149 online
 
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 29 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

The Air Up There, or, Trickle-Down for Real

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Thomas Knapp

Smog Downtown
Smog Downtown
(Image by Metro Transportation Library and Archive from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

Talking with The Daily Beast about the new Dyson Zone -- a $949 wireless headphone that also purifies the air its user breathes via an attached face mask -- Dr. Anthony Wexler, an air quality researcher at University of California Davis complains: "These things are terrible because only rich people can afford them .... if you're wealthy, you can breathe clean air -- whereas if you're poor, well, too bad."

At first blush, Wexler's criticism seems sensible. My sprawling Wyoming ranch, nestled in its pristine valley in the Rockies, probably boasts far better air quality than the densely populated urban areas, right next to belching smokestacks of death, where all you poor people live. Well, when my private chopper and private jet aren't revving up for action on my private helipad and runway, anyway.

[Note to reader: I don't own a ranch, helicopter, or airplane. Heck, I don't even own a house or car.]

But let's step back a moment and look at how the market treats expensive new devices.

Dyson's first product was a "cyclonic" vacuum cleaner. Its first major licensed release, in Japan, sold for about US $2,000 in 1985 -- more than $5,000 in today's dollars.

James Dyson spent 15 years developing the first bagless cyclonic vacuum. He went through, by his account, 5,127 attempts to get it right, after quitting his job and soliciting investors and lenders so that he could work full-time at it.

Today, Amazon's search results return cyclonic vacuums in every format from handheld to upright to canister, many for less than $100 (about $39 in 1985 dollars).

What should we say to James Dyson? Hopefully something that he can answer with "you're welcome."

The first cell phone, introduced by Motorola in 1983, retailed for $3,995 ($7,335 in 2022 dollars). Today, nearly everyone carries one of that phone's great-great-grandchildren in his or her purse or pocket, with the cheapest "burner" models -- leaps and bounds smaller, many of them "smart" -- going for less than $20.

The Apple I -- really just a circuit board, not a full-fledged computer -- retailed for $666.66 in 1976. How much computer can you buy for $3,361.20 in today's dollars? Well, that's about what a top-shelf Apple MacBook Pro goes for ... but I'm writing this column on a $150 machine.

The Latest New Thing is almost always expensive, for various reasons. Inventors spend a great deal of time and capital developing it. Patent protection gives them exclusive rights to manufacture or license it for a little while.

And as soon as The Latest New Thing looks like a winner in the market, everyone else goes to work making something like it. Only better. And cheaper.

What makes that process possible? Those rich people spending big money on The Latest New Thing, talking it up, and making it cool.

"Supply-side economics" has long been derided for its supposed "trickle-down" effect. Dyson's high-end offerings demonstrate the REAL -- and desirable -- "trickle-down" effect in action.

If the Dyson Zone works well for, and sells well to, the well-heeled, us poor people will be able to grab it, or something like it, on the cheap come Black Friday 2023.

Well Said 1   Supported 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Thomas Knapp Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

 
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

2020: I'm So Sick of Superlatives

America Doesn't Have Presidential Debates, But It Should

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

Chickenhawk Donald: A Complete and Total Disgrace

The Nunes Memo Only Partially "Vindicates" Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court

Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend