(a sampling of ideas in my book)
1. Invest in education.
Education is the most important foundation that the U.S. can invest in, and test scores across the country are rapidly falling behind the rest of the world. Instead of having children aspire to become reality television stars, encourage exposure to productive, high-value professions. Change public attitude toward teachers to hold them in higher esteem.
2. Introduce Confucian values and work ethic into every day lives.
Americans have become accustomed to consume beyond their means, often with a "me first" orientation and without giving anything back. Instead of pursuing immediate gratification, Confucian values promote a long-term orientation, reciprocity, and mutual respect.
3. Make aspiring politicians pass competency tests and require a track record of helping the public unselfishly.
American political campaigns are generally affordable only by those who are wealthy or have access to wealthy fundraisers, and cater to the least informed voter with catchy slogans and sound bites taken out of context. Instead, make politicians prove their ability to represent a country just like a job applicant provides the specifics of his or her qualifications for a job.
4. Incorporate the Special Economic Zone model.
Testing new policies locally before implementing them nationwide can help weed out problems before it's too late. The government can offer incentives to states for trying out various economic programs and oversee their effectiveness. Americans used to do this, calling the states "laboratories of democracy." Relearn this American model from the Chinese, who, after all, were inspired by Americans.
5. Encourage capitalism in the real economy instead of the financial markets.
By investing in hard and soft infrastructure, such as smart grids and education, millions of jobs can be created as well as real wealth that enables large segments of the population to lift themselves into the middle class.
6.Restrict banks to traditional banking activities.
Glass-Steagall prevented a repetition of the 1929 market collapse -- until it was repealed in 1999. By distinguishing those institutions that make prudent loans to individuals and firms and take deposits from prudent savers (commercial and retail banks) from those that invest in speculative financial instruments (investment banks), America ensured financial stability for seven decades. It's time Americans relearn their own lesson - again, from the Chinese.
7. Make innovation lucrative for businesses.
The U.S. could offer tax incentives to encourage more large corporations to start joint ventures with entrepreneurial firms every two years to ensure that the speed of innovation doesn't slow down or move overseas. Acquired entrepreneurial companies currently run the risk of losing their innovative capabilities once they are absorbed into a larger organization where the dominant culture might be antithetical to more independent thought and creativity. Counteract that risk by encouraging bona fide joint ventures rather than takeover of the small by the large.
8. Support technology entrepreneurs.
Providing incubator space, business advice and funding for the financial and social support of the families of entrepreneurs enables them to focus on developing new inventions and filing patents worldwide without the worry of making a living.
9. Embrace soft power.
Improve foreign relations with developing nations. To better the reputation of the U.S. in places like Africa or Latin America, the U.S. needs to provide the aid that those continents really need, as well as to make non-governmental organizations (NGOs) more transparent. Presently, the U.S. looks to many countries as though it is only out to use them, rather than treat them as partners. China has learned how to do otherwise, and the U.S. should, too.
10. Adopt an attitude of goodwill towards China and other rising countries instead of seeing them as a threat.
Americans have in recent years tended to regard everything different with suspicion and hostility -- and have become narrow-minded. That is not who Americans were historically. America approached the world with an open mind in a spirit of goodwill and partnership. It is high time the U.S. did so again - especially in its relations with China, which shares many of America's most cherished traditional values: hard work, lifelong education, entrepreneurship, and devotion to family and community.
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