What keeps Generation X awake at night (hint: it isn’t "the bomb" or Islamic terrorists)…

Two words:

China

But that GDP is growing at an annual rate of 8%.

[…]

Meanwhile, China is a country coming alive. Shoucheng Zhang, a physics professor at Stanford University who also teaches at Tsing-hua University in Beijing, can’t help but notice it when he returns to his native land. “I love to see the young people changing the world, [c]hanging China,” he says.

India

After growing just 4.3 percent last year, India’s economy, the second fastest growing in the world, after China, is widely expected to grow close to 7 percent this year.

… and, actually another word: “compounding”.

What is America compounding?

The national debt (and the amount of interest paid on it annually).

Deferred maintenance on national infrastructure.

The costs of healthcare and the percentage of GDP devoted to it.

The cost of being the world’s sole military superpower and wannabe traffic cop.

We see the nation’s blood and our children’s inheritance being pissed away in Iraq, and we wonder what the future will hold… as the above examples make clear, even in a global econony, our well being, and the opportunities available to us and ours, is dependent on the wisdom and foresight of our leaders. … although, in the case of India and China, in some ways, it seems as if they are succeeding despite their leaders, as much as because of them. Imagine where India and China would be right now, if they hadn’t been hobbled by an authoritarian/collectivist government for the last fifty years.

Being born an American, from 1946, up until now, has been a unique advantage – I’d rather be an American than anyone else, despite all the faults of my country; the level of economic opportunity… but also personal freedom available here is like no where else – not Europe, not Japan, not India or China, not Hong Kong prior to the mainland takeover, or Singapore… I’m worried about whether that will be true, looking back from 2050, whether or not our country will be seen as a bankrupt land that squandered a golden opportunity.

Seeing reports like this leaves me deeply uneasy… developments like this are what George Bush and Congress should be paying attention to, not tinpot dictators like Saddamn Hussein, and the ravings of crazed Islamic fundamentalists like Osama Bin Laden. Screw the war on terror and mirror-shaded CIA spooks hanging out in third-world capitals… I want to see universities being built, scholarships being awarded, grants and prizes being handed out, infrastructure being upgraded, schools being reformed, the moon, Mars, and near earth orbit being colonized.

The U.S. has leaned on immigration to supply technology innovation for the last hundred years… what happens when our comparative advantage in that area dries up, and people quit coming here to stay? 75% of Chinese who came here for an education used to stay; now 75% of them leave. That means three times fewer scientists, three times fewer companies, three times fewer economic side benefits being thrown off…

But, do we see our leaders worrying about this? No – it’s the war in Iraq, it’s terrorism, it’s Internet pornography, it’s taxes… it is anything but what really matters for the future of this nation.

Depressing.