After years of isolationism, the U.S. rose in the 20th century to become the world’s sole superpower. Today, economic growth is slow, unemployment and income inequality are rising, and political impasses have ground policy initiatives to a halt. America’s status in global manufacturing, education, and innovation is slipping. Many economists project that China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. It all sounds pretty bleak…but economist Charles Kenny paints a much rosier picture. In his bookThe Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West he argues that Americans should stop worrying and learn to love the decline.
Archie Bunker wouldn’t recognize the Queens of today, where cultures normally thousands of miles apart live on the same block, and 138 languages can come together in a classroom. On the streets of Queens, passers by might hear Albanian hip-hop wafting from a market stall, or a gypsy punk riff sill out of a café. The diverse colors, accents and clothing illustrate “globalization” and “multiculturalism” in a way that corporate strategists cannot. Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer are finely attuned to these sounds.