Authors: ‘America’s greatest days are yet to come’

Charlotte Errity Contributor
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Is America’s greatest era only in the future? James C. Bennett and Michael J Lotus’ new book, “America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity,” argues that yes, “America’s greatest days are yet to come.”

While many today would cite that the U.S. is irreversibly going downhill, Bennett and Lotus say that America is “in a painful transition period” between America 2.0 and a future thriving era, America 3.0.

“We are optimistic about the long-term prospects for America’ freedom and prosperity. You should be, too,” Bennett and Lotus write.

The book offers a hopeful, yet realistic vision of the future, saying the country will not follow the same path as its European contemporaries.

“America 3.0” traces history from the colonial period—the period of our founding fathers—which they call America 1.0. According to the book, America 1.0 “was the combination of America’s English cultural and institutional roots with American frontier conditions.” The period lasted from 1603 to 1860.

Colonial farms, towns and small business defined this period, Bennett and Lotus write. The authors argue that parts of 1.0 didn’t necessarily go away, but were threatened by the next era: America 2.0.

America 2.0 is, as defined by the authors, characterized by “a haphazard and episodic, but nonetheless continuous, expansion of government power.” Bennett and Lotus go through immense anthropological detail of the changes our country has gone through in the 2.0 phase, and how we are challenged to overcome the struggles we are facing now in order to transition into America 3.0.

“Obamacare is, we hope, the last major effort to impose America 2.0 style government on the USA,” said Bennett and Lotus, citing Obamacare as one of the major struggles that America is overcoming to journey on to America 3.0.

“We predict the transition [to America 3.0] to be mostly complete by 2040,” they told The Daily Caller, “but we hope it will be quicker than that.”

In a book dedicated “To our children,” James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus’ “America 3.0” shows a conservative, optimistic look onto the future by slowing down and remembering the past.

See more of TheDC’s full interview with Bennett and Lotus about their book:

1. Would you say that aspects of America 1.0 — a time of the Founding Fathers, small towns and small businesses — are completely lost, or are there slivers of this era in America 2.0? If so, is there room for 1.0 in 3.0?

The transition from America 1.0 (agricultural America, the America of the founders) to America 2.0 (industrial America, the America of big business, big labor and big government) took the better part of a century. We are in the midst of the transition from America 2.0 to what we call America 3.0. The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed.

Substantial parts of rural America effectively remained mostly in 1.0 through the onset of World War II, and a bit after. “Little House on the Prairie” was a wildly popular book precisely because it reminded people of what 1.0 had been like. Some bits and pieces still remain, and many Americans still have some elements of the 1.0 mindset. We expect that aspects of 2.0 America will continue to remain in parts of the population for a long time as well.

The future we anticipate in our book will be in many ways like the era of the founders, with many more small and family and individual scaled businesses. We expect people to be more dispersed into exurbia. We hope there will be a revival of local civic spirit. The main difference will be that the future will be immensely more productive and prosperous. The founding generation, by our standards, was free but poor. We anticipate an increase in freedom, and an improvement in living standards as well.

2. What is making the transition from 2.0 to 3.0 so difficult? You claim “America 2.0 is outdated.” What makes it outdated?

The transition from 2.0 to 3.0 has not been nearly as slow, violent or difficult as the transition from 1.0 to 2.0 was. People forget that the rise of industrial America, with its big cities and factories, was a painful process.

The transition we are going through now is difficult for several reasons. Technology is driving change, but laws and institutions change much more slowly, and attitudes and expectations change even more slowly.

Also, most Americans have not been asked to think about a different future. The people who are in the technology world predict many great things, but people focused on politics are talking only about smaller slices of a shrinking pie. We need to look at the trends that are pushing us forward and rethink our laws and institutions to prepare us for a free and prosperous in the future.

Also, of course, people who are beneficiaries of the current system will do all they can to keep it going. But just as the governing model for a nation that was 90 percent farmers had to give way to industrial America, so the government of the 20th century will have to give way to one suited for a different economy and people having different expectations from their government. It will probably take a series of one crisis after another as the current institutions fail to get people thinking seriously along these lines. We wrote the book to get people thinking as early as possible about these questions.

3. Many fear that America is on a downward slope and that America 3.0, as you put it, is not an optimistic vision. How can we change that vision? What makes America 3.0 better than its predecessors?

The America 3.0 we predict is optimistic, but it is not unrealistic. To the contrary, we depict America in 2040 in chapter one of our book, and it is all based on existing trends. We really think most of those positive changes will come much sooner.

It is true that too many conservatives have a bleak and hopeless vision of the future. They shouldn’t. We need to ask them what type of America they want their children and grandchildren to live in, ask them to imagine it, and then figure out what concrete steps need to be taken to get there. Mere opposition to President Obama is not remotely sufficient. People need an alternative explanation of the current crisis in America, a vision of where we should be going, and policy proposals that move us in a positive direction.

Notably, libertarians tend to be more optimistic. They are often younger, often from the tech world, and often readers of science fiction! Thinking about the future and what it will be like come more easily to them. Perhaps our libertarian friends can perform an intervention with our gloomy conservative friends so they won’t give up hope!

As we say in the book, America’s greatest days are yet to come. We are a liberty-loving and enterprising people and the roots of our culture go back many centuries. Our Constitution is not outdated, it is futuristic, and with a few amendments, it is well suited to the future we foresee. America 3.0 will be better than its predecessors because it will be an era of freedom and prosperity, with the cost of living sharply falling, and new opportunities for many people to live productive and creative lives.

4. Where does Obamacare fit into America 3.0?

When the people running a failing system try to address its problems, they typically double down on precisely the features of their system that are causing it to fail. Obamacare is a classic example of this tendency. It does not fit, and it will be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is, we hope, the last major effort to impose America 2.0-style government on the USA.

Health care in America 3.0 will be supplied by vigorously competing providers, with dynamic innovation improving care and driving down prices. Government support will be premium support or voucher-type support permitting people maximum flexibility in choosing their health care.

Obamacare, even assuming the best of intentions on the part of the people who created it, is doomed to be bad for America. It will raise cost, limit choice, thwart innovation and hinder economic growth. It will not be around forever. The main thing opponents need to do is stop devoting all their energy to slash-and-burn resistance, and start offering a coherent program to repeal and replace Obamacare with a better conceived solution.

Again, having a vision of a better America helps you to think this through. If you could design a health-care market and a system of government assistance from scratch, using today’s and tomorrow’s technology, what would it look like? Not Obamacare! Let’s do that exercise and build the support for a better model for America.

5. How soon do you think we can make the transition to America 3.0? Do you think it can be done under the Obama administration?

The first signs of America 2.0 were showing up many decades before it came into full flower in the mid-20th century. America 3.0 is already partly formed. The Internet is a key piece of the new economy, for example. The change is a massive, ongoing process. It will take at least another decade or two. By the time America 3.0 is fully in place Mr. Obama will be long gone from D.C. We hope to see him back home in Chicago, in Hyde Park near the University, older and grayer but, hopefully, wiser.

In our book we predict the transition to be mostly complete by 2040, but we hope it will be quicker than that. In large part how quickly and how painlessly we make the transition is up to us.

Charlotte Errity