One of the things I have taught myself to do over the years was to think in different time frames. This includes very long geological epochs and astronomical eons.

Maybe it was an interest in dinosaurs and astronomy as a kid, but historical time frames was a concept I was familiar with. Perhaps that was the basis of this week’s time frame discussion of Trading vs Investing. Understanding the very  l o n g  term is an important concept, in terms of getting what the long cycles can look like as well as crowd psychology.

These days, the crowd is suffering from a malaise. They are fearful of losing their jobs, not interested in buying homes, deeply concerned about the future. Following a Great Recession, this is to be expected. So too is the rise of the End of Worlders and the Zombie Bears. These folks are best ignored, as they are money losers who can damage your outlook.

I bring all of this up, because I spent this weekend looking at new start ups. I had lunches and dinners with young entrepreneurs and techies, and their angel funders. (Josh describes all of the start ups here). The ideas, the people, the energy, the competencies are just astounding. It is impossible to be long term negative when you see what is coming down the pipe.

If you want to understand the future of America, if you want to grasp why we are not doomed, then you MUST spend some time with entrepreneurs like these. The creativity, business acumen, technological insights are uplifting, energizing, empowering. We have a fertile crescent of ideas, not just in Silicon Valley but in pockets throughout the United States, like NY, Boston, Miami, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta. That is where economic growth will come from.

YOU CAN SEE THE FUTURE FROM HERE AND ITS NOT REMOTELY BLEAK.

The youth of America are full of ideas and energy. They don’t give a shit that their parents fucked everything up — they are going to steam roll over the old order and replace it with one of their own. They understand that future is not about the past. They know that they are a business of one, that no company or government is ever going to offer them economic security. They are their own team, brand and idea factory.

There are lots of things people are rightfully upset about — I lost my voice ranting last night about eejit economists who think the crisis was caused by “predatory borrowing” (it wasn’t). But that’s not what is going to be propelling us forward.

Don’t look to DC — the political debates there are laughable. Its like watching two different T-Rex debating who gets to eat the dead plant eater unaware of the the giant asteroid hurtling their way. Their  argument gets resolved when the asteroid turns their summer into nuclear winter.

The old order, the political hacks and hangers on, the whiners and recession porn stars and permabears — the dinosaurs — all have no idea WTF is coming their way. They are going to be mowed down like so many extinct species before them. They cannot see the asteroid hurtling their way from the deep black depths of space.

The Future of America is coming. It is not being driven by Goldman Sachs or the GOP or Obama. That’s old school, the old order, yesterday. It’s coming, and coming sooner than most people imagine.

When you get run over, don’t say you weren’t warned . . .

>

Sources:
Tales from Lindzonpalooza (TRB, April 14, 2012)

After a recession, the least rational rise (temporarily) to prominence. Ignore them. (Washington Post, June 4, 2011 )

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Cycles, Psychology, Science, Venture Capital

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

117 Responses to “The Future of America”

  1. There are people who have been relentlessly negative over time, always seeing the bottom half of the cycle and never the upswing. I dislike that attitude.

    Regular readers know I am not a cheerleader, and spend most of my time poking holes in the sanctimonious bullshit I hear spewed all the time.

    This post was a change of pace.

  2. jnkowens says:

    Absolutely! For those that want to take that optimism and run with it I highly recommend reading “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, and/or (they cover some of the same territory) “The Physics of the Future” by Michio Kaku.

  3. Arequipa01 says:

    My counter is the following: Palantir.

    http://palantir.com/

    Observe its real core behavior.

    “The Future of America is coming. It is not being driven by Goldman Sachs or the GOP or Obama. That’s old school, the old order, yesterday.”

    Rousing, to be sure. The Ancien Regime will be cast asunder. But your vision of some sort of Neo-yeoman techno-arcadia built by MIT wunderkinds and earnest DIYers with thick-framed glasses is too sunny by half. We’re Doomed! Dooooomed!

    (or at least uncomfortably phooked)

  4. chartist says:

    Isn’t it true that no democracy has ever lasted longer than 300 years? I don’t think I’ll live to see the end of ours, but I do believe the future of this country will be much different than it currently is.

    ~~~
    BR: We have too small of a sample set.

  5. riodogg says:

    Nah, politicians have the country by the throat, and ignorance. which is rampant, is only growing.

    Unless some of the geniuses you saw/met innovate sanity that can be poured into people, then the best days of the United States are past.

  6. Liquidity Trader says:

    Refreshing !

  7. Re Riodogg….

    H L Mencken noted your observations long ago…

    “A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable.”

    “All government, of course, is against liberty.”

    “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”

    “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. ”

    “Have you ever watched a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and missing? That’s the way the mind of man operates. ”

    “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable. “

  8. louis says:

    And they will all get to meet their respective state senator for dinner.

  9. aka_ces says:

    Yes, despite ~50 years of Mussolini, Hitler, Hirohito, Stalin, & Mao, & others, much progress was made later/elsewhere in the 20th Century. For those whose entire lives were defined by those rulers, what matter ? In the most advanced scientific and intellectual culture in the early-thirties, I’m sure that were many very impressive Germans and Austrians who might have made a difference, or may have, post-war, e.g. plastics & rocketry (the later in part via learnings in the V2 program). The signs now are that we’re much closer to 1932 than to 1955. What exactly are these entrepreneurs going to do that will turn back what seem to be the tides of history ? In what way will they render harmless the Data Center and centrally-controlled drones, among other things ? It may have been a simple matter of good luck that MAD did not occur, but there are many more potential events of similar impact, and probability suggests that at least one of them will transpire, due to disagreements among rulers and concentrations of power. What are these entrepreneurs going to do to change who has power and influence ? Could happen Barry, but there’s nothing in this entry to suggest it.

  10. stonedwino says:

    BR, you may onto something here..new ideas and technology force changes on the old guard, whether they like it or want it, or not – they have no choice and usually don’t know or even see the “asteroid” coming with their heads buried in the sand counting their dollars…Just look what the internet has done to commerce – retail behemoths like Sears & Best Buy are on their way to being put out to pasture by the likes of Amazon; even CompUsa was basically forced out of business by sites like Egghead- very few saw that coming 15-20 years ago. Keep the good stuff coming BR, this is still one of my first stops in daily reading. Thanks!

  11. Sechel says:

    As far as our future is concerned, the biggest threat comes from our education system. Half our PHD students are from abroad, we need to make our students more competitive. Ironically there are those who think the solution is limiting the H1B visa program which would only make matters worse.

  12. techy says:

    I am sorry Barry but this seems like a pep talk with all hope and optimism.
    The future of america is same as every other country unless the people take control from the Money/capital owners.
    What people are you talking about? 30-40% of the population is crazy bat shit fairly tale believers….they want to do another civil war and want to go on another crusade.
    Innovation itself is not going to provide bread to the general populations. Take example of apple, they have grown ten folds in last 10 years, but where are most of the jobs, most of them went outside this country.
    The capital owners want to bring the labor from the south for all low paying jobs and they want to send all the other jobs to third world countries so that they can make more profit, so what happens to the middle class?
    Thanks to the government expansion since the last 10 years or so we are still limping along, I do not think thats going to change in the near future thanks to euro problems USA can still get all the money it needs to borrow for low interest rate.
    I wonder what kind of jobs the recent batch of young people are getting and what is the future if all they earn is just enough to pay the bills??

