Will America really relinquish her #1 position?
My answer to this question is, unlikely.
Yes, I know, economists are writing about emerging economies and they are projecting new superstar nations on the horizon. Among the predictions are that China will overtake USA in terms of being the economic superpower of the world in the next 15-20 years (depending on who you listen to). That’s not that far away! And, as I had written earlier, India in the same timeframe will become #3 in the world. Hard to imagine but the numbers do tell that story.
Now, let’s get back to the great US of A (sorry, the further I am from the US, the more prolific and profuse my description of her becomes…something about distance making the heart grow fonder, perhaps?).
But, do people really think that just because China becomes the economic superpower of the world, it will also be the #1 nation of the world? Come on.
Here are some reasons why that would be a hard case to make, and a difficult competition for China to undertake. Aside from the economy, here are the qualities and characteristics that make the USA #1 today, and that will keep it #1 for many years to come. And this is despite all the reasons you and your brother can come up with about the downsides of this country (tea party, anyone?) –
It may not be perfect (of course, it’s not) but it is the premier land of human freedom and liberty.
Despite what Tom Friedman laments about, it is still the bastion of innovation. Just check out Silicon Valley once again, won’t you?
Again, despite what Tom Friedman says, the education system, especially the higher education system is absolutely above par that of other nations. Primarily it encourages student creativity, freedom of expression and thought like few others. Put another way, there are more and better higher educational institutions that build a solid well-rounded educational foundation for students in the US than anywhere else in the world.
Today’s economic crisis has muted this somewhat, but America still stands tall as a land of opportunity, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. According to a report published in 2010 by the Small Business Administration that compared 71 countries and their entrepreneurship, the US had fallen to #3 behind Denmark and Canada during the economic crisis.
However, according to the same report, “the U.S. earns high marks for startup skills, competition and new-technology development, and also ranks first in entrepreneurial aspirations – how much activity is directed toward innovation, high-impact entrepreneurship and globalization”. This is what makes the difference. There is an underlying fabric and entrepreneurial culture that pervades all corners of the United States. So, while other countries like China and India are being pushed forward as the new lands of opportunity, this type of culture and the necessary support infrastructure are still in development mode there.
In my opinion, it will take awhile for them to catch up. Check out the chart below; while it is from 2009, it still shows how far ahead in the lead the US is with respect to entrepreneurship.
The melting pot – it is the nation with an endemic characteristic developed over a couple of centuries of its young existence – that of attracting people from all corners of the world to its shores. The United States has succeeded in bringing together the (best of) cultures and people from around the world and creating an advantage from this unique and ongoing amalgamation.
So, what can possibly change all this? Yes, you guessed it. The wrong leadership. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the next election. Toes too, for good measure. That is when the country could see itself swinging one way – progressive, or the other. There are just enough fringe groups who strongly believe and advocate regressive policies in all the cases mentioned above, and who are making discernible noises about their opinions, that it pays not to take them too lightly.
However, for purposes of concluding this post, I am going to assume that good sense will prevail in the majority and that the best leadership will be the order of the day in the future. If not, I hope that whatever mistakes are made in selecting political leaders, they are also corrected as quickly as possible (four years max!).
Given this, I further predict that 15, 25 or even 50 years from now, regardless of who the #1 economic superpower is, the United States will still be the #1 country in the world. The country, that is, to which people from around the world would still want to flock to – for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Want to take me on?
Silicon Valley: By Samykolon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Columbia University: By Momos (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Entrepreneurs Worldwide Chart: http://www.dawncavalieri.com/web/investment_professional/vol_2_no_4/investing-in-troubled-times.html