December 14, 2019-
In the late 1940’s, a man named Preston Tucker conceived and produced a modest number of innovative automobiles, bearing his name. The attitude of the United States government towards entrepreneurs, in the 1950’s, was a far cry from what it is in this century. Tucker was harassed by the Eisenhower administration, on charges of stock fraud and false advertising, though he was eventually exonerated. Today, many of his innovations, from disc brakes to air-cooled engines, are standard features in many lines of cars.
For many of us, change is most easily accepted if it is piecemeal, and even more so if it mainly involves re-arranging the chairs on the deck, or rotating the plates on a table. Preston Tucker, with Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Stanley Kubrick, Jackson Pollock and Joe Sample, among many others, challenged the way people thought about everything in our society. How can machines be made in a different manner and serve mankind more efficiently? How can music and art be wildly innovative, even whimsical, and still have deep meaning? The powers that be are averse to asking these questions, even in this national unity,age of deep change.
We are finding this in public service, as well. Those who propose large scale changes in the way public affairs are conducted, primarily with a view towards bridging gaps, are dismissed by both the nation’s leadership and the mass media as Lost Causes or Just Plain Weird. The idea that people with liberal viewpoints can find common ground with those of conservative bent has led many with a conventional frame of mind to publicly retch. The “ruffle no feathers” crowd almost prefers widespread incompetence to warm and vibrant appeals to national unity. Thus, “minor” candidates are shut out of the process by clever, but putrid, political machinations.
It is thus in business and industry, in the arts and in the halls of government. It would be refreshing to see the popular will resist these incessant appeals to mediocrity.