America -- What position on the economic see-saw do we want to occupy?
The United States is an exceptional country.
Yet, simply because we have been the most free and prosperous nation in modern history, this is no guarantee that we will remain so. Just because we have danced to greatness does not mean we will remain on the global dance card forever.
BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) along with Indonesia, Turkey and other emerging economies are now striving to obtain their equivalent to the "American Dream."
China, now an economic superpower, continues its forward thrust. All major global events will eventually intersect at the corner of the U.S. and China.
As Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and U.S. national security adviser under Presidents Nixon and Ford, reminds us in his new book, "On China”: "China produced a greater share of total world GDP than any society in eighteen of the last twenty centuries."
If we don't change course we will end up occupying the lower position on the economic see-saw into the future
Having recently returned from China, where I have traveled for nearly a quarter of a century, let me assure you they are not slowing down in spite of our recent debt crisis and the subsequent economic stumble that our elected leaders have failed to remedy.
It has recently been reported that the Brazilian economy, formerly an economic basket case during much of the latter 20th century, has now overtaken the United Kingdom economically according to The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
The CEBR also reports that Russia moved up one spot in its league table to ninth in 2011, predicting it could rise to fourth spot by 2020, and India, the world's 10th biggest economy in 2011, might well become the fifth largest by 2020.
In the global economy, any country that slows down long enough to pat itself on the back might soon be surpassed.
If we wish to remain in the dance of greatness, we need to continue earning our place as a nation each and every day. Nothing worth having is easy. Competition with BRIC countries and other emerging countries is fierce and promises to remain fierce as the 21st century unfolds.
So, while we Americans celebrate the new year and the freedoms we have worked so hard to earn, we must remind ourselves that neither freedom nor a robust economy are easy to acquire or maintain.
If we want to remain an exceptional country, we need to “suck it up” as the young say, and begin behaving as if we have been surpassed on the global stage -- before we actually are.
We should not have to be hit by a BRIC to wake up.
Tom Watkins is a U.S./China business and educational consultant. He served as Michigan's state superintendent of schools from 2001-05 and president. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.