Another Cool Idea That Won’t Happen In “Free America”

Every now and then there is a brilliant idea or product that’s actually creative (as opposed to the usual “glue tailfins on the last model” incremental creep of mediocrity).  Some newfangled consumer goods really do transform the “way things are done”.  Examples that made it to everyday use:

  • Microwave ovens: “Welcome to the Jetson future where a common way to cook food is to jam frozen stuff in a box and blast it with space rays.”
  • Automatic transmissions: “No matter how unaware you happen to be, just point the lever at D and steer between the lines, the car will take care of the rest and never stall.”
  • Cell phones: “I shall pay many dollars per month to make sure I am never peacefully beyond the reach of a telemarketer.  Bonus: it allows law enforcement to track me and the government gives them free to people who (unlike me) are on the “get free shit” list.”

Other ideas run aground on established interests and bureaucracies.  They’re killed in their crib and never make it to prime time.  Here are a few examples near and dear to my heart:

  • Adaptive eyewear: (I’ve previously discussed “Crusader Product Inhibition” and how it was the Deathblow to Adaptive Eyewear.)  Adaptive eyewear are cheap simple glasses that can be easily adjusted (when needed and with no special training) to any person who needs them.  Stuff one in your backpack and you’ve got replacement glasses for anyone in your party.  Stuff one in your truck and you’ve got a backup for anyone who needs them.  Toss a set in the medicine cabinet and you’ve got a handy backup for the whole family.  Opposition: Cheap glasses!?!  Where’s the profit in that?  It’s better to force every American to buy personalized glasses at great expense and no small hassle every few years.  Also an optometrist has to tweak the prescription every time; as if spectacles are heart surgery. Result: Adaptive eyewear glasses are sold cheaply by the case to NGOs.  NGOs will only distribute them to peasants in the third world.  I, a rich, fat, indulged, American with money to burn can’t have what might be dropped by the crate on a village of mud huts in Africa.  Apparently I’m not worthy?  Ironically, I can charitably buy a crate for shipment to any one of several places of misery.  Yet I cannot have one for myself.
  • The Mahindra Truck:  A cheap, stout, 4×4, fuel efficient, diesel, workhorse of a little truck.  It takes a beating and works like a dog world wide.  Opposition: A cheap truck in America?  Where’s the profit in that?  A fuel efficient diesel in the nation that is host to California?  California is so schizophrenic about diesels that it’s easier to buy a behemoth than half the fuel efficient cars on Germany’s autobahn.  Money Quote from Car and Driver’s “Mahindra Pickup Failure Shows Difficulty of Launching New Brands in the U.S.“: “You think today’s politicians are petulant? In the 1960s, we got into a trade war with European countries because of an import tax charged on American chicken. In retaliation, we established the “chicken tax,” which survives to this day. Light trucks are smacked with a whopping 25-percent tariff.”  Result: I own a four ton truck that burns twice the fuel of a Mahindra, can tow an aircraft carrier, and makes Gaia weep while it shits the equivalent of a Fiat out of it’s tailpipe every time I start it.  California got what it wanted; good and hard!  Note: The same forces bludgeoned the cheap and fuel efficient Smart Car to death.

Now comes another transformative idea that is/was/and will always be unavailable to the theoretically free people of America.  The flat pack truck.  Americans can build kit tractors, “experimental” airplanes, and all the guns they can machine (or recently, print) but a flat pack truck funnels no money to middlemen so none will ever grace our roads.

It’s a shame because there’s no truck so ugly that I don’t want one.  Also I’m in love with the idea of building a kit.  Why should such things be limited to children’s toys and shitty Ikea furniture?  I’d love a kit for a Honda Fit but I could never match the quality of the OEM.  Maybe I could slap together a Ural Patrol with the quality that made Russia great?  Some things just sound like fun aside from their fiscal logic and a truck in pieces (provided it’s reasonably well thought out) sounds cool.

Hat tip to In the Middle of the Right.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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6 Responses to Another Cool Idea That Won’t Happen In “Free America”

  1. jon spencer says:

    I would like to be able to go to the local dealer and buy a new, not a grey market 4wd cabover Kei truck.
    There is really no reason, other than the govt. bureaucrats.

  2. Wei Qiu says:

    Amazon has the Emergensee eyewear for $126.99. However, Debspecs has it for a more palatable $44.95. So you are worthy of a pair!

    • $126.99 is an abomination before nature! The whole idea was adjustable AND cheap. Cheap enough for dirt farmers in Swahili! I wanted “throw it in your backpack and forget about it” equipment that was barely better than disposable. Something to tide me over in a moment of need (and look utterly uncool while doing so) or maybe hand it to someone else who broke their specs. For $129 I can buy prescription glasses online that are as good as what I’m wearing right now.

      OTOH I’m worth $44.95 (even Mrs. Curmudgeon would agree). It’s a quandary, for that kind of scratch I might keep carrying a spare set of old of worn out glasses as usual. The downside being that I couldn’t help anyone else but myself. Do I care enough about my hypothetical fellow man in theoretical need to part with $45 on the off chance it’ll matter? There’s a lesson in all this.

      BTW I recall the original price was supposed to be well under $20. (The number $8 rings a bell but I can’t verify that.) I’ll need to move to a mud hut in Botswana before I’ll see that price.

      Thanks for the info because I’m not sure what I’ll do. The cheapskate / gadget balance in life is a delicate thing.

  3. Just look at what Ford did to the little Ranger pickup over the years.
    It started out as a little econo box utility pick up and by the time they quit making them they were loaded with every thing a full sized truck had and cost over twenty two thousand dollars.
    They quit making them because people decided if they had to spend that much for a small truck they might as well get a full size.

    Same thing with Toyota and Nissan. You can’t buy a small, stripped down utility pick up any more.

    I agree completely that there is a market for them.

    I would love to have something the size of an early Suzuki Samarai with a three cylinder turbo diesel and a medium sized bed. HAS to be a manual transmission too.
    Four wheel drive would be awesome.
    Make it a real truck too, something you can open the doors up and hose out.

  4. MaxDamage says:

    A cool idea would be a device one could attach to, say, a cat collar, and program a roomba to track and follow. Clean the floors and exercise the cat all in one! City folks would buy it up!

  5. Good article. I will be experiencing many of these issues as

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