Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Innovation Wherever You Look

  In order to get re-elected in 22 months, many think President Obama will need a US economic recovery. In this week’s State of the Union address, he stressed initiatives to improve American competitiveness and innovation. I registered as a Republican this year in order to vote in the primary for my friend and fellow chess player George Eichhorn, but normally I’m not a fan of either political party. But in the interests of bipartisanship, I wanted to show some examples of innovation already in America that both parties can celebrate and hopefully encourage.

  The 4th Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa sold out all $40 main event tickets in just 4 minutes. There are still $140 tickets available, which will in addition to the commemorative t-shirt, koozie, and unlimited bacon samples includes an entry to the Bacon Elegance Dinner. This is what America needs more of. Not only is the USA highly competitive in pork production, we are competitive in pork consumption, also. Every state should have a Bacon Festival at least once a month. The left over bacon products (if there are any), could be given to people who are having trouble making ends meet. It will be tough to maintain our leadership in bacon production, consumption, and festival organization, but if the government acts quickly and creates a Department of Bacon, we can extend our domination for a generation or more.

  Another American innovation we have not taken advantage of is in the area of naming rights and human bill boarding. Its use is rampant in sports, but there are so many more possibilities when backed by the power of the Federal Government. The state of Utah has taken the lead by proposing the Browning M1911 as the official state gun, but they are shortsighted in not trying to collect a fee for the distinction. Iowa has a state bird and a state flower, why not a state pickup truck, a state rifle, and a state shampoo? Why should the United States Post Office be losing billions of dollars and paying more money to advertise in the media when the post office trucks and employee uniforms can be adorned with the patches like the NASCAR drivers? Stamps are also prime advertising real estate. The deficit would be wiped out if we could get Apple, Google, and Microsoft to bid on having their logo on the back of the dollar bill for a year or 2. How much would Coke pay to be able to add a 12 oz. bottle and straw to Teddy Roosevelt’s image on Mount Rushmore? Not as much as Pepsi would pay afterwards to be able to stick a Mountain Dew in Abe Lincoln’s hand on the Lincoln Monument in an advertising counterstrike. I’m not saying all our institutions should be up for sale. We should save some of them for a rainy day. When the Social Security system is finally broke, the President could start giving his speeches in the Sherwin Williams (or the highest bidder) White House.

  An area where America is head and shoulders above the rest of the world are lawsuits. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is suing a congressional cafeteria for $150,000 because he bit into an olive pit while eating a sandwich wrap purchased at the cafeteria. He is suing for past and future medical and dental expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment, among other grievances. That is one expensive olive pit. I think his constituents should also sue the cafeteria for the loss of the use of their congressman. But then Kucinich might sue his constituents for voting for him and exposing him to the dangerous olive-pit laden cafeteria. I’m not sure how the government can cash in on these sorts of innovative grievances. Perhaps the Lawsuit Tax Act of 2011 to impose a 25% fee on all pain and suffering related judgments will be one of the first acts of the new Congress. Then we will all be doing our patriotic duty whenever we call a lawyer after we bite into an olive pit, spill scalding coffee on ourselves in a McDonalds, or suffer permanent brain damage because we choked while stuffing 2 double beef whoppers down our throats at once.

  Unfortunately, governmental neglect of existing American innovation has let the United States fall behind the rest of the world in a lot of areas. We need enhanced espionage capabilities to find out what our global competitors are up to. This is where Stephanie Travetta Moreland comes in. Stephanie was in the Mall of Americas earlier this month and (allegedly) wanted a $6,500 fur coat. In the spirit of innovation, she (allegedly) arranged her underwear so she could stuff the coat in the front of her drawers, but was able to hike up her dress to reveal only a bare behind and not a fur coat when confronted by store employees. (The story is here in case you don't believe me.) It appeared to the shocked clerks that Moreland didn’t even have underwear under her dress, much less a $6,500 fur coat. When the police took her into custody later that day, Moreland managed to keep the coat hidden for the weekend despite a police pat down and a metal detector search, only to reveal the coat when taken to court the following Monday. I think Moreland’s big crime was merely being a bit too ambitious. She probably would have been more successful heisting a fur wrap or maybe just some jewelry. I would like to see her offered amnesty in return for training others how to make off with industrial secrets. And she could also help train airline consumers on how to avoid those pesky baggage charges.