I think that our brand needs some work. And even though I make advertising, I don't mean communications work. I mean big changes in systems and infrastructure work. "America" as an idea is probably the strongest brand that has ever existed, but no one knows what that brand really means. Any marketing guy will tell you that a brand means what you make it mean. Our people and our country used to be clearly understood as good and freedom loving. Now, not so much. We need to change what we are selling. Lately, we've been selling bullets. At gunpoint.
Here's the short proposition: Let's invest in our Education and Health Care by supplying to everyone. We can pay for it by allowing more people to become taxpayers through immigration and also by reductions in military spending. The United States is strongly positioned to continue long term MARKET Leadership in Education and Health Care. We are the supplier of choice for most of the world in both of these fields. People want to come here and spend their money on health care and education. While they are here, they get to experience our way of life: tolerant, open and generous. They leave here as our friends.
Contrast this with how we are promoting our way of life recently. We are more and more being defined as the brand Militarism. Terrorism is a crime. Terrorists are criminals. We could probably use more investigations, and fewer invasions. When we respond to terrorism with our military, we elevate criminals to the status of freedom fighters. Certainly not in my eyes--but in the eyes of many.
Remember the old bumper sticker: "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." As it turns out, this may be a very profitable position for American business. In the 21st century, education and health care are looking like great export products. Exporting our military has proven to be a terrible way for us to get paid. "Less Government" politicians never seem to actually make the government smaller, so how about we just give up on the decades old 'small government' experiment and focus instead on making government more effective.
Ronald Reagan was famous for effectively cutting programs that he didn't like by choking the money supply to those programs. His big idea was to spend so much on 'critical' military items that there was no money left for other things. I'd like to see a similar strategy - in reverse- that reduces our militarism. If we fully fund education and health care for every American, we just plain won't have the money to maintain troops overseas for decades.
Teddy Roosevelt established the "American Century" by investing in our military. He forcefully established our country as an economic and military power by vying for the world resources at that time. The times have changed. The needs have changed. Our policies haven't changed. I think it's worth pointing out that Teddy was also the first U.S. President to propose universal health care. Brand America. Let's invest our tax money here at home. Maybe, if we really are good people, we actually can export the love of freedom and good intentions.