Crusader Product Inhibition (CPI) - verb, A method of causing failure and delay to cool new products; especially those that might help poor people. CPI is caused by crusaders who think the best path to enlightenment is to put themselves in charge. CPI is enhanced by people who are terrified to simply sell a product and let the market guide their distribution channels.
One example is Adaptive Eyewear. Several years ago I saw an article about newly invented self adjustable corrective glasses. What an inspired idea! Wow! It could really help people. If you need corrective lenses and live in a mud hut it would rock your world!
Simple and dirt cheap they’re designed so that you can hand one to anybody anywhere; an optometrist is not needed. The user can adjust the lens to their eyes and lock them in. (They’re one time adjustment only.) From then on they’re ugly but serviceable eyeglasses. Sliced bread and the internet is chickenshit technology compared to corrected vision planet wide. I’m not easily impressed and this, in it’s simplicity, is a ray of brilliance that knocks my socks off.
In places without optometrists bad vision is serious. I do not like needless suffering. I’d love to see adjustable corrective glasses air dropped into every impoverished village and encampment from Tajikistan to Uruguay!
I’d like a pair too! I carry spare glasses when I’m backpacking. That’s good for me but if someone else breaks or loses their glasses they’re screwed. A single pair of adjustable eyeglasses wouldn’t be limited to me but could help anybody! Win win!
They’re designed to be cheap but I expected them to be pricey at first. I don’t mind. As an American I’m not living on sheep dung and rocks. Maybe I’d even be the fat cat that supports deliveries to needy folks? If they’re meant for poor people in Bangladesh, sell me one at triple the price and ship the other two for free to them. After selling a couple thousand to freaks like me their per unit cost should plummet. Soon they’d be churning them out like Pokemon cards and air dropping them into villages in Namibia. Cool! The market can and should be used to make good things cheaply available to everyone.
As far as I’m concerned the brilliant inventor of the device should get filthy rich too.
But ass clowns crusaders hate the market and care more about their own self esteem than doing good. They came up with a cool name (“Adaptive Eyewear”), created a non-profit (“Centre for Vision in the Developing World“), and made a groovy web page. And then went nowhere…
There’s a link for donations but they’re not for sale at any price. That’s horrible…and it explains why they’re not pouring out of factories and landing in the hands of people that might want them.
I can’t be sure but 2009 data suggests 30,000 pairs have been shipped since they were invented (and the U.S. military accounts for 20,000 of them). Sound impressive? It’s not! In that same year (and only in America) markets moved 14,000,000 guns, 200,000 Recreational Vehicles, 61,648 Ford Camaros, and 30,000 scooters. Everything I’ve listed is a “toy” and costs about a thousand times more than a hypothetical $19 pair of glasses. Am I unfair looking at America? Ok, how about this, the global long term distribution of $19 glasses (with US military assistance) is about the same as the 2009 market for motorcycles in Kenya. While glasses that could change a life sit on a theoretical non-market doorstep 500,000 chia pets wind up in houses annually.
The market moves things. Use it!
I can’t even buy a case of them and ship them to Uganda myself. Short of making them into a prohibited state secret…how much closer to unavailable to anyone could they get?
The article that inspired me so much was years ago. Until I see boatloads of them on street corners in Calcutta or can buy one on e-bay they exist only in theory and as a tool for begging. A product which could have made lives better appears to be hopelessly imprisoned in a matrix of do-gooders. How very sad.
If anyone wants to differ go ahead. Tell me where they’re for sale and how much they cost. I’ll submit a huge mea culpa the minute one is sitting on my kitchen table at a reasonable price (no $500 hammer military pricing!). If one comes in at $25 or less (in the real world and not in theory) I’ll send the person who found the source a postcard on Christmas. I mean it!
Unavailable (or severely limited) glasses are just one example. There are others. I like the cool looking bio lite stove which money cannot buy http://www.biolitestove.com/BioLite.html . The saga of the game changing third world laptop is similar.
Crusaders talk a good game but they easily become a speed bump to the good ideas that make everyone’s lives better. I’m not perfect but I couldn’t sleep at night if I was sitting on a boon to humanity and tied it up in a self esteem gambit.
Note: Full credit to Captain Capitalism for coining the term “Crusader” to describe non-productive losers who play around protesting and campaigning while the rest of us keep society running.