Friedman in the NYTimes writing about the view of the USA from India. He notes exasperation and uncertainty from the world's largest democracy about the USA preaching but not practicing what we preach. We developed much of the technology that much of the world is now adopting, and have preached open markets and free trade. However, our politics is increasingly protectionist and fearful of the openness and economic dynamism other nations are developing.
The image in the piece of the Indian maid believing for a better life for her child if she can save enough for English lessons while living in poverty and of the Kansas father worried that he cannot pass on his comparatively affluent standard of living to his children is poignant. As we think about the question "Can our system address the big problems?" we need to think broadly about just what systems we are talking about. A big question is whether the political system is dysfunctional and cannot address the big problems, or whether somehow our culture/country/society is dysfunctional and we have re-created this in our political system?