Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Several of my posts have been about the future. Studying history, is useful in gaining a threshold from which to offer ideas for the future. Much of the world has spent the last milinium working out the rule-sets that have led to the lowest levels of poverty and violence in the history of the world. This level is still not acceptable to reasonable and caring people. But, I sense a new awareness is springing forth from this nation. The past decades have seen the largest precentage of foreign born citizens in the United States in one hundred years. What does this mean for the United States?

Tom Barnett has a post today, pointing out that immigration has gone global,Heightened immigration is a global phenomenon. He goes on to ask.

Key question posed for demographically moribund Old Core states: do you encourage integration or just circulation? Make them citizens or keep them guest workers? We seem to focus on citizenry, the Middle East on guest workers, and Europe seems somewhere in between on the subject, yes?

Picking up on this question, the United States has always opted for assimulating immigrants and making them citizens.One hundred years ago, strict immigration quotas were imposed and the flow was cut to a trickle in order to process and assimulate the millions of new citizens. Historians will argue that it was either pure nativism, or common sense to stem the tide. Those new citizens went on to help build the American Century. Now as the grandchildren of those immigrants and those who proceeded them by centuries begin to retire and die, the need for an infusion of legal immigrants becomes all to apparent.

I recently read John Kao's book Innovation Nation, (Kao’s site is here) he addresses the need for the United States to regain it's role as the most innovative nation on earth. Another book crossed my path this week that fueled some thought about how this all comes together.

Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect has it availible for download on his web site for free, I took advantage of this fine offer and found the book dovetails nicely into ideas that John Kao writes about. It also speaks to some of the same issues addressed in the post by Tom Barnett.

Immigration leads to diversity by causing intersections of ideas to cross when different cultures meet on a middle ground. Johansson writes that stepping into those intersections is where the fusion of ideas occur. He writes of four things that will break down one's associative barriers, and by following at least one of them, will lead into an intersection of innovation.

➣ Exposed themselves to a range of cultures
➣ Learned differently
➣ Reversed their assumptions
➣ Took on multiple perspectives

The above is a snapshot of what has been occuring in the United States and much of the world for the past century. When a country avoids that intersection, out of fear or tribal prejudices, it will being to fade and loose ground to places where the above conditions are fertile. Today, there are over 38 million foreign born legal residences or citizens in the United States. Their children are growing up to be Americans with all the values we hold dear.

Anyone who has read my blog in any detail, will understand that I am of the much maligned "Boomer" generation and grew up with most of the notions that are characteristic of that cohort group. For much of my life I was the average over-consuming self indulgent boomer. Then I stepped into an intersection, when I met my wife, and came to know and love her family and the people of China. Later I really jumped into the intersection when I returned to school and conected with a new cohort group, made up of the children of people born in countries that I had only dreamed about. My interest expanded, from thinking just about U.S. history to include the history of the World. The ideas that fuel my thoughts now come at me like wheel-spokes, converging in an intersection of ideas. I am now enriched with new concepts, and I will spend the rest of my days exploring and sharing them with all who will listen.

This intersection of ideas transends to the political arena. I think a lot of the appeal that Barak Obama has for young people of all stripes, is that he is a product of the intersection of cultures, which allowed him to learn differently, and gain multiply prespectives. I do not agree with most of his positions, but the fact that we all take him seriously, and show him respect, is a testament to the strength of our system to grow by assimulation, which will lead to innovations.

Today's blog is somewhat comtemplative for me. I am humbled with the pride of knowing so many who are poised to make a difference in the future. These people know who they are, I have written about several of them here, and others who have read this blog and sent me personal comments are no less well thought of, readers of this site will come to know of your talents in future posts.

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