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BREAKTHROUGHS IN HUMAN HISTORY… SORT OF

Looking back at human history, there have many many watershed moments, and some very specific inventions and ideas that have advanced our culture and changed the world forever. In the realm of ideas, the Ten Commandments, The Magna Carta, the scientific theories of Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein, the Declaration of Independence, the Gospels of Jesus Christ, the Koran, the writings of Confucius and Buddha, The Gettysburg Address, the 95 Theses that launched the Protestant Reformation, the Communist Manifesto, The Rights of Man and The Civil Rights Act to name but a few. You could also throw in the domestication of animals and the introduction of universal education. For better or worse these ideas changed the world forever.

As far as inventions, well, there’s penicillin, gunpowder, internal combustion engines, the printing press, the Model T Ford, the telegraph, airplanes, light bulbs, telephones, computers, sewer systems, horse-drawn plows, the Franklin stove, stainless steel, plastics, satellites and any number of things that have been introduced and had an immediate and permanent impact on humanity. They could be the product of one man’s imagination or a team of scientists working together towards a common goal. Either way, mankind benefitted and together took a giant leap forward.

Then there were some other things, both inventions and ideas, that were touted as revolutionary when they were introduced but really didn’t live up to that billing. Things like salad shooters and ideas like Aryan supremacy didn’t work out all that well. While the salad shooter only cost some foolish consumers a few wasted bucks apiece and a lot of produce strewn about the kitchen, the Super Race theory wound up costing the world 50 million lives. Sort of makes you realize why people are suspicious of change, that old Devil-you-know dictum. You just never know what’s going to blow up in our faces. Here’s some more big busts:

Unregulated Capitalism: While capitalism is the best proven way to create wealth and jobs, you’d think we’d have learned from the excesses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that capitalism is run by humans, and therefore subject to abuse. Back then you had child labor, 7-day work weeks, murderous working conditions, cutthroat monopolies, unchecked pollution, rampant speculation and practically no government oversight. The result? It all went kablooey in 1929, plunging the entire world into the Great Depression for over 10 years. How soon we forget.

Trickle Down Economics: That theory of universal prosperity where the wealthy are handed so much money that they drop some on the floor, leaving the rest of humanity to lunge at it like dogs under a table fighting for scraps. While a patently ridiculous notion (rich people never drop any money), it was pretty illustrative as far as finding out exactly what the very wealthy think of the rest of us. Also, the fact that a half-daft actor named Ronald Reagan who somehow became our president and advanced this batty idea should have sent it to the early grave it deserved. And yet, here it is still alive and kicking years after it was shown to be a complete disaster for anybody who doesn’t happen to be very wealthy.

Segway Personal Transportation Scooters: Those two-wheel, one-passenger scooters run by a gyroscope by having the rider lean this way and that to propel them. They cost around 800 bucks these days, down from the original $2,000 price tag. That’s because they are patently ridiculous and ineffective, useful only as toys for the well-to-do, to be used a couple of times and then stored in the garage next to the bow-flex exercise machine, another high-end purchase that seemed like a good idea at the time but wasn’t. In 2006, all 23,500 Segways so far sold were recalled because of a glitch in them that tended to fling the rider to the ground. So much for the revolution in personal transportation.

Botox: The stuff so-called doctors inject into aging faces to make them appear young again. It straightens out wrinkles and gives the appearance of smooth, cherubic cheeks and jowls. The only problem is, it kills the nerves in the faces of patients and renders them unrecognizable, which is sort of a problem if you are a celebrity and make your living on the premise that your face is instantly recognized. It also makes moving your facial muscles in any normal way impossible, which puts a crimp into acting styles when the only facial expression you are capable of is a blank stare. If you’re a lousy actor to begin with, you’re in trouble. Or even a regular person, since we sort of rely on our facial muscles for a lot of things. No sense freaking out your loved ones so you can look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

The Patriot Act and The Department of Homeland Security: These are the two worst ideas ever for responding to an attack on the United States. By stripping every American of some of the individual rights guaranteed to each and every one of us in our Bill of Rights, Bush The Younger and a spineless Congress has handed our enemies a free major victory and broken the law by violating his oath of office. It’s a simple, one sentence oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s it. No mention of stripping citizens of their rights for any reason.

It is the job of our many existing law enforcement and military agencies to enforce our national security, but only within the United States Constitution, as per the oath of their Commander in Chief. No new agency was needed, especially one founded on the premise that our rights as Americans are expendable. You don’t defend America by becoming less American. We’ve won plenty of wars without surrendering our ideals and our guaranteed rights before a shot was fired. Makes no sense.

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