America's Innovation Culture

The First Digital Camera

When Kodak engineer Steve Sasson brought his first prototype of a digital camera into the Kodak boardroom to show to management, the reaction was not what he had hoped for his new invention.

“My prototype was big as a toaster, but the technical people loved it,” Mr. Sasson said. “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute — but don’t tell anyone about it.’ ”

I remember similar reactions showing off Intertainer’s IP Video On Demand system to the major studios in 1997. The DVD business was booming and all I heard was the word “cannibalization”. A little later I heard the story of one of the initial demos of the Tivo system to a major media executive. When the demo was over the exec unplugged the Tivo and threw it out the second floor window of his conference room and told the shocked Tivo execs never to darken his door again.

Auto Sales

I say all this because this morning the U.S. sales figues for autos were released(chart above).

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

Like the Kodak executives trying to preserve their high margin film sales, U.S. auto companies have been trying to deny reality to preserve the high margin truck and SUV business.

The trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles with better mileage is a blow to Detroit automakers, which offer fewer such models than Asian carmakers like Toyota and Honda.

Part of the nature of innovation is creative destruction. Joseph Schumpeter, the Harvard economist who coined the phrase said,   “Profit comes only from innovation. When all companies are making the same goods the same way, none can make a profit, because they eventually cut prices to the level of their costs.” But the Detroit automakers steadfastly resisted the hybrid technologies Toyota and Honda were developing, determined to hold on to their me too truck business. And now they are going to experience the same involuntary creative destruction that Kodak has been going through for the last 15 years.

It seems to me this same dynamic is taking place in the alternative energy space. The existing power players–oil companies, utilities, coal producers–are trying to hold on to a system that will not work for the future. They know the digital camera makes more sense. They are just afraid to let go. The Wall Street Journal, commenting on Exxon’s record earnings  (Rupert subscription required) yesterday said,

The soaring profits from fossil-fuels are coming as the rules for the industry are being rewritten, pressuring oil companies to move beyond fossil fuels to new sources of energy. With new finds rare and the best sources in countries that limit Western investors, crude oil is no longer viewed as the abundant, dominant fuel it once was. Critics contend that unless these companies focus more on the future, today’s record profits could dry up.

This country’s corporate leadership is going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming through this Interregnum into the Green Age. The next President is going to have to be a corporate ass kicker.


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0 Responses to America's Innovation Culture

  1. Nick Cull says:

    A fascinating snapshot of what goes wrong with corporate America.

  2. Dmitri says:

    One fundamental problem is our tendency to focus on quarterly earnings rather than the long term. Sometimes it’s just that basic a psychological crutch.

  3. STS says:

    Schumpeter was largely correct that “Profit comes only from innovation.” But “rent” comes from monopoly and that’s the real goal for a lot of big American companies. And I mean “rent” in the economist’s technical sense, which equates roughly to “loot”. You know, the stuff warlords, gangsters and mafiosi of all stripes demand from the people they shakedown.

    I don’t much care what Kodak did or didn’t do with Digital Cameras. After all, it isn’t as it there is a dearth of those things. That Kodak didn’t ride that wave is just an example of the way established market power fails to confer wisdom and the importance of a start-up friendly business culture that recognizes that innovation is largely incompatible with established power.

  4. Jon Taplin says:

    STS-Schumpeter thought the tendancy of capitalist economies to move towards monopoly or duopoly was the natural reaction to the innovation paradox. He was quite pessimistic about our ability to move beyond this problem

  5. Rick Turner says:

    If you want to see a perfect example of negative innovation, just look at Hollywood or network

    Who’s Harrison Ford?
    Rising young actor Harrison Ford…
    Starring Harrison Ford!
    Find me the next Harrison Ford…
    He’s like a young Harrison Ford!
    Remember Harrison Ford?
    Who’s Harrison Ford?

