The death of the USA?
The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated! Mark Twain.
Mark Twain quotation after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.
Mistaken publications of obituaries aren’t as rare as you might expect. A recent example is of Dave Swarbrick, the British folk/rock violinist, who was killed off mistakenly by the Daily Telegraph in April 1999 when they reported that his visit to hospital in Coventry had resulted in his death. He did at least get the opportunity to read a rather favourable account of his life, not something we all get to do, and to deliver the gag “It’s not the first time I have died in Coventry”.
So why have I opened with this quote from Mark Twain? Read on and I hope all will be clear.
Integrity is always about getting to the truth!
A little under a week ago I published a couple of posts that proposed that the United States of America is an empire in decline. The first was What goes up? and the second Might just come down! As a Brit I well know that aspect of British history!
However a recent conversation with a friend of many years back in England, who has also been a shrewd and wise entrepreneur for longer than I care to remember, argued that the evidence for the ‘end of the USA’ could be challenged.
He cited five reasons why he thought the USA would remain, more or less, in its dominant position. They were:
- Spirit of innovation
- Relaxed labour laws
- The importance of Mexico
- The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ‘empire’
- The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.
So let me expand on each of those points.
Spirit of innovation
Let me quote from an article in TIME Magazine of the 5th June, 2011,
Innovation is as American as apple pie. It seems to accord with so many elements of our national character — ingenuity, freedom, flexibility, the willingness to question conventional wisdom and defy authority. But politicians are pinning their hopes on innovation for more urgent reasons. America’s future growth will have to come from new industries that create new products and processes. Older industries are under tremendous pressure. Technological change is making factories and offices far more efficient. The rise of low-wage manufacturing in China and low-wage services in India is moving jobs overseas. The only durable strength we have — the only one that can withstand these gale winds — is innovation.
Now there are plenty to argue both ways in terms of the future innovation potential for the USA, as a recent article in The Atlantic does, see American Innovation: It’s the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. But the spirit of innovation will be a powerful economic potential for the USA for many years to come.
Relaxed labour laws.
Definitely an area that I have little knowledge of except for the subjective notion that compared to many other nations, the laws in the USA are much less of a restraint on economic productivity than elsewhere.
The importance of Mexico.
Importance in the context of providing the USA with a source of cheaper manufacturing facilities. My English friend thought that this was a significant competitive advantage for the USA. Now, as it happens, we had a couple staying with us over the week-end of the 6th/7th October. The husband is a senior manager of Horst Engineering, an American firm based in Guaymas, Sonora County, Mexico. Here’s a picture from their website,
We are a contract manufacturer of precision machined components and assemblies for aerospace, medical, and other high technology industries. Our core processes include Swiss screw machining, turning, milling, thread rolling, centerless grinding, and assembly. Our extensive supply chain offers our customers a full service logistics solution for managing their precision product requirements. We are ISO9001:2008 and AS9100 registered and proud of our 66 year, three-generation legacy of quality and performance.
I was told that many American and British firms were using Mexico rather than China for a number of reasons. Not least because Chinese suppliers require full payment before shipment. Plus that taking into account that financial aspect together with shipping costs and other logistical issues, China wasn’t as ‘cheap’ over all. Here’s a recent announcement from Rolls Royce,
Rolls-Royce plans new Sonora hub
The burgeoning aerospace industry in Guaymas had its efforts validated recently when the venerable Rolls-Royce chose it as the site for its newest global purchasing office.
Surrounded by several of its aerospace manufacturing suppliers, London-based Rolls-Royce will move into a Guaymas industrial park owned by Tucson-based The Offshore Group to develop a supply hub for commercial jets and military aircraft around the globe.
“Rolls-Royce has very robust booking orders for the next 10 years,” said Joel Reuter, director of communications for Rolls-Royce in North America. “We need to double our production.”
Because a number of Rolls-Royce suppliers already operate in Guaymas, the city was a logical choice, Reuter said.
The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ‘empire’
The point made in terms of China taking over ‘empire’ status from the USA, as Simon Johnson argues over at Baseline Scenario, is countered by the fact that politically China is an unknown quantity. Until China endorses some form of democratic process, that unknowingness is not going to disappear.
The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.
I can’t do better than to ask you to watch this video! Just 27-minutes long, it is a very interesting review of the energy future of the USA.
As the TED website suggests in terms of why you should listen to Amory Lovins,
Amory Lovins was worried (and writing) about energy long before global warming was making the front — or even back — page of newspapers. Since studying at Harvard and Oxford in the 1960s, he’s written dozens of books, and initiated ambitious projects — cofounding the influential, environment-focused Rocky Mountain Institute; prototyping the ultra-efficient Hypercar — to focus the world’s attention on alternative approaches to energy and transportation.
His critical thinking has driven people around the globe — from world leaders to the average Joe — to think differently about energy and its role in some of our biggest problems: climate change, oil dependency, national security, economic health, and depletion of natural resources.
More on Reinventing Fire may be found here.
So, don’t know about you, but I found those five points deeply convincing. How about you? Are the reports of the death of the USA greatly exaggerated? Do leave a comment.