By Geoff Ficke
As we slog along under the full weight of the current financial calamity, there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth about the future of the United States. Many of our countries fiercest enemies and critics are gloating over their perception that our wave has crested and we have entered a period of steep decline as an economic, military and cultural power. Amongst the citizenry, there is a palpable sense that the country is on the wrong track. In reality this has ever been so.
The 19th century Canadian politician Wilfrid Laurier once famously spouted, “the 19th century was the century of the United States. I think we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the 20th century”. Oh really! Now I love Canada and Canadians. They produce wonderful comedians like Jim Carrey, John Candy and Rick Moranis, great hockey players, the moose hunting is amazing and Labatt’s is a terrific brew. The Canadians prospered nicely in the 20th century, but by any measure Mr. Laurier’s observation was classic balderdash. He is but one of a long chorus of critics that prematurely dismissed American prospects to their regret and embarrassment.
The current President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev has blamed the United States solely for the global financial crisis, assigned blame for Russia’s thuggish unilateral military invasion of tiny Georgia on American policy and stated that America would descend to second tier status as a global power. This from the leader of a country with a declining population, staggering levels of alcoholism and drug abuse, clepto-capitalism, a military hobbled by desertion and archaic weapons systems, declining productivity and a complete lack of innovation. How bright is the future of the average Russian eking out a living in Vladisvostock?
There are always doubters and cheerleaders fueling the notion that America is in decline. The Soviet and Eastern European Communists, for 70 years predicted they would overcome us. Nikita Kruschev famously shouted at the United Nations, “we will bury you”. Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda believed that we would never stand and fight; shedding blood and treasure, just to preserve our freedoms. Hussein is dead and Bin Laden is hiding in a cave as a result of their misjudgments and fundamental misunderstandings of our resolve.
American uber-leftists like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky travel the world trashing the United States. The capitalist system that has enabled the country to prosper and made the Moore’s and Chomsky’s rich, is continually denigrated and blamed for every perceived malady we face. Capitalism is not perfect. It simply is the greatest engine for economic prosperity ever yet developed.
Why will America emerge from our current difficulties with a brighter, stronger future outlook than so many of our critic’s project? Simply put, America has the ability to adapt and re-invent itself like no other country or culture in history. We are more receptive to immigrants than almost any other country and they constantly infuse the land with energy, creativity and continually stir the stew that makes the United States so unique. Our society is the most fluid in the history of the world. New ideas are always emerging. America’s unique vitality separates us from most other countries that have static state centered economies.
There is no place on earth, at any time in history, where entrepreneurial activity is so valued and pursued as in America. This constant blast of creativity bears fruit in so many beneficial ways. Through hard work, novelty and inventiveness, utilizing the capitalistic economy, rule of law and property rights, entrepreneurs have the potential to build enterprises that provide products and services, profits, employment and social benefits that make America uniquely dynamic. Times are tough, but the will to succeed is irrepressible.
Another reason the future for America is so bright in my estimation is our ability to laugh at ourselves. This country has many sourpuss types, doomsayers, negativists and self-haters. However, these “nattering nabobs of negativism” are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of Americans that revere the country, appreciate her innate precious goodness and have the ability to laugh at our collective foibles and faults. This is a trait of which we can, and should be proud. It is a trait that is found almost nowhere else in the world.
We have survived wars, depressions, natural disasters, and terrorism. The fiscal difficulties we currently confront are in large part self-inflicted. We have not been diligent in demanding that our government act prudently over the last 75 years. We spend too much and save too little. We want much more than we need. We confuse greed and envy with comfort and safety.
The country also just elected a black man, a minority, to be President of the United States. This could only happen in America. Could a North African rise to such heights in France? Could a Turkish immigrant achieve the equivalent office in Germany? Could a Filipino laborer rise to these heights in the Middle East? Of course not! This country, its values and opportunities, is the beacon of hope that ordinary people all over the world aspire to emulate.
This is a wonderful time for each of us as citizens to take stock of our personal and societal situations and adjust to a reality that is based on real needs, not the irrational pursuit of materialism. We must demand that politicians stop bribing us for our votes with promises of benefits that some future generation will be saddled with paying for. This is the best possible time for Americans to reflect, adjust and re-energize this wonderfully dynamic country.
Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.
After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.
Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. (http://www.duquesamarketing.com) has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.