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.