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Book Review: That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

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That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented And How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum is a sobering assessment of where our economy stands.

For instance, the national debt in the United States grew to $14 trillion dollars and climbing. The debt is now at a whopping 119% of Gross Domestic Product which is comparable to the post World War II debt accumulation.

The economic assessment is not the only bad news. The ecology of the Earth has changed. The melting of water in Greenland and Antarctica could raise sea levels by 230 feet or more globally. A sign of this trend is the increased warm weather globally. The authors prescribe a strict cap on emissions to provide any chance of reversing these adverse trends.

Federal spending on research and development has been dwindling since the ’60s. This trend must be reversed to provide the core research in the biological, chemical and physics sciences. New fuel efficiencies, solar energy, fusion power, wind power, improvements in material sciences and ground-breaking research in thermodynamics are needed to reverse the global warming trend.

There are good alternatives to pay off debt and return to financial solvency.  Examples of a more expansive revenue stream include flat taxes, excess consumption taxes to penalize waste, taxation of the underground economy and the cap on emissions to encourage research and development into cheaper energy modalities for both government and the private sector.

The book does cite the pillars of a modern civilization. The pillars include public education, a strong university system in major cities, infrastructure projects, immigration, research and development, as well as necessary regulation to protect consumers, the environment and the quality of life.

The best ecosystems, according to the authors, have a major university in each city, an educated work force, a dynamic business community, fast broad band and modern urban launching pads to test new ideas or processes in the vast marketplace of consumers.

That Used To Be Us by Friedman and Mandelbaum is a call to action for business, government and consumers everywhere. There needs to be less wasteful consumption, as well as control over government spending and a search for new revenue sources to normalize the debt. The authors provide some important strategies to return both the earth and economic prosperity to America and the world if we do some of the difficult tasks to reverse the current trends.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.