers.
With LTE and faster networks coming, it’s only going to get easier for a kid in China or anywhere else in the world to compete against our kids. Up where I live in Eagle, CO, construction is big. But the construction industry is in a race to the bottom, as far as costs go. It won't be long before anyone could collaborate with a call center agent in India using Google Docs, to get house blue prints developed for less than what an architect now pays for rent. This economy up here was built on sand and it's insane, to think that past is prologue. I wish my neighbors would wake up, start building towards a sustainable economy and ditch the dogma of the past.
A start would be to invest in our children. Waiting, as some suggest, is not a choice -- the time is now. To do anything else would be keeping us in a holding pattern for a few more years while the Chinese and other countries continue to gain ground. To think the private sector will somehow show up and save us all, or the times of Reagan are repeatable, is foolish. This "logic" relies on an economic model of yesteryear, on a time when the world was way different. Things are different now, but most plans are the same.
As a country, not as "conservatives and liberals", we must understand -- emphasis we -- what we are facing. We need to rally and start fighting back. Not later, now.
The kooks are shouting, “investment doesn’t work - what works is cutting costs”. Offline they’re pointing to Solyndra as their shining example. Solyndra failed because the Chinese stole our technology and subsidized the development of solar panels. Now they're selling what they stole, back to us. If you'd had shown a picture of the Hindenburg going down in flames to investors considering the airline industry back then, I don’t think they'd have been bullish. Entrepreneurs like myself fail, it's all a part of building something new. I don’t give up and neither will entrepreneurs in the nascent renewables markets. But sometimes we need a little help from the government -- be it SBA loans or investment. The government invested in GPS, look at all the revenue being driven from GPS apps and services. The government invested in the Internet, railroads, transportation, the computer microchip, highways, farming, and aerospace. Government investment is time tested and proven, as recent as just a few years ago, when GPS satellites were launched -- and paid for, by the government. Or the recent investment in Bloom Energy, which is now producing boxes that power office buildings -- no utility company needed. There’s not enough space here for me to list all the positive government ROI in renewables. To scream "no investment", while typing and talking on devices that track back to -- government investment, is not smart.
Times have changed and our country is on a fast track to a point of no return. Yes, costs play a heavy role in education, I get that. But what what right totally misses, is the must-have role of investment in our society. In fact they demonize it. They're stuck on an ethos that’s no longer applicable. They're all about bombs, but not books. They complain, but most aren't willing to chip in or have any skin in the game.
“I’ll put my kids in private schools”, some say. Yeah? What will the kids of the parents do that fix their sinks?
Andy Crouch wrote, “The only way forward in the most tenacious human troubles is to embrace difficulty and take up burdens—in Dr. King's words, to embrace a "dangerous unselfishness." The children, not the clowns holding "Don't Tread on Me" signs, are our future. We need to be unselfish and invest in them. Because the better educated our kids are, the better they’ll be able to compete and win globally, lead us out of this mess we’re in. It’s the kids, not the old farts, that’ll lead us back to #1.
I’m reminded of a great bumper sticker - “It’ll be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the government has to hold a bake sale, to pay for bombs”.