Dec 07 2010

President Obama Scores Big Today with “that Sputnik moment.”

Does President Obama read 21stCenturyWaves? Should we appoint him as an Honorary Contributing Editor?

Well, based on his major theme today — encouraging Americans toward a new “Sputnik moment” — at the North Carolina Research Triangle, it’s possible.

He did make one good speech but sadly Obama’s been a negative influence on space… Click HERE.

Today President Obama used the lessons of Sputnik to point to the 2015 Maslow Window.

Referring to the surprise Soviet launch in 1957 of Sputnik — the first artificial Earth satellite — that shocked the world and triggered the 1960s Space Age, Mr. Obama asserted

That was a wakeup call. Once we put our minds to it, once we got focused, once we got unified, not only did we surpass the Soviets — we developed new American technologies, industries, and jobs.

Although the President apparently gets it, (12/6/10) is lost…

President Obama is trying to inspire America’s next technological wave by referring back to a 50-year-old achievement by a defunct nation — Sputnik.

Even some Democrats shun Sputnik. According to Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein,

“Most people under 40 have no idea what Sputnik is,” Gerstein said. “It’s an un-innovative way to talk about innovation.

Maybe to some short-term thinkers, it seems unstylish, old, and defunct, and maybe the internet and Facebook have more contemporary sex appeal … but Sputnik is the key to understanding our future.

Sputnik opened the last truly transformative decade. For the first time in human history a man left the Earth and walked on another world. The stunning virtues of democracy and free markets were demonstrated and became clear to all. The Kennedy Boom — up to that time the greatest economic expansion in history — “lifted all boats” and triggered JFK’s Camelot zeitgeist.

According to the editors of the academic journal, The Sixties,

No recent decade has been so powerfully transformative in much of the world as have the Sixties.” (The 1960s decade) has become plainly iconic … It continues to not only define us but remains urgently with us.

So Obama was right to appeal to Sputnik’s compelling symbolism.

Maybe more right than he realizes, because while Sputnik opened the last truly transformative decade, it wasn’t the first, by any means.

Every 55-60 years — over the last 200+ years — there is a Sputnik/Apollo/JFK-style decade, featuring extraordinary clusters of great explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), macro engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal), and sadly, major wars (World War I).

These “Maslow Windows” are driven by major economic booms associated with a long business cycle discovered in 1989 that’s documented back almost 200 years, and is correlated with the Strauss and Howe generational cycles. In response to increasing affluence, many ebulliently ascend Maslow’s hierarchy where their momentarily expanded worldviews make great explorations and MEPs seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible.

Long wave timing points to 2015 for the next 1960s-style Maslow Window, a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.

But there is one key difference between Sputnik and today.

Republican strategist Pete Snyder points out that — in contrast to the prosperous post-WW II expansion and the 1960s Kennedy Boom — the financial Panic of 2008 and overwhelming security threats have definitely gotten everyone’s attention in recent years. In response to Obama, he asks

We need something else to wake us up?

While Snyder’s facts are correct, he exposes not a weakness in Obama’s call-to-action, but an amazing strength.

The Panic of 2008 signaled a return to a familiar, multi-century pattern: financial panic/great recession pairs that — within 6 to 8 years — lead to a great economic boom which ignites the next Maslow Window.

Based on macroeconomic patterns of the last 200+ years and current global trends, this is how Obama’s message of today will likely materialize by 2015.

** Special Thanks to Contributing Editor Olivia Wolfe who suggested this topic. **

One response so far

One Response to “President Obama Scores Big Today with “that Sputnik moment.””

  1. D Littleon 12 Dec 2010 at 8:11 am

    Obama’s message has absolutely nothing to do with events and technological initiatives that will materialize by 2015. He is part of a monster government system that has reached levels of hubris, corruption, power and oppression to levels that have created this world-wide economic mess. The Maslow Waves will proceed in spite of Obama and those that agree with his politics of heavy handed government economics. I wish I had more time here to respond to this, but gotta go.

    Thanks very much for your comment.

    It’s always great to have someone write from the Saginaw, MI area. Many moons ago when I was an undergraduate at Michigan State, one of my best friends was from the wonderful town of Frankenmuth, MI.

    Back to your comment: You may be right about Obama — the message from the voters in November’s historical, wave election supports your perception.

    However, here at we strive to be both empirical and long-term in our thinking. When the President — or anyone else — makes an interesting statement about the future, we evaluate it for consistency with long-term macroeconomic and historical indicators and current global trends.

    In this case we found the President to be right on with his “Sputnik” analogy, and the great boom and new Space Age it points to for 2015.

    Nevertheless, you may be fundamentally correct about Obama. Time will tell.

    Best regards,

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply