The Story of Hope in the Information Age: circa 1980 to the Present
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS PERSPECTIVE INTERPRETATION AND OPINION This text is not fact, rather the view of one author; consequently, it should not be automatically accepted as “truth.” Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author, Barbara Tuchman, stated, “ there is no such thing as a neutral or
purely objective historian...without an opinion, a historian would simply be a ticking clock.” Your mission should be to determine the “truth.” Your challenge will be to explain why anyone should believe you.
CREDIBILITY BELIEVABILITY It’s not a given, we acquiesce too quickly. Be respectfully skeptical. Do your homework; check the record and the resume. Ask the question,
“should I trust this person as a credible source for the truth?” Make it a prerequisite before embracing the claims of anyone who professes to have the “answers.”
“Hope is that stubborn thing inside us telling us that something better awaits us as long as we have the courage to keep reaching, keep working, keep fighting.” Barack Obama
Hope is a candle in the night hope is a long respite Hope is a feather Once lifted, it’ll only get higher Hope is an oasis in a desert Hope is a diamond in the dirt Hope is everywhere Yet hope is scarcely there
Hope is the dream of better days Hope is the passion ablaze Hope is beautiful And hope is tranquil Hope is there for everyone Hope is an asset that all has in abundance
The goal of this class is to help you be successful, today and in your future. You’ll decide what makes you feel ‘successful’. This class has been created to give you specific skills to help you reach your goals. There are certain skills that have been proven to help all people become a ‘success’. The skills we’ll focus on in this class are called ‘Life Skills’. These skills include:
• • • • • • • • • •
networking personal brand development collaboration empathy presentation: written, oral and behavioral risk management creativity leadership analysis; observation; listening; basic computer skills
These skills will be increasing in value in the 21st century. Jobs requiring these skills will grow 2 ½ times faster than ‘other’ jobs! In fact, The Employment Policy Foundation claims there won’t be enough people with these critical skills to fill all the new jobs of the 21st century. While a job doesn’t necessarily determine whether you’re ‘successful’, a job, career, or profession will most likely determine how you’ll support yourself and the lifestyle you’ll live. You will be helped understanding the connection between your ‘personal brand’ and how your brand creates opportunities for your success. Understanding ‘change’ and how to manage it will be important too. Technology has and will continue to be the principal driver of ‘change’ in America and the rest of the world; but, so will immigration, life expectancy, global competition, lifetime learning, ‘leadership’ and ‘hope’. The world is changing; getting you ready for the changes is our focus.
This class concentrates on specific skills and behaviors to help you be the success you hope to be.
My first question to you is:
• are you ready to work on these skills and behaviors, right now?
I understand if some of you are not ready to commit to the work of this class; you probably have other pressing issues. If you can’t commit, please find another class. For those choosing to stay, I expect you to work as hard I do by coming to school, ON TIME, attending class, completing assignments, and showing up to some of our events. I am committed to your growth and success. I expect the same commitment from you. Thank You. (1)
“The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies, Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today”
Of all the things to write about, you might ask me
Because I believe it’s what we build our lives upon. It’s what we build our hopes and dreams on, day in and day out, as we travel through ‘life’. It’s a belief that tomorrow could be better than today. It gets us through our tough times. Hope sustains us, helps us persevere. It provides the motivation to keep going, through the peaks and valleys, ups and downs, of life. Hope convinces us better days are ahead. Without it, we’re stuck in neutral, never able to get to the next des-
tination, the next opportunity on our life’s journey. Hope keeps us going. Can we agree that ‘hope’ is an attitude or a frame of mind giving us a belief that a positive outcome is possible? If so, then let’s begin with
hope is a feeling, an anticipation that better days lay ahead, that you’re going to be alright. The absence of ‘hope’ is despair. It’s life without the comforting feeling, the positive expectation, that life will
eventually be better.
The absence o f ‘hope’ is resignation that life will not get better, possibly worse. Despair is the absence of ‘hope’; it’s hopelessness. ‘Hope’, however, sustains us through the hardships all people encounter during their lives. Everyone faces hardship at some point in their life.
Not only hardship but adversity, failure, melancholy, the blues. ‘Hope’ is what gets us through. It convinces us things will eventually be ok. So, where does a person find ‘Hope’? Does it just reside within our body, waiting to be called upon during hard times? Is there a catalyst, a spark, which activates a person’s innate ability to ‘hope’ when it’s most needed? Answers to these questions and more will be our objectives in “The Story of Hope”.
Kwasi Enin in 2014 after learning of his admittance to every Ivy League university
Hope It’s good. It’s reassuring. It’s a feeling of confidence that things will be ok.
Hope provides optimism as you climb out of bed each day to take on your challenges and pursue your dreams. For those armed with hope, there’s energy in our first step of the day; for those without hope, the first step is often fraught with lethargy, indifference, even fear; needless to say, hopeless.
