In recent times, I stumbled upon a list from the History Channel detailing seven inventions that revolutionized the world during the Gilded Age. This reminded me of a commentary I did years ago, based on Mark Steyn’s book “After America”. In it, he encouraged us to imagine what it would be like to bring our great-grandfather living in the late 19th century into an ordinary American home in 1950.
The poor man would be utterly astonished by this home filled with mechanical marvels. There’d be a massive machine in the kitchen, churning out food and keeping milk fresh and cool. He’d hear an orchestra playing somewhere and then discover it came from a tiny box perched on the kitchen countertop.
He’d gaze out the window and witness a metal contraption speeding down the street – enclosed within doors and windows, no less! It was like a house on wheels. With so many cars whizzing about, there was not a horse or carriage in sight!
Now, let’s reverse that scenario. Imagine someone from 1950 transported to our world today. I think they’d be underwhelmed. Not much has changed at all despite all the technological advancements we boast about today. Computers and smartphones are certainly impressive, but perhaps our grandparent from 1950 would have expected more significant transformations than we see now.
What stopped these transformations? Physics and politics are two possible answers. We can dream of flying cars, time machines, teleportation devices; however, there are physical limitations that prevent their creation. Furthermore, government regulations make it increasingly difficult for inventors and entrepreneurs to thrive. It is high time we reconsider how much government interference stifles innovation and imagination.