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Topic: Miscellaneous 11:14 am EDT, Apr 12, 2004

The United States is good at two things. Being rich, and being rebellious.

The first is the product of two geographic accidents and one extremely intelligent decision.

We were close enough to Europe to provide an exciting, temperate, and vast destination for the bored and downtrodden of the 19th century, and yet far enough away to keep us from taking much more then a few bruises when the place collapsed on itself in the 20th.

The extremely intelligent decision was to keep the church out of government affairs. Thomas Jefferson accurately predicted that our southern, "priest ridden," neighbors would succumb to corrupt ineptitude for centuries.

We peaked about 1955. The space program, adjusted for inflation, made our present fiscally unilateral adventures in the middle east look like a minor expense.

We're still quite accustomed to being the richest people on the planet and few seem to be aware that we're in decline. If our military expenditures don't suck us dry the coming implosion of Social Security and Medicare certainly will.

In 40 years we're not going to be the richest anymore.

Neither cost should be underestimated. The domestic concern is now quite well documented. On the other hand, Islamic fundamentalism is an ancient, intractable hate that flourishes because it gives meaning to lives that have none.

Can we really replace that meaning with economic purpose? We can't even create economic purpose here at home.

The other thing, besides being rich, that Americans are good at is rebellion. Our culture is the space that exists between the dress codes of protestant piety and the cloud of pot smoke emanating from the local motorcycle bar. You are taught how to be, and they you are taught not to be it.

Our heros aren't the ones who worked together to solve the problem. They're the ones who stepped outside and succeeded. We don't care about the team. Only the star quarterback matters to us.

Americans are good at going off in a garage somewhere and doing something innovative on one's own. Rebellion is at the heart of that. Thats why the hacker scene was so edgy.

Thats the one hope we have that we can really build a future on once our geographic blessings are spent and everyone else gets an education.

And we're killing it. Between the outsourcing, and the attack on options, and the skittish contraction of meaningful technology investment, we're eliminating the dream that you can go out and work on the edges and be successful.

Sure, Steven Levy found people doing innovative things in Silicon Valley after the crash. There are those among us who don't care about taking risks because they could loose almost all of their net worth without having to change their lifestyles. They are bored and have nothing better to do then tinker. Are we really hanging the future of our economy on a few guys who are rich enough to create their own space programs for fun?

One in one hundred are successful and the more we scale this back the more good opportunities will slip through our fingers.

Today technology innovation consists of screwing up the DNS system. And its not just there. We've even forgotten how to make good music. Our endless co-option of the rebels has been too efficient. The rebels don't have anything more to say.

Taxes and Terrorism. Thats all I can see for years to come. And I'm sick of it already. We heading into a Japanese style socio-economic malaise.


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