Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future

Untied States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future

by Juan Enriquez
     
 

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Can a country be like a marriage that has run out of cash and steam, resulting in the inevitable frank discussions about just who is pulling his or her own weight? Eventually, even those who love each other sometimes conclude they cannot stay together.

Juan Enriquez’s unique insights into the financial, political, and cultural issues we face will provoke…  See more details below

Overview

Can a country be like a marriage that has run out of cash and steam, resulting in the inevitable frank discussions about just who is pulling his or her own weight? Eventually, even those who love each other sometimes conclude they cannot stay together.

Juan Enriquez’s unique insights into the financial, political, and cultural issues we face will provoke shock and surprise and lead you to ask the question no one has yet put on the table: Could “becoming untied” ever happen here? It’s a question made especially relevant when we are faced with such unpromising facts as:

• At no other time have we had the unwelcome convergence in which the three key sectors of business, government, and consumers are so tapped out due to debt that each lacks the financial wherewithal to come to the rescue of the others.

• Most assets are not being used for productive purposes but for speculation, resulting in people lacking incentives to create real wealth, focusing instead on buying, selling, and flipping real estate.

• As religion starts to mix with politics, we have a culture that allows us to fall behind what were previously third world nations, because we are now treating science the way we did sex in the 1950s, banning or burying evolution theories and research into promising lifesaving areas such as stem-cell research.

When the enemy was outside—for example, the threat perceived when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and people feared America would lose the brain race—we rallied. Now the enemy is within, and we polarize. Defaming the legitimacy of people on the “other” side becomes the currency of the day, where people in blue states are seen as godless liberal elitists and those in red states are seen as, well, rednecks.

Citizenship, Enriquez says, is like buying into a national brand. If the brand promises one thing and delivers another, could it then have the same fate as a tired product on a supermarket shelf, eroding, losing support, even disappearing? Countries, even one as powerful and successful as America, live on fault lines. When a fault line splits, it’s near impossible to put things back together again. What America will look like in fifty years depends on what we do today to act on the issues raised in The Untied States of America.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
American history, both distant and recent, is troubled with violence and schisms that constantly threaten the foundations of the country. The country has endured a civil war, two world wars, slavery, genocide and now, of course, the raging battle between the red and blue states. Are we on the brink of dissolution? That's the question Enriquez poses in this fact-filled, statistic-laden book. For more than 200 pages, Enriquez, the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, gives readers as many reasons as he can for why America may be headed toward an un-united future. On occasion this means glossing over pesky details and relying on simple generalizations, such as lumping together various quotes about the deficit and social security to maximize the sense of impending doom. Enriquez skips from topic to topic, relying on the fractured narrative layout (perhaps deliberately reminiscent of essayist Paul Metcalf's work) to heighten the book's sense of urgency. The facts, dates and numbers he presents are undoubtedly interesting, but in the end they don't add up to much. What's lacking is the complexity and depth that come with focused, developed arguments, the kind that provide a meaningful context for statistical information. (On sale Nov. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This intriguing work resembles a blog more than a book because of its snippets and stanzas. The disjointedness enhances Enriquez's theme that the United States could unravel into different configurations in the future because its present government, as well as other institutions, serves fewer of its citizens and residents. The growing economic gap between rich and poor, globalization, the failure of the Republican and Democratic Parties to deliver what they promise, and changing immigration patterns might result in a geographically redefined United States. The book is especially effective at showing how Mexico, Europe, and Canada are also countries on the brink of becoming untied. The author (fellow, Ctr. for International Affairs, Harvard Univ.; How the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth) has written this guide as a basis for a dialog to determine how the nation can become responsive to all its citizens and to prevent this balkanization. Recommended for public libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An apocalyptic vision-at least for fans of America-as-sole-superpower-of a future in which the U.S. splinters into some version of Baja Canada, Jesusland and New New Mexico. Biotech executive Enriquez channels the ghost of Marshall McLuhan, writing in prose-poemish bursts of such pleasing things as a crashing-and-burning economy and the increasing stupefaction of the body politic. "Countries that don't think . . . cease to exist," runs one complete thought, while a more fleshed-out analysis goes like this: "Some generations act like trust fund heiresses . . . / and spend all that previous generations accumulated. / And we seem to be living in one such period. / Thank you Paris Hilton . . . " Those who like their political science on the sustained-argument end of the spectrum may be puzzled by Enriquez's rhetorical approach, the reasoning behind which may be that Americans won't read anything presented as other than soundbite. But no matter: There's a lot of meat on these slender bones, as Enriquez marshals evidence for his carefully announced thesis that the U.S. may one day fall apart as denizens of blue states and red, as supporters of evolution and of creationism, as ardent liberals and rock-rib reactionaries discover that they really don't want to live in the same country. Those inclined to scoff may want to consider world history, in which homeostasis is rare, and follow Enriquez's exercise in considering how the stars got on the flag in the first place. Any New America will be a different milieu indeed; as Enriquez pointedly notes, for instance, "While Republicans cover the most land surface, they do not generate most of the knowledge" (leave that to Massachusetts and California),and in all events changing demographics will shortly give the U.S. a very different profile in red state and blue alike. The presentation is odd-those with short attention spans may enjoy it most-but the argument is engaging.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307422446
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Juan Enriquez has a career that spans business, domestic and international politics, and science. He was the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, a fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, and a peace negotiator during Mexico’s Zapatista rebellion. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, is the author of As the Future Catches You, and has published his work in Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Science, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Boston Globe. Mr. Enriquez is the CEO of Biotechonomy, a life-sciences research and venture capital firm.


From the Hardcover edition.

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