Which of the following is the most serious issue for the United States?
• The high-tech boom began in the Silicon Valley in California, but the information economy soon shifted to a global phenomenon as U.S. companies began outsourcing production and services to other countries in order to reduce costs.
• Demographic trends brought increases in the numbers of immigrants, changes in their national origins, more frequent illegal immigration, and a graying of America as the general population aged.
• The North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) intended to stimulate trade with Mexico and Canada also stimulated debate and controversy as some Americans lost jobs.
• President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, initiated an unsuccessful examination of health care and how it could be provided more equitably and efficiently.
• Vice President Al Gore took the lead in addressing environmental issues and global warming, but as of 2011, the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol that a world meeting had intended to limit greenhouse emissions
• Osama bin Laden helped found al-Qaeda, whose goals included driving Americans out of all Islamic nations, destroying Israel, and toppling pro-Western governments in the Middle East.
• In response to the 9/11 attacks, U.S.-led troops invaded Afghanistan with the goals of toppling the Taliban regime and finding bin Laden.
The most serious challenge to the US is a combination of the first and the third of these options. The major challenge to the US in the coming years is globalization of the economy and our response to it.
Globalization has brought American workers into ever more intense competition with workers in foreign countries. This is a major challenge for the US as we have been the world's dominant economy for so long and we are now faced with a situation in which we may well need to change our ways to stay on top. This is very difficult to do, but it is extremely important if we are to maintain economic growth.