America's Secret Top Priority
March 20, 2011
In every relationship, one person is better at a few things than the other. My fiancée is better than I am with computer software. She surfs the internet more efficiently, and she can learn anything from the internet faster than I can. It’s not that I’m bad at it, it’s just that she’s better.
Economically, the United States and China share a similar relationship. Perhaps the US is better with innovation, but China owns manufacturing. This relationship is the focus of our present discussion.
With about as many people as America, plus a billion, China has an ocean of humans. This is a large part of why wages are so low there. The cost of labor in China is a tiny fraction of what it is in the US, and as a result, their country manufactures goods at a much lower cost than we can in the US. Because China does it at a lower cost, they end up handling almost all of the work. We Americans have begun to specialize in another field – something we often call “innovation.”
We develop new technology. We export ideas. Our world-class university system attracts the best and brightest from around the world, and being on the winning side of this brain drain keeps America on the cutting edge. This phenomenon is the driving force behind modern American economic success. Unfortunately, this presents serious problems for America.
Movies, songs, computer software, every unit of “innovation” we produce in America can be reduced to ones and zeroes. It’s all information. And it’s all available on The Pirate Bay for free. There are ten times as many Adobe users in China as there are purchased Adobe products. On the street in China, one can purchase bootlegged copies of almost any movie, all for less than one USD per film. China has no respect for this “innovation” on which we Americans pride ourselves, and a strong case can be made that they are correct in this disrespect.
Innovation is accessible to everyone. Any attempt to shield others from the zeroes and ones that you’ve worked so hard to engineer is a futile attempt to delay the inevitable – it will leak out. Information will always be available to everyone, it’s only a matter of time. For a country whose only export is well-engineered information, this should be deeply troubling.
The DOJ, at their absolute harshest, can make angry gestures at Chinese information thieves. Overnight, a computer hacker who finds the right file at the right time can steal any American idea. Conversely, there is no possibility for any such theft of the established Chinese manufacturing economy. We’re not going to sneak in one night and carry all their factories back home to Missouri.
The United States is at a crossroads. We have two options:
1.) We can settle further into our easy chairs, keep reading the sports magazine, keep the 24 hour news on in the background, continue eating that fried food, and continue to applaud the “innovation” that so few of us actually possess. We can relax at the lake while our cousins in China work, and we can scratch our heads when the day comes where rather than “In God We Trust” printed on our currency, it will read “Made In China.”
2.) We can come back to reality. It doesn’t matter how well you innovate if you lack the specific power to carry your ideas to fruition. To gain this power, we must carry out the following general recommendation.
If America wishes to continue to be a dominant world force, it has only one option – establish industrial robotics as the foundation of the American manufacturing sector. China has the power of a billion hardworking humans, but this is no match for the power of a robotic manufacturing economy. We need robotic manufacturing for everything – farms, shipping, transportation, automotive, infrastructure, military, energy, consumer goods, and especially robotics – robots that make robots.
Robotics will be the engine of the US economy. We need tiny, microscopic nanobots. We need 3D printers that work on an atomic scale (Popular Science has a very interesting recent article on a naval application of this technology). More important than having a large standing army is the ability to build a large standing army at a moment’s notice. America does not currently have this ability. China has this ability. Further, having such a robotic production foundation would promote world peace.
The United States has made it a priority to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Of course we need to do this, but energy independence is only the tip of the iceberg. Energy independence is the first rung of a very tall ladder. The next, and perhaps more crucial step, is to eliminate dependence on foreign manufacturing. I will be deeply afraid for the future of my country until we have a fully automated, robotic based manufacturing economy that is powered by renewable, clean energy.
No, this is not what they talk about on CNN. You won’t hear this on Fox News, and it’s not being debated on the senate floor. Why? Our political system is controlled by organizations whose primary intent is to preserve the status quo. Corporations that make money have a huge influence in congress. Coincidentally, corporations that make money wish to continue to make money. Dramatic changes in our nation’s economy either ends in said corporation either continuing to make money, or ceasing to make money. It’s a break even or lose proposition, so there’s no effort to make a change. Of course, this is an enormous debate to be had, and a one-sided paragraph here is enough for now. This topic will absolutely be explored in further detail here at Pythagoreanism.com. Without doubt, our broken political system is one of many hurdles which separate us from our nation’s best possible future.
Time Magazine has recently published a series of articles debating the trajectory of America, addressing the specific question of whether America is in decline. So many commentators are quick to point out flaws, but are slow to offer alternative solutions. They seem reluctant to admit that America’s destiny is totally within our control.
To take control of its place in the world, America must establish energy and manufacturing independence. This requires a manufacturing industry built on a foundation of robotics. This issue needs to be a top political priority, yet it isn’t even on our radar. Please, reader, remember this issue. Make it a top priority when you vote.
My fiancée is better than I am when it comes to computer skills. But does that mean that I’m going to swear off computers? Of course not. America and China should be no different. Yes, China manufactures goods more cheaply than we can in America. But that fact alone doesn’t mean that America’s manufacturing sector is gone. Far from it. America’s manufacturing sector stands on the cusp of becoming the greatest engine of production ever imagined, and the biggest obstacle to achieving this is our inability to see the destination.