    Just using HF as an example…

    Every now and then there’s a breakaway, whether it’s digital photograpy or a Sony Walkman or an Apple iPod or a new personality. Then the corporate types waste millions doing the copy cat thing wishing they had the smarts to be the next breakaway. Being an innovator is not easy, and it leaves one very vulnerable to being knocked off. Remember, it’s the pioneers who had the arrows in them in the old West…

  6. Morgan Warstler says:

    Hmm. I agree with you Jon, but let me offer an amendment.

    Let’s say we snapped our fingers and all the actors were dead, gone, wiped from our imaginations. My belief is that overnight, we have a Harrison Ford, we have a Brad Pitt, we have a Jennifer Anniston.

    I’d argue there is nothing special about these folks other than that they most perfectly fit the mold demanded, required, ordered by the audience. It all is very much like American Idol, nothing falls through the cracks, nothing doesn’t have a chance. The market doesn’t actually miss.

    Everyone of us innately understands the difference between the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Long ago there was a void, and into the void stepped the pistols, and Angry Youth (AY) rose their heads up, looked on in excitement and stepped into the circle.

    And that brief moment lasted long enough until Angry Youths who were Political and Smart (AY-PS) preferred to enjoy their angry youth, without hanging out around the Violent and Fun Angry Youths (AY-VF) – and the Clash stepped in to feel the need. Nothing about the Clash was special as much as they most served to define the natural market distinction between (AY), they helped individuals define themselves, by what they really weren’t. “I’m not violent and fun, I’m politcal and smart – but I’m still an angry youth.” Before that we had the beatles and stones. And later public enemy and run dmc.

    In this light, art like advertising is really about packaging identity blocks that consumers can use to identify themselves to one another with, to tell their own narrative. In short the advertising isn’t to sell the product, it is to sell the consumer. You know how you will be viewed by people when they see these shoes, or hear this ring tone, because you know the ad campaign, the marketing effort, has pervaded the message far and wide.

    I mention this, because in most things we buy, a signicant amount of money being spent is not the commodity part – it is the identity part – and thats a good thing. The fact that even our poor are able to spend a sizeable amount of thier money much further up maslow’s hierarchy, speaks well of our modern success.

    I believe with both feet in invention, but I believe more in identity. And that’s how to sell Green.

    I swear I don’t know why you have such a hard time with selling green on the back of the war – it fits soooo perfectly. The ideas re-inforce each other in a deep psychological way.

  7. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan- That was one of the best things you’ve ever written. I don’t know if I agree with all you say, but for us a s a community–this is exactly the kind of positive contribution I’ve been hoping for. So thanks.

    As to the content- JK Galbraith in The Affluent Society, (really important book) say that the problem is:

    “It can no longer be assumed that welfare is greater at an all-around higher level of production than at a lower one. The higher level of production has, merely, a higher level of want creation necessitating a higher level of want satisfaction.”-

    If the society as a whole has to do more with less, then the aspirational $100 T shirt is probably worth giving up.

  8. Joon Lee says:

    Professor, your blog entries are always a joy to read, and it gives me huge pleasure to leave a comment (and a question) for the first time.

    The Kodak story is a great example, as you say, illustrating how most incumbents are afraid of change and innovation – because they can lose their competitive advantage.

    But I can’t stop thinking that those incumbents are often the most well-equipped to make those changes, which, in the long-run, can be to their advantage.

    Is it difficult to argue, with their multi-billion dollar profits, that these large oil companies are the most resourceful agents in solving the alternative energy conundrum?

    P.S. I totally agree with Morgan Warstler’s perspective that advertising will be more about selling the customer to advertisers, more so than the more conventional way of selling the product to the consumer.

  9. Pete Wolf says:

    Morgan does indeed have a point, but (unless I’m misunderstanding it) it does require a small amount of revision.

    I think its fine to think that for the most part the market provides for existing demographics, labels and identities around which the already existing trends can crystallize (angry youths, etc.), but I think that to claim that the market NEVER misses (as in, fails to provide for an existing trend) and/or that it ONLY provides identities for existing trends (rather than having an influence on the trends themselves) is too strong.