Hope is a five hour energy drink
compelling reason for living, injecting an excitement about our daily responsibilities and challenges because we believe something good awaits us. Hope provides an inner strength to stay focused on our goals and dreams. It keeps us moving, forward, optimistically, toward a future goal we believe to be possible. If you believe in hope, if you invest your energies in it, you become optimistic about your future regardless of your worries and fears. This is the return on investment in hope. This is the power of hope.
So where does one find ‘hope’? Well, you don’t have to go far. It’s already in you. You’re born with it. Unfortunately for some of us, you either don’t know how to find it or we’ve been influenced not to trust it. There are three complementary, natural attitudes activated from our brain that stimulates ‘hope’. These attitudes are called
curiosity, self-esteem, and courage. motivating those who take it; those without it are often distracted, shackled by inhibition and trepidation. Hope’s gift is state of mind with a
Every person has a reservoir of each. You don’t need them all to be hopeful; one will do. When accessing any one of these attributes, you will usually find ‘hope’ in tow.
Let’s start with curiosity. It, too, is in you, naturally, innately, waiting to be used. Just by observing little babies, it’s obvious we’re all born curious! As we get older, we sometimes forgot about it or we’re discouraged from venturing out of our comfort zone to be curious. Some of us occasionally become consumed by negative things and forget about our innate gifts and strengths, like curiosity, which automatically come with being a person. Curiosity can liberate us from shyness which limits our potential. It’s always there, waiting for us to use it. And it’s fun!
Curiosity is thinking about ‘why’, ‘what if’, and what could be! Think of curiosity as your cat, that inquisitive feline seemingly always on the prowl looking for something and anything to capture its interest. Curiosity, like the cat, is instinctive. All that’s required is setting it free, turning it loose, to search and find what satisfies our interest! Because you’re born with curiosity, it’s essentially a choice to either use it or not. By not using it, we limit the variety and number of choices for exciting and fulfilling things to do in our lives. By liberating your curios-
ity, you expand the number and quality of choices of fulfilling activities to do. Curiosity allows you to dream, of exciting possibilities, then committing to learning the skills and attitudes which make your dreams come true.
Curiosity leads to hope. Self-esteem is the next attribute we all can develop.
Self-esteem is closely connected to curiosity. John Maxwell is a very successful American author, public speaker, and pastor who has written more than 60 books focusing on personal growth and development. In one of these books, “How Successful People Grow”, he address the attitude of self-esteem and its relationship to curiosity. “Some
people fill their minds with limiting beliefs. Their lack of confidence or selfesteem causes them to create barriers to put limitations on how and what they think. The result - these people fail to reach their potential”......they fail to become the people they could be if only they believed in themselves!
Self esteem is feeling good about who you are and recognizing and appreciating the talents you have.
Our confidence and self-esteem are often affected by friends and family. If you have people in your family or in a group of people you call friends who continually put you down, who point out your shortcomings and failures rather than your strengths and talents, self-esteem is damaged and optimism stifled. As a result, lifetime opportunities outside your comfort zone for fun, growth and development are limited. A negative friend or family member can destroy your self-esteem by continually criticizing you and pointing out negative things about you rather than the good things about you, the positive qualities you have and the opportunities you have to be successful. While no one is perfect,
everyone, most certainly, has positive qualities. While being aware of our shortcomings is helpful, it’s our positive qualities we need to be convinced of, to appreciate, to focus upon and take advantage of if we want to be successful
and feel fulfilled. For this reason, we should
surround ourselves with positive people
up, many people become (unnecessarily) depressed.” Mark Twain also believed in the importance and value of self-esteem. “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval”.
13 who share our values and lifetime goals, who support our dreams by reminding us we have the ability to be successful. We miss exciting opportunities when we don’t feel good about ourselves, when we don’t have the self-esteem to be curious about possibilities. Alan Greenspan, a famous international economist, accomplished clarinet and saxophone player, and the head of the United States Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, has stated “self-esteem is a built in requirement that demands continued nurturing. People continually seek confirmation of their self worth. Unless our self-esteem is nurtured and built
It’s not because ‘doubting’ people don’t have ability; it’s often because they are unwilling to trust themselves to become the person they’d like to be. “We cannot be who we believe we aren’t” according to Maxwell. People with self esteem are humble
and respectful. They don’t need to be the center of attention. Confident people willingly share credit with others who helped along the way. People with self-esteem compliment others who may need the compliment. People with self esteem are comfortable with their own imperfections.
and feel good about yourself.
There is a realistic recipe for improving self esteem. It’s called ‘choice’. If you choose to change your thinking about your potential and surround yourself with positive, supportive people, you can build self esteem to change your life. “The single difference between curious, growing, hopeful people and those who aren’t” is the belief in themselves “that they can learn, grow, and change” to fulfill dreams and be successful. The possibility of a successful, fulfilling life is often made possible by a person’s self esteem. Curiosity and self esteem will help you develop critical
life skills like networking and personal brand development as well as attitudes like risk taking and getting out of your comfort zone to make sure you become a success
Self-esteem and curiosity enable us to be hopeful. Finally,
It too is connected to curiosity and self-esteem. In fact, courage may be the foundation for both curiosity and self-esteem.
