What America Needs
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.