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What America Needs

5 October 2010 2 Comments

I read a headline today that said Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is close to surpassing Exxon Mobil (XOM) as the largest US company.  Apple is indeed an incredible company, but it’s very interesting today that the pride of American business today is a company that sells cool gadgets to people.  Not to say that these gadgets aren’t great.  They are and I own a bunch of them.  But, these gadgets don’t exactly do much for productivity unless your goal is to listen to music while you surf the web while you ride the bus.  No, what Apple sells is straight consumerism and Americans do everything possible to get their fill of it.

Helping them do it is our government who is discouraging savings and encouraging you to buy an iPad for each member of your family.  Artificially low rates, encouraging refinance after refinance, these are the tools of our policymakers that push you to buy more stuff and helps Apple hit all time highs despite a horrific economy.

At least the rise of Microsoft (MSFT) did actually increase productivity.  Software like Excel was a major productivity booster and still is.

We need a new era of innovation that leads to increased productivity not a new wave of cool gadgets.  Without one, we’re doomed to cronic high unemployment and a stagnant economy for years, maybe decades.

Where might this productivity boost come from?  The ideal source would be energy.  A new form or variation of energy could drastically decrease costs at every level and create millions of new jobs.  Instead of legislating pork legislation like the $800 billion stimulus bill, if the policymakers were set on spending that kind of money, why not put all of it into energy research?  How many wind turbines could $800 billion buy?

Unfortunately, our energy policies are driven by special interests.  About the most common sense approach I’ve seen laid out in recent years was the Pickens Plan which advocated a transition to natural gas for automobiles as a “bridge” to the next form of consumable energy in a couple decades.  The reasoning was because we have incredible reserves of natural gas here at home and it would keep the money in America versus sending it to the middle east.  Did the plan have flaws?  Sure.  Has anybody else put out a comprehensive plan that makes any more sense?  Not that I’ve seen.

But, then again, the politicians aren’t in the business of common sense.  Far from it.  They’d rather destroy your purchasing power and standard of living.  But at least you’ll have your ipod.

2 Comments »

  • shedwa said:

    I appreciate your argument here, but I think you simply assumed too easily that all Apple products are joy rides rather than legitimate business tools.

    I think it's wrong for you to assume that Microsoft can increase productivity while Apple cannot. I would agree that Apple doesn't drive productivity as an energy or manufacturing company does, but your implying that Apple products are good for nothing more than listening to music and watching videos is very much misinformed. That may be the primary function of these devices for you, but don't assume that is how the rest of Apple users operate.

    I've been in the field of design for more than 5 years, and every computer I've used has been a Mac. You would be hard pressed to find an advertising or design firm relying on PCs. In fact, 8 of 10 businesses are now running Macs. I also have an iPhone, which the majority of my time is used for pleasure, but still serves me in multiple functions for productivity in my professional life from billing to project management.

  • David said:

    8 of 10 businesses are now running Macs, yeah, but that's just advertising and design business. Comparing with overall PC being used right now, Mac is nothing – yet, look at those young people, everyone is proud of having a mac.
    I think what the writer is trying to say is that it's strange that young people now prefer more on those with better forms than substance. As long as it's "cool", others don't matter, which is really not good for the development of the overall society. and I totally agree with him.
    Look at what happened in the late stage of Roman empire, you will find lots of similarities between current US and then Roman empire.