    Marketing can be used to control trends themselves (with varying degrees of success); good examples perhaps being the tactics of the music industry (although they’re increasingly unsuccessful). A related example would perhaps be the way ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are used to apportion the political field in a way that, although it does in some ways respond to existing divisions, also exacerbates certain tensions while suppressing the differences between many diverse interests.

    There’s a certain reciprocity involved in the formation, maintenance and change of identifying categories.

  10. Pingback: Redefining Politics « Jon Taplin’s Blog

  11. rhb says:

    So the meme doesn’t wash. Markets controlled by corporations will recorrect and magically come up with a new direction, a new lead to follow, a new creative presence, and so we will go on and on. By agreeing to disagree, morgan seems to have convinced you all that there is no reason to change. The free market gods can heal all. Oh and why don’t you see how tying your “green” to making war so neatly fits together? What’s the matter don’t you see that we just got the Beatles because of marketing. Yeah, it’s all a big sell and just because you are part of the problem (lost job, stagnating pay, no future in your chosen field, no future except the result of the ongoing finanacial credit swap mess) doesn’t mean that you get to point out that the same Suits you always recognized were the cause are still sitting in their comfortable boardroom chairs making money and taking no prisoners.

    “Advertising is about packaging” the idea that marketing is god. So take your little stimulus check and leave the talk of innovation to us.

    Goodyear announced surprising first quarter profits because they innovated by raising the price of their top of the line product while emphasizing the SUV market. Oh and they laid off 9,000.

    God, this free market is grand.

  12. Jon Taplin says:

    rhb- You are totally right that marketing does not equal culture. That was the point I was trying to make with the last post.

    The Beatles were not created by marketing, neither was Bob Dylan or “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”. The Whole Earth Catalog had nothing to do with marketing.

    This is the whole point that Galbraith was trying to make in the quote above.

  13. Tennessee Williams Shakespeare says:


    If there is one thing I am certain of, it is that the United States needs to change. We don’t need change, we need *to* change.

    That, and I have watched as the pharma and the entertainment industries have abandoned research and development and turned into mere marketing companies. This has not led to our enrichment as a culture. Morgan has a lot of theories, but he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Certainly not about art. Marketing has nothing to do with art except perhaps to destroy it when marketing gets involved in the creative process. It is only the difference between creation and destruction.

  14. Azmanon says:

    The issue of marketing and its influence on large scale trends reminds me of the telling tale of Edward Bernays and his crusade to utilize Freudian psychology as a means to control the masses. He was one of the main people to transform political propaganda mechanisms into the public relations industry and went on sell the idea to corporations in the early part of the 20th century. The story is thoroughly documented in the ‘The Century of the Self’ (available in 4 parts on the Internet Archive and Google Video).

    We are witnessing the results of this story after a long series of trials and errors between the marketing and PR industries and the public response. Some of which is Morgans identity branding and Pete’s identity politics.

    How innovation plays into this I’m not entirely sure because it too has more than one face. On the one hand there is the necessity for certain products the will meet a demand. While on the other the other strategic calculation and creative marketing is also critical (Apple did not invent the mp3 player). In which case it becomes more and issue of timing and investment of energy. What I would like to see is a complex chart or graph that shows the relation between investment of energy and (financial, material) resources and the duration of profitable returns for as many of the consumer trends as possible over the last 120 years or so. I’m sure many of the product “innovations” we see today (particularly in the digital realm) would still pale in comparison to early innovations such as the internal combustion engine, insurance or lets say even the ball point pen.

  15. Morgan Warstler says:

    LOL. Marketing has nothing to do with art. LOL

    I had to bookend that with laughter.

    JH, your point is too convoluted to be meaningful. I know what art is… I also know art MUST be marketed. In fact the only thing that frees the artist from the shithead art critics that scam the bourgeoisie and control the art market is marketing. Marketing will finally free the artist to sell to the many.

    What % of households have a signed, numbered, or even limited edition on their walls – hanging in their most personal space? That is your fault. You are reason they don’t even teach painting at the worlds largest art school – you are the reason, no one can make a living painting.