  13. rd says:

    It will come down to the armed forces and police.

    We saw the beginning with the Occupy movement, essentially a repeat of the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement of the Vietnam War era. The police began acting like pigs with their Mace and beatings. However, in those “revolutions” that order gave way and a new structure came into being. Kent State when the National Guard shot and killed four young, unarmed people was a major turning point.

    We are seeing a repeat. Over time as new pension and other rules come into play, the police will understand that their bosses are not on their side. They actually have the same issues as the people they are supposed to beat and Mace. Over time, a new generation of police will be less inclined to exhibit the sadism towards the protestors we have seen over the past year.

    The US has always been able to keep the military at bay from major interference in civilian politics. The military-industrial complex may be eroding this. I suspect that the Iraq-Afghan wars have undermined the respect that grunts have for senior leadership, so I think the US military will remain on the sidelines as they would generally not follow orders from higher-ups to occupy their own cities to maintain fat cats in power.

    So the wave is building slowly, but it is coming. The actual final change will probably happen abruptly when a couple of generations of political leaders lose their posts. The Tea Party was just a warm-up. However, it will probably take another decade with municipal defaults, a market crash, austerity for the state governments, large cuts in public pensions etc. to bring about the final change. I think the final triggers are going to be the massive state and local government finance issues that are starting to break above the surface of the water.

  14. denim says:

    Every business survives by servicing its customers. The new generation of customers are realizing that some of the behavior of companies in the past is totally unacceptable and they will be shunned. Economics is not a morality play, the ignorant will say, but it is of course one of the most important morality plays of all.

  15. kevin r says:

    If you live in the SF Bay Area and are a technology person, it is easy to forget how bearish the rest of the country has gotten. The youth culture, the money, the mystery (of technology), the innovation. It creates a very positive energy. Especially when mixed with the right cocktail or microbrew. In 100 years it will probably be considered a golden age, similar to how we now view Paris of the 20′s.

    Will this “save” the USofA. It seems we are a young country and the ills that many other cultures and societies have experienced are just waiting for us up ahead. I do not know if our entrepreneurial talents will steer us clear of them all, but I do think the entrepreneurs will survive and prosper in that future.

  16. Lookout Ranch says:

    Innovation, abundant energy, housing healing up (yes, Barry, it is), more competitive industry (have you driven a domestic car lately?)…there are good reasons to be much more optimistic than we are.

  17. Rick Caird says:

    Robert Higgs had a couple of paragraphs on this earlier this week:

    http://blog.independent.org/2012/04/13/if-politicians-honesty-set-the-standard-for-others/

    For there to be change, we have to change those who want to become politicians. The greatest entrepreneurs can be stymied by government. Just look at the Justice suit against Apple (and I am not an an Apple fan) over e-publishing and pricing.

  18. dougc says:

    It would be helpful if we decided whether we want to have a facist or socialist government, these deficits of 10% GDP every year are not sustainable. The leadership from Obama or Romney will be mediocre and the special interest will continue with what has been called corporatocracy.
    Obviously you have been around a different type of youth than I have.

  19. bergsten says:

    Shitty Internet Explorer ate my long, erudite, clever, funny, carefully reasoned and persuasive comment. Maybe it’s for the best (or at least for the best of my chances of continued employment, anywhere).

    Too much trouble to recreate it, so here’s the executive summary:

    “No worries. A bunch of tangible-product-less, “social media with a twist” startups will save the economy.”

    And if not, what the hey — some assets will be transferred into “the right” pockets, and the weather, scenery and food in San Diego is wonderful — especially on an expense account.

  20. leeward says:

    Tech is better than great in this new era. I do not doubt that many better than good things are coming. As we look forward from this year and what you call the great recession, I submit the fundamentals stink. I submit that the way we look a them is the main thing that has changed…and that by looking away from the stinkiest of the bunch we have been able to feel better about financial matters that have yet to be worked out. Considering how that bulge under the carpet isn’t going to worked out by amazing gadgets and previously unimaginable software, I’d submit that a return to basic social solutions (like energy independence, among other things) would help us balance our efforts in a larger process that is likely to take years longer. The younger “can do” mentality will be a savior in this time and ultimately take us back to real growth but unless the entire world writes down the bad paper (as opposed to trying to inflate) we will not find the better compass to point us towards the things and ideas that matter most to the overall prosperity of the US.

  21. rktbrkr says:

    There has to be a rebalancing of the American democracy. We can’t succeed with the 1%ers buying a government that taxes them at a rate lower than the payroll tax rate paid by minimum wage workers. It’s unfair and antithetical to a representative democracy. The power to tax is the power to destroy and we’re destroying our own democracy.

    We have to find a way to provide affordable health care to all our citizens like every other advanced democracy has done. Again 99% of the population is only one significant uninsured medical event away from financial ruin.

    We have to reboot the American public education system to provide good basic educational opportunities and vocational training opportunities for everyone.

  22. pedrocpaguy says:

    One sometimes wonders what’s in that New York City water.

  23. constantnormal says:

    How will the rise of technology address increasing economic inequality?

    Is technology advancing more rapidly than the money grab by those at the top of the economic pyramid?

    How will advanced technology benefit those who are too poor to get decent educations, and are without access to health care?

    I am not in the slightest disputing that technology will advance faster than I can imagine, I see it happening all around me. I also see the vast majority of Americans being sidelined and bypassed from participating in this bonanza.

    This is how Haiti came to be. It is a nation with tremendous potential for agriculture, green energy, and tourism — even without developing its immense human potential. But none of those things are ever going to happen, because a cancerous economic system has taken root there, and acts to stifle any progress for the masses.

    This is exactly the direction that we are moving in, with all due haste.

    And given the entrenched political nightmares of the completely corrupt Repooblican and Democrap parties, I see no feasible way of altering this motion.

    Yeah, there’s a bright future out there … for a very few …

  24. alphabizzle says:

    Yes long term the future is bright, but only with better financial equality for the masses (ie. middle class). As long as America is geared at transferring wealth to the top 10% i wouldn’t be to optimistic. At some point the people will force government out of bed with wall street, and break up the lobbyist cartel, but unfortunately it will come at the cost of sacrifice and hardship and only after that happens will our capital markets work like they are designed to. Science and innovation are important, but policy is important as well at transferring those benefits of science and innovation to the masses.

  25. paulyarbles says:

    All very uplifting but let’s not forget about the physical world. We can’t keep growing like we have been these past few centuries.

    For starters check out physicist Tom Murphy’s ‘Do The Math’ blog.

  26. Jojo says:

    There is nothing more optimistic than a bunch of still wet-behind-ears, starry-eyed kids with this moments tech idea who are being fawned over by angels and VC’s. For them, the future looks so bright, they need dark sunglasses. For everyone else – not so much.

  27. Joe Friday says:

    I’ve always been optimistic, but as Trudy the Bag Lady (played by Lily Tomlin) said, “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.

    The reality is that this Fall, almost half the voters will vote for a guy who wants to return to the very failed public policies that resulted in two recessions, an economic depression, and millions and millions of lost jobs.

