02
Dec
11

In Search of the Next Great Widget

I took a short break from that sweet narcotic I call political news to contemplate an alternate approach to our nation’s economic peril. Those screwups continue to flounder about and point the finger of blame at one another while (as Ian Hunter puts it in his song, “shrunken Heads) the rich get richer and the poor get sorer. Neither major political party is offering a soluble solution so we continue to sink into despair wondering how the next generation can survive.

Thinking back on what made this country great I would hesitate to say it was the banking industry. They made it prosper, but they didn’t make it great. What made this country the envy of other nations was our creative problem solving, our freeform jazz approach to discovering and implementing new and exciting things into this world we live in. Ben Franklin wasn’t the first man to invent electricity but he knew how to market the hell out of it and created a gobsmacked appeal that became worldwide. The automobile industry changed the way of transportation following in the footsteps of the Great Railways that crisscrossed our nation from one side to the other. Telephones, television, home computers, refrigeration, all gave us an advanced lifestyle that continued to grow with each new generation. Then right as things seemed to be going through another renaissance of discovery and manufacturing, something happened and the advancement petered out; they stopped working on my fucking flying car. All those dreamy illustrations in magazines that showed undersea farms being harvested or subservient robots waiting on us hand and foot went the wayside to images of bickering candidates and American Idol puppets. The creative spark was driven away and left us a grey matter pablum of contentment that we now find ourselves in debt to.

Constant share trading on the market will let some survive but paper trading is not what I consider an upgrade to my lifestyle. Political servitude may give some a wonderful career but are they currently doing anything to make this planet a better place to live in? Are we destined to become an America that consists of nothing but banks and data traders? Perhaps we’re closer to that than you want to admit. I believe the entrepreneurs of America should be supported as often a possible by  the public because it is through them that individual ideals can be promoted and nurtured into what may very well be the next revolution to our industry. I’m not suggesting we all go out and invest in phrenological technology but by giving the independent woman or man a chance to stick their wares with their unique twist out in the public eye, we then allow the masses to speak and say ‘this is what I want’ or ‘don’t want’. True free market.

Scientists in China are developing synthetic blood. German engineers are coming up with a car that changes it’s appearance on demand, instantly. The Japanese are continually developing more sophisticated robots that may take over the world (that might be pretty fun) and we in America seem to be plodding along wallowing in our own tantrums amongst ourselves. Tiny glimpses of pioneer ingenuity crop out here and there, like wind farms in Texas or electric car manufacturing in the Michigan (still struggling) and as of yet, none of them seems to be making a lot of headway but I feel certain that someone is going to stumble on to the next great widget that will drive their country’s economy up and onward.Will that country be ours?

Until that new gadget is created, one thing you can do to help is support the local independent store owner. I frequent a burrito vendor who opens up a big van that he and his family sell authentic, badass tasting burritos out of rather than throw it at Taco Bell, the huge multi-faceted fast food chain that swallows up our street corners. I have a room mate who creates items for infants like burp cloths and baby hair barrettes and markets them on Ebay; the same kind of thing you could get at Target or some other major cheap dime store chain. If twenty people were to buy baby items from her rather than a Target, would that store chain go out of business? Doubtful. The small neighborhood mentality of living has abandoned our society and left us hostage to a larger machine that is being manipulated from hands that make more money that you or I will see in a lifetime. By supporting the local vendor you give hope to them and their families, who in turn, will begin to believe in an America where anything is possible. If they believe anything is possible, they may dream it and create it, and then I might just get my flying car.

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