    You silly fool. Everyone in this country can name their five favorite actors, musicians, bands, sports heroes, fashion designers, probably models, sports coaches, politicians, magazines… what most people in this country can’t name is their 5 favorite artists. And thats because, art isn’t marketed – because of you and your elitist attitude. YOU are the reason, your “certainly not about art,” high minded ignorance is why artists starve. No one wants to be in your club, you are dying for members, and you still hold yourself up as arbiter elegante for what is good. Arf!

    rhb, Let me give you another example in music… there are these assholes in Hollywood, and somehow these assholes they have figured out where ALL THE BARS WITH A STAGE ARE…. amazing huh?

    And somehow these assholes have figured out WHO IS PLAYING at all these bars with a stage.

    And these assholes, have the means (evil corporations) to go to, to fly to all of these bars and SEE ALL these bands – any bands that gets any kind of crowd.

    And, yes it is disgusting, but these assholes actually might be called experts, experts at which bands might actually have bigger and bigger audiences, if only they get marketing.

    And you want to know how often these guys miss? NOT FRIGGIN OFTEN. And that is the old way before there was an Internet, which makes the market even more accurate at selecting the worthy, and makes the agent/manager even less valuable. But looky here, the market is doesn’t miss, not often.

    Don’t believe me? Look at the sky tonight, go outside and look at the sky. Which star is brightest? Which are the top ten brightest stars? Easy for even you to figure out, for all of us to figure out. That’s it, thats what you need to know about talent and art and advertising – there is something to find in the best, that is shining bright, and some people have better light meters than others. When someone is REALLY talented, everyone else is thankful to go along for the ride. Emily Dickens and John Kennedy Toole are the aberrations, and just because you know a band or an artist who is “really good” doesn’t mean they are – it only means you are thrusting your own judgement into the mix, and the market finds your judgement unworthy.

    It means you are a buyer, not a seller.

  16. Another Jon says:

    Another Jon’s 5 favorite artists:

    1. Martha Stewart
    2. Morgan Warstler
    3. Paris Hilton
    4. The Collected Works of George W. Bush
    5. Dale Earnhart

  17. Ken Ballweg says:

    Shocked AJ, shocked. You left Hannah M. (the tart de jour) off your list. Please update immediately.

  18. Flint Dille says:

    Look, if we have a lot of innovations that solve problems, I frankly don’t care if somebody makes a lot of money. In fact, I hope they do in order to encourage more people to make innovations. Has anybody done the ‘cool new device’ reality show?

  19. Guy Fowlkes 3d says:


    Your thinking is formulaic.

    And you have no idea to whom you are speaking or what you are talking about.

    Although art is constantly marketed, it doesn’t, as you say, have to be.

    Art doesn’t have to be *anything*. But art.

    A painting is a painting. It is singular. A painting cannot be marketed to the masses.

    Glad to give you a couple of laughs. And to be the problem.

    With whatever it is you are after.

    And by the way, who are your five favorite painters? And who, in your opinion, are the five best painters painting today?

    Oh, and also by the way, if you think marketing is somehow equal to art, can you tell me who marketed Da Vinci or Rembrandt or Van Gogh or Cezanne or Picasso or Pollack?

    If you want to stop sounding counter intelligent, you might read a little Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

  20. Guy Fowlkes 3d says:

    Oh, and one other thing, those record business experts you write about in ALL CAPS miss eighty percent of the time. That is a documented, verifiable fact. The record business has been operating on the 80/20 basis for many years. The eighty percent that they miss on are paid for by the twenty percent that they hit on.

    Record companies, the great marketing machine, have been living off a catalogue replacement cycle for decades now.

    You are seriously clueless.

    (But that doesn’t make you a bad person.)

    PS Here is the kind of art marketing delivers to us: The Eagles. We live under an avalanche of the kind of sub mediocre art marketing sells us.

    Art is not a pretty sight. It is not for everybody. A lot of people don’t like it one bit. You are talking out your hat.

