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Pride in America: Thomas Edison

Pride in America: Thomas Edison

Niklas Kleinworth
June 27, 2023

Welcome to Pride in America Month. Every day in the month of June and through Independence Day, we will highlight a figure who has demonstrated and defended American values. Consider it a healthy alternative to the Left's June celebration that has taken over the media and corporate America.

Life-changing creativity and innovation are part of the American brand. They are the natural products of the American spirit and a free society — opening opportunities for those determined to pave their own way toward changing the world. Thomas Edison is internationally renowned to this day for his innovative and practical solutions. He is the epitome of how these values transform the world.

Edison was nearly deaf, handicapping his ability to learn in traditional lecture-based educational settings. But this did not stop him from paving his own way. Edison became an avid reader, trudging through a diverse selection of topics. His inquisitive nature and ability to self-teach provided the foundation for his abilities to invent and problem-solve.

In an age where electrical technology was only in its infancy, Edison found himself skilled at solving problems by scaling his inventions for practical use. This placed him ahead of many inventors whose great ideas would stall for decades until someone else could build the infrastructure for public use.

One example of Edison’s undeterred approach to invention was the electric power grid. The invention of the incandescent light bulb necessitated the development of a radically novel infrastructure. In part, this required Edison to invent the parallel circuit, preventing the burnout of one light bulb from causing the rest of the circuit to fail. After refining this technology and the high-resistance light bulb, Edison was able to implement his invention on a large scale in lower Manhattan — creating the first operational power grid. Such a feat would have been tangled in a web of red tape and an expensive permitting process if attempted today.

Edison was a resilient personality who learned from failure rather than fearing it. In the age preceding the telephone, he was looking for a way to transcribe human voices via telegraph. He noticed that the stylus used to write these messages was able to reproduce the sounds it inscribed on a piece of paper. This was unexpected and later resulted in the invention of the phonograph.

Much of the technology we enjoy as part of modern society would not be possible without Edison’s work. In addition to the electric grid and the light bulb, he patented the alkaline battery later used by Henry Ford to make self-starting vehicles. Though batteries are quite different today than back then, the portable storage of electricity is an engineering marvel that baffles engineers to this day.

The character of Thomas Edison appears to be falling out of American culture. Our children are no longer being taught the fortitude to overcome challenges that should have ruined them. Few are challenged to be bold in their pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.

Likewise, our industry has lost the drive to invent solutions that are practical and accessible. Edison invented a working incandescent light bulb with a platinum filament long before the final commercial version. But platinum components would make the product too expensive for a free market to adopt — forcing Edison back to the drawing board. Today, the green energy industrial complex’s approach to forcing expensive solutions into the marketplace involves government subsidies and banning the older and more affordable alternatives. This raises the cost of living for everyone and disincentivizes cost control built into production.

One part of honoring Thomas Edison requires Americans to teach their children the value of problem-solving, hard work, and the pursuit of knowledge. The second part requires returning to a true, free-market system of innovation — removing subsidies and market constraints imposed by the bureaucracy. These components must be accomplished together to provide both the interest and the environment ripe for America to lead the world in life-changing technological innovation.

Do you have a great American who deserves to be celebrated this month? Let us know!

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