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October 10, 2011


Bud Byrd

I play golf with a sizable group of gentlemen in the sixty to ninety year age group. Members of the group are people who reached high levels of achievement in their respective work lives ...military mid-level and flag officers; mid-level and senior executives of public and private organizations; many retired professors; and a large number of small business owners ...for the most part, men of accomplishment. Most of us, I suppose myself included, are content to coast through our remaining years playing golf, maybe an occasional nod to some voluntary public service initiative, but for the most part just the practice of enjoying life. So what's wrong with that?

What's wrong? I mention my golf group as a metaphor for our America of the past many years. We have become complacent, expecting that things will always be as they have been in our recent memory ...glory years, with America always first.

I think that we of my generation have been victimized by the expectations of a certain way of life. We worked hard to achieve. We served our time. We reached our goal of a secure retirement. Then, many of us dropped out leaving the fueling of America's engine to others. Many of the affluent went off to the gated communities of the paradise islands. Those less wealthy continued-on in place but moved outside their former work or professional societies. Others moved off to Florida ...to one of the retirement ghettos, shifted to idle speed while passively awaiting the call of the grim reaper.

This dropping out of the post-”greatest generation” and early “baby boomer” generation left a job undone. We had not prepared the wide spectrum of our offspring to carry-on the work ethic, the educational and work traditions that made America the most successful society that the world had known. We, the workers and leaders of the sixties, the seventies, the eighties and early nineties dropped the ball. We didn't have the foresight, the stamina nor apparently the intellect to carry-on what the children (our parents) of the twenties, the thirties, the forties and early fifties had bequeathed. We, the members of my generation, flubbed our responsibilities. We failed to prepare our children for the future ...culturally, intellectually, and most importantly in not instilling a deep-seated, almost in-bred, work ethic.

Bud Byrd


Obviously, it didn't happen to everyone in the generation. We produced the Bill Gates', the Steve Jobs', parents of and the subsequent birth of the Mark Zuckerbergs', and many other young entrepreneurs, business and public leaders. But, we did not reproduce a society, laced from top to bottom with achievers, with drivers within their own realms. In my opinion, that has been the great failure of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century in America.

While we, in America, were slipping in our gene transferring reproductive and child rearing responsibilities, other countries were in the ascendency. Now we must struggle to recover our lost eminence and avoid the prospects of our own economic Armageddon.
Our work is cut out for us. Time will tell if we have the wherewithal to overcome years of neglect in our physical and education infrastructure; to redirect our intellect from the very lucrative, yet unproductive business of financial transactions to the invention, making and providing of real value-add products and services; to refocus our government and industry leadership into productive pursuit of America's interests; to overcome the bitter, partisan in- fighting of our political system. At the moment our chances of success don't look promising.

After posting this long-winded comment, I will click on Amazon and order Tom Friedman's book. Unfortunately, Friedman will be lucky to get a thousandth to a five-hundredth of a percent of Americans to read his book. Undoubtedly, many fewer will understand or follow-up on his suggestions. So what are Americans to do other than be optimistic that things will get better?

My golf group continues to work on our individual putting skills and our fast diminishing drive distances. Think that will help?

Grace Wu

I like your thinking. If the time can go back, what will you do as the suggestion for the new generations?

Masaya Haraguchi

I was impressed by his opinion because everyday I face the reality of hyperconnected world. I'm Japanese and I work for ad-agency in Japan and I'm in charge of business development related to digital marketing in Asia region.It's crystal clear to me that Japanese workers have to compete directly with a huge number of smart and passionate workers who live in the rest of the world.To be honest, most of Japanese including me couldn't predict the change of the world. However, as Mr. Waldawsky-Berger suggested, we should dive into the new world as immigrant instead of shutting our eyes. I'm not young, but I know some ways of enjoying tough times. I hope I will be grateful to live in hyperconnected world in near future.

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