  21. Jon Taplin says:

    I’ve been rereading McLuhan on the way to Singapore. He is extraordinary. Here are a few of his thoughts on the role of the artist in the society. (And Morgan, he considered Elvis an artist, so don’t go restrictting this to painters):

    “The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological change decades before its transforming impact occurs. He then builds models or Noah’s arks for facing the change that is at hand. ‘The War of 1870 need never have been fought had people read my “Senteimental Education” said Gustave Flaubert”

    “To prevent undue wreckage in society, the artist needs to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society. Just as higher education is no longer a frill or a luxury but a stark need of production and operational design in the electric age, so the artist is indispensible in shaping and analysis and understanding of the life forms, and stuctures created by electric technology”–Understanding Media -1964

  22. Another Jon says:

    Maybe a little off the subject, but is in line with my previous post, intended to poke a little fun at Morgan’s anti-elitist elitism in his definition art.

  23. Azmanon says:

    I was just about to chime in “you guys are talking about art as if the 20th century never happened” until our host came to the rescue.

    Hasn’t anyone heard of theater, film, music, sculpture, dance, literature etc… along with the more recent developments in the fields of photography, performance, installation and all the various electronic media / time-based arts?

    We discuss in depth the politics of US foreign policy yet hardly mention the fact that Culture has been one of the great American export markets (and hence global influences) since the second world war. You know, something has to fill all those airwaves, networks, screens, car stereos, clubs and arenas across this little globe. Somewhere people have to find out what to do with their free time, how to look good in their new cars, how to use up all that extra processor speed. And so who produces all that culture and related artifacts?

  24. Morgan Warstler says:


    I think it is more like 90/10… and it goes to my point. I don’t know why you’d not get that. Even before the web, they could still have 90% fail. My point is that, because of these metrics, there never went by a deserving band / musician who couldn’t make living at it – didn’t get a real shot. The A&R guys with their many advantages didn’t miss.

    A buddy of mine pretty much started the mp3 thing. There at his site, way back when, hundreds of thousands of unsigned artists uploaded their songs – and I believe from memory – 1 of them got signed professionally. The market was already so good at approving quality, that the “fair playing field” created by the Internet, pretty much first found out how fair the market already was.

    Another friend, runs the go-to service that tracks downloads on p2p and torrent sites, and sells reports to the music labels, about which unsigned acts are seeing the best velocity of their downloads.

    In fact, a pretty standard requirement in the music business now, is the proof, that a band can market themselves online – on their own, to get signed in the first place.

    As to art doesn’t have to be anything but art… thats wrong. I think that art actually needs to provide meaning.

    It isn’t even enough to say to someone, “it’s whatever it means to you,” no that’s not enough, not for consumers who deserve a fair deal – seek a good deal. When an couple wander into an art gallery to buy their first painting, and they don’t “get it,” they are left to either feel dumb or to leave.

    It goes to notion of value. No one wants to buy something, where they know they won’t get as much out of it as someone else.

    I call it the Idiot Tax. We all know we pay it at different times. It means you will pay X for something, but you will take only Y out of it, and Y is based on YOU.

    Apple as a company succeeds because they make it seem to everyone, that they can use it as well as Einstein. So while it costs more, it is a good deal. It is easy. Apple reduces the perceived Idiot Tax. And artists LOVE IT. Take a lesson, will ya?

    Art is not easy. And it should be. Let me say it another way, if you want to define art as meaning based on the viewer. Art as Messy. Art as not for everybody. Where people either get it or they don’t, then we need to have another thing – we can call Art 2.0 – and that thing allows us to judge the artist – based on whether people can understand it.

    These are the top 10 search terms at ebay for art:

    vintage poster
    thomas kinkade

    That my dear Guy, is all the proof you need. Art is dying, because it is not marketed in a modern digital way. It is retarded that in this age, everyone doesn’t cheaply get to personalize their inner space with art that THEY UNDERSTAND.

    Why do you think it is so much that hangs on people’s walls has WORDS on it or is pictures of celebrities? “home is where the heart is” “Led Zeppelin” “Success…”

    Yeah, that happens because of shit heels like you. Artists starve because of you. You are wrong. Deal with it. Until artists work to convey meaning and are judged by the success of that conveyance, art will not be anything more than the shaved poodle of communication.

