What is America the best in the World at?

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What is America the best in the World at? Innovation? Michael Mandel and my recent cab driver don’t think so.

My knee jerk reaction to this article is to think the author is an idiot that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But I’ve learned over the years that when I have such a knee jerk reaction to stop and address my own biases because they could lead me to miss something important.

The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S. - BusinessWeek
“We live in an era of rapid innovation.” I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase, or some variant, over and over again. The evidence appears to be all around us: Google, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, flat-screen televisions, the Internet itself.

But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if outside of a few high-profile areas, the past decade has seen far too few commercial

innovations that can transform lives and move the economy forward? What if, rather than being an era of rapid innovation, this has been an era of innovation interrupted? And if that’s true, is there any reason to expect the next decade to be any better?

On a recent cab ride I was talking with the driver who recently moved here from India, got married and bought a house. The American dream right?

As we were talked about how the global economy would recover it became obvious that he believed the US was the key to recovery. I want to believe that but I think if we don’t do it someone else will.

He then shared with me the key to his economic recovery plan.

“Do you know what America is the best in the World at?”

Innovation of course. Right? I didn’t get a chance to answer as my driver plowed ahead.

“Spending. When Americans start buying everyone does better.”

Wow. That’s sad. If that’s the case I kind of hope we never recover.

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  • rqtaylor
    A stat from my IB2 presentation last night; 43% of Americans spend more than they earn each year.
  • We're #1! We're #1!

    This is what happens when business and business-minded people have undue and overwhelming influence on corporate and media strategy and conversations. Balance is always needed between creative-oriented people and business-oriented people.
  • crammo
    Big discussion, should be interesting to see comments.

    At its core, America is the best in the world at thinking it is best in the world at everything and better than everyone else at doing it...
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