Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 08/17/2020
The Wright Brothers inaugurated powered flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, covering 120 feet in about 12 seconds. Well within a person’s lifetime, 66 years later, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, an eight-day, 480,000-mile round trip. Theoretically, one person could have witnessed both events if in the right places at the right times.
Yet we can’t change our school systems to provide equal education for all? Or our health system, or our judicial system?
No one was clamoring for powered flight, and some were convinced it was impossible. The Wright Brothers simply did it on their own, as entrepreneurs. When Sputnik scared the United States government to its foundations, John F. Kennedy proclaimed that a man would walk on the moon within the decade, and amassed huge public, congressional, and financial support. The entire world later watched that first step, transfixed.
Entrepreneurs can achieve some things better and faster than government can, but only government can achieve the massive changes often required in public works and society. I’m sure entrepreneurs will continue to thrive, just look at Fred Smith, or Elon Musk or Bill Gates. But I’m not so sanguine about government initiatives. An entrepreneur might invent a vaccine for the coronavirus, but the judical, health, and educational systems are within the government’s purview.
I hope this next election, no matter what the outcome, will see such initiatives. If we can put a person on the Moon using 1960s technology, we are eminently able to provide all people with equality in excellent education, health services, and judicial representation in the 2020s. That doesn’t require a trip through space.
“The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together.” —Bill Gates
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.” —Wilbur Wright
“The Wright brothers flew through the smoke screen of impossibility.”—Dorthea Brande