Many people feel the Cold War is over.
Could there be Cold War II?"The first Cold War was political and ideological," said Craig Swenson, vice president and director of the Utah campus of the University of Phoenix. "But we are now faced with a new struggle," he said.
The new Cold War is over economics and is detailed in a soon-to-be-released book "Winning Cold War II: Educating America's Work Force for Economic Struggle" by John Sperling, former Cambridge fellow in economics who founded the University of Phoenix, a regionally accredited university created to educate working adults.
"Cold War II is economic in nature. It won't be fought between the CIA and the KGB, and it won't matter who has the most nuclear warheads. Its battles will be fought in corporate boardrooms and school classrooms," according to the book.
According to Sperling, America cannot afford to talk about winners and losers in the new struggle. "If America fails to maintain its competitive position in relation to our economic partners, the whole world loses."
Saying the problem is very serious, Sperling believes the United States is on the way to becoming a second-rate economic power. "The coming generation of young Americans will be the first in many decades whose standard of living will be lower than its parents."
One symptom of the new crisis is the fact that in 1991 America spent $250 billion more than it collected. Sperling is also concerned about the flight of corporate and financial assets and said that 25 yeas ago the five largest banks in the world were American and now the top five are Japanese.
"We are now the largest debtor nation in the world - we used to be the largest creditor. Our productivity has risen but at a lower rate than our major economic partners. We spend far less on non-defense research and development than the other economic leaders," Sperling writes.
Sperling isn't totally pessimistic, however, citing the trend toward total quality management in American companies. "To compete at a world-class level will require a skilled and educated work force," he said.
Swenson said American demographics are changing. The work force is getting older, and as American corporations cut the number of employees, more people will need higher education and re-training.
More than 50 percent of today's college students are over 25 years old, and of that number 80 percent are working adults. "We need a new model of education for working adults that takes into account the differences between them and traditional college students," Swenson said.