Lester C. Thurow

Let me suggest that the military metaphors should be replaced with the language of sports. Despite the desire to win, all sports have a cooperative element as well as a competitive element. One has to agree on the rules of the game, the referees, and what trophies go to the winners. One can want to win, yet remain friends both during and after the game. The economic game of the 21st century will not be economic warfare, but a game that combines the characteristics of World Cup soccer and those of world-class chess.

World Cup soccer is a fluid, aggressive game in which the desire to win is intense. Players must be superb athletes and capable of real teamwork. World-class chess, in turn, requires strategic thinking: the player who is planning his game five moves ahead loses to the player who is thinking six moves ahead.

Americans have never been World Cup soccer champions. Only once in recent history has an American been the world chess champion. Basically, Americans are going to have to learn to play a new, faster game. The rest of the world is not going to learn American football. In the economic game about to be played, Americans will have to learn to live with no time-outs, no huddles, and very limited substitutions. And they will need to learn the skills of chess – long-range planning and strategic moves. In the new economic game about to be played, Americans will have to acquire a lot of new skills.

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