Fareed Zakaria is seriously worried about his adopted homeland of the United States. In a Time essay titled "Are America's Best Days Behind Us?" he makes the case that if they're not, they will be soon unless we wake up. The US may have been No. 1 for decades, but only because of wise decisions made in the 1950s and '60s on everything from education and science funding to the highway system. Similarly wise decisions aren't being made today, in part because our political culture rewards "easy" solutions instead of smart ones.
That's true for the left and the right: "If someone points out that Europe gets better health care at half the cost, that's dangerously socialist thinking. If a business leader notes that tax rates in much of the industrialized world are lower and that there are far fewer loopholes than in the US, he is brushed aside as trying to impoverish American workers." In the meantime, "we spend vast amounts of money on subsidies for housing, agriculture and health, many of which distort the economy and do little for long-term growth." And "we spend too little on science, technology, innovation, and infrastructure, which will produce growth and jobs in the future." We need to smarten up before the rest of the world passes us by for good. Full column here, or click here for colleague David von Drehle's rebuttal. (Read more United States stories.)