    Exactly what does it take to repudiate this agenda that has disastrously failed every time it’s been implemented ? Just how many times do you keep hitting yourself in the head with a hammer ?

  28. Lookout Ranch says:

    Not alligators, Barry. Lions. And they might eat us if we venture out.

    The slothful man saith, “There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”
    Proverbs 22:13

  29. constantnormal says:

    Joe Friday … I’ve tried (really hard) to tell which candidate you are referring to, and I am failing. I see small differences in degree, but no essential difference in direction between either of the likely candidates.

    Voters will likely be either ecstatic or horrified at whomever gets elected this fall, but I can see no possibility of any significant changes in our national direction from either of them.

    Any changes in our direction will have to be externally induced, and the only forces capable of doing so are the global bond vigilantes, and that hardly seems likely any time soon …

    Just a comment … not lookin’ to start anything …

  30. riodogg says:

    A few days back David Rosenberg wrote “The growth stock of the day in 1998 was a purveyor of business software, aimed at boosting productivity growth–Microsoft. Today’s growth leader–Apple–is really a consumer tech gadget producer that increases our happiness perhaps, but does little to enhance our output per hour in the broad economy.”

    First time I read BR’s post that started this I missed the Tales from “Lindzonpalooza” link

    http://www.thereformedbroker.com/2012/04/14/tales-from-lindzonpalooza/

    Look at it, and you might agree that most of what is there “does little to enhance our output per hour” in any economy. Where is there reason for any serious excitement produces by what is discussed there.

    What are facebook and twitter doing to make life on the planet actually better? I don’t see it as anything, and I am surprised that otherwise apparently serious adults even give it any thought of offering value.

  31. constantnormal says:

    Barry, I salute you for your attempted “change of pace”, even if I thought it was misplaced hope.

    Keep it up. I might be wrong.

    I sure hope that I am.

  32. constantnormal says:

    riodogg …

    Facebook and Twitter are helping to provide the network of relationships that will allow the goobermint to identify those individuals that pose a threat to the status quo … as well as providing the Corporatocracy with a road map to people’s money, via smarter marketing and better ways to get them to cough up their dough.

    There. Feel better now?

  33. Ziggy says:

    Coming as I do from the design and urban planning worlds, I can second Barry’s observations about the intelligence and passion of the younger set. It seems like more and more great ideas are being conceived and advanced with each passing day, and a lot of them are coming from those under 30.

    That said, keeping a balanced perspective has never been more important. This current batch of ruling elite – the one percent of the one percent – are an especially disconnected, vile and antisocial outfit. They eat doe eyed optimists for lunch, and the younger the tastier. For them, things could not be better as they inch closer to winning their 30 Year War against Main Street’s most vulnerable.

    The occasional rush one gets from a good shot of righteous indignation can be quite addictive, but hating all the time takes a tremendous toll on one’s soul and overall health. I want to be there to help when our newly minted talent runs up against the buzz saw of establishment deceit and mendacity. As Jules said in Pulp Fiction, I’m tryin’, Ringo. I’m tryin’ real hard to be a shepherd.

  34. obviously, many good comments, above..

    though..”…Economics is not a morality play, the ignorant will say, but it is of course one of the most important morality plays of all…” -denim .. April 15th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    to me, should be re-Read.

    of course, it is Correct.

    Economics Is a Morality Play.

    Finance, on the other hand, is amoral. The ‘Numbers’ don’t care, they, just, Tally..

    Our interaction with Finance, brings us to Economics .. Our Actions, on any day, in every Way, always, involve Morality, whether We care to believe it, or not.. (h/t Ripley’s)

  35. machinehead says:

    ‘It’s coming, and coming sooner than most people imagine.’

    The debt Jubilee, you mean? No doubt.

    And with a financial clean slate, it’ll be Morning in America for the next crop of entrepreneurs.

    Shame about all the toothless old Boomers, manning the rickshaws.

    Can ye spare a twenty for a cup of coffee, guvnor?

  36. AlexM says:

    After reading the Fabulous Josh’s take on what is coming soon I got a flashback to a recent episode of “Portlandia”, where Fred Armiston’s life has been taken over by his many Apple devices, texts, tweets, and email that he cannot disconnect from the ever incoming stream of bullshit.

    Sure, all of this stuff is cool and will transform and fragment even further how we interact and connect with the world, but in the end it is all about how to exploit the people who are the end users.

    I have visions of life in the future with people living in their pods with endless and for the most part mindless content and apps to keep them company.

  37. b_thunder says:

    So, the best and the brightest of this generation work in 2 fields: create algorithms to trade options and futures, and create apps for iphones and facebook. Right?

    And you think that dom-com’ers 2.0 is what’s going to propel this country forward? (the parasitic trade business doesn’t create any wealth, that’s self explanatory.)

    Yes – the internet, Wikipedia, Craigslist, iPad – they are useful, they contribute to productivity. But that’s maybe 5% of the “.com universe.” Facebook and everything related is a tremendous time-waste and a productivity inhibitor!
    Remember – you can’t eat, drink or use iPad as a shelter. You also can’t use it as a source of energy.
    And if the only good we make are “virtual goods” – than in order for ups to eat, drink, have a roof over our heads and gasoline in our cars, we’ll need people who actually make “real things” pay ream money for our virtual “stuff.”

    I doubt that will ever happen.

  38. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Unless people stop screwing, the environment can be sustained in spite of the push towards homogenization (think invasive species and GMO crops), and we can find plenty o’ remedial technologies for the gigantic screw ups we‘ve already made (BHAs, Chernobyl/Fukishima, etc.), I disagree (the foregoing is of course, in taking in TBP).

    As soon as and if turning on a dime becomes a source of profit (the dime being: groundwater depletion, pervasive pollution such as BHAs and mercury throughout the entire food chain, communicable diseases in the age of global travel by the masses, and climate change, to name a few), and the IBDYBD mentality is replaced by altruism, I will change my opinion.

    You cannot unshit in the well. There is such a thing as fucking-up beyond redemption. ask the Easter Islanders. Oh, yeah — they’re gone forever.

  39. NewBob88 says:

    Did a bleak future stop the settlers of Jamestown or Plymouth? Were the members of the Second Continental Congress dissuaded from signing the Declaration of Independence when they contemplated the bleak future? How did Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt behave during the bleak times? Examples of American resolve and determination are everywhere. America has many more decades of prosperity for its workers.

  40. James Cameron says:

    If you want to understand the future of America, if you want to grasp why we are not doomed, then you MUST spend some time with entrepreneurs like these.

    —-

    This country has always had entrepreneurs – including a boatload of them in the late 1990s – but that hasn’t prevented any of the debacles we’ve had this decade, nor done a thing to address the ones that may be over the horizon. I firmly believe we will muddle our way through, but I’m not clear what our young, wide-eyed entrepreneurial class will have to do with it since some of the most serious challenges we face as a country are connected to fundamental issues of governance. A gut-wrenching crisis or two may well be the medicine required to cure this affliction in the years ahead.

