Did You Know? Or May Not Want To Know?

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An interesting presentation that was shown at the 2009 Sony shareholder meeting vividly illustrated how quickly our world was changing. It was entitled “Did You Know?” and it contained some very interesting facts about today’s reality around the world. Given that it was presented to Sony’s shareholders in a public forum, it is probably safe to assume the information presented was factual and accurate at the time.

Thus, did you know:

– China will soon become the #1 English speaking country in the world. In other words, quite soon, there will be more English speaking people in China than in the United States.

– The 25% of India’s population with the highest IQs are greater than the total population of the United States.

– India has more honors kids in school than America has total kids.

– In the past five minutes, 67 babies were born in the United States…274 were born in China…395 were born in India.

– The top ten in-demand jobs in 2011 did not exist in 2004.

– We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not exist…that will use technologies that do not yet exist…to solve problems we don’t know about yet.

– Today’s American student will hold 10-14 jobs, on average, by the time they are age 38.

– 25% of American workers have been with their current employer for less than one year.

– 50% of American workers have been with their current employer for less than five years.

– If MySpace users were a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world.
Bermuda has the highest broadband Internet penetration in the world, the Untied States ranks 19th.

– The amount of new technology information doubles every two years making  half of what an incoming college freshman learns, in a technical degree career path, obsolete by the time that student is a junior.

– In 1984, 1,000 Internet compatible devices were in use…by 1992, 1,000,000 Internet compatible devices were in use…by 2008, 1,000,000,000 Internet devices were in use.

– In a typical month in 2009, 31 billion Google Internet searches were done…in a typical month in 2006, 2.7 billion searches were done.

– It took radio 38 years to reach a market penetration of 50 million users, it took television 13 years to reach a market penetration of 50 million users, in took the Internet four years to reach a market penetration of 50 million users, it took iPods 3 years to reach a market penetration of 50 million users, and it took Facebook two years to reach a market penetration of 50 million users.

Fun facts but also distressing facts in many ways when viewed in comparison to the political class that operates our government and nation today.  Ask yourself these questions in light of the fast moving world we live in today:

1) Do we really believe our current set of politicians is capable of managing the country in the ever evolving and faster moving reality? Remember, these same people had trouble putting together a one year budget for the country these past few months, delivering a fiscal 2011 U.S. government budget six months into the fiscal year. Not only was it late, but it will add at least another $1.5 TRILLION to our national debt. Nimble is certainly not an apt adjective for this group of people.

2)Do you really think that our current set of politicians is capable of and nimble enough at managing an education system in the ever evolving and faster moving information age we are whizzing through? These same people have given us our current education system that produces education performance that is surpassed by dozens of other nations, that results in nearly 25%  of U.S. armed forces inductees failing basic math and reading skills tests, and results in about 40% of community college students requiring high school remedial classes before beginning their college studies.

3) Do you really think that our current set of politicians is capable of and smart enough to deliver a coherent and effective energy policy and strategy in the face of the ever growing demand for energy? Forty years ago, a typical American household might have owned a television or two and several radios. Now, a typical American household might own several televisions, a fax machine, several DVD players, a cable box or two, several computers, several iPods, maybe an iPad, a computer scanner, one or more digital cameras, etc., resulting in an ever increasing demand for just domestic energy.

Skyrocketing relative birth rates in India and China will result in further worldwide demand for energy and the sources that provide it. Given that our political class has yet to develop any kind of effective energy policy, it is doubtful they will be able to in the face of a new energy reality crashing over us today.

4) Do you really think that our current set of politicians can stop focusing on yesterday’s problems and start leading for the future? While the current set of U.S. politicians have recently been focused on Libya, the Israel/Palestinian impasse, Yemen, Syria, abortion, gay rights, etc., the Chinese and Indian governments have been busy building their economies for tomorrow, improving the education levels of their kids, and focusing their resources on improving the lives of their own citizens.

We deploy U.S. armed forces around the world, at great expense to the nation, preparing for crises that vanished decades ago (80,000+ U.S. troops in Europe, 30,000 U.S. troops in Japan, 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq ,etc.) while China and India spend their wealth, not on foreign deployment of troops, but by preparing their people for tomorrow’s reality.

5) Do really think that our current politicians can solve any problem when their focus is almost always on how to get re-elected and not how to solve a national problem?

Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” The nation faces some serious problems. It faces a reality that changes at an ever faster clip. It faces demographic, education, and energy challenges that become more and more difficult the more time is wasted in not addressing them. It faces these situations with a selfish and ineffective political class, whose manner of thinking, analyzing, and acting is no better than an abacus in a broadband world.

We need to fix our political processes so that we finally get some 21st century thinkers and actions out of Washington. These political process steps include instituting term limits for all Federally elected positions so that we finally get a current and up-to-date set of people in office. We need to task groups of smart Americans with the responsibilities of developing coherent and effective education reform and energy policy strategies and tactics to address our ever more challenging world and competition. Waiting for the current political class to do so has turned out to be a doomed expectation.

We need to stop accepting political slogans as solutions. President Obama’s “change” theme turned out to be just that, a hollow political theme. Hollow themes and unfulfilled promises got us into this mess, they will not get us out of it.

Finally, we have to accept the above insights from Einstein. We have to really change the way we do things in this country, we have to change our way of thinking. Otherwise, you do not want to know what could and will happen if we do not.


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