“Whenever you hear a snotty (and frustrated) European middlebrow presenting his stereotypes about Americans, he will often describe them as “uncultured,” “unintellectual,” and “poor in math” because, unlike his peers, Americans are not into equation drills and the constructions middlebrows call “high culture” – like knowledge of Goethe’s inspirational (and central) trip to Italy, or familiarity with the Delft school of painting.  Yet the person making these statements is likely to be addicted to his iPod, wear blue jeans, and use Microsoft Word to jot down his “cultural” statements on his PC, with some Google searches here and there interrupting his composition.  Well, it so happens that America is currently far, far more creative than these nations of museumgoers and equation solvers.  It is also far more tolerant of bottom-up tinkering and undirected trial and error. And globalization has allowed the United States to specialize in the creative aspect of things, the production of concepts and ideas, that is, the scalable part of the products, and, increasingly, by exporting jobs, separate the less scalable components and assign them to those happy to be paid by the hour.  There is more money in designing a shoe than in actually making it: Nike, Dell, and Boeing can get paid for just thinking, organizing, and leveraging their know-how and ideas while subcontracted factories in developing countries do the grunt work and engineers in cultured and mathematical states do the noncreative technical grind.  The American economy has leveraged itself heavily on the idea generation, which explains why losing manufacturing jobs can be coupled with a rising standard of living.”

from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb