This is the view of an informed outsider. Academicians might find much to balk at, but I feel the view of the man in the street needs to be respected more. I am writing from India because the actions of the US have global impact.
The USA’s land area is about three times that of India. Its population is about one fourth. The average US citizen owns twelve times as much air, earth and water as the average Indian. Naturally the per-capita GDP of an American must be twelve times that of an Indian. On Purchasing Power Parity basis, the per-capita GDP of an Indian is around $ 4000/, that of an American is approximately $ 51,000/. There, you have it. Twelve times 4000. is 48,000/. Off the mark by just 3000. (Frankly, I have not tested if this will hold water for other countries. So I am not proposing this as a general theory. Let professional economists see if they can make something of this)
On the other hand, what are the actual GDPs in monetary terms? Of the US it is $ 52000/, of India it is $ 1500/. The US’s is higher than the ’12 times’ ‘norm’ by $ 34,000/. There is an explanation for this.
THE THREE AMERICAN DRIVERS:
The difference represents the greater amount of will that an American exerts on global affairs than does the average Indian. Not the ‘Red’ Indian but the ‘brown’ one from India. Historically that assertion has manifested itself in three ways:-
One is the aspiration to a greater being: bigger, healthier, wealthier and longer-living. The American man had a greater engagement with and enjoyment of the material world. The natural resources at his disposal were exploited more than by the Indian; and he innovated and invented to enhance his engagement – in both production and consumption.
The second is a superior work ethic which translated into higher productivity. His innovations and inventions increased his productivity further through the tools – like the tractor, the telephone, the computer – that multiplied the capacity of man much more than what the Indian had.
The third is the projection of power. The American parlayed what he had into a globally present cultural influence that has largely determined the way the whole world lives now; and also translated that wealth and influence into political and military clout which in turn reinforces the cultural influence. The influence, in its turn, added premiums to the prices the US could charge for its goods and services. The Indian’s performance in this respect has been poor.
A NEW NEW DEAL:
What the US needs to do now is to start a new New Deal to strengthen the three forces.
As a first step, enable the average American to regain the ability to dream the American dream of working hard and making good. It seems ‘working hard’ has been replaced by ‘pulling strings’ and ‘getting drafted into the right circles’ more. Otherwise all the hard work a man undertakes still leaves him in debt with a barely satisfactory life on hands. He will be forever in debt for his education, his car, his home.
As a second step, shift economic weightage a bit, away from leisure & entertainment and into better education, retraining and motivation of the workforce. (Well, I do not mean the normal channels of leisure and entertainment). A disciplined and skilled workforce will enhance productivity and competitiveness. Jobs in manufacturing will rise. Job drain will decrease. To support this increase in available labor in the nascent stage, create jobs through higher government spending to support infrastructure projects that improve agricultural productivity, improve transportation efficiency (achieving lower unit costs without reducing quality) and improve availability of cleaner Energy (achieving lower unit costs and higher share in total production). This will lead to more jobs, GDP growth, and higher revenues.
The result of the above two reforms will be the increase of global influence for the US. A new positive cycle of the three forces will be established. If accompanied by wiser international engagement, this positive cycle can benefit the whole world. The US will be able to import more from other countries, and correspondingly export more of what it is good at.
Everybody will be happy. Wall Street gets more investment opportunities. People get more jobs and higher spending power. Government gets more revenue and balances the budget. The brighter ones get to live the American dream. The rest of the world gets more business. It is win-win for all. Peace and prosperity indeed!
So YOU S. of A., it is possible for you to make the world a better place. It is time to act.Think of these before tapering and QE.
Jacob J. Mappilacherry
As the father of a student, I am struck by the shooting at Centennial, Colorado. It strikes a raw nerve because it happened only a few miles from the sites of two other horrendous shootings. All shootings and killings are bad, but in schools?! In this age of the instant news, the pain is felt acutely even as far away as India. The tendency of Indian social behavior to take after life in the US makes me ask a few questions of American mothers.