  41. gbgasser says:

    I agree with the overall sentiment of your post Barry. I see it in my own 23 yr old son and his friends. Unfortunately a lot of their parents and grandparents still pull a lot of the political and economic strings. The austerians out there are intent on getting their pound of flesh and they will get some of it (unfortunately) . They wring their hands about their childrens future while they torch it the next day by killing education spending. The Tea Party wont win the war but they have already won too many battles and will win more. The D’s are neutered by the thought of being pilloried on Faux News if they actually stand up TO Koch brothers types and for the middle class.

    Progress cant be stopped by these neanderthals but throwing a few sticks in the gears gives them great joy and hurts people in the process, I only hope its not my child it hurts. Not that I ONLY care about my child but I care MOST about my child as you do yours.

    Thanks for this site Barry. You have been one of the guys speaking sense the last 4 years. I wish you and Dylan Ratigan great luck.

  42. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    BR:

    Were any of the entrepreneurs you met with investing in anything like this?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/farming-aquarium-species-to-save-them/2012/04/15/gIQAvYxfJT_story.html?hpid=z2

    I would venture a guess That your answer will/would be no. Such endeavors are more of a charity-type thang.

    The canary stopped singing, but nobody noticed — too busy trying to figure out the next big thing.

  43. ZackAttack says:

    Why wouldn’t a prudent person cover all the bases, as long as it harms no one and enhances his life?

    In your free time, what does it hurt to get in some trigger time on the weekends; to learn to plant, hunt and fish for your own food; to practice on a real trail with your 60 lb Zombie Apocalypse Go-Pack; to build your tribe and muse on contingency plans?

  44. dvdpenn says:

    Great to read, Barry. As Cramer says, “pessimism always sounds so intellectually appealing …”

  45. Jojo says:

    @NewBob88 said “America has many more decades of prosperity for its workers.”
    ———-
    How about the non-workers? You know, the 13 million ‘officially’ still unemployed people (or maybe the 20+ million actual unemployed)? Today, the unemployed in the USA are no different from the Untouchable caste in India. Best ignored, kept out of sight and out of mind.

  46. brianinla says:

    When I read your post I thought you were talking about something good like new fuel cells or carbon nanotubes. Instead it was mostly about smartphones and the internet. While you might make some money investing in some of those they will do absolutely nothing for middle class America. Fail.

    ~~~

    BR: I was not talking about ANY of the specific companies, I was referencing the energy and the ideas and the future expectations. Its not about any app, its about possibilities.

    FAIL back atcha

  47. Ah, What Might Have Been.

    The zombie bears have nothing on the zombie baby boomers, who hold most of the power, money, and leisure time to chase down their unflagging agenda of short-sighted, self-involved bullshit. When they finished consuming what was left of our land, air, and abundant resources, they started in on their descendants. Only about two more decades of their choke hold, and then we all open up like flowers.

  48. streeteye says:

    Innovation and change are powerful, but… today I bought a Metrocard from a machine and rode a driverless L train to Williamsburg listening to automated announcements while getting served up ads on my iPhone. Sometimes it seems like a future where the benefits accrue to the whiz kids and financiers of machines that watch over us with loving grace, while the only growth industries for the working class are as TSA/security/prison guards, waiters, blackjack dealers, not to mention strippers and welfare recipients.

  49. Joe Friday says:

    constantnormal,

    Just a comment … not lookin’ to start anything …

    Me neither, but:

    I’ve tried (really hard) to tell which candidate you are referring to, and I am failing.

    Obviously, you’re being silly.

    I will reiterate, just in case you missed it previously: Obama was not my candidate.

  50. Jim67545 says:

    I read the descriptions of these innovations. I’m not sure that these will net net contribute to this country’s wealth.

    I view this as a bucket of water. Whatever contributes to our national wealth (selling goods and services produced domestically to foreigners thereby bringing foreigners’ wealth here) is offset by what drains our wealth (selling goods and services produced in foreign lands to a domestic market.) This includes legal enterprises from manufacturing cars to importing oil, illegal enterprises such as the drug trade and governmental activities such as wars and foreign aid. The net of all of this dictates whether the water level (our nation’s aggregate wealth) in the bucket is rising or falling.

    If these entrepreneurs create something that will be produced domestically yet consumed non-domestically (and actually generates revenue), it raises the water level. Yet, if all it does is drive Best Buy, Sears, a conventional advertising agency or the like out of business, then it may be a zero sum gain. Or, to use a popular expression, rearranging the deck chairs.

  51. Jim67545 says:

    It reminds me of the connundrum one encounters in economic development. Is it economic development when another pizza parlor opens or a Walmart? Viewed from the perspective of the political jurisdiction gaining tax revenue, perhaps it is. But is it on balance?

  52. BigD173 says:

    * “If you want to understand the future of America . . . . ”
    * ” The youth of America are full of ideas and energy . . . . They know that they are a business of one, that no company or government is ever going to offer them economic security. They are their own team, brand and idea factory.”
    * “I was referencing the energy and the ideas and the future expectations.”

    If your point is that there are some incredibly bright and creative young people in America who have great aspirations, you’re right. But that’s always been true. And the same can also be said for the young people of every other country.

    If you’re instead claimimg that there is something qualitatively different about “America” that ensures its future and eternal success, I think you’re dreaming. That amounts to an endorsement of American exceptionalism. If want to try to defend that concept intellectually, be prepared for an uphill battle.

    If on the other hand you’re saying that some of the young entrepreneurs will be incredibly successful due to their ingenuity and creativity . . . well, sure, of course some of them will. But with all due respect, that doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

  53. theexpertisin says:

    Just such “know how” makes the US a tempting target for adversaries.We had better be able to protect our country’s assets with a strong military.

    And we had better not use our military again to solve problems of a social, religious or quirky political nature again. The best way to insure this? Bring back the draft.

  54. pmorrisonfl says:

    Barry’s right, the world’s not ending. I spend a good chunk of my week around the engineering section of campus at NC State University, and the optimism there is papable. Of course there’s long been a ‘Future’s so bright, I’ve got to wear shades” aura among seniors in engineering, but there are a lot of people looking at how to solve a lot of different kinds of problems. Here’s one of my favorite examples: http://ei.ncsu.edu/garage/

  55. Event_horizon says:

    So while our VC money is funding more ways to trade, or devising more gee-whiz ways to kill time or socially interact with one another, the scientists and engineers (you know… careers that actually make “real” stuff) in other countries are looking into safer ways to power their country, like the pebble-bed reactor, capable of passive shut-down:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/energy-environment/25chinanuke.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    Meanwhile our infrastructure crumbles, and many of those brilliant young Bay Area entrepreneurs will drive across the new Bay Bridge that was mostly manufactured in China.

  56. EAR says:

    Bravo, BR.

  57. cognitive dissonance says:

    Wow! As a long term BP reader I am schocked by this post. What the hell have you done with Barry? I thought we needed hard numbers and not emotions to make a reasoned argument. You saw some cool tech start ups and now the economy will be all right…wake up. Here’s a number for you: total U.S. deficit spending from 2008 to the end of 2013 using Office of Budget Management from the white house is $6.8 trillion. That is the equivilant of buying 50% of the outstanding stock of the entire S&P 500. Damn you facts you are ruining my emotional outburst.

    P.s. I still love you Barry

  58. InterestedObserver says:

    @BigD173: “That amounts to an endorsement of American exceptionalism. If want to try to defend that concept intellectually, be prepared for an uphill battle.”