Courage is mental strength. It has nothing to do with biceps and triceps, how fast and far you can run, or how hard you can throw. It has nothing to do with how physically strong a person is. Courage requires mental toughness!
Courageous people usually have self-esteem and high levels of curiosity. Courageous people are the ones who ask questions in a group. Courageous people are ready to introduce themselves to others at a networking event in order to build their own network. Courage enables you to enroll in a college away from home out of state. Courageous people feel free to be dif-
ferent, to be ourselves.
Courage enables you to step out of your comfort zone, take measured risks and not be depressed or discouraged if you fail. Courage enables us to overcome inhibitions and fear of ridicule to try something new. Courage helps you persevere, to not give up, during tough times of adversity and failure.
Courage instills hope, of ‘yes, I can’!
The United States of America has seemingly always been a hopeful country. Through its Revolution against the world’s mightiest country, England, in 1776, through its own Civil War from 1860 to 1865, through multiple recessions in the 19th century and into the 20th century, America had hope of better days to come. The United States of America emerged from the first 80 years of the twentieth century with courage, self-esteem, curiosity and, thus, an abundance of hope for future success. Despite a severe economic depression (The Great Depression of 1929), two horrific World Wars, a deadly flu epidemic (1918) that killed millions of Americans, and a controversial, military conflict in the
country of Viet Nam (1960s - 1975) which claimed the lives of 58,000 American troops while wounding over 303,000 more, America still became the wealthiest, most successful country in the world, especially in the years after World War 2 (1945) and up through the late 1970s. America had the distinct advantage of making most of the products sold throughout the world. From dishwashers to sewing machines, automobiles to movies and their stars, America was essentially the center of the universe after 1945.
Everyone everywhere was buying American made products! 16
The other leading manufacturing countries prior to World War 2 (Japan, Germany, England, France, and Italy) were devastated by the bombings of the war. They were rebuilding their destroyed cities after the war while America was building things in its factories. As a result,
most Americans who wanted jobs, had jobs. And,
most jobs paid well. Life was good! Americans were hopeful about their futures. However, by 1980, concern started to erode America’s feeling of wellbeing and optimism. While the pace of change continued to accelerate in America, change was also accelerating in other countries in the world. Although the rate of production was increasing in American factories, in other words, how fast American factories were making things, the pay increases and opportunities for workers were less frequent. Here’s why -
the rest of the world was getting better! The war torn countries of World War 2 finally recovered and started to focus on their own factories and production. The economies of the war torn countries were ready and able to
to compete against America. Cars were being made in Germany, Ja-
pan, Italy, France, Sweden, and South Korea and not just Detroit, Michigan, the home of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Foreign made cars were now being sold, not only in America, but throughout the world. High quality steel was also being made in South Korea and Japan not just Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And all these products were arguably as good, and in many instances, better and less expensive than American made products. Technology was at the center of global change in manufacturing. The rising standard of living enjoyed by American workers from the end of the World War 2 in 1945 to 1980 became threatened by an emerging change in the way Japan, South Korea and other countries were doing business.
America lost the advantage of being the dominant manufacturer of machine made products. The rest of the world had recovered
from the destruction of World War 2. The industrialized countries of Germany, Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, Sweden, and others were back, ready with manufactured products from new, rebuilt factories to compete against American made products in markets all over the world. Not only was the American worker competing
Japanese automaking factory using robots in their production assembly lines
against workers in foreign companies but against factory robots and the computer software to run them; foreign companies also developed a better process for making things. This was the dawn of an new era soon to be called “The Information Age”. From 1980 to the present, this new era emerged giving people all over the world access to mind boggling amounts of information. An international information highway called the internet had been created. Anyone with a computer and the skills to
use it could access this highway to a treasure chest of information. Access to the internet is made through what is called the ‘web’, a special protocol or way to access the internet. By using this protocol or rules based process, the internet provides access to
data, in other words, raw facts!
Once data is organized, analyzed and made sense of, it turns into ‘information’ to provide answers to questions.
The internet essentially surrendered the secret sauce for success to anyone with access to the internet and smart enough to analyze the data.
This process is changing the world . No longer is critical information and the rich opportunities created by it exclusive to those with the power, wealth, or resources to access it. ‘The Information Age’ gave access to all, leveling the proverbial playing field,
making the once vulnerable, powerful, and the once powerful, vulnerable.
areas of large Hispanic population centers in America and Puerto Rico
This is the story we will study. This is the story which continues to unfold today. This is the story changing our lives through internet
access to unlimited ‘data’ and the ability to process it into useful ‘information’. All that’s required from you, and anyone else looking for the opportunities which come from real information is
the courage, curiosity, or self-esteem to be hopeful about your future.
