“America 3.0” is the new and exciting book by James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus. The two authors discuss the rebooting of American prosperity in the 21st Century and why America’s greatest days are yet to come.
America is once again on the cusp of great transformation. The core American values of freedom, individualism, family and enterprise have enabled our progressive expansion from an agricultural to an industrial corporate economy; they will continue to guide us as we adapt our political and economic institutions to emerge successfully as a post-industrial and decentralized society.
Bennett and Lotus provide unique insight into our historical trajectory and a road map to the renewed American future.
The United States as it is today has been shaped by many forces, and many of the major factors that have made us what we are. There is indeed a “Western” exceptionalism, which we share with several other countries. But our particular cultural heritage is a distinct subset of that larger, distinct civilization.
DWIGHT L. SCHWAB, JR. - Why do you claim that America’s greatest days are yet to come?
JAMES C. BENNETT and MICHAEL J. LOTUS - Technology is pushing us toward a freer and more prosperous society. The only obstacles are political. Americans are pre-loaded to succeed from earliest childhood.
SCHWAB - Why don’t you think that we are declining as a nation, that America’s best days are over?
BENNETT & LOTUS - We are in a painful transition period, with the industrial era America finally ending, so it feels like we are heading toward the junk heap of history. But this is just the process of wrapping up America 2.0 and creating America 3.0.
SCHWAB - What exactly do you mean by America 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0?
BENNETT & LOTUS - America 1.0 was the world before power machinery, a world of family farms and muscle power. America 2.0 is the century of industrial power and big government, which is ending. America 3.0 is the world we are now entering.
SCHWAB - What will America 3.0 be like?
BENNETT & LOTUS - America 3.0 will have many small and individual-scaled business, and large business with small workforces, all networked together so that suppliers, producers, customers, clients, will be able to work efficiently. We expect that the computer and the internet are just the first new tools in a world where the task of making things (not just moving data around) is dispersed, fast, cheap and customizable.
SCHWAB - Why do you think we will be able to make a successful transition to this new type of economy?
BENNETT & LOTUS - We already successfully changed from a country of family farms and small towns to an industrial colossus, and we made a government that worked, in its day. We will make the next transition because we are fundamentally enterprising and individualistic, and the new world will be a good fit for our own historical and cultural roots.
SCHWAB - What historical and cultural roots are you talking about?
BENNETT & LOTUS - We inherited language and law and political and economic ideas from England, as well as a culture that is capitalistic and individualistic. The foundation for that culture is a type of nuclear family structure which is almost unique in the world, and we still have it, and most people who have settled here have eventually adopted it.
SCHWAB - What is this unique family structure you are talking about?
BENNETT & LOTUS - A lot of things about American families sound normal to Americans, but they are actually very unusual in the world. American parents cannot pick their childrens’ spouses; they don’t have to give them equal inheritances; adult children are expected to marry and form their own homes away from their parents; and we have no extended families in the way they do in many foreign countries.
SCHWAB - Why does it matter that Americans have had this type of family?
BENNETT & LOTUS - It has shaped everything about us, especially by making us independent and enterprising. We are more alone in the world than other people, our parents don’t have to help us, we have no extended families to save us, we make our own marriage choices, our own career choices, we pick our own friends and colleagues, and we have to hustle to succeed.
SCHWAB - Does being individualistic mean that we have to live by the law of the jungle?
BENNETT & LOTUS - No. Part of the genius of America has been being individualistic but also willing and able to cooperate freely and a high degree of trust with others, to create businesses and other types of voluntary organizations. And there is a role for government, but it will have to be smaller, less intrusive, more efficient, and less centralized in the future. Government will adapt to America 3.0, just as we and our children will.
SCHWAB - Finally, how are we going to get to this great new America 3.0?
BENNETT & LOTUS - We propose: (1) resolving the current fiscal crisis by an organized “Big Haircut” to reduce government obligations to a manageable size in the fairest and most equitable way we can, and (2) a radical decentralization of power away from the national government to the states and localities. This will allow technology and our native genius for freedom and innovation to build the world we foresee a generation ahead.
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