    You’re right. The seeds for advancement are everywhere. However, the US and a few other places structurally and culturally allow disruptive technologies to gain traction and ride a development wave to fruition. I rather dislike the term “American exceptionalism” because is really misses the point. We’re not exceptional, but we tend to live in a somewhat exceptional environment. At least that’s my read.

    Sure, most of the social and entertainment things that are all the rage now and seemingly grabbing everyone’s mind are trivial blips, but they may lead elsewhere in ways that are useful. Meanwhile, on the hardware and physical side, things are changing, opportunities are emerging, and some of these technologies may have a chance to make a real difference.

  59. piinob says:

    It would appear that many folks are not aware of the revolution in energy discovery taking place in our country. Nor are they aware of the number of companys opening new factory operations here. It is expected that, five years hence, America will be the largest energy exporter in the world. What do you think that will do for our balance of trade, federal budget, standard of living etc.
    Healthcare too is experiencing revolutionary changes. Solutions to old problems and cures for many ailments are in pipeline right now that will enhance everyones quality of life.
    The biggest roadblock, as mentioned by others here, is going to be greed and lust for power. People need to learn to recognize when they have enough and quit worrying about someone else having more. And as they do, they will leave the ones who do not learn behind.
    Nice article Barry.

  60. Ziggy says:

    I’ve been thinking about BR’s original post all day, and the comments as well. I’m not sure how I would start a commence speech to a 2012 graduating class – that time of year is fast approaching – but this is how I would wrap it up:

    Make no mistake. This country’s ruling elite of the worlds you are entering are bad mothers.

    They play to win. They may not comprise a “vast right wing conspiracy,” but they are well organized, deeply funded and absolutely relentless. And they are winning. They have the resources to crush dissenting voices within their ranks and to quite literally stomp protests in the street. As they have more money than they can possibly spend in several lifetimes, this not about the accumulation of more wealth, It’s about braggin’ rights. It’s about the hard on they get from having and acquiring more power and control over others. It’s about being the first rich white bastard at the local country club that grabs the honor of being the turd most responsible for destroying the New Deal and the Great Society. The benefits of which, by the way, are still a poor substitute for the quality of life that northern Europeans have now been forced to defend from the onslaughts of the rich elite bastards.

    But know this. Though these assholes have nothing over other third world tin pot despots, there is still a theoretical legal structure in this country that allows for a fairer and more just society. The window for its continued sustainability is fast closing, however.

    Though many of you are going to be entering corporate and public sector environments that Bill Black has been describing for years as criminogenic, don’t let your spirit go dark. Know that there are plenty of elites who are quite aware that they are what M. Scott Peck called “people of the lie.” That’s why the current system loves secrecy and abhors sunshine, and why the principles who back the current and multi-faceted expressions of evil (like the sponsors of ALEC) scatter like cockroaches whenever a light is shown on their activities. Change is till possible.

    I wish us Boomers had left you in better shape. I am truly sorry that we have not. We had our moment and then let go of the reigns. We produced no FDR, but plenty of Herbert Hoovers. You can’t afford that luxury. You will have to do better or you will have no future. We had choices, you do not. The next “greatest generation” will have to be yours.

  61. Ziggy,

    you mention, Nothing, of the Font, that Funds the Cretins you mention..

    remember, at the minimum..

    “Die glücklichen Sklaven sind die erbittertsten Feinde der Freiheit.”

    “Happy slaves are the most grim enemies of freedom.”

    (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

    and, back, toward my Point..

    http://forum.davidicke.com/showthread.php?t=128777
    +
    “…Phillip Tilley: To solve a problem, you have to first know you have a problem. Most of us fail to recognize that in fact there is a problem, and there lies the problem. The problem is, we actually believe we are a free people living in a free country with a robust free market economy. We think we elect the government officials that run this country…”
    http://osdir.com/ml/MedicalConspiracies/2009-09/msg00131.html

    or, more, to the Point..

    http://search.yippy.com/search?query=Federal+Reserve+Act+99+years&tb=sitesearch-all&v%3Aproject=clusty
    http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus-ns-aaf&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Federal+Reserve+Fraud

  62. and, yon’ Ritholtz, if you would/if you could– bring your Faculties to Bear — and, Shred this..

    “…If your point is that there are some incredibly bright and creative young people in America who have great aspirations, you’re right. But that’s always been true. And the same can also be said for the young people of every other country.

    If you’re instead claimimg that there is something qualitatively different about “America” that ensures its future and eternal success, I think you’re dreaming. That amounts to an endorsement of American exceptionalism. If want to try to defend that concept intellectually, be prepared for an uphill battle.

    If on the other hand you’re saying that some of the young entrepreneurs will be incredibly successful due to their ingenuity and creativity . . . well, sure, of course some of them will. But with all due respect, that doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know…”

    That, in, and of, itself, would be a Great Contribution~

    Thank You, very much, in Advance!~
    ~~

    though, while, I gather ‘He’ is taking ‘Issue’ with the concept of ‘American Exceptionalism’, I, like others above, will note that ‘The Stoopid Gap” has, for Us, never been Greater..

    If you could ‘work that in’, to your rebuttal, X-Tra Bonus Pins would, surely, be Credited to your Account :-)

    ~

  63. tonymc says:

    “Here’s a number for you: total U.S. deficit spending from 2008 to the end of 2013 using Office of Budget Management from the white house is $6.8 trillion.”

    Hoo-Rae! Debt is the key to every political argument and practically every other problem in this great country now. The debt being created is unsustainable and there will be millions of arguments on both sides of the aisle about the best solution, but spending must be cut.

    The next generation of entrepreneurs will require funding in order to change the world and the entitlement society created mostly by the Democratic Party will make borrowing, job creation and everything else more difficult. To obscure this reality is fruitless or just making excuses.

    Yeh, Republicans and George Bush were part of the problem. Have the Democrats proposed a budget? Under Paul Ryan’s “radical budget” the government is 46% bigger than it was in 2000. Yeh, there’s blame to go around no doubt, but the “last straw-tipping point-big kahuna” can be understood right here, so read this, start saving and forget everything you read (especially from those liberals trying to make spending and DEBT sound OK):

    http://news.investors.com/article/606827/201204041844/bearish-bonds-spell-trouble-for-debt-financing.htm?p=full

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/radical-ryan-budget-spends-46-231100019.html

  64. philipat says:

    Central Planning is not consistent with the efficient allocation of capital. The US system is totally broken and socialism has taken over. Therefore, whilst I agree with the analysis, there are just 2 small problems getting in the way:
    1. Congress and the corrupt occupants thereof
    2.Wall St and the corrupt occupants thereof

  65. rd says:

    It sounds like it is time to cue up “My Generation” on the old iPod.

    The irony is that apparently the baby boomer organizers of the London Summer Olympics wanted Keith Moon and the Who to play at the Olympics this summer, presumably this song among others. One small detail got in the way:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/olympics-organizers-ask-keith-moon-to-play-closing-ceremony-20120413

  66. slowkarma says:

    Some comedian, I don’t remember who, suggested an aphorism that over the decades has come to bother me, as stupid at that aphorism is. That is, “Remember, half the people are below average.”

