The Debt "Crisis" Is Only 1 Side of the Story


This week’s “Why bother with optimism when fear and gloom sell so much better?” shouted from all media all the time was Standard and Poor’s downgrading of the United States Government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+.

This comes after the country and the world were subjected to the debt ceiling doomsday “debate,” which after the predictable hue and cry ended mostly well – predictably.

Now, the good news is that I know that I am not the only one that:

a) Finds the weekly Chicken Little dramas tiresome to say the least; and,

b) While I am concerned that the daily avalanche of negativity runs the serious risk of becoming self-fulfilling, well just like there's been shown to be little correlation between violent video games and violent behavior, so too does the serious entrepreneur, the effective executive see the news as the sideshow that it really is; and,

c) Far from the end being near, the real truth is that we are at the beginning of a global technology - fueled boom the likes of which has never been seen before.

I mean is it really news that the United States Government has a debt problem?

I may be dating myself, but the first presidential election I remember well was 1984.

The most famous moment of it was Democratic candidate Walter Mondale stating emphatically in a nationally televised debate that he would raise taxes to address the nation's run away budget deficit.
That was 27 years ago. Yet progress has marched on.

And the reason it does is so obvious - or maybe because it is so uplifting that it isn’t considered news - is that while yes the country has a lot of debt, it has 10 times, 100 times as many assets!

According to the Federal Reserve’s conservative counting, domestic financial assets totaled $131 trillion, or more than 9 times as much as the outstanding governmental debt.

That is an impressive number for sure, but in my view it vastly understates the true count of national assets.

These include the physical - the "sea to shining sea” geographic expanse of the nation.

And the corporate, the millions of enterprises big and small with their earnings and innovation power for as far as the eye can see.

But by far America’s biggest asset - one worth so many more multiples that its debts - is the interconnected force that is its people and its culture.

Even at this low moment in national spirit and pride, still the enterprising and entrepreneurial and innovation juggernaut that is the American workforce is beyond impressive.

Forget for a moment how it rates competitively - and would you really trade the U.S. workforce in aggregate for that of any other country in the world?

Just reflect on its unique - and to be protected at all costs for the incredibly precious asset that it is - ability to regenerate itself almost daily via attracting talented and hard-working immigrants from all over the world.

Reflect on its on its fiercely independent and individualistic streaks that foster cultures of creativity and innovation that is by orders of magnitude the best in the history of the world.

And reflect on the fact that Americans for the first time in history can see clearly and instantly through the miracle of the Internet exactly where they are falling behind and why.  AND because of the power of these same distributed, on demand technologies change for the better can happen faster than ever before.

So, sure, America has a lot of debt. So what

In the grand scheme of the assets and innovation and earnings power of the nation as a whole, it is a very manageable sum.

So channeling the great Peter Drucker, let's all focus a lot more on opportunities and lot less on problems.

It is good for the soul. It is good for the psyche.

And most importantly, when it comes to the real balance of assets and liabilities in this great nation of ours, it also happens to be the truth.

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