Living in the Purple Bubble makes it very easy to forget about what is going in the real world. I used to diligently read newspapers and magazines but at Williams, I’m pleased if I know what day it is.  The college does its part by having newspapers available to all of the students but with our workload and other obligations, many students just stop following the news and lose touch with what is going on in the world.

While I have an aggregation of news as my homepage which provides me with updates throughout the day of political and economic occurrences, having a Yahoo email account which displays Yahoo News when I log in allows me to keep tabs on how most of America views the world. The Yahoo homepage receives almost 38 billion page views a year in the US so what I read is what millions of Americans read. For that reason, I view Yahoo News as one of the most influential news sources in shaping America’s view of the world, especially as Yahoo’s news stories almost always interpret the news for the reader. Yahoo News does not do this with subtlety as earlier this week, “10 Signs The U.S. Is Losing Its Influence In The Western Hemisphere” came up on my screen when I logged into Yahoo Mail.

That article provided a list of comparisons between the US and other countries in the Western Hemisphere showing that America is no longer dominating every industry as Chile has increased copper production while Brazil is mining more iron than the US. The basic thrust of the article, countries only succeed at the expense of other countries, reminded me of the economic philosophy of Lester Thurow ’60 who wrote extensively about the fall of the US due to the rise of the USSR and when he was proven wrong, he switched to writing about how America will slip as Japan and Europe rise in stature.

It is very easy to write about how America is falling as one can find statistics to show that America is no longer dominated the world as it once did, but that does not mean America is in trouble. Reading about how the rest of the world is catching up to the US in terms of production should excite Americans as we can’t fall into the trap that Thurow is offering us. Countries benefit from trade and from the growth of other countries’ economies.  Being first in the production of beef, as America has since the turn of the 20th century does not translate to a better life for Americans, but having more beef to consume as Brazil has increased it production does. Economic development is not a zero sum game, we can all benefit from each other. Forgetting that is very dangerous as viewing other countries purely as competitors will lead to an end of cooperation and that is not a world that I would want to live in.

We should not join the hand wringers and we should stand against cries of America’s downfall. The world is rising to our level, we are not falling and that is a development we should celebrate. There will be more opportunities for economic growth in our future than even before as so many people have access to the necessary education and technology. That change will be accompanied by an increase of competition as we are no longer competing with other Americans and citizens of just a few other countries but the entire world.

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