I have been reading, with much interest, the prognosticators’ views and ideas that the United States is in a state of decline. They say the economic engine that has driven the U.S. economy and the world’s economy is in decline and that the “new normal” will be stagnant growth and lost job opportunities. They say the high unemployment that the United States is experiencing will be around for a long time and that our national debt will force dramatic cuts in federal spending and programs.
I don’t see it.
The economy is changing and there is a shift occurring in economic opportunities, but this has happened before in our history and it will happen again. We may not like what is happening and we may feel threatened by it, but it is happening regardless of our resistance. In the book, The Age of the Unthinkable, by Joshua Cooper Ramo, the author encourages the development of economic resiliency. Ramo states,
“Resilience allows us, even in the most extreme moments, to keep learning, to change. It is a kind of battlefield courage, the ability to innovate under fire because we have prepared in the right way and because we have developed the strength to keep moving even when we’re slapped by the unexpected. But resilience has to be built into our system in advance, like a strong immune response before flu season. In practice this means widening how we interact with the world – the better to learn new skills and make new connections – instead of narrowing to the fewest possible essential threats or plans or policies.”
Our community and many businesses have that ability – to change and adapt on the fly. How we train ourselves and our community to see things differently, holistically, and not just focused on one idea or best practice will be critical. Hoping to “turn back the clock” and to wish for things to be the way they used to be is a waste of time and emotion.
The communities that are going to be successful in this changing economic landscape will have developed the following Three E’s:
- Economic Resilience. A community’s DNA must contain the ability to change and meet a changing global economy through flexible regulations, taxation, and policies. There must be an ability to see opportunities in multiple connections that are both direct and indirect. We must have the ability to think both conventionally and unconventionally concerning ideas and opportunities at the same time.
- Economic Opportunity. The free enterprise system still rules. Communities that create economic opportunity for all, and not just a chosen few, will lead in economic growth and opportunity. Money and capital will continue to create opportunities and jobs. Wealth redistribution sounds grand and equal but is a failed economic theory.
- An Education System that is second to none. The state of Texas faces a huge shortfall and there is talk of cuts across the board, but that would be a huge mistake. The one area cuts should not be made is in public education (K-12). The most basic foundation to our success as a community is an educated workforce and community. On a global stage, we rank towards the bottom in educational attainment, and yet we compete in a global economy. Our challenge as a community is what price we are willing to pay to have a world-class educational experience – we will see in the coming months.