The unstoppable, Miss Piggy wearing the famous Hope diamond.
“The real value of history is its relevance to the present. Without relevance, history is as useless as lips on a woodpecker”. Moi and Earl Pitts
The Information Age 1980. Thereabouts. Historians and anthropologists, the experts who study mankind, have categorized the history of our planet and the people inhabiting it into different ‘ages’. Ages are periods of consecutive years, each age varying in its number of years.
Each age has been given a name characterizing a change in the way of doing things
from the previous age. The change has usually been caused by an invention. Since the 1700s, the change in each age has been caused by technology which seemingly empowered the people living during an age to free themselves from limitations of the past. 10,000 years before 1980, people were wandering the earth searching for food. Then, an Agricultural Age emerged when people started planting seeds to grow food rather than just hunting for it. Cultures formed around increasing populations near farms. In the 1700s, steam ignited the next change. Machine engines powered by steam replaced horses and wind. Railroads, steamships and factory machines changed travel and production. New areas in the western territories of America quickly became cheaper and less dangerous to get to. Steam powered machines lowered costs for clothing, fuel and foods. People began leaving farms for the cities where higher paying jobs in new factories could be found. This was the start of the Industrial Age. It actually began in England, in cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. The Industrial Age came to America when Englishman Samuel Slater stole designs of English factory machines and brought them to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where he partnered with rich entrepreneur, Moses Brown, to build the first factories in America. Almost 200 years later, another age was born, an Information
Age, this time powered by computers.
Any conversation about the Information Age must include the internet! The internet was and continues to be a system of separate computer networks, all connected, throughout the entire world.
The design and infrastructure of the internet came together in the 1960s for the United States Military to share information among important organizations. By 1969, four American universities - Stanford, UCLA, the University of Utah, and University of California at Santa Barbara - were connected to one another through a system called ARPANET. By 1981, the number of universities expanded to 213. Later in the 1980s, colleges in Europe and Asia were connected to the system. By 1992, the United States government organization, the National Science Foundation, was running the internet. Congress soon passed a law to open the internet to more than colleges, to people like you and me. By 1995, the running of the internet was turned over to another government organiza-
tion, the Department of Commerce. The Commerce Department removed many internet restrictions and opened up access to public use. The rate of change in America and throughout the world accelerated during the Information Age. Change was seemly gaining momentum by the day. A California computer chip company (Intel) founder named Gordon Moore predicted computer power would double in speed and capacity every two years into the future and the implications for companies, countries, people, education, and life styles would be profound.
Moore’s prediction became known as Moore’s Law and it soon proved prescient.
an Intel mini or micro computer chip found in many mobile devices today
The Information Age in America started amidst a violent and divisive time in world history. But it wasn’t the internet nor computers that created the turmoil.
America’s negative brand perception among some people once again created problems. During the early 1970s, a war broke out in the Middle East when the Arab countries of Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. As soon as the United States announced its support of Israel, several oil producing countries, who were members of a cartel called OPEC (Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Indonesia and Algeria), decided to cut their oil exports to America. As a result, American gasoline in 1974 was soon in limited supply and prices increased from 30 cents per gallon to a shocking 55 cents per gallon! In some states,
during the month according to the last digit in their license plate. In other states, colored flags were used to let the public know if gasoline was available: a green flag informed drivers there was gas to sell; a yellow flag informed customers a limited amount would be sold to each driver; a red flag denoted that no gasoline was available. By 1980, the cost of a gal-
Americans were only able to buy their gasoline on either odd or even days lon of gas rose to $1 per gallon after a revolution erupted in the country of Iran preventing Iranian oil companies from pumping oil from their wells and exporting it to America. Many
Iranians then became angry when America offered
medical support to a dying Iranian leader named, Shah
creased the cost of borrowing money to buy cars and homes. American interest rates approached 20%! Remarkably, throughout this turmoil and trouble, many Americans never lost hope. Many believed better days would be coming. But,
The Shah and President Jimmy Carter
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who originally had been put in charge of Iran by America’s CIA in the 1950s. The Iranian people had rebelled against the Shah in the late 1970s and forced him to flee Iran. On November 4, 1979, Iranian college students
instead of waiting for change, Americans took the initiative to create it.
