From independence to dependence

Some optional music to listen to:

A prime aspect of American history was
the push for independence, political, economic, financial, and cultural,
from external powers.
The most obvious manifestation of this push was of course
the War for American Independence, fought from 1775 to 1783,
highlighted by the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776,
celebrated each year on the fourth of July.
This was a war for political independence from Great Britain.
But as well there was a push for independence in the economic area,
which is well discussed in The Great Betrayal by Patrick J. Buchanan
(a man I regard as the greatest American of the post-World War II era;
he was right on foreign policy, economic policy, and social policy).
This push for economic independence,
also known as self-sufficiency or, to some, autarky,
was largely realized in the various policies advocated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay,
often known as the “American System” (see also), which had as a core policy
the maintenance of high tariffs,
not only to raise revenue
they provided the main part of the federal budget in the pre-income tax days),
but also to support American manufacturers.
(Clyde Prestowitz has a nice overview of this in his book
The Betrayal of American Prosperity.)
And indeed, this policy worked so well that by the early twentieth century
America was the leading manufacturing nation on earth.
A good place to read about America’s relative strength then is
Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,
written for a popular, non-specialist audience
but containing ample endnotes to document his assertions.
It is certainly worth noting that the decision makers and opinion leaders
back in the days of America’s manufacturing rise were not economists,
but drawn from the general business and military fields.

Skipping over about 150 years of American history (from the time of Henry Clay to 2013),
in 2013 much of American society has fallen in love, quite reasonably,
with all those well-engineered and well-built smartphones and related gadgets.
Just one problem: They are all (I think) made overseas, specifically in Asia.
So for something many Americans consider a necessity,
we are dependent on the goodwill and desire of Asian workers, businessmen, and political leaders
to keep the supply of those gadgets flowing
at prices Americans can afford.
And to the argument that if Asia should cut off that supply, use our need and desire for those gadgets
to obtain U.S. concessions on some matter of interest to the Asian leaders and public,
then the U.S. could simply begin manufacturing them here,
the rebuttal is that much of the know-how for just how to make those gadgets
now resides exclusively in Asia.
While American universities and much of the "elite" focus on the issues of political correctness
(Georgetown University even has taught a course in Hip Hop! )
the Asians have kept their noses to the grindstone, their eyes on the road, and their shoulders on the wheel
and focused on the important (to me, if not to much of America's "elite") issue of how do you just make those suckers?

As a sign of how dependent American society now is on those gadgets, and on computers,
I note that teaching cursive writing is now becoming obsolete.
What kind of a future will America have,
if its electronic gadgets are no longer available,
and the population can't even write in longhand?

Call me a worrywart, but I think America needs to rethink how dependent it has become on factors outside its control.