… a way out of our national malaise
America is experiencing both the balmy breezes and buffeting headwinds of globalization. While we enjoy the cornucopia of goods from other countries, our own competitiveness in the global economy has been greatly diminished as a consequence. Our economic downturn happened in part because we have lost so much of our manufacturing to low-wage economies.
Without tariffs to compensate for competitive disadvantages (such as American employers having to pay the kinds of wages and provide the kinds of benefits that employers in low-wage economies don’t), could it be that this leveling of the global economy might not stop until the day comes when all workers in the global workforce earn the same wage for creating the same value? Will we then all be making $5 an hour (which, by the way, happens to be pretty close to the present-day average global wage)?
But if we can add more value to a product or service than workers elsewhere can, its production will stay here in America. Simply stated, we add value to something by doing it better—that is, by working smarter, and not just harder. And working smarter requires ever-more learning and ever-more sophistication.
We still lead in a large number of industries where our workers have been educated to add sophistication and value that workers elsewhere cannot. But the competition is catching up, and the goods and services we still lead in will eventually be produced in rapidly developing economies elsewhere.
The one industry where America commands the greatest lead (by far) is higher education, and its handmaiden innovation. Our system of higher education excels because we are a free-thinking and creative people, taught to question established truths. Education remains the foundation of the knowledge economy that can enable us to regain our footing in the global economy, and we must ensure that education continues to reliably serve as the locomotive that pulls along the golden freight of innovation. As the Economist writes, “Economies can generate growth by adding more stuff: more workers, investment, and education. But sustained increases in output per person, which are necessary to raise incomes and welfare, entail using the stuff we already have in better ways—innovating, in other words.”
How can we export higher education? Until now, there hasn’t been a way to offer education to the rest of the world in a way that works. We believe that we have answers, and a way to make our most valuable industry available to the massive global market for American higher education.
Perhaps we should think of education as fertilizer for the grass roots of an economy. WisdomMaps can make it possible for people to acquire as much education as they want, and with that will come the opportunity for people to get better-paying jobs. As education raises people’s expectations, they spend more and more on the higher-value goods and services that are produced in advanced economies… which in turn creates an opportunity for Americans to manufacture and export more of those goods and services.
America built its standard of living by attracting talent from far and wide. If we can help educate people globally to a higher standard, we’ll have a wider pool of talent to pick and choose from. By helping America export higher education and reap the talent that it creates, WisdomMaps can enable us to build an increasingly valuable stake in the global knowledge economy. It’s a solution that works by addressing the cause rather than the symptoms of the problem.
Education, while not a perfect panacea, remains the best overall grass-roots solution to the miseries that afflict the human condition: ignorance, hatred, and poverty being the usual suspects. Education empowers people. Working smarter, not just harder, brings more opportunity, better pay, and a better life. And if it’s true that violence is the last resort of the helpless, we should keep in mind that education empowers the powerless by creating opportunities that offer an alternative to violence.
Enough said. WisdomMaps, after all, is a visual learning system, and we believe that once you see it, you’ll get it.