It's been said that the true measure of how great an idea is, is that when people hear it, their first instinct is to ask: "Why didn't I think of that?"
The printing press (Gutenberg walked away making bank off the Bible)
Facebook (a close third to the printing press)
The Automatic Teller Machine (Jim's favorite)
The Table Top Beer Tap
When I discovered that someone had invented a tiny machine that could tell you where you were (even when you were lost on the back roads of Kentucky with no cell service) and how to get back to your home, just by clicking a few buttons, I wondered why, exactly, I hadn't thought of this.
I'm always lost! I definitely should have thought of it!
As I read the NYT headlines today, I felt this way. I discovered that a couple, on the brink of foreclosure of their two homes, held a raffle to auction their house. Each ticket was $100 and a portion of the ticket sales went to charity.
Not only did they earn enough to pay off the debt of their homes, they also gave over $200,000 in surplus to their charity.
Now, raffles are springing up all around the country, as more and more families struggle to own their homes.
The reason consumers wonder why, exactly, this hadn't been their idea first is because there is a necessity that surrounds each of these ideas.
Americans need the housing market to be stimulated.
...and so they raffle.
Outdoorsies need to stay dry while hiking Everest.
...and so they Gore-Tex.
College students need (want may be more accurate) to stay in touch while creepily stalking their friends (and acquaintances...or strangers).
...and so they Facebook.
Yesterday marked the stock market crash heard round the world. And after a depressing evening of news-watching, I'm beginning to think that the only way we're going to find our way out of this is with some amazing new invention.
I mean, people won't buy homes. People won't invest. People won't shop.
We're at somewhat of a stalemate.
But think, if tomorrow someone comes out with an invention that gets people buying, investing and shopping, we'd all be OK (this may or may not be the optimist in me speaking.)
Imagine if tonight, while the world slept restlessly, worrying about their finances, someone invented a Sustainable Home that sold for $200, but was large enough to house any size of family, and made every homeowner a shareholder of the company while donating $50 to any charity and also generated money which would be directly put into the economy while avoiding inflation entirely...
We'd be set!
In this case, I'm afraid realism may win out over optimism. Somehow I doubt we're on the brink of this invention.
But if we all put our heads together, you never know what we might come up with...