In his classic “From the Earth to the Moon”, Jules Verne observed that Americans, “the first mechanicians in the world, are engineers – just as Italians are musicians and the Germans metaphysicians- by right of birth.”
The last 100 years are testament to the engineering greatness of America. As a people, led by our engineers, we have walked on the Moon; harnessed raging rivers and the atom; built the world’s most expansive air, land, and rail networks; cut through the Continental Divide in Panama; launched the greatest navy in history; and so much more.
When it comes to overcoming the forces of nature, Americans have been far better than anyone else.
Things don’t go so well, however, when we try to engineer our way through social ills. The costly and unresolved wars on poverty, drugs, and terrorism are evidence to the limits of our engineering ambition.
As we seek to get out of this current economic and political malaise, we would do well to focus on leveraging our engineering greatness in areas where we have already succeeded so brilliantly.