Invent American

American bikes

Remember “Buy American?” That was a phrase of just a few years ago, and it’s hard to believe so much has changed since then. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, originated the slogan in 1985 as a part of an ambitious advertising campaign to urge Americans to buy things made in the good old U.S.A. It was a game effort, and it worked for a while because there were still lots of American loyalists who had grown up using American goods almost exclusively. For them, “Buy American” was a rallying cry to return to the behaviors that had kept this nation in good stead for better than two centuries. The problem was, American goods kept offering fewer and fewer real advantages over imported goods. Foreign manufacturing processes had caught up, and overseas suppliers had gained understanding about what kinds of products Americans would buy. The “cheapness” of foreign merchandise was no longer an issue. And the big killer was that imported goods cost less than American goods. Our standard of living was – and is – the best in the world, and that became a huge disadvantage. Foreign workers would churn all day long for pennies, while American labor unions held our companies to the fire and negotiated ever-higher hourly wages for exactly the same work. It was a formula that just couldn’t be sustained, even with a massive dose of American pride. When the economy demands more of people, people look for the lowest price. And the lowest price was not American. Ironically, even Sam’s pride and joy abandoned the idea of made in America, and the Wal-Mart of today imports massive quantities of goods from Asia. By the big W’s own estimation, it imports at least $15 billion in goods from China every year. I’ll stop there, because it would be too easy to make this article a typical indictment of Wal-Mart’s post-Sam-Walton practices. Also, it would be wrong because I buy there, and you probably buy there. Wal-Mart gives us what we want for a price we’re willing to pay. And if the shelves were stocked with American goods, the joint would be out of business. No one would pay the prices, and that’s a fact. So where did we go so wrong? We allowed everything to become a commodity and we allowed it to become about business. We stopped inventing, for crying out loud.

Here’s where I go on an America rant: You know what made America great? We used to be great, for no particular reason. We used to invent incredible, innovative things without giving a crap about whether we could “monetize” it or not. We did things we loved and the world loved us for it. Do you suppose, for one minute, that the Wright brothers thought, “If we can just get this thing to fly, people will pay a lot of money to ride on it – and even more for business class!” No, they did not! Two guys wanted to fly like birds, and they figured out how to do it. They represented a kind of American spirit that we’ve tried incredibly hard over the last fifty years to bury. Mavericks like them don’t fit into the modern version of America, because their ideas are different and un-proven. We don’t reward that these days, so far too many Americans don’t attempt anything. We just try to make better versions of the things we think will sell, and we want our piece of the pie.

But not everyone. No, not everyone. Thankfully, there are still rebels out there who just get up in the morning and decide to do what they want. That’s the ideology that gave us Harley Davidson and Levi’s and Apple and a whole bunch of other American icons the world cherishes. GM is returning to that ideology right this very minute, as it puts righteous American muscle like the Camaro back onto the streets. Does this nation need ground-pounders that sport 500 horsepower prowling the asphalt? You bet it does – because that’s the stuff of legend and aspiration. Projects like the Camaro will return GM to its rightful place as a quintessential world-wide car maker, because moves like that exhibit a boldness that people are drawn to.

I can’t say modern day American pioneers of invention and creativity don’t dream of some kind of gold at the end of the rainbow, but that’s called capitalism, and we’ve propagated it for generations now. The important thing is that the wild spirit still dances within their veins. They want to create things that are cool, and decidedly American. I have no qualms if you drive a Prius. It’s good for the Earth and it’s sound economic thinking. But there has to be room for the machine that will shove you back into your seat and make the hairs stand up on your neck as you hurtle hell-bent for leather into dangerous territory. That’s American. And that’s sexy. The world needs people who walk bigger, think wilder, and dare more. John Kennedy swore we’d put a man on the moon before the calendar clicked over to 1970. And guess what? We did! Neil Armstrong plopped right down into the dust a few hundred thousand miles from home and proceeded to play a little golf. That’s American. And that’s what we have to be again. We have to be pirates with a fierce pride in our country and our abilities, and we have to stop caring what the world thinks of what we do. Should we play nice with the other nations? Of course. But we shouldn’t look to the global economy to direct our actions and innovations. Right now, some yank is out there ready to set the world on fire with a big new idea. And every time that happens, America becomes great all over again. The world doesn’t look to us to make a better mousetrap, it looks to America to develop a flying super predator mouse with lasers for eyes. That mouse’s sole purpose is to obliterate every other mouse on the planet and then go to work for Marvel or into politics. Telling people to buy American was never the answer – when we make things that people really want to buy, that will happen on its on. The answer has always been about making great. It’s about daring to create and about innovating in a way that can only happen in America. We need to invent American. And in the process, we’ll re-invent America.

