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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We Can’t Blame the Robber Barons



In a past article, I wrote about a conversation with the wise gentleman I know. In that conversation, he suggested people stop funding homelessness. With no surprise, many were offended. Why is that? Is it because helping the homeless has become synonymous with looking good? By that, it makes one look like an honorable person for helping needy victims. Yet, it does very little to empower society and move us forward. In fact, the homeless population continues to grow. 

In a subsequent conversation with this gentleman, he made a number of clear suggestions that would move society forward and provide a long-term solution to eradicate homelessness. It would require funding brilliant people like
Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant man. And he was committed to enhancing the quality of life for mankind. Initially, George Westinghouse funded him. Later, JP Morgan funded Tesla and took ownership of his patents. When Morgan learned that Tesla was going to provide free energy to the public, he withdrew his funding and destroyed the tower that Tesla built – the tower that would have provided wireless energy for free. Tesla died poor and destitute.

In the US, this may not be an uncommon story where the inventor loses his patents and capital sources. And some people shout that this is the fault of the robber barons. That conversation makes the majority of the population a victim. Why is that the case? Do the masses have much more power than they realize?

In a conversation with this wise gentleman, he laid out what may appear to be counterintuitive. However, it puts the power of society back in the hands of the people, if they are willing to be responsible for it. He said the following:

Instead of depending on the wealthy or large institutions to fund entrepreneurs, do it yourself. When Morgan withdrew his money from Tesla, the people could have very easily funded Tesla. You may say that most did not know about Tesla’s inventions. Or that Tesla and other entrepreneurs should do a better job of making their projects known to the public. At the same time, if you are citizens of this nation, it is your responsibility to know who is working on what and how it will benefit or damage society.

As it stands, people are easily entertained by the media’s sensationalism and gossip. This happens at the expense of knowing about brilliant people who can advance us all. If each of us made it our responsibility, we could know about the Tesla’s of the world.

On the surface, it appears our society has not set up powerful structures to support the average person to be exposed to new innovations. When you look deeper, you see there are a plethora of avenues. To start, there is crowd-funding.  With so many crowd-funding sites, you can fund any type of project you desire.  

In addition, the church is an excellent means of exposing people. In every church, there are a number of brilliant members who are working on a great project. The priest can announce the person and what they are working on and how much capital the entrepreneur needs. They can have a bulletin board where people can post their project/companies. The church would also be an active investor.

If church is a great platform, so are community centers, schools and city hall. Except, the leaders of these institutions would have to welcome entrepreneurs with open arms.  
 
If this approach was taken, people like Tesla could continue to serve the public. By doing so, he and others would create organizations and in some cases new industries. Those businesses would be the source of job growth and economic prosperity. It would also be a source of empowerment for those who invest in the entrepreneur. Everyone would feel like they are contributing to the advancement of society.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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