Watching the previews before Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (very funny - go see it), there was one for Syriana. In it, Matt Damon says to some robed men, "100 years ago you people were living in tents and you'll be back in tents 100 years from now."
And it reignited a thought I had once about Saudi Arabia. According to the CIO's website, they have 25% unemployment rates with a literate population. We've got a thinking population, with no political influence and little future ahead of them, sitting idle with religous zealots lurking in the shadows. As we saw in 2003, that resulted in terrorism. With all the money coming in from the oil sales, the government has shot themselves in the foot by not investing in infrastructure, education and industry.
Instead of palaces, they could have had world class educational institutions. Instead the young are either learning to read from the Koran or going abroad for education. I can just picture the research centers - they could lead the world in stem-cell research. So many options, so many ways to get their economy based on something other than oil. To build a sustainable industry that would take advantage of the human capital - look at China. It is more economical for them, due to their massive population, to build computer components by hand than for the same products to be built in America by machines.
Here are home, we are not immune either. Currently our leading edge consists of innovation and brain-power, but we're losing that as China is out stripping our production of engineers. More and more we are based on service industries - but how is that sustainable? India is now doing our phone tech support. Just like with Saudi Arabia, we need to invest in our country. Education is the best way for us to keep our position as world leaders - but the current administration is pulling the funding for that - trying to get a voucher system. Policies of that nature are sure to cloud America's future.
Seems I'm ending on a happy note today.