I’ve been reading Steve Faktor’s Econovation, The Red, White, and Bllue Pill for Arousing Innovation. It’s been out since November, but I’ve avoided it because Steve’s an economist and I have bad memories of nursing hangovers in my 8:00 am Economics class at University of Cincinnati. I wish I had picked it up sooner because it’s a fascinating, erudite, bitingly funny, well researched, and I think important book.
Americans — Buy one now and send it to your Congressman. Tell him or her that if they don’t read it you’ll lash them with wet Chinese noodles at the door to their office.
European readers, there’s plenty to learn from Faktor’s manifesto about how to reinvent an economy. As the title suggests, it’s a blend of economic and innovation thinking, but it’s also about trends, and, ultimately about large scale ideas.
The financial crisis of the last few years has shaken the foundations of American’s self-confidence. It’s easy to get depressed and perceive that the “land of opportunity” is now a thing of the past. I’ve had conversations with friends, and business associates who have all but written off the USA. Crushing debt, a decimated manufacturing base, the growing fear of domination by China, other countries taking over markets, class warfare, dollars flowing overseas — there’s a lot to be gloomy about. It’s confusing — one is never sure how to evaluate all the elements of the situation. It’s easy to swing from depression to hope and back again when one hears the latest bit of good or bad news. And there’s also the purple haze of political rhetoric.
Faktor puts the whole mess in a frame, and then gives us 3-D, haze-lifting glasses so we really see all dimensions of what’s happening.
Faktor is an economist, a futurist, a humorist, and a proven innovator. He manages in this book to analyze the situation for the USA in a comprehensive, understandable, logical, and non-partisan way. For that alone he deserves the Congressional Medal of Honour (he’d probably settle for you buying a copy of the book). He doesn’t sugar coat it — he see’s dire straights ahead if measures aren’t taken.
Thankfully he’s not just an economic analyst, he’s an innovation visionary with lots of interesting, big ideas on how to remedy the situation. The first part of the book, the situation analysis, will nearly drive you to drink (thank God he throws in a lot of satirical jokes, would really have enjoyed Professor Faktor at UC). The second half is inspiring, just chock full of ideas about how to better education, how to attract capital, how to incent, and my favorite, how to get the USA Making Things again. I’m not doing the book justice with this short list, he has vivid insights on everything from the free market capitalism to the government’s fetish with big business. Check out his very hip blog, IdeaFaktory.
Econovation should be required reading for leaders of all stripes in the USA. Really, any American would learn what’s actually happening and what might be done. Imagine how powerful the electorate would be if they were able to sort out the fear mongering and political ideology/bs from the economic facts. Now I’m dreaming, but for a bracing dose of reality go read Faktor’s book.