How’s Your Chinese?

There is a fascinating article that you simply must read – I demand it! It’s a bit long, so block off 15 to 20 minutes, sit back, and enjoy.

The article is called It’s a Flat World, After All, by author Thomas Friedman (you can use a shared username at BugMeNot). Mr. Friedman does an amazing job describing the dramatic changes taking place right now that are defining our world in the 21st Century. The gist: New computer and communications technology is essentially making the world flat – distance is now irrelevant and students in developing countries now have access to the same information and knowledge as developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and the countries of western Europe. This powerful shift has largely occurred in silence since beginning around the year 2000. The first real evidence it was even happening was the outrage about offshore outsourcing that took place during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Outsourcing is just the beginning however, and is only a symptom of the much larger shifts occurring. Change is coming and China, India, South Korea, and eastern Europe are going to be leading it. We (the United States) started the movement during the Dot Com Boom, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. The very economic future of our country is at stake, yet many are still in denial. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was almost burned at the stake when she made this claim early last year, but she summed the issue up concisely:

There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs.

America is falling behind and if big changes aren’t made soon, we will no longer lead the world in innovation. Friedman makes this point, which needs no further comment from me:

When was the last time you met a 12-year-old who told you he or she wanted to grow up to be an engineer? When Bill Gates goes to China, students hang from the rafters and scalp tickets to hear him speak. In China, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America, Britney Spears is Britney Spears.

Friedman is dead on, and denying it will only result in the U.S. falling that much more quickly. So, I’ll ask again: How’s your Chinese?

If you like the article, consider picking up the book from which it was adapted: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Or, if you’re an Audible subscriber like me, you can get the 19 hour unabridged audio version.