  25. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan- I sense a certain resentment here. Were you once a painter? I have quite a few friends who are tremendously successful artists whose names would never appear on an Ebay search. They are not competing with Thomas Kinkaid. You confuse Kitsch with Art. One hundred years from now Thomas Kinkaid will be long forgotten but Ed Ruscha will be remembered.

    I’m not trying to be elitist, but your constant belief in the wisdom of the crowd is a weakness and after all that is not where the true artist lives. I’m going to try to post on this later.

  26. Morgan Warstler says:

    Jon, no I’m not a failed painter. I am simply frustrated because art so underserves the market. Belief in the wisdom of the crowd of the crowd is not weakness. As Willy Wonka said, Scratch that. Reverse it.

    While we know successful artists, obviously most people don’t. So, I judge it entirely on based on how much art the average household owns.

  27. Morgan Warstler, Jr says:


    Your are lost in your own echo chamber. Sorry you are so frustrated, in your word, and to have wound you up so that you would lose your composure so fully.

    And you still are talking absolute nonsense. As you once advised Jon, find the Zen.

    Art only has to be art, what ever art is. If you want to pompously say it has to provide meaning, I would respond, that sounds noble. And old school. But great. Art has to provide meaning. Whatever meaning is. It also has to do an indefinite number of other things that art has to do. You have little or no understanding of art.

    Also, by the way, you are doing some intense projecting, I believe the word is.

    You should try being an artist for a while, before weighing in any further.

  28. Art Mundane says:

    Now for something really interesting.

    A buddy of yours “pretty much started the mp3 thing?”

    Here is something from the World Wide Web.

    “MP3 was born at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, in the town of Erlangen; its father was a professor named Karlheinz Brandenburg. In an age when it is possible to become a multimillionaire on the strength of a half-baked idea, Brandenburg has done the unthinkable: He has failed to reap either wealth or publicity from his role in the creation of a staggeringly successful technology. And, even more remarkable, he feels pretty good about it.”

    “Belief in the wisdom of the crowd of the crowd is not weakness.”

    That is the first artistic type statement I have heard you make. This is the echo chamber of which I spoke. You are a sacrfice of the crowd of the crowd.

    Through the Human Genome Project, we have learned that thirty thousand years ago, the human race was almost extinct. There were only twelve hundred humans on Earth, living in Central Africa. One day for some reason, one of those humans made a piece of art. Abstract thought entered the race. The entire migration and development of man has been a direct result of that event.

    Who marketed the cave paintings? Art survived very well before marketing was a gleam in its father’s eye, whatever pig god that was. Art will be lucky to survive marketing.

    You have confused Identity and Celebrity.

  29. Tennessee Williams Shakespeare says:

    “I am simply frustrated because art so underserves the market.”

    Art *serves* the market?!?

    Junk mail mogul and chicken hawk.

    You are dismissed.

  30. Jonathan says:

    I enjoy reading your blog very much as I spend a considerable amount of mental energy on the same issues, whither America, the role of innovation and society, etc. You are usually spot on, but let me point out that unfortunately the old carbon intensive energy companies may not have their comeuppance by avoiding renewable energies. While it is unfortunately cynical, the reality is that with modern scrubbing technology and carbon sequestration Peabody, AEP, and BP can take coal, burn it, and inject the CO2 underground. Peabody stays in business, or worse can actually grow. AEP has a more capital intensive operation but also charges more since operations now cost them more as well. And the biggest winner is BP who has just had their business double from hydrocarbons to hydrocarbons+co2 handling. And if you check your carbon accounting, volumes and densities you will discover that their materials handling infrastructure and wells have not merely doubled but increased many times over. So unfortunately it could very well be that the energy companies of the past century will be able to survive into the next century not by making any quantum leap to solar but by doing even more of the same. And while such emissions scrubbing is innovation, its neither groundbreaking nor elegant. But for even this future we need a price on carbon emissions.

