Monday, December 11, 2006

Friedman for president!

I have been reading Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat. It is a little long, but I am really enjoying it. The premise of the book is that technology has flattened the world and brought people and industry closer together. My favorite quote so far comes from an aside as Friedman talks about how other countries are more advanced than the US is in terms of wireless technology.

The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to run for president on a one-issue ticket: "I promise, if elected, that within four years America will have as good cell phone coverage as Ghana, and in eight years as good as Japan – provided that the Japanese sign a standstill agreement and won't innovate for eight years so we can catch up." My campaign bumper sticker will be very simple: "Can you hear me now?" (Page 188)
I love it. I will vote for him if he can really do it. Certainly there are more important issues that our country faces, but we should not be proud of the fact that we are lacking in technology that we originally helped develop.

Friedman does point out some of the good reasons why we are behind.
New players (other countries) are often stepping onto the playing field legacy free, meaning that many of them were so far behind they can leap right into the new technologies without having to worry about all the sunken costs of old systems. It means that they can move very fast to adopt new, state-of-the-art technologies, which is why there are already more cell phones in China today than there are people in the United States. Many Chinese just skipped over the landline phase. To put it another way, many Chinese went from no phones to cell phones in the space of a decade. (Page 215)
Interesting, I can understand that these other countries can implement new technology without losing the investments in the old technology they are replacing, but I still think that we are missing out here in the US. I say Friedman for president!

1 comment:

scottie said...

If you were awed by Friedman, you really need to read the book below....

Watch the 13-minute overview (below).
Just off press ...
The World is Flat?
“Globalization is Threatening to Hollow Out America’s Middle Class,” Assert Business Analysts

Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times bestseller, The World is Flat, asserts that the international economic playing field is now more level than it has ever been. As popular as it may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous.

“The world isn’t flat as a result of globalization,” say Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, business analysts and authors of a critical analysis of Friedman’s book. “It’s tilted in favor of unfettered global corporations that exploit cheap labor in China, Indian and beyond. Today’s global corporations go to the ends of the earth to employ factory workers for 20 cents an hour and PhDs in science and technology for $20,000 a year,” add Aronica and Ramdoo. In short, “Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution,” says Aronica.

This epic change has shaken up the way the world does business, and Americans are reluctantly facing a shift of wealth and power to the East. Across the country, a growing number of Americans fear that they could be replaced by someone from a developing country. Recent polls indicate that millions of Americans are preoccupied with the outsourcing of American jobs and the threat of global economic competition. From boardrooms to classrooms to kitchen tables and water coolers, globalization has become a hot topic of discussion and debate everywhere. But by what Friedman’s book ignores or glosses over, it misinforms the American people and policy makers.

Aronica and Ramdoo’s concise monograph, The World is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of Thomas L. Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller, brings clarity to many of Friedman’s stories and explores nine key issues Friedman largely disregards or treats too lightly, including the hollowing out of America’s debt-ridden middle class. To create a fair and balanced exploration of globalization, the authors cite the work of experts that Friedman fails to incorporate, including Nobel laureate and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.

Refreshingly, readers can now gain new insights into globalization without weeding through Friedman’s almost 600 pages of grandiloquent prose and bafflegab. “It’s of utmost urgency that we all learn about and prepare for total global competition. If you read Friedman’s book, and were awed, you really should read more rigorous treatments of this vital subject. Globalization affects all our lives and will be of even greater significance to our children and grandchildren,” says Ramdoo.

Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward for America and other developed countries. They provide a comprehensive, yet concise, framework for understanding the critical issues of globalization. They paint a clear and sometimes alarming picture of the early twenty-first century landscape, and present timely information needed by governments, businesses, and individuals everywhere.
Watch a thought-provoking 13 minute Overview on the Web: