The authors of: That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World Is Invented And How We Can Come Back, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (pages 9 and 10) have framed the time we Americans live in. They see possibility. They have hope. They acknowledge we have serious work to do. They have a focus. What follows are some of their thoughts.
In the last decade especially, we have spent so much of our time and energy–and the next generations money–fighting terrorism and indulging ourselves with tax cuts and she credit that we now have no reserves. We are driving now without a bumper, without a spare tire, and with the gas gauge nearing empty.
Our sense of urgency also derives from the fact that our political system is not properly framing, let alone addressing, our ultimate challenge. Our goal should not be merely to solve America’s debt and deficit problems. That is far too narrow period coping with these problems is important–indeed necessary and urgent–but it is only a means to an end. The goal is for America to remain a great country.
This means that while reducing our deficits, we must also invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants and fix the regulations that govern our economy. Immigration, education, and sensible regulation are traditional ingredients of America’s formula for greatness. They are more vital than ever if we hope to realize the full potential of the American people in the coming decades, to generate the resources to sustain our prosperity and to remain the global leader that we have been and that the world needs us to be. We, the authors of this book, don’t want simply to restore American solvency. We want to maintain American greatness. We are not green-eyeshade guys. We’re Fourth of July guys.
As citizens we need to be willing to see the value of the country being clearly focused. Investing in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as opening our society more widely to talented immigrants are all potential political challenges. Now is the time for citizens to demand that their politicians not fight but work together. We need people who are willing to have “Thought Through” rather than “Fought Through” the challenges Friedman and Mandelbaum are laying out for us.