Here are some links to great American. People in this nation are still some of the most outrageous thinkers on the planet. And so often, the things they produce speak on a visceral level. Wild design claws into your emotions, and over the top engineering stamps U.S.A in a way nothing else can. No apologies. It ain’t subtle, because that would be decidedly un-American. Dig it.

http://www.cookcustomchoppers.com/bikes.htm

http://www.confederate.com/cm4/index.php

Tesla! Now that’s radical American ingenuity.

http://www.teslamotors.com/

Here’s a BNET link to an old article about Sam Walton’s “Buy American” campaign

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3092/is_v24/ai_4055903/

Here’s a link to the PBS documentary special that ran on “Frontline.” It’s about Wal-Mart as king of the importers.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/view/

Here’s a link to the Moller Skycar. Yep, it flies.

http://www.moller.com/

The Moller Skycar. It actually flies

The Hellcat is hell on wheelsRockin bad Camaro will help to bring GM backradical American engineering!

Comments

  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much! I write what I’m passionate about, and our great nation is one of those things. I believe the key to our future is remembering how we got to be great, and acting like a nation of winners. I hope you’ll continue to read Logic and Lightning – new topics all the time! – Alan

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    • admin says:

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    • admin says:

      Update for those interested in obtaining a blog framework/design similar to mine:
      I’m afraid I’m not a coder at heart – just don’t have the patience for bugs and troubleshooting. I’m more of a content guy, so I did some homework and found that the StudioPress Genesis Framework is getting really popular. It’s built on top of WordPress, and is very clean. StudioPress also sells “child themes” to go on top of the Genesis platform (I bought “Sleek”), and you can modify those to suit your design tastes. Basically, the Genesis platform gives you a robust blog site, and you can use it all by itself. But adding the “child theme” gives you a look. Think of it as a house that’s built, but you get to choose the carpet and drapes. Make sense? Anyway, thanks for the comment, and if you’re interested in starting up your own blog (or revamping one you already have), I’d recommend Genesis (the basic WordPress platform is free, of course). If you click the “Genesis” link in the footer of my homepage, it will take you there, and I’ll get credit for a shared sale (should you decide to buy it – which is pretty economical considering all the programming). Thanks! – Alan

  3. Ron Tedwater says:

    Really nice post,thank you

  4. John says:

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  5. Nicki Minaj says:

    Good read … headline catchy … good points, some of which I have learned along the way as well (humility, grace, layoff the controversial stuff). Will share with my colleagues at work as we begin blogging from a corporate perspective. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Thanks – I try for a good headline. And yes, there are a lot of points in this article that matter to the future of our nation. It’s up to us to be great. – Alan

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  7. droid price says:

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    • admin says:

      Thanks – I’m afraid I’m not a coder of that caliber. However, I did customize a very good platform called Genesis, with a design theme on top of that. It’s all based on WordPress, and so far I’m extremely pleased. This week, I’ll be adding information to the site that will allow interested folks to go and obtain the framework. Thanks for the comments and thanks for visiting L/L. – Alan

    • admin says:

      Update to those interested in getting a blog framework like mine:
      I’m afraid I’m not a coder at heart – just don’t have the patience for bugs and troubleshooting. I’m more of a content guy, so I did some homework and found that the StudioPress Genesis Framework is getting really popular. It’s built on top of WordPress, and is very clean. StudioPress also sells “child themes” to go on top of the Genesis platform (I bought “Sleek”), and you can modify those to suit your design tastes. Basically, the Genesis platform gives you a robust blog site, and you can use it all by itself. But adding the “child theme” gives you a look. Think of it as a house that’s built, but you get to choose the carpet and drapes. Make sense? Anyway, thanks for the comment, and if you’re interested in starting up your own blog (or revamping one you already have), I’d recommend Genesis (the basic WordPress platform is free, of course). If you click the “Genesis” link in the footer of my homepage, it will take you there, and I’ll get credit for a shared sale (should you decide to buy it – which is pretty economical considering all the programming). Thanks! – Alan

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    • admin says:

      I’m not sure. I have subscribers, so the RSS has worked. That said, I’ve had a couple of comments like that over the last day or so. I’ll check it out.

      Thanks for bringing it to my attention. – Alan

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  26. Thought I would comment and say great theme, did you code it for yourself? Looks excellent!

    • admin says:

      I’ve had a couple of people ask me this. I’m afraid I’m not a coder at heart – just don’t have the patience for bugs and troubleshooting. I’m more of a content guy, so I did some homework and found that the StudioPress Genesis Framework is getting really popular. It’s built on top of WordPress, and is very clean. StudioPress also sells “child themes” to go on top of the Genesis platform (I bought “Sleek”), and you can modify those to suit your design tastes. Basically, the Genesis platform gives you a robust blog site, and you can use it all by itself. But adding the “child theme” gives you a look. Think of it as a house that’s built, but you get to choose the carpet and drapes. Make sense? Anyway, thanks for the comment, and if you’re interested in starting up your own blog (or revamping one you already have), I’d recommend Genesis (the basic WordPress platform is free, of course). If you click the “Genesis” link in the footer of my homepage, it will take you there, and I’ll get credit for a shared sale (should you decide to buy it – which is pretty economical considering all the programming). Thanks! – Alan

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  28. Drum God says:

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