In our post-Cold War (and seemingly post 9-11) world it seems that a growing number of people in the United States are less concerned about foreign and national events than they should be. You who are reading probably know who I am talking about, it is not the isolationists who wish to take America back to the 19th century, rather it is a disturbingly large group of people who hide in the world of entertainment and think that our world will never change because they would rather hear the latest gossip, or look at posts on facebook, or spend countless hours on blogs and twitter.
As everyone should know we live in a globalized world, a term so overused it seems everyone should know it, but many don’t actually understand what it means.
In short it means that lowering of minimum wages in Asia can lead your family members to lose their jobs, it means that secret deals on another continent can affect what will be in the grocery store next month, it means that people all around the world are studying to get well-paying jobs in the United States, jobs that we ourselves wish to get, it means that when something big happens in the world America and the American people (you and I) need to change if we want to keep our current standing in the world.
Why is this relevant? The answer is simple and any historian or wannabe historian could show you the answer, the time we live in now is unique in history and has never occurred before. Never before has one country been the world’s global hegemon both economically and globally and created so much wealth and innovation for the rest of the world, but this advantage that we have can easily slip (as it is already) and so I will go to my cases.
First I will start off with a relatively new development, the $400 billion Russian-Chinese gas deal where the Chinese are effectively declaring they stand with Russia and will peg the global gas market in Russia’s favor.
So what does this mean for us here in America, if you care about fracking, prepare to be defend your position because with the rise in Natural Gas prices imminent there is going to be a large push across the country to expand American exports, especially with the current economic situation we are in and with elections coming up in November.
A recent article in Forbes magazine outlines this development detailing plans for development for Natural Gas refinement plants on the east coast for transport of liquefied natural gas to Europe in the wake of Putin’s threats against Europe.
To keep it short I will reveal the elephant in the room: China. With its rapid economic growth over the last three decades many in China and the world are waiting for China to overtake America as the world’s leading economic power, and once that happens people all over the world will question how long the U.S. will keep its position in the world, and more importantly they may decide against investing in America if they think our country is going into decline (it will affect all of us). Even though it seems like an eventuality, our reaction (if the facebook community even notices) will determine what our future will look like for ourselves and our families.
As anyone who has lived through or studied America since 1980 should know when economic conditions get bad, companies leave and go set up factories in poorer countries. Though this has been limited to low level work, there is no reason to believe that better education systems in other countries in comparison to the United States (the U.S. ranks 14th in the world in education) won’t ultimately lead to high-tech and service jobs to leave America and go overseas.
If there is one thing you should take away from this it is that the international news and national news sections in newspapers (if you read them), online, and on TV are more important than Miley Cyrus’ next testament of stupidity or Justin Beiber’s next catastrophe.
The reason I am telling you this is because these are problems that we will have to live with and face together (or alone perhaps) if we wish to continue living in the world we are used to.
If you are graduating just know that life will not get easy now that you have a guaranteed diploma, instead you will have to bear the weight of your own problems and the world’s as well. We don’t get to live in a time and place of our choosing, we only get to live in the world we have and so we must be ready to face the challenges of tomorrow, and that requires knowing what they are before they spiral out of our control, and since we as young adults are likely to live another 60 years (on average) we will have a lot to face in our time.
Braden Buckel is a third-year political science and literary journalism double major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.