In the 1980 Presidential Election, Americans elected former Hollywood movie star and Governor of California, the 69 year old Ronald Reagan, to be the next President of the United States. Within minutes after taking the oath of the Presidency in January
kidnapped 52 Americans living in Iran as part of a protest against America’s support for the Shah and kept the Americans hostage at the American embassy in the Iranian capital city of Tehran. President Jimmy Carter was unable to gain their release. At the same time, America’s economy was troubled by inflation; America’s dollar was losing its value. Inflation caused an increase in the cost of food, clothing, and fuel. Inflation also in-
President Ronald Reagan
of 1981, Iran released the American hostages. At the same time President Reagan was changing the way an American President ran the country, a number of scientists and young entrepreneurs with the amazing cooperation of the American government were
changing the American economy and, at the same time, the world through something called the internet! From its development on the campus of UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), the internet became a highway for information and commerce. Soon, people like Jeff Bezos,
a Wall Street hedge fund manager, left his Wall Street job to start a company from the confines of his garage to sell books, compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, and videos on the internet. Bezos’ company name was Cadabra. One year later, he changed the name to Amazon.com! Others entrepreneurs fol-
lowed, like Pierre Omidyar, who launched his company called Auction Web, in September 1995. Two years later, Omidyar changed his company’s name to eBay after discovering his first choice, “echobay”, had been
taken. The first item sold on the site was a broken laser pointer. Omidyar was astonished why anyone would
buy such a seemingly worthless item. But other surprise purchases on eBay followed. By 2014, Pierre Omidyar’s eBay was selling collectibles, appliances, computers, home furnishings, exercise equipment, domain names, vehicles and so much more creating a net worth for Omidya of $8.6 billion. Information Age commerce was not limited to stores and auction sites residing on the internet. Hardware developers, like Steve Jobs the co-founder of Apple, began making computers, tablets, phones and other devices as
Steve Jobs and his IPad tablet
well as services like the iTunes online music and video store that supports and enhances the internet experience. Steve Jobs was to Information Age hardware (computers, tablets, Ipods, etc) what Bill Gates was to Information Age software (Micrsoft Word, Office, Excel, etc). In 1975, Gates and co-founder Paul Allen started a company called Microsoft.
A young Steve Jobs (right) and collaborator and Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak (left), holding one of their early Apple prototypes.
Bill and wife Melinda Gates in 2009. Their Gates Foundation charity has donated billions of dollars to charities.
The iconic Apple logo
Gates and Allen’s software or computer program essentially created a computer language which delivered operating instruction to computers to do specific tasks. Later, in the 21st century, Microsoft diversified and began producing hardware like Surface tablets and XBox game consoles. Bill Gates is consistently ranked as the cattle better with up to date information on weather, market prices, and insurance alternatives through inexpensive mobile devices. At the same
the MicroSoft Surface tablet
first or second richest person in the world with a net worth of over $80 billion dollars! This was American capitalism! People could start and own companies and make as much money as they could. The hardware of Jobs and software of Gates eventually faced stiff competition from new technology companies in other parts of the world during the Information Age. This emerging technology competition lowered prices for mobile phones and other devices enabling more people to afford and benefit from the seemingly daily improvements in technology. As a result, poor African farmers and herdsmen can manage their crops and
time, disgruntled Tunisians and Egyptians can overthrow a corrupt and repressive government with the help of their mobile devices.
But while the internet and mobile technology was improving the economic and political lives of millions of Africans, Asians, and South Americans, technology was creating a contrasting change in America, especially among America’s middle class. Following World War 2, from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, America’s middle class workers, from
unionized electricians in Providence to Detroit automobile assembly line workers, consistently received wage increases and generous health care coverage and pensions. At the same time, companies employing these workers, like the automobile corporations of Detroit (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), were earning huge profits, much more than automobile companies in countries like Germany and Japan who were still trying to catch up to America after the war. But, as America emerged from periods of high inflation and unemployment in the 1970s, the now rebuilt Japanese, South Korean and German car and steel companies started taking business away from American com-
panies. As a result, President Reagan began making changes to American government strategy. President Reagan followed the advice of his primary economic advisor, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman.
Friedman achieved celebrity status regularly appearing on television to share and promote his economic theories.
President Reagan followed Friedman’s advice by lowering taxes to stimulate the American economy. You may not know that Americans are divided into tax brackets or categories which determine the amount or percentage of a person’s pay the government will take in taxes. As a person’s income increases, a person pays more taxes. A person making $100,000 in income usually pays more taxes at the higher rate than the person making $25,000. In 1980, the American government could take up to 70% of a person’s income above a government determined baseline. By the end of
Reagan’s Presidency, the highest tax rate was lowered to 28%. Reagan lowered company taxes too. Lower taxes meant more money for Americans to spend and, for American business people, to invest in their companies. The hope was the extra money would mean stronger companies who could invest in technology and better business practices to compete against the Japanese, Germans, and South Korean companies. Successful American companies could hire more workers. Social welfare programs were also cut during the Reagan Presidency to replace money lost when income taxes were lowered. New laws were passed and old laws were more rigorously enforced to limit unions’ influence over companies. Weaker unions meant lower wages for union laborers thus enabling companies to have higher profits. The power of America’s unions like the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) was greatly diminished during the Reagan Presidency.
When America’s air traffic controllers went on strike in 1981 demanding a 32 hour work week and better working conditions, President Reagan ordered them back to work in 48 hours or he would fire them. When the air traffic controllers did not end their strike, President Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers and banned them from working for the federal government again.
