America’s Hinge Moment

The numbers are staggering… the US was 80% white in 1980.. in 25 years it will be less then 50%.. a majority-minority nation..
And the country will be something different than it has ever been…

The country is going through the most significant period of change since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Across the United States, we are seeing a convergence of economic, technological and demographic forces that is transforming every aspect of our lives. These changes are all reinforcing each other, adding to the pace and the scale of the disruption.

Despite the upheaval Americans are experiencing, voting patterns in presidential elections have remained virtually unchanged for the past 25 years—with the majority of states voting the same way in the last six elections. That’s not unexpected, even at a time of great change, because elections, in fact, historically have served as lagging indicators—not leading ones—of the direction of the country. Rather than forecasting the future, election results help us make better sense of the past.


Borders file Chap 11 – 200 stores down.

As expected – the second largest bookchain in America filed for bankruptcy protection today. Ebooks and e-readers are taking over, and print has been struggling for a long time.. the general prediction is bestsellers moving to walmart and grocery – while independent and alternative bookstores survives.

From WSJ:

Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection in New York on Wednesday, a month after the operator of the Borders and Waldenbooks chains said it may have to restructure in bankruptcy court.

On its petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, the Ann Arbor, Mich., company said it had assets of $1.28 billion and liabilities of $1.29 billion as Dec. 25.

The company plans to close about 30%, or roughly 200, stores over the next few weeks.

Here’s the petition.


US and China: Same boat but not decided to where.

From an op-ed in China Daily:

After the Cold War, the US has regarded itself as the only superpower in the world. The wide range of its anti-terrorism efforts has shown both the US’ power and its ability to exhaust resources. The US is still caught in the battle with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and facing nuclear risks from Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is also still suffering from its depression. Though its economy recovered a bit last year, the US government has to tackle a series of serious economic problems including balancing its budget and trade deficits. Prospects for the US economy remain unknown.

As for the partner..

China, which enjoyed an economic growth rate of 10.3 percent last year, has recovered from the global economic depression, but it, too, has a lot of issues to worry about. China has to figure out how to sustain economic development in a balanced and environmentally safe way. It also has to deal with its surging market and issues about dwindling resources, as well as international relations between other countries.

We’ve just been following this paper for a few weeks – but the tendency so far is a very balanced view and a lot of self-criticism in regards to chinese culture, as well as objectively pointing out the problems ahead..


NY State and those $10 billion.

The new budget is out – with real tough cuts. Cuomo wrote an op-ed the other day about the “sham” of by-law defined growth of spending in education and entitlements.. but lots of other things are about to be gone..

ALBANY — Homeless shelters in New York City could be forced to cut back on services. State support for cancer research could be curtailed. Some college students receiving help to pay for school could lose their money.

In many ways, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wielded a budgetary meat cleaver on Tuesday when he proposed billions of dollars of cuts to Medicaid spending, school aid and state government. But he also applied a scalpel, making smaller nicks and cuts in every corner of the state.

Total budget is about $130 billion..


Senate GOP struggle with cuts.

Debt ceiling, cuts before more debt, balanced-budget amendments.. these issues are dividing GOP these days. In reality the tax cuts must be offset by slashing defense and entitlements – and therein lies the big denial.

The Hill:

Senate Republicans are divided over whether to demand a balanced-budget amendment from the White House as a precondition for increasing the national debt ceiling.

Members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus have said they will filibuster the debt-limit increase unless two-thirds of the upper chamber votes for a balanced-budget amendment. Two-thirds of the House and three-quarters of the states must also ratify the amendment for it to become law.


China and creativity.

An interesting op-ed from China Daily was published this week-end – about innovation and creativity in chinese education and culture.

The ramp-up was this..

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of education by stating that to win the future for the United States, “we also have to win the race to educate our kids”.

“America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree,” he said, highlighting the fact that the quality of math and science education in the US trails behind many other nations.

Converted to chinese challenges and perspective..

I believe we Chinese should have the same discussion, not because we are in a race, but because we need to get our children ready to compete on the world stage.

We have come a long way to achieve what we have so far. China is now the second largest economy in the world. As for education, it now has the largest number of college students in the world, and is ensuring nine-year compulsory education for around 99 percent of school-age children. However, despite the dramatic progress we’ve seen and experienced, I think we should address the same fears as the US, now Obama has brought the race to educate our children into the open.

With the crux of it here..

Even today, we continue to question our ability to instill innovativeness in our children.

China should take note of the fact that Chinese students still rank low in a global education chart in innovation and creativity. Despite our rapid economic growth and despite our pride in the four ancient inventions, we are still working hard to make our own brand names known in the international market.


Blogs and papers.. ramping up for 2012..

Sites like TPM, RealClearPolitics and Politico have grown since ’08.. and have big plans for the horse races coming up..

From the NyTimes:

The New Hampshire primary is over a year away, and the first major candidate has yet to formally declare. Just don’t tell that to outlets like Politico, Talking Points Memo and RealClearPolitics, which are already planning to smother the 2012 campaign trail in a way they could never have imagined four years ago when they had far smaller staffs of bloggers and shoestring budgets.

With an eye toward earning greater respectability, this crop of political Web sites is hoping for more than just page views and traffic-driving links from the Drudge Report. They want to establish themselves as the Blogs on the Bus.

“We were a garage band in 2008, riffing on the fly,” said Jim VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor and co-founder. “Now we’re a 200-person production, with a precise feel and plan.”

As for the numbers..

About 2.6 million people visited RealClearPolitics each month on average, Quantcast estimated, and Talking Points Memo’s traffic averaged about 1.4 million. By comparison, Quantcast estimates that each month about 20 million people visit and about 15 million visit The rise of political sites has tested many traditional news outlets, which must grapple with whether to pursue the kind of micro-scoops and quick-hit articles that political sites specialize in, or ignore them and risk losing readers.

It’s a difficult choice.. and it might evolve into two different genres of sites.. one fluid on the micro-beat.. another with a daily batch. Both are valuable.. we tend to start the day with “todays paper” at the nytimes.. with a clear selection of most important stuff for the day. Then dive into the mayhem of feeds and by-the-second journalism later on..