    Our problem is not that we lack entrepreneurs — we don’t. Never have, really. Our culture produces ideas at a pace that is nothing less than manic. Our problem is that half of the people are below average, and while, in our history, we’ve always been able to provide worthwhile jobs for below-average people, in manufacturing, construction, farming — any jobs where lifting heavy things was a priority and a valued skill, what are we going to do with those people in the future? That’s the problem. They are NOT going to be software engineers, rocket scientists, financial advisors, real estate dealers…all those jobs are taken by the other half. In the heavy jobs, their roles are taken over by machines (I remember well from a couple decades back, a farm-equipment ad in which the farmer looks out over his field of drying cut hay and sees a storm coming in. The ad shows he and his wife zipping up and down the field with a baler connected to an elevator that automatically loaded the newly baled hay into a wagon, in a couple of hours, and shows the farmer backing the hay wagon into the bar just as the storm breaks. In my lifetime, that job would have taken three days and involved a half-dozen guys throwing bales, a job I have done and didn’t like.)

    If we had a wide, inclusive culture with jobs ranging from throwing hay to inventing the next twitter, I wouldn’t be too worried. But we don’t. Economists sometimes look at all those bright-eyed guys and think, the future looks great. They’re looking in the wrong direction. If if five or ten or fifteen percent of the people have to carry the rest, because the rest don’t have anything they CAN do, I’d say the future looks a whole lot more iffy.

    Remember…half the people are below average.

  67. victor says:

    BR: here’s another facet of today’s youth:

    Apr 4, 2012 – Santa Monica, California — Up to 30 protesters were pepper-sprayed by police after trying to force their way into a Santa Monica College trustee board meeting on course fees.
    The students were chanting “Let us in, let us in” and “No cuts, no fees, education should be FREE (my majuscules).”

    Also a good read by Harvard’s Eric Kaufmann: “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?” (tip on theme: Demography is destiny , sorry the secular societies dont have babies…)

  68. ssc says:

    I do not think our problem is or will be the lack of bright, inventive, energetic young entrepreneurs, I think it is much more mundane. Our problem is and will be the lack of geologists, chemical engineers, mining engineers, family practice physicians, physical therapists, care providers, machinists, welders, farm workers, law enforcement (seen the latest police killed on duty numbers??) ..the not so rich, totally boring backbone of society. I am also afraid that our best and brightest will be heads of the future Microsoft, Facebook or Google at age 20 rather than the Dennis Ritche at Bell Lab, Bill Joy at Cal Berkeley or Mark Andressen at U of I.
    Not that many years ago, when I was a stock holder of Valero, on one of the annual reports was a modernization of one of their refineries, it was switched to use mostly natural gas, it produced less than half of the carbon emission and because of the new automation, the plant only need 10% of the former work force. That, I think is and will be our challenge, everything measurable is significantly better, except it does not need a lot of workers.
    We had and will continue to have unbelievable medical advances, however, they do not come cheap (treatment or drugs), nor should they be, as it take a lot of money to achieve these miracles, and they somehow need to be paid for. With the amazing rapid advances, the life of these equipments may be a lot shorter than before, another reason for expense. Many millions of people in this country are only one medical emergency away from fall from comfortable middle class to total financial ruin, that is, and will be our challenge. All the Facebook, Google, iPad, Windows, Instgrams and Andriods is not going to help a bit. It’s great that things like heart surgery/bypass operatiosn have become routine with extremely high success rate, but at solid 6 figures a pop, its not exactly like buying computers: so much better (yes) and cheaper (NO) than years ago.

  69. bonzo says:

    There are plenty of innovative young people in the Arab world, too. Always have been. And their energy and creativity has been crushed for decades by corrupt governments. I see our future as a mixture of Japan (slow growth), Latin America (continued polarization between rich and poor, crony capitalism, police state to prevent revolts, pointless wars to distract the masses and give the crony capitalists an excuse to loot the treasury), and Greece (government bankruptcy leading to cutbacks in pensions, medicare and other entitlements). The rich will do fine. The poor will be the same as ever. It’s the middle class that will be wiped out.

  70. BigD173 says:

    @ Mark E. Hoffer

    BR used the word ‘America” three times in the body of the post in question. Why this
    was done was unclear: Sure, the conference he attended was in San Diego, and thus
    (unsurprisingly) probably most of the people he encountered were from this country.
    But a number of the start-up companies featured in the presentations seemingly are not
    products of the special virtues of “America.”

    In the Josh Brown article that Barry linked to (I read it, did you?), E-Toro was
    described as an “Israeli ‘social trading’ company.” Ash Rust (creator of SendHub) is
    a Brit who was educated at Oxford and Durham. Starscriber was founded in Canada by
    people who had worked at a company in Calgary. Clarity.FM was likewise founded by a
    Canadian.

    True, most if not all of the above concerns have offices in the United States. If I
    might hazard a guess, they have done so primarily for the purpose of accessing
    venture capital through people such as Howard Lindzon. Nothing wrong with that,
    but, as I read it, BR’s post — titled “The Future of America” — was supposedly about the
    ingenuity, creativity, and technical expertise of Americans, not their ability to provide
    venture capital.

    Be that as it may, if the future of America centers on companies who enable us in such
    activities as viewing comedy videos on the internet (WitStream), programming our own
    TV stations (StationCreator), and following commentaries on sporting events via Twitter
    (Fanium), what a wonderful and meaningful future America has in store.

    I’m sure there are quite a few dollars to be made here, but come on.

  71. “…We had and will continue to have unbelievable medical advances, however, they do not come cheap (treatment or drugs), nor should they be, as it take a lot of money to achieve these miracles, and they somehow need to be paid for. With the amazing rapid advances, the life of these equipments may be a lot shorter than before, another reason for expense. Many millions of people in this country are only one medical emergency away from fall from comfortable middle class to total financial ruin, that is, and will be our challenge. All the Facebook, Google, iPad, Windows, Instgrams and Andriods is not going to help a bit. …”

    you know, I find that ‘supposition’, profoundly, Curious..

    http://search.yippy.com/search?query=University+Medical+Innovations+NIH+Medical+Innovations+given+away+to+Big+Pharma&tb=sitesearch-all&v%3Aproject=clusty

    http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus-ns-aaf&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Rockefeller+Foundation+support+of+AMA+FDA+allopathic+medicine

    as, but, 2 (two) ‘broad strokes’, *covering some ‘Key Issues’..
    ~~

    Sorry, I didn’t use ‘Google’, but, little doubt, you’ll use ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’, ‘WordPress’, ‘MS Office’, “Instagram’, ad infi., to ‘spread the *Idea/Message’..

    right? “ssc”?

  72. philipat says:

    Central planning as in the United Corporatocracy of America these days does not make for efficient allocation of capital. The US system is no longer truly democratic, totally corrupt and broken and the European socialist entitlement way of thinking is entrenched. You should see kids in Asia who have no sense of entitlements and a far superior grasp of science and technology. Whilst I agree with your statements, if not necessarily the derived conclusions, in the US these days there are 2 obstacles:

    1. Congress and the corrupt incumbents
    2. Wall Street and its corrupt incumbents

  73. crunched says:

    The future may be bright… but I guarantee we re-test 666 before we get there.

  74. Pantmaker says:

    The world is certainly not ending. I agree, that is all silly talk. A consciously positive outlook on life is healthy as life is short.

