I was once part of the 9 percent (b. 1954) of Americans who performed at a world-class level in math and science. I’ve spent more than 25 years in various postings in Asia with military and civilian organizations and not only survived, but thrived when competing directly with many of the Asian nationalities.
While the average American may have trouble reconciling his checkbook, there are structural and cultural impediments the Chinese and other Asians must work to overcome. These include, but are not limited to:
- male dominated societies that give women few opportunities outside of the home
- a huge percentage of “Mommy’s boys”
- a tendency to look towards strong authoritarian leaders
- a lesser ability to adapt and improvise in the heat of the moment
- less trust in the judicial system
- closed insular societies
- very good elementary and high schools but crappy universities
- too much reliance on rote memorization with very little critical thinking.
While my viewpoints are subjective and are difficult to quantify with hard data, one thing that can be quantified is the number of “naturalized” citizens and people seeking to emigrate and study in those Asian countries. While it is rare to see a naturalized Japanese, Korean, or Chinese citizen or people wishing to emigrate to those countries for other than economic reasons, the life blood of American society is constantly reinvigorated through our immigrants. We also have a lot of inertia in our companies and institutions based on the past accomplishments of our citizens. I’m betting on Americans ability to adapt and improvise along with our ability incorporate women and foreigners into our society to eventually carry the day.
Just my two cents.