Book Summary – That Used To Be Us – By Thomas L Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

Thomas Friedman is a NY Times bestselling author. He wrote The World is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded, which are excellent books. This book is a must read for anyone who cares about our country. Describe the issues and discuss methods to get us back on track as a leading innovative nation in the world.

Why is this important to me? I ask this question as if I am sitting in his shoes. This book, in my humble opinion, is a must read. The indifference of the masses coupled with the political stalemate is paralyzing the nation and that affects us all. It doesn’t make sense that China has better rail systems than we do and Singapore has better airports than we do. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth, which used to be us. President Obama – 11/3/2010 Thomas and Michael describe the major issues and some of the positive energy that still exists in America. For the sake of time, I will summarize each of the 5 parts. The big four challenges we face in the US are: how to adapt to globalization, how to adapt to the information technology revolution, how to deal with huge budget deficits due to government growth, and how to manage in a world of increasing energy demands and climate change. .

1. The diagnosis: if you see something, say so. Humans have a unique way of adapting to the environment. Unfortunately, we adapt to bad things and begin to accept them as normal. The authors describe a story in which it took more than 6 months to repair two escalators with 21 steps each in the New York subway station. Politics, bureaucracy, and bureaucracy have basically killed the project. However, in China, they can build a world-class convention center in 32 weeks. The scary part of all this is that: “People have gotten used to it.” Very soon we become desensitized to the really stupid things and we begin to accept the bureaucracy provided by people who are paid independently. This is a very scary habit to fall into because the gap between the US and the rest of the world is widening and we are falling further behind. The country’s infrastructure is crumbling. A personal example: our building is located in Southfield Michigan and we pay $ 50,000 a year in property taxes. The road in front of our building will destroy the front of your car if you go over 20 miles per hour because the road is badly broken.

2. The challenge of education: this is no secret. We are financing education with investment dollars and it is not effective. We can fist fight all day over who is responsible, but the point is that the family has to take a proactive approach to education or the children will die on the vine. The key learning requirements are critical thinking, collaboration, and effective oral and written communication. There is another major problem in that children must be responsible and the work ethic must be established at an early age. The Chinese and the Indians work together for us. Their parents push them to be successful. Success in the US has basically made the country lazy. This is similar to a championship boxer who is no longer hungry and does not work hard to remain a champion. The authors point to a quote from a businessman who says he is in the business of killing jobs. You are absolutely right. Basically we have to innovate and automate routine tasks. This means that software and intellectual property will replace mundane work. This continues to happen and that is why critical thinking, problem solving, and acute skills are required of our educational system. According to Wikipedia, the US ranks 17th in the world in education, but the budget is more than 900 billion dollars annually. The execution and control of this expense is broken.

3. The war against mathematics and science – Arithmetic is not an opinion – Italian proverb. The war on mathematics is simple: no one in government can add. We are borrowing money from China to go to war with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Our poor spending is just that and the investment is nil. In the 1960s, President Kennedy set out to be on the Moon in 10 years. What is the goal today? To support people and make sure they don’t have to work but receive their checks? Also, how could we let our banks leverage our futures with derivatives and no one in management has a clue as to what happened? Worse than that, these executives were collectively paid hundreds of millions of dollars while accepting bailouts. This is the war against math and common sense. As we said earlier, Americans have gotten used to it. The war on physics has to do with climate change and energy. The growth in energy demand and our lack of real investment in alternatives must change. Lobbyists and special interest groups prevent it.

4. Political failure: I’m not going to blame the Democrats or the Republicans. I will blame both the network lockout and the selfish nature of the polls, money, and re-election. Our government in the last three years has entered a special session to ensure that the “Economy” does not self-destruct. Think about this for a minute. President Obama had to raise the debt ceiling, otherwise the effects on the economy would have been catastrophic. Those are his words. Is anybody listening? I guess we’re just “used to it.”

5. Rediscovering America – The good news is that for every problem there is a great opportunity to solve it. Embracing problems and attacking them head-on is the cornerstone of our history. The small businessman who transforms the world from his garage, all that happens here. This must be nurtured and problems must be solved from the bottom up. Waiting for the older brother to solve our problems is the kiss of death. Don’t let fools and fools dictate your future. This is how our political system works and we are going to be run over by other nations if we do not hold ourselves accountable. I will stop preaching. This is a good book and it will open your eyes to trouble. Remember that today’s news is not news but opinion. Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh get paid for grades. I hope this short summary has been helpful to you. The key to any new idea is to incorporate it into your daily routine until it becomes a habit. Habits are formed in just 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is that America needs leaders. This is still the largest country in the world because we are free. This means that we must become leaders and lead from the bottom up. We need to take responsibility for continuous learning and innovation.

Leave a Reply