The internet and President Reagan’s aggressive policies also created another dramatic event,
the collapse of America’s most formidable enemy, the country known as the Soviet Union or Communist Russia.
East Berliners and West Berliners celebrating the collapse of the Soviet Union control of the city of East Berlin and the country of East Germany on top of the wall the Soviets built to separate the east part of the city the Soviets controlled from the west part of the city that was free and independent. By 1991, all of the Soviet Union and the countries it controlled abandoned the communist plan.
Communism was a government plan which practiced socialist economics prohibiting private ownership of property and companies; everything from automobile companies and department stores were owned and operated by the government. While the Soviet government provided free health care and education and everyone was guaranteed a job, the Soviet economy was a disaster. Soviet government owned businesses and factories were inefficient. Items from toilet paper to jeans, automobiles to televisions were always difficult to find in Soviet stores. Soviet Russian citizens were
not able to make as much money as they wanted because the communist government wanted all citizens to be equal. By the end of the 1980s, Soviet citizens were so frustrated they forced their communist leaders to shut down the communist style of government and turn it over to new leaders who promised more personal freedom and a capitalist economy permitting private ownership of business similar to the United States.
Similar economic changes occurring in Russia were rapidly unfolding in other communist countries like China. Other countries struggling economically like Brazil and India also began to adopt capitalist policies and embrace internet opportunities and globalization. In the 1990s,
a truly global marketplace was replacing the former American centric marketplace. Countries like China started building factories with capitalist principles to manufacture American automobile parts, sneakers for Nike and IPods for Apple. The poorest Chinese farm workers were suddenly making more money by assuming jobs American workers previously had before American companies began exporting jobs to foreign countries where labor rates and other costs were much lower.
As Americans were losing jobs to globalization of business, people in other parts of the world were benefiting. For instance, millions of Chinese escaped the poverty of their previous lives with new, former, American factory jobs. Author Chrystia Freeland, in her book “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” writes “over the past 15 years of the Information Age, 300 million or more Chinese have been lifted out of poverty”. In fact, as of 2011, 3.4% of China’s entire population were millionaires (meaning personal wealth over $1 million) and there were 5,400 Chinese people with a net worth more than $50 million! Globalization has had a similar impact on people living in India, Viet Nam, Brazil, Mexico, and Singapore. 15% of Singaporeans are millionaires today! Author Freeland continues with a specific example of an American company outsourcing the manufacturing of one of their products. “The IPod employed twice as many people outside the United States as it did in the country where the IPod was invented - 13,920 people in the United States and 27,250 outside America!” The internet has enabled companies to manage their work more efficiently in for-
eign countries than before the start of the Information Age and the internet. “Globalization is working - the world overall is getting richer.” Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, said globalization’s effect was predictable. “Globalization means wages in America will eventually be equal to the wages in China. That’s full globalization.” While American companies are reaping robust profits and skilled workers like engineers, statisticians, and computer programmers are making high salaries, many union, middle class Americans are losing jobs or making less money because of globalization and new computer technology like robotics. Computer technology and globalization has meant fewer jobs and lower wages for America’s middle class while wages in China rise. The outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries continued through the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidency (1989 to 1993) and the William “Bill” Clinton Presidency (1994 to 2000) as the power of the internet kept building a truly global marketplace. While America continued to be the driving force of technological change, once poor countries throughout the world were benefiting from internet opportunities and globalization. China, Singapore, Russia, Brazil and India especially benefited. By the end of the Clinton Presidency in 2001, the United States economy was so good, the government had a
George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States and father of George Walker Bush, the 43rd President of the United States.
budget surplus; in other words, for one of the few times in its history, the American government took in more money in taxes than it spent. With all this prosperity, Clinton and the Democratic controlled Congress altered regulations in order to make owning a home easier for poorer Americans. As a result,
income requirements, down payments, and credit ratings were relaxed so more people could buy homes. And they did! All was well until......... the attack of September 11, 2001, a series of taxes decreases by President
George Walker Bush, the 43rd President of the United States and the son of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States
George Walker Bush and when millions of Americans couldn’t pay their home mortgage monthly bills.
When a fundamentalist and radical Islam terrorist group called Al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001 commandeered two commercial airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers
in New York City, America and its allies throughout the world joined forces to launch an all out attack on radical Muslim terrorists and the apparent Al-Qaeda headquarters in Afghanistan. In 2003, President George Bush expanded the war to Iraq when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President
Dick Cheney adamantly contended Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was hiding weapons of mass destruction which could be used against America and its allies.
America was soon spending more money than it was collecting in taxes fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and against the terrorist group AlQaeda. The American government was forced to borrow billions of dollars to pay the bills of fighting these wars when another calamity struck. In 2007, another recession hit America and the world, this time greater than any other recession since the Great Depression of 1929. This Great Recession of 2008 forced hundreds of companies, large and small, to close their doors and go out of business in America and throughout the world.
