The Inventors Were Great, But They Weren't 'Selfless'
By David Holcberg (Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2004)
In "From Steam Engine to Search Engine" (11/3/04), Mr. Evans misunderstands the motivation behind the great businessmen and inventors who "created our modern world." Contrary to his claim, these creators were not motivated by "a desire to serve" others, but by a desire to invent, produce and profit.
Edison, Goodyear and all the other innovators mentioned in his article did not dedicate their lives to the selfless service of others but to the selfish pursuit of their own visions. They charged ahead against all odds and persevered in the face of obstacles--not to benefit their neighbors but to achieve their own values and dreams. They did not give away their inventions so others could enjoy them for free; they sought to make fortunes for themselves and attain their own happiness.
Unfortunately, Mr. Evans takes for granted that "innovation will continue in America." As he puts it: "It is in the nation's DNA." The truth, however, is that innovation will continue only as long as we hold technology and progress as important values, as long as the freedom to innovate and to profit is protected, and as long as the creators’ motive is to profit, not to serve.
Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.