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Universities Create Wealth

April 30, 2011

Filed under: education,money — Terry Wohlers @ 06:23

Someone once said that our university system is the envy of the world. I don’t know whether this is true, but I do know that we have many special institutions of higher education within our borders. One is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an organization that has produced more than I would have ever thought.

MIT graduates have founded 25,800 companies, according to the January 22, 2011 issue of The Economist. These companies employ 3.3 million people and generate annual sales of $3 trillion, according to the article. This is more than three times the gross domestic product (GDP) of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and many other countries.

Another article in the same issue of The Economist stated that 41% of millionaires worldwide live in the U.S. This is an extraordinary percentage when considering the world population. The article went on to say that the world’s most wealthy are entrepreneurs that started a business.

Our university system has undoubtedly contributed greatly to entrepreneurism, which has led to personal and national wealth. If one university can do what it has done—albeit MIT—imagine what the more than 4,800 colleges and universities spread across the U.S. are achieving. Regardless of what you might hear from others, supporting higher education is a wise investment.

Japan

April 15, 2011

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 11:42

I’ve never had a bad experience in Japan. I credit the people and Japanese “system” for this. The people there are very friendly and helpful. Relatively few Japanese speak English well, but they will do all they can to provide assistance. With a very low rate of crime, I always feel safe when visiting the country.

Almost everything in Japan works exceedingly well, from the train system to the doors and faucets in the hotel rooms. My experience has been that Japan has taken perfection to another level. You can precisely set your watch based on the arrival and departure of trains—a major mode of transportation in Tokyo and other part of the country.

I recall a visit to Japan when our group of four forgot to bring some papers to an important meeting. We discovered this on our way there, so we phoned the office from which we departed. A person put the papers in the overhead storage on a particular train. As the train stopped at the station closest to us, one of us jumped onto the train, grabbed the envelope, and jumped off before the train departed. The train system served as a courier service that bailed us out. A paid courier could not have done as well, under the circumstances.

Twenty years ago, many in the West feared Japan as a superpower, especially in manufacturing. Indeed, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Honda, Subaru, and others are some of the most respected brands. It turns out, however, that Japan was not the country to fear.

My heart goes out to the people of Japan. The country is encountering a very difficult time, especially the region north of Tokyo that was overwhelmed by the recent earthquake and tsunami. Please do what you can to help because they really are among the best people in the world. They are our friends and allies.