Cover Image

HARDBACK
$54.95



View/Hide Left Panel

political economic stability. Therefore, the first step in developing democracy is to help develop the middle class. That is really what we have here in the United States. Few of us probably realize what a remarkable small business entrepreneurial culture we really do have. We have 15 million companies in this country. Of them 98 percent have less than 500 people; 90 percent fewer than 100 people. We have been, for the last decade, creating 650,000 to 700,000 new small businesses every year in the United States. Between 1980 and 1990, 20 million (net) new jobs were generated, 70 to 80 percent of them in these small businesses.

It is this bottom-up entrepreneurial revolution that creates much of the innovation and also the jobs. It is the small-business middle class that is needed to sustain democracy, and that is the model that can help us expand the economies of developing countries. It involves enlightened self-interest, and it is important that we provide incentives for this process.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) provided the initial seed funding in India, and I think AID now sees this as a model for a much more extensive effort. The World Bank has yet to understand this model, but perhaps one day it will.

The important thing to understand, though, is that we now have historically unprecedented opportunities to raise the quality of life of all nations. For the first time in history we have point-to-point contact with any point on the surface of the earth. We can bring education through interactive video educational systems to any person on the earth. There are 4 billion people around the world just as smart as you and I who have never had access to education. We can change the global village in the next 25 years more than anyone might imagine, if we provide effective incentives and begin to develop the procedures that we well understand. We do not have to reinvent the wheel that has already been demonstrated. The Israel and India models can work with countries in the former Eastern Bloc, South Africa, and the Ivory Coast. It is currently operating in Chile and Finland. Even France has adopted the model, with rather remarkable success. It is called the FACET program over there.

To summarize, the opportunities we now have are historically unprecedented. We have the advanced technology that we need to share in international collaborative efforts, and as we do so, we will be the primary beneficiaries. I see a federal role here, which provides incentives, and a catalytic function that can help create such collaborative efforts on an international scale. I hope we can all work together to make that happen.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement