By Len Novarro

The Declaration of Independence, whose signing we celebrate on Friday, states that all people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This pursuit sometimes seems insurmountable if that road is governed by the rich and powerful or when government represents only narrow interests.

As a promoter of innovation in Southern California with the Make It In America conference, I don’t have to look far to see where narrow interests have led us in the last 20 years. With the help of our own government officials, outsourcing manufacturing and jobs to other countries has done more to cripple our economy than any other single factor.

Photo illustration by Rosalynn Carmen.

We can’t argue against the necessity to cut costs in the wake of global competition. But we can weigh that against other factors. And this week is an appropriate time — with the help of editor Troy Rampy and others — to celebrate those factors, for they are what have made this country great.

INNOVATION — Edison, Gates, Jobs: they and we are known for thinking outside the box. As a people, we create and innovate; we don’t wait for others, then appropriate their creations. From search engines to social networks — Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook — it all started here.

TECHNOLOGY — From cotton gin to light bulb, records to movies, rockets to Internet, the gadgets and discoveries originating from the U.S. have changed the world.

DIVERSITY — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” So says the inscription on the Statue of Liberty in the middle of New York Harbor. We are a nation of immigrants, including our Native American population, whose spirit of hard work and desire for a better life have been a hallmark since the first settlers arrived here more than 400 years ago.

ECONOMY — Despite the spotlight on China and other Asian countries, the United States still possesses the world’s richest economy and consumer base — larger than Japan, Germany, China and Great Britain combined. The California economy alone is larger than the entire nation of France.

INDIVIDUAL SPIRIT VS. CLASS SYSTEM — Unlike other countries such as India, China or Thailand, where one’s station in life is determined by a caste system, government monolith or an outdated monarchy, in America you are free to carve out your own destiny. Wealth carries huge influence, but unlike most countries, where one’s fate is determined by others, in the U.S. you are free to chart your own course.

TOLERANCE — While other cultures in Syria, Iraq and Africa are slaughtering each other in the name of religion, in America Jews, Catholics, Sikhs, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims — and Atheists — live and work together in peace.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP — The U.S., by far, has more self-made millionaires and billionaires proportionally than anywhere in the world. Much has been said of late about the rapid rise of a millionaire class in China and Vietnam. But that’s still — pardon the cliche — a drop in the ocean.

INSTITUTIONS AND LAW — We are a nation of laws and equality under the law; those laws provide stability, continuity, structure and protect against intellectual theft.

EDUCATION — Students from everywhere in the world come here for their education, not the opposite.

ENTERTAINMENT — OK, we didn’t invent classical music, but we created Dixieland, ragtime, jazz, swing, big band, bluegrass, Hawaiian, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, rap and even disco; then there’s radio, television, movies, video games, hula hoops, Hollywood and Disneyland.

NATURAL BEAUTY — From the California coast, through the Rocky Mountains to the forests of Maine and Vermont, and including our national parks, we are a nation of contrasts, with two oceans, numerous lakes and rivers, gargantuan mountains, vast plains and spacious deserts, all with their individual charm. In a single day from parts of Southern California you can breakfast in the desert, lunch in the mountains and have dinner amid a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

CITIES – They are the signature of a civilized society, and we have some of the best: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle and, of course, San Diego. All different, all vibrant, all vital.

STYLE — Be it fashion, entertainment, the arts or architecture, America sets the tone and pace.

SOCIAL CONCIOUSNESS — Sure, greed is prevalent, but so is a sense of doing the right thing.

ENDURANCE — After 238 years, we are still here in, basically, the same form. No nation in modern times has come close when it comes to longevity. And that goes for our human life span — longer than anywhere else but Okinawa.

STANDARD OF LIVING – The highest in the world; nothing more to be said.

As former U.S. President Thomas J. Whitmore (that’s President Whitmore from the movie “Independence Day“) said: “We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests…We will not go quietly into the night.

And that’s why we will be making plenty of noise in the months ahead as we bang the drum for Make It In America, the conference promoting San Diego and Southern California as a leading hub for innovation to potential partners — primarily investors — from China, Thailand, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia.

This unique conference, from Nov. 19-22 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, hosted by Congressman Scott Peters of San Diego and co-hosted by San Diego County District 3 Supervisor Dave Roberts, will bring together the best entrepreneurial talent from our region to share discoveries, new technologies, and ways of doing business together. In this venture, the Asian Heritage Society is collaborating with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, CONNECT San Diego, Alliant International University, U.S. Navy, San Diego County and the office of congressman Peters.

Len Novarro is co-publisher of ASIA, The Journal of Culture & Commerce, a newspaper serving the Asian and Pacific Islander American community of San Diego and California.