TTMA Convention report: Economist/futurist says world's most populous country is actually two splintered nations, not one economic superpower

June 1, 2011
WORRIED about China's economy overtaking ours? Don't be. Economist and futurist Dr Jay Lehr says the United States will continue to lead the world. People

WORRIED about China's economy overtaking ours? Don't be.

Economist and futurist Dr Jay Lehr says the United States will continue to lead the world.

“People worry about China — China has to worry about itself,” he said. “China is two countries — one country on the sea coast that is about 350 million people becoming more affluent and 800 million people on the interior who are still scratching out survival food on a few hectares of land. The Chinese government has to worry about keeping that larger population from revolution and keeping them under control.

“They are our greatest trading partner. We will continue to be the best economy in the world.”

He said it's difficult to find a silver lining in the worst recession in 70 years, but he sees one: Companies that had been operating inefficiently are now doing it much more efficiently.

He said the greatest thing to happen economically to this country was the budget presented by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, which reduces government spending by $6 trillion in the next 10 years.

“A Congressman had the guts to lay out a plan and recognize that our government is absurdly fat,” he said. “People are getting full-time salary in our government who meet once a year. Mr Ryan wants to make changes, and whether the more conservative elements in Congress will keep pushing it remains to be seen. I am very confident that the conservative wing of politics will take over the US Senate in 19 months.

“We have to face the fact that we have become a welfare country. There are welfare states, and we can't afford it.”

Not keen on green

Lehr isn't impressed with the “green” movement. He said every company is determined to market itself as being “green” — so much that “stupid things” are being pushed.

He derided the government's law that will set minimum efficiency standards for lighting that preclude most legacy incandescent designs, in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

“That's one of the worst laws this government has passed,” he said. “They decided compact fluorescent bulbs are better for the environment and last longer. They say they last five times longer. They tested them by turning on the two light bulbs and walking away and coming back in a few years. But we don't light our lights and keep them turned on.”

On energy, he said one of the “craziest” things about wind energy is that it requires 100% rolling backup.

“A windmill for the home is fine,” he said. “If you are building a lot of windmills and trying to put the energy into the grid, you can't let the power down, so you have to use a gas fire to keep the windmills rolling. Solar and wind energy will fail because they take up too much space. They will fail because of the physics of the universe. It takes too much land to keep the windmills going.”

Lehr said the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan might work to America's advantage economically. He said there is a distorted view of the danger, even though he believes the only people at risk are the ones working in the plant — and they should be protected by their hazmat equipment.

“It's going to set back the nuclear power industry around the world, perhaps for a decade — but not in this country,” he said.

“We are going to have a competitive advantage because we are the king of coal and natural gas. It is going to be to our benefit. We will remain the best economy in the world and the strongest nation in the world.”

He gave seven projections to watch in the next decade:

  • The only newspapers left in the US in 10 years will be the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

  • There will be very few books. “The Kindle and these types of things have taken over. Paper books will still be around, but in very small quantities compared to electronics.”

  • Checks will disappear.

  • The US Postal Service is on its way out.

  • No land lines will be left for telephones; it will be all cell phones.

  • Most of TV will be on-demand, funneled through the computer.

  • Computer storage will be mostly through “cloud computing” — virtual servers available through the Internet.

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.