    The world is a great place and people will continue to innovate…goes without saying. I agree with you, the future is not “bleak” at all but a positive outlook about young people, start-ups and innovation doesn’t mean valuations won’t come down significantly across the board. House prices in Phoenix are 50% of what they were in 2007 in many cases. Things aren’t “bleak” here and no one really “got run over” prices are simply not shit-can-stupid any longer. Patient cash buyers out here are anything but bleak now.

    Equity market valuations, in much the same way, are going to work their way down too…way down. It won’t be “bleak”, prices will just be lower to more accurately reflect reasonable valuations. Interest rates will also climb back to a realistic level and retirees that were smart enough to resist the siren song back into the rocks of risk assets and waited patiently for rates to come back to them will be rewarded with decent returns for their retirement needs. Decent low risk bond revenue is anything but “bleak.” Investors that have been waiting on a good entry for a multi-year holding period for equities will get their chance too and when it comes it certainly won’t be “bleak.”

  75. Jojo says:

    This is the best BP thread in a while! :)

  76. dougc says:

    If a motivated, educated and industrious youth is sufficient to ensure that we will economically dominate the world, wouldn’t the Greek or the Roman or the British still dominate , or did they all become fat and lazy.Fat and lazy , sounds like us but maybe someone will come up with a magical sequence of 1′s and 0′s that will solve our problems and the rest of us can twitter, youtube and facebook all day.

  77. BigD173,

    didn’t mean to be ‘obtuse’..

    I’m, actually, in agreement with your POV..

    I couldn’t ‘figure’ a way ‘back ’round’, from that Point..

    is “Why?” I was being solicitous, and asking BR to ‘pitch in’..

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/solicitous (#4)

  78. m111ark says:

    “…just as the world was on the verge of great things…”

    We’ve been here before. 200,000 years later and we still can’t find the right door, though we are gettin’ closer. Identifying the real problem still eludes the 99%. There will be no peace as long as bankers are empowered to create money. Debt money is a ponzi scheme that can only end one way. I wonder…. can all that bright energy find a way to render obsolete the very idea of money?

  79. [...] This Post Tweet This PostBarry Ritholz put up an interesting post this past weekend. He attended some lunches and dinners with the heads of some start up companies. [...]

  80. Raleighwood says:

    I do believe there are pockets of innovation and wealth creation – but it is limited and geographically constricted and excludes a great number of young people in fly-over country raised by a generation that was stupid enough to get conned into believing NAFTA was a good thing, educated by a public school system that intentionally removes critical thinking and is governed by politicians who preach that resource wars of aggression based on lies are patriotic.

    I have no doubt you see a powerful and exciting future – but I fear it’s the up side of a two tiered society and has little to do with a “vibrant” middle class.

    Your optimism is refreshing – I wish I could get on board.

  81. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Ziggy nailed it.

  82. rjb says:

    You are the Lefsetz of The Street.

  83. rd says:

    @slowkarma:

    Over the years I have learned to pay attention to how McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Fed Ex etc. execute their businesses as well as learning about Deming’s approaches to management and process control.

    They key thing with all of these organizations is that they get to be very large successful firms with most of their employees NOT coming from the top 10% of their high school graduating class. Up through the 1800s, simple hard work alone was sufficient to give you a place in American society.

    Starting with Ford and Sloan etc., much of the population became reliant on having good management and managers for them to be successful. I think the under-reported story over the past couple of decades is the decline of real management where the top 10% figure out how to maximize the potential of the next 80-90%. Instead we had the Romney-fication of the economy where inefficient companies were imploded and the vast majority of jobs for the bottom 90% sent overseas. in many cases, the managers were simply too lazy to figure out how to improve the companies at home.

    Interestingly, I think high oil prices will be the savior of the US economy over the coming decades. globalization has occurred on the back of cheap oil-fueled transportation. Without that, the marginal efficiencies of sending manufacturing and assembly overseas start to disappear and jobs will reappear at home.

  84. MayorQuimby says:

    Demand. That is what drives economies – here and abroad and demand here is maxed out and other, emerging markets are rolling over. Lack of innovation was never our issue. We can create new technologies and explore space and medicine for centuries to come. The issue is we are overlevered, broke and have more debt than any nation has ever had in history.

    The bill is coming due for decades of hubris and overextending ourselves. I say this not as a perma-bear but as a realist.

  85. MayorQuimby says:

    Demographics (boomers, unaffordable social programs etc.) are our other major problem.

  86. bobnoxy says:

    Pure, unadulterated nonsense. Any system reliant upon ever increasing amounts of debt to keep the game going is doomed, yes, doomed to fail.

    History proves this in every instance. We borrow just to pay the interest on our debt. Things looked fine in Greece five years ago with people working and spending, and their stock market topping 5,000. Then what, and how different does our debt situation look here?

    The only thing making our version of capitalism look viable over the past few decades is the amount of debt required to keep things going. That’s not sustainable, only a recipe for disaster.

    You can generate another 100 Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Marc Zuckerbergs, but the headwinds of too much debt and rampant corruption so pervasive in our society will defeat their modest efforts to survive in a system burdened by them. Prediction; massive discounts on rose colored glasses coming soon.

  87. derekce says:

    Great post. I see this in my 25 year old daughter. She happily works 65 hours a week, some of it for a tech startup. The kids are alright.

  88. ancientone says:

    Wow. BR must have inhaled helium out in southern California. This is the squeakiest post I’ve ever read by him. Somebody get him some oxygen so he can start thinking clearly again………bad bastards controlling all the money is our future, just like 19th century America. Some great future!

  89. Concerned Neighbour says:

    I appreciate the optimism; there is is indeed a boatload of great stuff coming down the pipe, some of which I know about, the vast majority of which I’m sure I have idea.

    I would, however, caution that the chief cause of problems is solutions. I would also caution that unless someone invents a way of eliminating debt painlessly and without consequences, the economy is still in for rough sailing for the foreseeable future.

  90. Christopher says:

    Got hold of some of that GodBud out there in Cali Barry??

    Let them eat iPads!!

  91. Mark Down says:

    Somebody left the corner stall and saw there’s good things out there!!!!!

  92. Frank DuPont says:

    I liked your future of America post on Sunday. I’m very interested in the abilities of young people. The way that I came to be interested in the topic is sort of odd. I was researching a book about the NFL when I asked myself the question “Why are football coaches so old, but other game players like chess grand masters and poker players are so young?” (the highest ranking chess player is 21 right now. Most of the world’s top poker players are between 21-28)

    That question became the basis for my book titled “Game Plan: A Radical Approach to Decision Making in the NFL”. In the book I go through research that covers the way that the brain ages and I explain why poker players and chess players are young, and why the NFL’s teams should try to get younger coaches. I also look at NFL decision making through the prism of some of Daniel Kahneman’s research. I guess you could say that the book aspires to be something of a pop-science book for the NFL.

    I’ve enjoyed the Big Picture since about oh say… September of 2008-ish. Keep up the good work. Please do let me know if I can send you an e-reader version.

