America can have a very bright future if we as citizens make it so.
How can we shape the future?
Let’s consider Alan Kay’s notion that the way to predict the future – is to make it.
So, what are some feasible “Americas” that we can not only dream about but actually make?
Here are five ways to think about how we collectively could actually build a praiseworthy future America.
- Improve education to strengthen America’s citizen base: America is as strong as its people. Strengthening America’s citizen base will bring a brighter future. Putting a special focus on education really makes sense.
- Environment/America’s Resources: America has enormous resources. Preserving America’s environment is fundamental to America’s future.
- Problem Solving: If we solved even one of America’s current problems, we would be building a brighter future.
- Enact Fair and Rational Policies: Most federal, state and local laws protect us as citizens. Some are inefficient or biased. Purposeful reform would improve America’s future.
- Be innovative: Build on America’s inventiveness (entrepreneurial spirit)
Let’s consider perspectives on how America, through the initiative of its citizens, could achieve a bright future.
1. Achieve educational excellence among other countries
America ranks 14th in public school educational achievement. What would it mean to America’s future if America ranked 1st ? (By the way, this is not “pie in the sky.” America has ranked number one in education in the past).
Better educational achievement in America would help America’s future. Educated people live longer, have better health, and have better jobs. See Robert Wood Johnson Foundation data.
How could America become number 1 or at least improve?
Consider a news article on the approach to education of children in Shanghai:
“Why have Asian countries overtaken Europe and America in the tests? First, they put more focus on education. Children, parents and teachers know that a good education is the key to being successful. They are not tolerant when pupils fail. Asians believe that if you do work hard and succeed in school you will be successful in your job as well.
Starting at a very early age China teaches its children that you can only succeed if you are better than the others. They are tested as soon as they come to school. Only the best can go to college and then get a good job. Examinations are held very often and lists of students’ rankings are posted on the walls of a school. Shanghai students study much harder than western pupils do and they spend less time on extracurricular activities or sport. Teachers are also respected, paid well and highly motivated.”
The approach used for the education of children in Finland is instructive. Notice that factors attributed to Finland’s success can be applied in America. America’s teacher salaries are roughly comparable to those in Finland but Finland’s training requirements are higher. (Master’s degree required of public school teachers in Finland). Finland spends about $1200 less per student per year than the US. Finland has a far lower poverty rate than America – showing how problems in America interrelate to other issues. (In this case, education and poverty).
Contemporary environmental sources report water pollution, land pollution and rising sea levels. They also report on government and private actions to increase land preservation, innovations reducing the cost of sustainable energy sources, and meritorious actions by environmental citizens’ groups that protect aspects of the environment. How we as citizens replace actions that degrade our environment with those that preserve and enhance it will have a major impact on our future. It is up to you/us.
3. Solving one or more of America’s current problems
The education example illustrates how progress with one American problem can brighten America’s future. Reducing poverty can be expected to increase educational outcomes and in turn increase salaries. Reducing the federal debt would be enormously beneficial in the long run.
4. Enact fair and rational policies
Many American governmental policies have evolved over the years and have become needlessly burdensome and detrimental to Americans and America. Revision of such policies would strengthen America. Consider only two examples:
- The US federal tax code keeps piling up and now totals 73,954 pages. (In 1913 it was 400 pages). Compliance with the tax code is estimated to consume 6.1 billion hours each year, the equivalent of 3 million full time workers annually. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have proposed reforms. Enactment of more fair and rational tax policies would strengthen America.
- Federal, State and Local governments have delayed investment in infrastructure. While delaying such investments in the present and short term reduces annual expenditures, in the long term, delaying repairs and replacements is typically more costly. In short, America would be far stronger if government enacted fair and rational policies. Reversing the legacy of irrational policies provides a huge opportunity for strengthening America.
5. Entrepreneurial spirit
America is a land of invention; inventions which contribute to wellbeing throughout the world and contribute to American prosperity. The list of American inventions is staggering. With this track record, it is surprising that America currently ranks 6th in innovation, 11th in technological readiness and 2nd in patents issued. (The Economist, “Pocket World in Figures”, 2014 Edition.) Cultivating America’s precious entrepreneurial spirit will strengthen America.