With a budget crisis that won't go away even though a debt-ceiling deal has been reached, Americans are intuitively asking, "What do we want America to look like in the future?" It appears Aug. 2 will pass without triggering financial Armageddon, but we still will have a financial mess to address . . . and an opportunity to remake America. So, I ask you, "What do you want America to look like?"
I believe America can return to her former glory and remain the world's most dynamic economy. The country is far from lost-there are a number of things we can do to restore our country's economic vitality. In a recent podcast, Harvard professor Niall Ferguson offered two solutions to America's debt crisis. I'll write about one of those solutions this week-education-and the other-federal asset sales-in next week's column.
Ferguson thinks Americans do a lousy job of teaching history. "Right now, the textbook is a dying form," he said. 'The future belongs to whoever comes up with the educational equivalent of Facebook. The company that comes up with something that's as compelling as Facebook but actually delivers educational content, that's the company I want to earn [invest in]."
Yes, Ferguson believes creative modes of education delivery are important, but he's also concerned about content. "It's impossible, I think, to understand the rise of the United States separately, as a story on its own of American exceptionalism," he said. "You have to understand it as part of the extraordinary explosion of dynamism from Western Europe, not just across the Atlantic, but all around the world."
Any legitimate study of this dynamism would have to include the individual freedom unleashed by the Reformation as well as discussions about relationships among man, God, church, state, property, and sin and power. In other words, to really know America we need to understand the struggles of our religious history that led to the foundational principles of our country's religious, political, and economic liberty.
As we come to grips with our country's debt problem, we have an opportunity to ask ourselves what we want America to look like in the future. If we want to get far beyond bitter budget politics, we need to learn and embrace the lessons of our religious history.