Sunday, March 17, 2013

Post American World

I think I read the 1.0 version of this book. Some of the parts seemed to be a few years old. This author states that he is not describing the fall of America, but instead the rise of everyone else. However, he does have plenty of observations as to why the US is losing its edge.

Much of the book focuses on India and China. These are by far the two most populous countries in the world and they have both been growing at an amazing clip. They have been doing that growth in very different ways. Both also have made advances in education and entrepreneurship, yet still send many of their brightest to the US for education. Being a native of India, the author is most aware of the situation in India. Even when the Indian government was lined up against the US, Indians found themselves greeted with open arms in the United States.

The author also spends some time discussing the relative "fall" of the United States and comparing it to the experience of Great Britain. The UK was once the most powerful country in the world, with a far-flung empire. Like the US today, it played the world's cop. Unfortunately, also like the US, it didn't no when to stop. It got tangled in the Boer war and eventually lost its supremacy. The US has been involved in wars in the Iraq, Afghanistan and other places that have sucked away its resources. It has also become extremely paranoid about terrorism. This has led to extra security and difficulties for immigrants. All of this has led America to be seen by the rest of the world in a negative light. The main benefit of the US is its openness. Countries like Japan and Europe are facing native population declines with little immigration. In the US, almost all population growth has come from immigrants. Without this growth, the engine will slow down and stop.

The discussion in the book centers around the "big" countries: US, Brazil, China, India. However, it also mentioned that Europe was able to become so strong because of the many competing small countries. Will this return to "big dominance" hurt the world as a whole? The large bureaucracies that come about in the big countries can be an impediment to economic and scientific advancement, just as the large resources can help advancement. What will the result be?

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