Is it time for America to get real?

Today's programme is all reality. Is it time for America to get real about its vast debts? Electronic media makes us feel connected but is this an illusion? And, is it really practical to travel the world for business without flying?

Since the end of World War II, the world has had one supreme economic power - the United States of America. By every measure America has been the richest and and most economically dynamic country on earth and, of course it still is - just. But now the question is how long American economic pre-eminence will last.

The American economy is straining to achieve even modest growth despite the government's huge fiscal stimulus. It has piled hundreds of billions of dollars onto its already vast debt mountain, meanwhile the economies of China and India continue to power ahead.

Kenneth Rogoff, is one of America's leading economists. He is a professor of economics at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. He is also an chess international grandmaster. So how well does Professor Rogoff think the American economy is doing?

Plus, most people are now aware that flying is by far the most polluting thing that they will ever do but it is very hard to stop. In our private lives we can choose to fly less or not at all, but it is much more difficult to stop flying if your work demands that you travel.

Bill Liao is an Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist who has to travel the world for business and to promote the anti-poverty and environmental charities he is involved with. So how on earth does he do it without ever stepping on a plane?

Finally we have a fascinating reflection on the illusory online world we increasingly inhabit from our regular commentator Jeremy Wagstaff.

How switched on are you, he asks. Do you leap to attention and check your emails at every beep, trill or throb of your mobile phone? On holiday do you keep friends informed of your trip via Facebook or Twitter?

Technology has given us the ability to stay in contact with friends and colleagues wherever we are, but is this sense of connection is actually an illusion?

Available now

18 minutes

Last on

Wed 27 Apr 2011 07:32 GMT

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