I have my concerns about how content we are becoming as Western society. I have spent time in Asia and there is no doubt in my mind they are hungry. They are missing some basic skills and building blocks, but they are quickly figuring out what they are missing and learning or importing. We have a Chinese au pair that looks after our children. When she gets off of work she reads books on how to be successful. She will go to the library and lookup "success" and read as many books as she can. She will often ask me if I have read the books. They are not books that I have ever heard as I seek knowledge differently (and I believe more efficiently). I don't believe this is the best way to learn how to be successful, but it illustrates the aggressive drive I have witnessed throughout Asia.
If you have never heard of TED, which stands for Technology Entertainment and Design, I highly recommend you plug into this stream. The organization organizes a series of events where they bring together some amazing speakers. They then selectively choose which speakers to release as videos on the Internet. They reserve or delay some of the best speakers to create demand to attend their conferences in person. I saw this video yesterday from Hans Rosling which was quite amazing. It illustrates how fast China and Asia is catching up with the US and Europe. He shows income per capital and life expectancy on a graph and then puts the graphs in motion.
He is quite humorous in his description as you get the sense that he is describing a horse race. Here is a link to the point of the video that is eye opening. I'd suggest watching the whole video as it is very informative and entertaining. He tries to predict when India and China will catch up to the U.S. I wonder what will happen at this point. When this intersection occurs will they surpass us and leave us behind or as he demonstrates with Japan will they become more like us (and Europe) and we all get on the same trajectory?