On this Thanksgiving Day 2017, USA is a divided country focused on history of sexual harassment by civil servants and Hollywood stars in the last 50 years. While it is fantastic that we are addressing an important issue, we are distracted from the theme of making America great again.
With less than 5% of the global population, USA once commanded as high as 34% of global GDP, or about one out of every three dollars of economic activity in the world was American as recently as 50 years ago. We may still have the #1 or #2 economy in the world today, but our share of global GDP has declined to less than 18% on PPP basis. Making America great again means reversing the trend of declining share of USA in global GDP. The current tax package that eliminates the estate taxes will give Donald Trump another $1 billion to his family which definitely will not help reverse the decline in US share of global GDP.
What will make America great again? We need to understand the world around us, and work hard to add value through moral innovations. This is a lot more difficult than just focusing on innovations without regards to morality which history has shown to be unsustainable (including the current tax package which is innovative but without morality). To illustrate, let’s focus on blockchain technologies that deliver privacy, not speculation on currencies (like bitcoin) which George Soros has proven 20 years ago that could cause havoc in the crisis that impacted Asia and soon followed by the internet bubble burst.
How do we know if we are making efforts to understand the world around us? A metric is to know how many Americans hold US passports to travel overseas. Holding a passport does not guarantee that we travel overseas, and this metric is skewed by about 44 million out of 326 million total Americans who were not US citizens at birth. Nonetheless, it is instructive to look at the trend of passport holders under our last four Presidents: HWBush, Clinton, WBush, and Obama. Under both the HWBush and Clinton administrations, the number of US passport holders more than doubled. This trend has declined to less than 100% under WBush and less than 50% under the Obama administration. In all, only 40% of all Americans hold US passports today. The 40% figure is even lower if we take into consideration that the 44 million American immigrants have a higher likelihood of holding passports.
This may be an important factor why USA is divided today: One third of us travel with passports (and know our declining global position), one third of us are passionate and unwavering Trump supporters, the final one third determines who will be elected in the next election.
Remember, Donald Trump was NOT a four year Ivy League graduate and he was not a top student. He was a third year transfer student into The Wharton School. When he graduated from University of Pennsylvania, he was not on the Deans List which was made up of the top 15% of his class the year he graduated. Please don’t let a fake Ivy League graduate who was not among the top 15% of his class fool you by making the White House a reality TV show. Get to know your neighbors and friends who have worldly experience and thrive by knowing your place in the world. Let’s do the right things and make this world a better place.