Along with millions of others, I am also a big fan of Charlie Rose. One of the best interviewers ever IMHO. If you don't follow his show on Bloomberg TV, he also has a one page interview in the magazine every week.
A recent such interview was with Azim Premji, the chairman of info-tech giant Wipro in which Rose sought Premji's opinion on a range of topics one of which was, as you might guess, what thoughts he had about the U.S. and its role as an economic power going forward.
I thought his response was very telling both in terms of his identification of both our strengths as well as our weakness. Here's what he said:
"The U.S. is a complex country. It has a high predominance of immigrants who have been eminently successful. But in the past 20 years, government has increased spending on jails by six times in the U.S. whereas the per capita spending on education has remained the same."A message in there somewhere? Ya think!
Anyone who has followed this blog, even sporadically, knows that one of my hot buttons has always been on the subject of education and more specifically, our continued failure as a country to have the political will to make the investments in an educational system whose state of disrepair has to be at least equal to if not worse than our physical infrastructure.
Said differently, when a well-respected world business leader such as Azim Premji takes note that we think it is more important to increase our spending on jails than on education, sadly it gives us yet another way of underscoring just how little we seem to understand the challenges we face.