Neal Stephenson, 1992:
As a result, this country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it---talking trade balances here...once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here---once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel---once the Invisible Hand has taken all the historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity---y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else
high-speed pizza delivery
13 years later:
Thomas Friedman, 2005:
It is this convergence -- of new players, on a new playing field, developing new processes for horizontal collaboration -- that I believe is the most important force shaping global economics and politics in the early 21st century. Sure, not all three billion can collaborate and compete. In fact, for most people the world is not yet flat at all. But even if we're talking about only 10 percent, that's 300 million people -- about twice the size of the American work force. And be advised: the Indians and Chinese are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top. What China's leaders really want is that the next generation of underwear and airplane wings not just be ''made in China'' but also be ''designed in China.'' And that is where things are heading. So in 30 years we will have gone from ''sold in China'' to ''made in China'' to ''designed in China'' to ''dreamed up in China'' -- or from China as collaborator with the worldwide manufacturers on nothing to China as a low-cost, high-quality, hyperefficient collaborator with worldwide manufacturers on everything. Ditto India. Said Craig Barrett, the C.E.O. of Intel, ''You don't bring three billion people into the world economy overnight without huge consequences, especially from three societies'' -- like India, China and Russia -- ''with rich educational heritages.''
That is why there is nothing that guarantees that Americans or Western Europeans will continue leading the way.
Instead of complaining about outsourcing, Rao said, Americans and Western Europeans would ''be better off thinking about how you can raise your bar and raise yourselves into doing something better. Americans have consistently led in innovation over the last century. Americans whining -- we have never seen that before.''