By Liz White, editor
San Antonio, Texas -- In a wide-ranging presentation equating personal freedom and private property, economic growth and wealth creation, Dr Barrie Asmus in turn fascinated, amused, informed and sometimes provoked the 800-strong audience at the opening session of the Polyurethanes 2008 technical conference of the Centre for the Polyurethanes Industry, in San Antonio, Texas, 29 Sept.
Looking at the start of economic growth in the UK and western Europe in the 15th Century, and the US in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Asmus said the 21st Century will see the rise of the rest - China, India, the rest of Asia and Latin America.
Asmus, a senior economist with the US National Center for Policy Analysis, claimed that while the 20th Century ended with most people in the world in poverty, the 21st will see them in prosperity. According to Asmus, whose whirlwind stage presentation took us from the Magna Carta in the UK in 1215 through to the root causes of the current economic crisis, there are "five pillars of a prosperous economic system."
First is population growth, then comes stable prices avoiding the terrible damage that inflation has done to various South American economies in the 20th Century. Asmus also cited lower marginal tax rates as crucial, saying "five lousy decades" in the US from the thirties to the seventies with no economic growth are because, "in my opinion of 70 percent marginal tax rates."
Next comes productivity, and finally globalisation, said Asmus, citing the polyurethanes sector as one contributing to ever higher productivity, a crucial feature of a healthy economy. Polyurethanes do this by helping make components lighter, better, faster, cheaper, using less energy, he said. Productivity will eventually rise so high that the US production plant of the future will be run, Asmus joked, by one man and a dog. "The man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to make sure the man doesn't touch the machines."
See more in forthcoming issues of Urethanes Technology International.