In Wednesday's New York Times, Tom Friedman posited (yet again) that Americans are losing ground because we are lazy, passive, and/or just plan ignorant. As is his custom he begins with an anecdote, a supposedly chance encounter with a one time PepsiCo and Kraft Europe executive now laboring in the stony fields of international investment. We learn nothing of this man's personal educational background or his credentials, but we do hear him warn that " education failure is the largest contributing factor to the decline of the American worker's global competitiveness, particularly at the middle and bottom ranges."
Say what? There's a growing body of evidence to show that extremely well educated Americans are scrambling for work--some with advanced degrees in science and engineering from the country's most demanding institutions of higher learning. But wait, education is not enough -- we must hustle, too. Friedman quotes another unnamed "friend" a lawyer whose firm has gone through a series of lay-offs. This friend shares the "interesting" observation that "lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn't there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables."