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Opinion

Facebook generation: clicking 'like' won't solve America's problems

Will the Facebook generation step up to confront America’s urgent challenges, from soaring debt to energy?

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Will capitalism exist in the United States? Which entity will control Wall Street? Why is my generation apparently satisfied with the status quo? We must radically shift our expectations: pursuing deep space exploration, inventing weapons to make nuclear devices obsolete, eliminating genetic maladies, and harvesting energy from sources we have yet to imagine.

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Our most eminent young engineers, writers, bankers, and intellectuals have an opportunity to apply their energy toward the challenges of a new world. This is not a fanciful whimsy; Google, possibly the most notable technology of the last 15 years, was created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin before they reached the ripe old age of 26.

One hundred seventy-five years ago, Manifest Destiny was the clarion call for westward expansion and was the trigger for a mind-set of exploration, risk, and the hope for a better America. In the 20th century, World War II set the stage for American world dominance, the nose-to-nose confrontations with Communism, and the intellectual groundwork that would create a technological explosion of information in the latter half of the century.

Our firm grasp on information technologies and the power we wield with that weapon could be the cornerstone of this generation’s legacy. As the challenges of the 21st century become clearer, it’s time my generation stopped asking “When?” or “Who?” and started answering “Now” and “Me.”

Motivation is rooted in presentation. We tend to ignore abstract problems, but we do respond quickly to matters of survival and to big opportunities. Many of today’s most pressing challenges – terrorism, energy security, climate change, uncontrolled debt – fall into both categories, so today’s generation could be stimulated to action.

One looming challenge is the bankrupt legacy of Social Security. Just this year, the program started taking in less revenue in taxes than it pays out in benefits. Its unfunded liability now stands at $7.7 trillion. Our parents’ generation has passed the buck to us. What if we immediately discontinued the program for everyone under the age of 70? Would such an idea cause short-term suffering? Yes, but more critically, would it spur long-term innovation? Would it compel us to relearn the art of savings, the definition of community compassion, and the concepts of capitalism anew?

This is just one idea. We require a host of initiatives across all fields if we are to break the status quo.

My generation can either choose to wrench the mantle of responsibility from the shoulders of the lawmakers and power brokers in control, or we will reap the consequences of another generation’s actions for years to come.

A world that desperately needs courageous, ingenious, long-term thinking is counting on us. Will you step up?

Nathan Fisk is a small-business and political consultant living on the Front Range of Colorado. Contact the writer at nbfisk@gmail.com.

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