The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Charles Dickens’ immortal phrase portrays a time of radical opposites taking place at the same time in a 1859 historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.  Are we at a similar time of radical contrasts?  Are similar consequences likely?

Current technology and economic trends portend astounding improvements of health and education, as well as productivity in general.  Yet, perhaps almost half the US population is not prepared to share in the prosperity.  The education needed to participate in the skilled technical workforce is not widely available.

The half of the population that feels left behind resents the other half of the population.  Politicians and various pundits have taken advantage of this pervasive resentment.  The result has been insurrection at the Capitol, not quite up to the assault on the Bastille in 1789, but the largest assault on the Capitol since 1814.

What does all this portend?  We might expect wise and prudent political leaders to orchestrate compromises that assuage the anger from both sides.  However, these leaders are focused on re-election and need the support of the angry political bases.  Hence, we risk stasis, nothing being done other than cultivating distrust and anger.

Fortunately, the private sector is investing and innovating to create jobs and economic growth.  A significant portion of these investments need to focus on creating the workforce, and consequently the consumers, needed for success.  This can involve partnering with high schools and community colleges to educate the workforce.

I am reminded of William Hartsfield’s slogan of the early 1960s when, as Mayor of Atlanta, he characterized the city as “too busy to hate.”  We need to get busy, investing in people to enable well-paying jobs and economic growth that benefits everyone.  The private sector must play a very significant role in this as the public sector, with its current stasis, cannot competently address the challenge.

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