When we think of the great engineering and industrial countries of the past 50 years, Germany and Japan both come high on the list.
There is another connection between these two nations: they both lost in World War 2, and in fact, were hugely decimated. After the war neither were allowed to rearm, or use their engineering knowledge and expertise (that had dragged out the war) for anything remotely military. Consequently they built cars and (seemingly) toys, among other things, which helped both their industry and their economy.
Meanwhile, France and Britain had been rearming, for no apparent purpose, while America and Russia (who had taken over as the World super-powers) put all their expertise into reaching the moon first. Something that was very expensive and not particularly useful to the common man (or woman).
I wonder what the world would be like if everyone had put their energies (and economies) into improving the quality of life?