  93. Jeff Hook says:

    Wow. 91 reader comments have been added so far. I don’t know if anybody else added this detail because I haven’t read all of these comments. I did search this page for relevant terms and I didn’t see any prior comments of this type, so here’s some information about the USGS’s excellent content about geologic time. (By the way, Barry, your use of this imagery explains a comment which I heard you make on Bloomberg Radio’s “Surveillance” about your equestrian activity during college. You joked that the activity had occurred “during the Jurassic Era.”)

    The USGS’s “Age of the Earth” time-spiral image was included in the online version of the agency’s publication “Geologic Time,” by William L. Newman. The Table of Contents page of the publication is at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/contents.html

    Barry, your copy of the time-spiral image (which you show on your 12-08 blog page) seems to be the original version of the illustration. I saved a local copy of it in 4-04. As readers pointed out in 12-08, that version of the image is now shown at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/time.html

    but check out the **much-improved** version of the image which is accessible from:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2008/58/

    That last page provides the publication history of the image. The page offers links to a letter-sized PDF of the image, at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2008/58/Spiral_Page3Meg.pdf

    and to a larger PDF which may be the largest which is available, at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2008/58/Spiral_Poster9Meg.pdf

    These online images were probably copied from a much larger analog “artist’s rendering” which was scanned digitally. Even the wall-poster-sized PDF is a little blurry when it’s enlarged but the colors and contrast have been greatly enhanced and the improved version is a “knock-out” relative to the original version, which seemed to be intended to highlight the text labeling of the geologic eras along the vertical edges of the spiraling time line.

    That spiral image is eye-opening with respect to these time scales, but the USGS also provides some insights by using a much simpler vector graphic at a two-page “Fact Sheet” which can be reached from:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2007/3015/

    The PDF itself is at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2007/3015/fs2007-3015.pdf

    The document’s explanatory text is helpful.

    The online USGS publication “Geologic Time” provides a blurry GIF of a simple text table of the “Major Divisions of Geologic Time” at:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/divisions.html

    The image ain’t no great shakes as a “work of digital art” but it is a good reminder of the basics of these divisions. It includes helpful explanations of the names of the divisions. The publication includes additional simple charts and tables about geologic time.

    I wonder if the USGS published this content in an attempt to rebut the “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design” ideas which may have been spreading nationally when this content first appeared online. I’m not sure about the history of those ideas.

    Thanks for this, Barry.

  94. Jeff Hook,

    nice add~

    speaking of ‘Time Spirals’.. and, Tangents thereof..

    “…Golden triangles and gnomons can be dissected into smaller triangles that are golden gnomons and golden triangles (Livio 2002, p. 79).

    Successive points dividing a golden triangle into golden gnomons and triangles lie on a logarithmic spiral (Livio 2002, p. 119).
    ~
    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/LogarithmicSpiral.html
    ~
    Kimberling (1991) defines a second type of golden triangle in which the ratio of angles is phi:1, where phi is the golden ratio.
    SEE ALSO: Decagon, Golden Gnomon, Golden Ratio, Golden Rectangle, Isosceles Triangle, Penrose Tiles, Pentagram
    REFERENCES:

    Bicknell, M.; and Hoggatt, V. E. Jr. “Golden Triangles, Rectangles, and Cuboids.” Fib. Quart. 7, 73-91, 1969.

    Hoggatt, V. E. Jr. The Fibonacci and Lucas Numbers. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.

    Kimberling, C. “A New Kind of Golden Triangle.” In Applications of Fibonacci Numbers: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Fibonacci Numbers and Their Applications,’ Wake Forest University (Ed. G. E. Bergum, A. N. Philippou, and A. F. Horadam). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, pp. 171-176, 1991.

    Livio, M. The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World’s Most Astonishing Number. New York: Broadway Books, pp. 78-79, 2002.

    Pappas, T. “The Pentagon, the Pentagram & the Golden Triangle.” The Joy of Mathematics. San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publ./Tetra, pp. 188-189, 1989.

    Schoen, R. “The Fibonacci Sequence in Successive Partitions of a Golden Triangle.” Fib. Quart. 20, 159-163, 1982.

    Wang, S. C. “The Sign of the Devil… and the Sine of the Devil.” J. Rec. Math. 26, 201-205, 1994.
    CITE THIS AS:

    Weisstein, Eric W. “Golden Triangle.” From MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GoldenTriangle.html

  95. 873450 says:

    Yes, but.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/us/more-us-children-of-immigrants-are-leaving-us.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion#

    This disturbing article in today’s NYT cites a growing number of ambitious, highly educated Americans, children of immigrants whose parents came to the U.S. in pursuit of the American Dream, are now leaving the U.S. to pursue the American Dream in the countries their parents fled from, including of all places India and China, where they sense opportunities to successfully achieve the American Dream are greater than here in the U.S.

  96. Jeff Hook says:

    To Barry (and/or to any one member of his large team of administrative “minions”):

    Would you be inclined to include some explanatory text about “moderation” of reader comments in these introductory remarks which are shown at the tops of Comments threads?:

    “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

    I’m guessing comments *are* “moderated” but I don’t see any statement to that effect in the text which I just quoted or on the blog’s “About” page. Those of us who don’t comment often at blogs might benefit from a reminder that text won’t be shown immediately, if it’s shown at all. We might forget that we should compose our comments locally (where we can have the benefit of spell-checking…) and that we should save any text that we’ve hammered out painstakingly from our keyboards directly into the “maw” of the blog. When I read this reader comment in this thread I thought “Oh, man…”:

    “bergsten Says:

    April 15th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Shitty Internet Explorer ate my long, erudite, clever, funny, carefully reasoned and persuasive comment. Maybe it’s for the best (or at least for the best of my chances of continued employment, anywhere).

    Too much trouble to recreate it, so here’s the executive summary…”

    (Let’s see: right-click, “Select All,” “Copy”…)

  97. ashpelham2 says:

    I, too, get an adrenaline rush when I’m in these places where creative types assemble. Young minds, all throwing ideas off the wall, most of which won’t stick. The dot.com era should be a learning lesson on how to approach start up ventures in technology. We have the answer to how it will all turn out.

    I’m actually really troubled by the fact that retail is going from physical stores to online only. Now that Best Buy is throwing up a white flag on selling TV’s, many people are going to have nowhere to go but Wal Mart for their next TV, thus feeding the beast that has taken away the livelihoods of so many.

    It’s an era of cutting out people like me, who don’t have an MBA or weren’t born in Palo Alto. All of us in the middle. The ones who blow our money on stupid stuff. What’s gonna happen when we have less and less of it to blow?

  98. DeDude says:

    Yes, there are individuals that can and will create great new things and technologies and become rich personally in the process. The problem is that this focus on making it, personally, will not solve the big deep structural problems that are likely to drag society as a whole down. What we desperately need right now is not more individualist making it for themselves. We need huge amounts of creativity and brain power focussed on the very unprofitable task of figuring out how to organize human activities and economics in a post-work society where production of things and services consumed, does not require enough work to keep everybody employed. Maybe we need a big ugly destructive external demon like Nazi Germany or Commi USSR to get everybody to focus back on society and how to make its structures strong, agile and able to function for everybody.

  99. [...] This is a good quick read on the state of things by a libertarian financial blogger who I like. It’s not hard for me to believe that we continue to survive (thrive?) and that the future of that business will be very different than what we have today. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]