Apr 14

We haven’t fallen behind. The rest of the world has caught up.

Dr. Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and a guest speaker at Thursday’s Arthur PageFareedzakaria_2
Society’s Spring Conference delivered one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard.

Speaking without notes, Zakaria covered such topics as terrorism (we’ve never been safer, he said), competitiveness (the U.S. hasn’t fallen behind, the rest of the world has caught up, he observed) and immigration (it should be viewed as a strength, not a weakness, he argued).

Zakaria made a powerful argument for free trade and open borders. He believes, as we all do, that U.S. health care costs as a percentage of overall GDP are absurdly high. He also believes, as most reasonable people do, that the Iraq misadventure is sucking us dry and has cost our beleaguered economy anywhere from one to three trillion dollars.

Zakaria shed new light on fears that other countries like China and India are graduating far more engineers than America. Zakaria dug into those stats and reports that tens of thousands of so-called engineers are no more advanced than the average air-conditioning repairman.

There’s much to celebrate right now, says Zakaria. He says the 24×7, ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ media is to blame for many of our fears. The facts tell a different tale, he says. For example, there are far fewer civil wars and deaths caused by organized force than ever before. And, the current economic downturn is far less severe that any of the four recessions during the 1950s, a timeframe now looked upon as a period of significant growth. What’s lacking on our end is perspective.

The Page Society has always delivered outstanding speakers at various events over the years. Dr. Zakaria was not only the best I’ve seen to date, he also delivered macro views that not only enlightened, but uplifted. And, when’s the last time any of us could report back on an experience like that?