While traveling internationally in China back in September, 2008, some of my colleagues from around the world (meaning the comments came from Chinese and non-Chinese leaders alike), all attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China, began to almost rejoice in the challenges being faced by America economically of late.
The facts are the facts; some American leaders, and American citizens, have in fact been arrogant at times, selfish at times, focused on a me conversation, rather than a we discussion, we have been greedy, short term obsessed, and living dangerously beyond our means,
But the fact is also that America is a great, amazing country, where dreams continue to come true, and that it is because of the unyielding hope and optimism and creativity of the American spirit, translated and moved forward by its people, that this is so. Where else than the United States of America, still the sole superpower in the world, could a white woman, and a black man, run competitively for the highest public office in the land – and a black man win that office, soon becoming the 44th President of the United States of America? Where? I will tell you where – nowhere. That is what an American CEO recently called our "special sauce." It is what makes America great, and why I continue marvel at how we continue to create, to "re-imagine" as my friend Bill Walbrecher, would say, and how we continue to re-invent ourselves. And we will do it, once again, this time (re-imagine and re-invent ourselves I mean).
And so, my international friends were correct in calling out our deficiencies, and they need not bother citing our penchant for revitalization from within. We will handle that absent the need for a cheer leading section. In fact, it is best we undergo this process soberly, humbly and staring ourselves squarely in the mirror of today’s reality.
That said, some of my friends are missing a bigger and much more important and relevant point, to them. America is a $14 trillion economy, or a third of the world economy, and the American consumer is 70% of our U.S. economy, which also means that the U.S. consumer is approximately 25% of the world economy.
In short, this means that when the consumer in the U.S. has a headache, the worker in say China get pneumonia. Since the beginning of 2008, more than 67,000 factories in China have shut down, tied to the slowing global economy and exports from China. We are all in this thing, together.
In this global, increasingly interconnected economy and world we live in, when one succeeds, we all succeed. And conversely, when one fails, we all fail.
As we move to restructure our global economy, we need to make sure that the conversation has a long-range vision, is based on a love leadership model, and that we are preparing and empowering people to participate and to become legitimate stakeholders in the system. We must make capitalism and free enterprise relevant to the poor, and finally work for the poor. We must launch and sustain a global silver rights movement.
We are all in this, together.
Onward with HOPE