    The silver lining in this is that with a carbon price and with all the materials handling and processing involved in cleaning up the emissions of fossil hydrocarbons, the price of fossil hydrocarbons will increase, allowing solar and other clean energy to become overwhelmingly cheaper…assuming their costs come down by innovation.

  31. Another Jon says:

    You are a clown.

    Please be consistent. You are the free-market guy. Art is serving the market. It is the elite that can pay for the product (fine art). The Medici’s are no different than the Pullitzer’s or Whitney’s. The market takes care of itself. Right?

    But now you want equal access. Now when it comes to art you display this self-righteous indignation over the prols not understanding what the elite are interested in, or the fact that they do not have a Rothko hanging on their walls. You make absolutley no sense. If you have an idea on how to make (fine) art more accessible, besides museums, then speak up. Otherwise, direct your attention to some other area where you at least make a lick of sense.

    The argument could be made that YOU are the one being elitest. Maybe the people that have the “Dogs Playing Poker” glean as much satisfaction from their painting as the guy with the Deibenkorn. Maybe the framed prints that you can buy from IKEA make people just as happy. Why are you judging them?

    Art’s value is and has always been based on what people are willing to pay for it. I have had some transcendental experiences standing in front of a painting or sculpture in a gallery. And if I could afford to replicate that daily, in my life, I would. Until then, I will go to the museum like everyone else and buy local artists/friends that I love and can afford.

    The only idiot tax that exists is the one drawn from the person buying a piece of art for his/her home based on the return on investment rather than the uncontrollable smile over morning coffee.

  32. Morgan Warstler says:

    “Art’s value is and has always been based on what people are willing to pay for it.”

    Agreed. Altho, it kind of, just slightly, contradicts this:

    “The only idiot tax that exists is the one drawn from the person buying a piece of art for his/her home based on the return on investment rather than the uncontrollable smile over morning coffee.”

    I guess you mean that the value of art is whatever people will pay for it, and/but they have to buy it for the purpose of enjoying it themselves.

    “I have had some transcendental experiences standing in front of a painting or sculpture in a gallery. And if I could afford to replicate that daily, in my life, I would. Until then, I will go to the museum like everyone else and buy local artists/friends that I love and can afford.”

    Agreed. And yes I am a free market guy, and yes I expect equal access. I want every artists’ work to most efficiently find its way to those people who can pay for something, in whatever form they can pay for. I want people to have more choice in their art, and the only thing I think that stands in their way is the elitism of those who think art is more than a personal thing that hangs on the wall. You have a trascendental experience at the museum? and what you have at home is lessor? WHY? There is a market there. Expect that it will change.

  33. John Hurt says:

    I forget whether it was C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterson who said, “When people stop believing in God, they will believe in anything.”

    There are those who believe in the Market. The Market is merciless. It is a cruel master. (And also an unpoetic and an ugly word. I hate to even type it.)

    As Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.”

Those who serve the Market are a miserable lot.

    They reduce actual people to a list of needs and desires to be promoted and traded. Among other things. There is, of course, nothing wrong with the Market. In its place.

    The Market knows no love, only appetite.

  34. Morgan Warstler says:

    JH, you seem to worry about the serving, without any notice of the being served. That’s likely the big ole problem. Serving is no big deal, if in return, you get served. You shouldn’t even notice the downside.

  35. John Hurt says:

    You seem to worry about serving, chickenhawk.

  36. Morgan Warstler says:

    Non-responsive. Again, if you are getting what you want out of the deal, why would you worry about giving someone what they want?

  37. John Hurt says:

    Old Timer

    Non-non-responsive. However, you have been non-responsive to maybe a dozen (probably more) serious questions I have asked you. You are big at giving advice and making condescending and disparaging remarks about other’s, like our host’s, thoughts or positions. Why don’t you tell us some of the things you might find not so great in your self? Some of us may have noticed such things.

    For the record, I am not worried about anything.
    You want me to give you something?

    Peace be with you, Comrade.

