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Re: Final Salvo - Memorial Day & Mr. Bush
Sally raised an interesting point regarding the decline of the US. Her
comments are reminiscent of an old idea advanced by Oswald Spengler in his
"The Decline of the West", (and echoed by Toynbee and others), that
civilizations grow, mature and eventually die. Business theorists (at
Harvard B-school and elsewhere) have advanced a similar idea regarding
corporations, contending that corporations go through a life cycle, with
rapid initial growth, strong stable maturity, and finally an eventual
decline into corporate death.
However, if you examine business history in more detail, you find that while
most businesses do indeed fit this model, some do not. None of the
original DOW-JONES businesses are still in business, except for one: GE.
GE has survived by keeping aware of opportunities and threats, and
continuously evolving itself to meet those challenges. It has an internal
culture that is aware, pragmatic, adaptable and committed to continuous
Even a cursory examination of history reveals that the same is true for
civilizations. Those that are too rigid die off when faced with a challenge
that they are not equipped to face. On the other hand, those that are
pragmatic and adaptable manage to meet the challenges that the rest of the
world throws at them, and find a way to survive. Only when they lose the
cultural values that motivate their willingness to adapt and evolve do they
run into trouble.
I see the migration of some manufacturing capability offshore as an
evolutionary response to the challenge of 25 cents per hour global labor.
You can't fight global market forces... people buy what is cheap and good,
and ultimately, the low cost providers win. If corporations had not moved
some of their production offshore, they would be high cost providers, and
would have been driven out of business.
These global adjustments have had good and bad effects. Global labor rates
have increased, which helps developing countries to develop a true middle
class, and evolve toward self-sufficiency and more stable political forms.
On the other hand, average US (and more generally Western) labor rates have
fallen somewhat, as workers transition from manufacturing jobs to service
jobs. Counterbalancing that to some degree we have seen decreases in costs
of manufactured goods, and big increases in the GNP in the West. So far,
so good... all in all, the changes have not been too harmful. I might add
that those workers who recognize that demographic change is occurring and
adapt themselves to it are doing pretty well indeed.
That's not to say that we don't face serious challenges. The US education
system has been "liberalized" to the point that it is truly pathetic. In a
world where knowledge and innovation is key to survival, that's a truly
scary thing. OTOH, the US is patently the most pragmatic nation on earth,
so I have every confidence that we'll fix this. If US liberals would get
on-board this issue it would happen a lot faster, but it'll happen even if
they never learn, because it's a life-or-death issue for us.
Nothing is inevitable, unless we choose to sit passively and wait for it to
Sally Spangler wrote:
> Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 20:53:03 -0700
> From: "Sinclair" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Memorial Day
> We gave up long ago the ability to wage war by giving away of
> manufacturing capabiities. We have stopped doing those things that would
> supply this country in peace or war. much of our raw materials comes
> from outside the US. We are very much bound up in world trade.
> I think the US is slipping the way the United Kingdom did. Over many
> years, the UK lost its ability to support itself internally. The US has
> done the same thing over about the same number of years. So who is the
> rising power? China? - can China get to the point it too will be able
[ Excess quotations omitted. ]
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