Monday, May 30, 2011

Ben Franklin Would Not Be Possible Today

We all know that Benjamin Franklin is one of these amazing people that printed almanacs, made scientific findings, invented things that are still used today, and was a skilled diplomat.

Did he go to college?


While schooling is great, isn't it a bit sad that the net effect is that it ends up pigeon holing a person into pursuit?

Today, Ben Franklin would have had to either:

1.  Rot away in an engineering or science program for well over a decade. In the meantime, he would have to keep his head down and work as a minion on whatever the professors were researching before he was allowed to develop his own study for his final project.

2.   Go to college, then apply to the State Department for the opportunity to become a diplomat and go through a series of objective tests and an intense background check before they sent him off to work as a low-level gopher in Sri Lanka so that he could "pay his dues" for a few years before being sent to a more important country.

3.  Work as a columnist for a podunk paper and writing about the local corn festival because he didn't have the Ivy League education to get a job with CNN or the New York Times.

Then, of course, whatever career path he went in meant that everything else would be relegated to "hobby" status. 

If he ended up being a scientist, he'd probably have a blog on the state of the world.  If he was compelling enough, he might end up on the radio or on TV.  Since he would have no direct ties to what was going on in Washington as he gave up his political pursuits to focus upon a scientific career, he might rise to the rank of "talking head nut ball" like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, or Michael Moore.  If he was vocal in the wrong way, he may end up on the FBI watch list.

If he ended up being a politician, then surely nobody would come within 1,000 feet of whatever he invented.  Seriously, can you think of anything in your home that you used that was personally invented by John F. Kennedy? If he had unveiled a machine that turned all garbage into usable potting soil within 30 minutes, how excited would you be to purchase such an item knowing that this was something he was tinkering around with on the weekends?  Women copied his wife's fashion, but that's about as far as people are willing to go as far as putting their trust in politicians to improve their daily lives. 

....and when you think about it, it's kind of weird that we don't use politician-made inventions.  Think of all of the stuff invented in ancient Greece and Rome that were instituted by visionary leaders...or, at the very least, they had a good eye if someone came up with something good. Today, if President Obama published his recipe for Buffalo Wings, it would certainly not catch fire with the populace regardless of how tasty they turned out.  It's almost like we expect a great level of incompetence from the people who lead the free world.

"I went to Harvard, was a Rhode's Scholar, and I helped come up with a peace plan for Eastern Europe."

"Nope, sorry.  I will use a McCormick's seasoning packet before I use your recipe for four alarm chili."

Oh well.  Here's to you, Ben Franklin! 

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