  38. Morgan Warstler says:

    As Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.” Those who serve the Market are a miserable lot.

    My point was that, one doesn’t serve the market, one serves other people. Customers are people. And the reason you serve them is so other people will serve you.

    Being able to get exactly what you order to spec, exactly the way you want it, to see it made, arrive fully expressed to your specific desire – having that is worth serving other people exactly they way they want – at least to people who belive in the primacy of the market. It is what you get from the market, that makes you determined to serve the market. Simply said, we are all masters, not slaves. If there’ s nothing that you want that badly, I’m sure it is easy to be annoyed by the construct – it is easy to imagine those who do it willingly are miserable.

    For the record, I try and answer serious questions, tho I don’t know how to answer one about what I don’t like about myself. I wish I had children at an earlier age – I find it mellowing. I wish I was nicer to the women of my youth – see above.

  39. JohnHurt says:

    Well done, old timer. Now, I have asked you several serious questions to which you were non responsive, but instead carried on pontificating, derisively rattling off the same old tired, unconvincing, memes that you have bored everyone to tired sobs with. Your work is not, to say the least, irresistible (which, by the way, is one of the things that art has to be). I am light hearted and you are heavy handed. Perhaps that leads you to believe my questions are not serious. Or perhaps you are simply not able to answer them.

  40. Morgan Warstler says:

    JH, the simple correct answer is:

    1. question:

    2. question:

    Rather than waste time arguing about it, restate these mythical questions I don’t answer. Otherwise it reads poorly. It takes the same number of key strokes, and obviously, I’m not stipulating to your assertion, so out with it man.

    And what’s with the weird need to tell me I’m both unconvincing and resistible? JH, I realize that perhaps here, in this blog, you imagine a world where nations don’t do things like fight for resources, and conservatives have historically won these damn elections even though they don’t speak for “the people.”

    You say what in response? That historically, the voters have been too dumb? You think the evil asshole republicans manipulated things? Or do you admit that your side has been too disrespectful of normal voters real concerns?

    I wonder about this, because my approach s very much about just saying to voters, “we have to fight to protect our access to resources,” because it is true. There is no lie there – it is what I actually believe. No manipulation. Whether you or I like it or not, this country has been built on cheap oil – and before we decide to let “oil producing” nations have violent power against us for some moral cause. The price of oil may be soon pushing past $200 a barrel. That is A LOT of money going into the the hands of our enemies. It is worth an honest discussion in America to determine if our nation is prepared to use force for access to resources, to ensure our enemies do not make these “windfall” profits you’d so quickly steal from our own interests. Has America voted that the Middle East can gouge us, but US companies cannot?

    Rather than shouting me down, aren’t you interested in trying to find out? And if not, why?

  41. John Hurt says:

    Actually, regrettably, I have lost interest in what you have to say. I skip your stuff now. While you claim a position somewhere in the heart of the people, you seem oblivious to how far out on the margin you are. I appreciate Hugo’s attempt to encourage you. I have tried to do that myself in the past. At this point, however, I have no more time for you or your acrid polemics.

  42. Morgan Warstler says:

    Too bad, how are we ever going to change your mind?

  43. P. Cross says:

    Morgan, To their very soul they will never get It or any part of It. It is the essence of who they are. It is their weakness.

    It makes them so predictable, they even tell us what they are up to.

    Today their complaining about the VA and voter registration, if memory serves me, this from the dirt balls that tried to have the military over seas ballots denied in Fl. in the 2000 election.

    They are laying a foundation. Everything they do is for a reason.

    By the way, The team of Ignorance and Irresponsibility are now being driven by Obama, Hillary and Bill are holding on for dear life flapping in the wind and Algore is face down on the trail covered with horse shit.

  44. P. Cross says:

    I was so hoping for a troll

  45. Another Jon says:

    I just wanted to drop this little gem of an article in this thread for anyone interested that has not read it yet……

    It is actually kind of inspiring.

  46. Pingback: Oil Crisis and the Conservative Revolution « Jon Taplin’s Blog

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