Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Get educated, get trained, maybe get a degree, get a job, get a car, buy a home in the suburbs, make sure it has a picket fence, and life on the North American landscape continues the dream of the 50’s and 60’s. Is the current economic wake-up call a sign that the dream is evaporating?

We have entered a cycle, which will see a vast cross section of people that make up the working poor increasing as automation, or off shoring further eliminates jobs across North America. This includes the U.S. and Canada, although Canada is being indulged by a temporary delay in its economic contraction fuelled by the strength of natural resource prices and wealthy foreign residencies driving up real estate prices to unsustainable levels. The Canadian trades are still kept busy but this will turn, … however, that too will be temporary.

Most households where there are two potential income earners, find both of them out the door at 7:30AM to slay dragons. They even each work multiple jobs. The work force isn’t afraid to work and work hard. The work just hasn’t paid off as it was supposed to, and expectations did not materialize as real income shrunk. The past twenty years saw easy credit accelerate the acquisition of unaffordable material goods to levels unseen in any past generation. By unaffordable, I mean costs that could not be met with cash. In time we will have to overcome our “I-see-it-I-like-it-I-deserve-it-I-buy-it” attitude. The current correction brings with it invaluable reality checks and adjustments on perceptions. We’ll make do with that stove and its malfunctioning burner. As we endure the current recession, there is a brighter road ahead though it make be rough for another three to five years.

While many factories have moved offshore, it remains that North America, the U.S. and Canada, is an extremely efficient breadbasket, and maintains leadership in the advancement of intellectual properties on most fronts including software and hardware. High value components such as microprocessors remain products of North America even if the assembled components are made offshore. The U.S. is the principal purveyor of entertainment, and rightly or wrongly leads the world in the management of most fiscal matters, and in the evolution of financial derivative schemes. With the world now forced to adopt alternate energy sources to wean itself from the oil spigot and in search of clean air, most countries will follow France’s lead. Nuclear energy power plants will become the principal U.S. export since countries will demand the latest-greatest safe and reliable technology. American leadership in the development of medical equipment and electrical machinery will continue to strengthen the export numbers as the softened dollar makes them even more attractive today than they were five years ago.

Aging baby boomers have already begun clamoring for increased health care, and the surge in home health provision will accelerate for another ten years. Demand for doctors, nurses, and all related supportive tasks and services will grow accordingly. Along with expectations of physical wellness, baby boomers will seek intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being.

The U.S.’s internationally venerated capabilities in the business consulting services sector will accelerate as all industries will strive to discover new competencies and efficiencies. The most critical sector will be education. Post-secondary education - getting it, and providing it. Education in all areas of interest, and whether university, college, or online training, will enjoy increased pursuits of specialized faculties.

There will be need for creativity, artistry, and a greater appreciation for and value in emotional intelligence. Who would have thought a decade ago that life coach would actually be a career? Much of the technology we use daily, for example, is void of any user friendliness. Your TV’s remote control, the design of which hasn’t changed in a generation, is hardly intuitive, nor does it provide much in way of tactile feedback and baby boomers need glasses to see the buttons. That will change. Such change will be brought to us by soft thinking rather than by the hard thinking which has historically been more expedient. Soft thinking, as example, brought us object oriented programming and more specifically tools like Apple’s Macintosh platform.

This soft thinking and it’s ability to flourish in a free thinking environment will lead North American society to continue its leadership and position, setting the globe’s high-bar to be aspired to. North America will continue to be where dreams can be realized, with or without picket fences.


  1. Nicely written. I travel all the time everywhere in the world and what is occuring is a natural, predictable leveling. Our std of living will moderate for the next 10 years, until China and India's incomes have risen enough to expose their overall lack of productivity for the money paid and America will accelerate again as our society still has the energy and diversity that is unmatched anywhere in the world. I have been going to New York alot lately and I have noticed there seem to be ALOT more "wanna bees" than "ares" than there used to be. I think that's a good thing!!

  2. What the hell is "Emotional Intelligence"?