The American Dilemma:
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Right. So the pro-gun people are against bans or licensing. Understandable. The government should see that people behave, they say
But the concerns on the other side are more pressing. The massive use of legal drugs (Charles Krauthamer writes that medicines and the health industry make one sixth of the US economy), illegal drugs and alcohol has affected the psychological wellbeing of people. The competitive pressure of the race for survival affects their ability to cope. Single-parent families and foster-foster parents worsen the situation. Civilization, ie: civil-ization, suffers. The orderly process of a married-for-life heterosexual father-and-mother duo nurturing their children with love and care, developing their characters, and bringing them up as well-rounded personalities who can face life confidently – the family, in short – has nearly disappeared. The business scenario is such that it does not inspire much confidence. Parenting and growing up have become very difficult acts to accomplish.
This is further complicated by the violence on TV and the horror books and movies…and you have a perfect recipe for disaster in the form of mental breakdowns as the Hard Disk of an overloaded computer crashes now and then. Breakdowns? It is like those computers were not even put together well to begin with.
Now, can gun control be avoided in a country where a large percentage of people belong to the psychologically challenged class?
A Middle Course:
The obvious answer is that, in consideration of US history and the current social scenario (high crime rates, psychos abroad, a big population of guns in the wrong hands), a ban on gun ownership should not be imposed now. But there should be a process of licensing under which strict background checks should be mandatory for gun shop owners and gun buyers. It means actually only those with criminal records or medication history will be denied ownership of guns. So the sellers and makers of guns will not lose much business. Nor will the fraternity of gun users lose any worthy member.
Many civilized countries have such laws. Why not in the US? Why do not mothers lobby for it?
A Bigger Dilemma:
Civilization progresses with the female push. Possibly a mother trying to prevent her sons from killing each other over mating rights started the institution of marriage. Possibly a young wife wanting her children brought up smarter than other children started the institution of lifelong monogamy and family. It is the gentler female who would think these up first than the aggressive male who could not afford to blink and back off in life’s man-to-man confrontations.
I am asking you now, American women. What are you going to do about your present social culture which has left the family in tatters, jeopardized the safety of your children, and threatens even the birth of your grandchildren?
I know many in India are watching and waiting for your cues.
Jacob J. Mappilacherry
The ongoing unemployment situation demands a new look at the way the world’s economy is being managed.
TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!
Dear friends, ordinary folks East and West,
Academics and professionals usually get into a rut of ideas. Over a period of time it retards their ability to think originally. They merely continue further along the rut even when circumstances call for a radical change of thinking.
Larry Summers, One-time US Treasury Secretary and noted Harvard economist, asserts that it is dangerous for Western economies to depend on the progress of India and China to sort out the West’s own economic problems. He is right. But when he seeks to assert that all economies are bound to crash at some point and that India and China will not be able to maintain their high growth rate for long, I think he is fundamentally wrong.
In case of both the developing and the developed countries, he is basing his arguments on financial statistics past and…
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Man undergoes lot of misery and hardships in life. Some of them are challenges which make life interesting. Some are misfortunes which make people suffer and cause quality of life to deteriorate. But, in the latter, many are avoidable, given man’s ingenuity and wisdom. They are brought down unnecessarily upon himself by man, mostly through his deprecation, or disregard, of his own wisdom.
The current global financial crisis and economic slump are cases in point. So are 9/11 and many acts of terrorism, as are the famines that occur even as surplus food grains rot in another place.
The world appears as a hard place to many. Life is an unbearable burden to many. If only we are to use our wisdom – our evolutionary experiences – better, the world will become a better place. Life will be one grand song of joy, albeit with its challenges and difficulties and pressures that make the singing of it all the more enjoyable, worthwhile and fruitful.
Reach into yourselves. Touch your wisdom. Live by the guidance of your superior self.
Make the world a better place for yourself, your family, your friends, and for all the rest of mankind.