Millions of Americans lost jobs and, in many cases, their homes to foreclosure. Large, long standing, once successful Wall Street investment firms like Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and went out of business. The automobile company, General Motors, after declaring bankruptcy in 2009, was only saved when the United States and Canadian governments essentially loaned the company
$51 billion dollars. As soon as President Barack Obama became President in 2009, he and his Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, were forced to increase America’s borrowing to $11 trillion dollars to save America and its economy from the devastation of the Great Recession as well as continuing to fund the ongoing wars against terrorism. Just as it did during the calamitous Great Depression of 1929 and into the 1930s,
America once again looked to the United States Federal Reserve to end The Great Recession of 2008. The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States government. Its responsibility is managing the money supply of the country. It’s chairman, appointed by the President, was Ben Bernanke. Bernanke decided to increase America’s money supply and lend the additional funds
Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, ran the Federal Reserve, the main bank for the country, from 2006 to 2014. One of the main responsibilities of the Federal Reserve is controlling the money supply in circulation.
to companies in danger of going out business thereby protecting jobs, property, and America’s financial reputation. The additional dollars were raised by the government through the sales of United States Department of Treasury bonds and notes.
Bonds and notes are essentially IOUs, loans, whereby the person purchasing the bonds is lending America money to pay its debt.
America eventually repays the bond value with interest upon the expiration of the agreed upon term of the bond or note. The one purchasing the bonds makes money through the interest payment added to the amount of the bond. America is helped by getting the mon-
ey it needs to pay its bills during the difficult times experienced during the Great Recession. Because of the fragile condition of the United States economy at the time of the Great Recession, most economists and government leaders agreed increasing taxes was not a realistic option. So, borrowing money through the sale of bonds and Treasury notes was the option chosen. Many of the bonds and notes were purchased by Americans. But there has been a significant amount of America’s debt purchased by foreign countries. Of America’s total debt of $17,000,000,000 (trillion), the country of
China loaned America more money than any foreign country through the purchase of $1,263,000,000 (trillion!) US Treasury bonds.
So what has been
the impact of the Great Recession in America and the U S government plan to fix it?
mond, Chairman, CEO and President of the investment firm, JP Morgan Chase, have earned lots of money when their companies recovered from
By 2013, large businesses and corporations like General Motors and Chrysler have been saved. They’re
35 now making millions of dollars again and repaying their government loans. Those big banks and insurance com-
panies the government chose to help are now making lots of money and repaying their loans. While Presidents, CEOs and other corporate executives like Jamie Dia-
Jamie Diamond, Chairman of the Board of Directors and President and CEO of the company, JP Morgan Chase. JPMorgan Chase received $25 billion from the U.S. Treasury Department during the Great Recession under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Mr Diamond earned $20 million dollars in 2013.
the recession, many smaller businesses failed and millions of American citizens lost their homes. Many who lost their jobs remain unemployed because their companies, like Circuit City, once America’s 2nd largest con-
sumer electronics store behind Best Buy, went out of business during the recession or their former jobs are now in foreign countries. Many workers have discovered their old skills are no longer needed in American companies and they don’t possess the
new skills needed to fill high paying computer, statistical analytic, design and engineering jobs of the Information Age.
And many middle class Americans who were fortunate to keep a job during the recession haven’t had a wage increase in several years.
America has become a different place since the advent of the Information Age and after the Great Recession. America’s Information Age, according to some economists and anthropologists, has been in many ways
a return to America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century (1890s) and early 20th century (1900 to 1929).
Apple CEO Tim Cook (left) and 15 year old Ahmed Fathi. Companies like Google and Apple are hiring smart kids with the right skills as young as 13 years old to create apps for their mobile devices. Google hosted a youth program in June of 2014 inviting more than 200 children between the ages of 11 and 15 for a half day to introduce them to some basic tools used by its developers. Apple in 2012 lowered the age of admittance from 18 to 13 to attend its developer conference.
Many large companies and corporations are making large sums of money. The owners and executives of these large companies are making incredible salaries and bonuses for their company’s fiscal success. Robert Reich, a professor at the University of California Berkley and President Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, states in his 2010 book “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future” the
richest 1% of Americans earned 23% of all the money earned in America in both 1928 and 2007! “After 1928, the share of the national income going to the top 1% steadily declined, from 16 - 17% in the 1930s, then to 11 - 15% in the 1940s and to 9- 11% in the 1960s, finally reaching a low of 8% in the 1970s. With the advent of the Information Age and the Reagan Presidency, the richest 1% share began to climb again: 10 - 14% of America’s total income in the 1980s, 15 - 19% in the 1990s and over 21% in 2005 before reaching more than 23% in 2007.” More and more of all the money earned in America is in the pockets of fewer and fewer people. Fewer American are working too. The
percentage of Americans with a job has fallen from 67% of the population in the 1990s to only 64% in 2013 while, according to a July 2014 edition of The Economist, employers are having trouble finding qualified workers for jobs. In
May of 2014, 3.2% of all jobs went vacant
suggesting the unemployed lacked the skills employers were looking for! The Information Age has and continues to change every segment of the American society from its companies to its people. There are fewer of the once successful companies of the Industrial Age that advanced into the Information Age since many have either gone out of business or have merged with other companies. All companies have seemingly changed the way they do business and, as a result, they want workers with different skills today. For instance, just examine the way banks operated in 1970 and how differently they operate today with debit cards, on-line checking and direct deposit. Ally Bank, for one, has no branches. It’s an electronic bank; every transaction is online. Borrowing money from many banks is also more difficult after the Great Recession for middle class Americans. And some companies, like Amazon, have no point of purchase buildings; all sales take place on-line.
The Information Age has also witnessed the birth of a new international currency bitcoin. You can’t touch it. Can’t feel it. It’s
It’s value comes from people believing it’s valuable. The Bitcoin network was designed and launched in January 2009 by an anon-
ymous programmer (or a group of programmers) under the pseudonym of “Satoshi Nakamoto.” People compete to “mine” bitcoins using computers to solve complex math puzzles. When a complex math problem is solved, bitcoins are awarded. This is how bitcoins are created and earned. Currently, a winner is rewarded with 25 bitcoins roughly every 10 minutes for solving their posted math problem. As Paula Rosenblum wrote in a January 2014 Forbes Magazine article “bitcoin is a form of payment because
you can use Bitcoins to pay for things. You can buy computers
on Tigerdirect.com, you can buy pretty much anything on Overstock.com and apparently, some enterprising young California girls are letting you buy cookies with them.” Even an NBA basketball team, the Sacramento Kings, accepts bitcoin payment for tickets. Finally, and arguably most importantly, the Information Age is about
you’re a plumber or programmer. But as higher education has become prohibitively expensive and students are incurring stifling levels of debt to pay for their education, many economists are questioning the effectiveness and value of a traditional American education and suggesting
alternatives to teach people the skills for the Information Age
Education is acknowledged as the surest recipe for getting the high paying jobs of the Information Age whether
and saving students significant amounts of money. There are courses today being offered only online by world class teachers and professionals through private companies like Coursera called ‘massive open online courses’ or moocs’. Many moocs have affiliations with America’s top universities with non-credit and credited course options. Some are free! Even American high schools
MOOCS are massive open online courses offered by American universities like Stanford and Harvard, international universities like New South Wales in Australia as well as private organizations like Udacity, Coursera, edX with affiliations with American universities like Princeton and University of Michigan.
and middle schools have encorporated the free, online remedial program, Khan Academy, into their curricu-
lum. Khan Academy has received a $30 million dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Another education alternative set to launch in 2014 is Minerva Schools. The Minerva Schools at KGI is one of several recent entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at shaking up traditional higher education according to Mary Beth Marklein’s 2013 article in USA Today. Minerva will offer no inter-
collegiate sports or fancy exercise facilities. Minerva will focus on 21st century academics and experiential learning. According to Ms Marklein, “while classes will be conducted online, students will travel the globe, immersing themselves in local culture in major cities such as San Franciso, California (USA), Mumbai, India, Hong Kong, China and Capetown, South Africa. Students will focus on “cornerstone” skills such as theoretical analysis, data analysis and communications. The online format will enable instructors
— recent Ph.D recipients and retired faculty — to track how individual students are progressing and make adjustments as necessary. Tuition will be $10,000; total costs, not including airfare for overseas flights, will run about $28,850 a year — roughly half of what many highly selective U.S. private institutions charge.” What the future holds for education, employment, and marketplaces remains to be seen. But a few things seem
certain. The pace of change driven by computers and technology will accelerate.
At the same time, the skills people need to be successful will also evolve. While the way people are educated will certainly change too, the
commitment to lifetime learning
regardless of what you encounter along the way, you most certainly will find the success you seek. will be most important for lifetime personal success.
People, whose skills do not evolve with the changes in the global marketplace, will eventually be out of work.
And who knows what success you might find.
What will remain fundamental to your lifetime success, Gisabel, will be your curiosity, courage, selfesteem and hope, that
What follows are remarkable stories of ordinary people meant to inspire and give you hope for creating your own remarkable story.
Amazingly. Incredibly. Ronald Cotton never lost hope.
Against incredible odds but with an abundance of hope, Ping Fu
How would you feel after learning your biological parents gave you up for adoption and the first family seeking to adopt you changed their minds when they learned who you were?
Ursula was raised by a single mother, a Panamanian immigrant, in the Baruch Houses, a New York City housing project.
Her mother was told by her high school guidance counselor “Your daughter is not college material. Maybe she should follow the career of her oldersister and become a secretary”.