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Sam Asano's Let's Invent: Looking back at 2013

January 05. 2014 3:42PM

"LET'S INVENT" with Sam Asano was started back on Jan. 7, 2013, and now the one-year anniversary has come. Looking back on the past year I would like to list various subjects we discussed and responses I received from readers.

I started this column with a specific purpose of assisting inventors who belong to the so-called 99 percent bracket.

As our nation, with its huge debt of some $20 trillion, and the economic system advantage tilted toward the wealthy, we are headed to being a "banana republic," where only 1 percent of the population owns 99 percent of the country's assets, while 99 percent of the population shares only 1 percent of the assets. In 1950s and '60s at the pinnacle of America's prosperity, we used to deride and laugh at these poor countries, which couldn't manage their economic affairs.

The solid prosperity we enjoyed then showed everything good about being a powerful manufacturing nation. Namely, they were low unemployment, relatively high wages, large and significant layer of middle class buttressing the stability of the nation, and positive balance of payment. This country was truly a nation of "milk and honey."

Then we started shipping out our "manufacturing" overseas to lower wage countries in the '70s. This act momentarily added the effect of prosperity as cheaper goods started to flood the country without much negative effect on employment. However, we continued the same path of quitting manufacturing and buying everything overseas, the balance of payment began to tilt negatively, and reached finally to the dangerous debt level of $20 trillion.

In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, there was a large number of amateur inventors active in the field of electro-mechanics. I say "amateur" to describe their status as compared to "corporate inventor" who is employed to develop products under corporate objectives. These people pursued their innovative concepts with their own money, and many of them succeeded. However, as the patent laws and the practice of intellectual property laws have gradually become a battleground of titans, small-time inventors have lost ground as the entry cost of patent application rose significantly.

This discourages innovation among these inventors, and results in reducing the number of opportunities that small business should be active on. Namely, getting back to our prosperous years has become a lot harder now. Yet, one shouldn't give up so easily. True wealth creation comes from farming, forestry, fishing, mining and ultimately manufacturing, yet manufacturing is the only activity that is stable, resource protective, brings about high employment and profitable. Getting manufacturing to our soil is the only answer.

This column will continue to aid amateur inventors in as many ways as possible so that their idea can reach fruition. I am writing a book called "Invention 101," which guides inventors through 12 steps to get his/her idea completed including receiving a patent. This column parallels the book.

Now, looking back at the year 2013, there are some subjects that many readers responded with enthusiasm, positive suggestion or just nice comments. We thank you. The top subject by far is the public safety issue of Texting While Driving (TWD). Some 30 readers responded with strong endorsement to develop an effective solution, requesting intensification of law enforcement with heavy penalty including loss of driver's license.

During the past week in the town of Brookline, a 30-year-old woman perished when her car was bumped from behind, and pushed into the opposing traffic whereupon a speeding car hit her car head on. To deepen the tragedy, the firefighter who extricated the driver was her father. Reports say the driver who struck her car from the rear was "distracted." In the town of Mont Vernon, a prominent citizen of the town perished when picking up his mail at the end of his driveway. According to police, he was run over by a car driven by a 20-year-old who was texting. The driver said he thought he hit a snow bank.

I would like to point out one peculiar phenomenon about the reader response. All 30 emails I received about TWD are from women. I would like to ask some social scientists to make comments on this phenomenon. Most of women's comments deal with their teenage children. They know kids are doing TWD even though they say they don't. These mothers feel constantly apprehensive and frightened even though they gave the phones to the kids. My question is "Why don't I get any email from men on this subject?" Male population doesn't care about highway death, possibly their own children? Or are they too busy texting while driving?

A reader sent in a humorous video clip about the town of Fort Lee, N.J. (It's not funny!) This is the proliferating phenomenon of Texting While Walking (TWW). People just don't quit texting while walking in and through the traffic. According to the report, one person had died already, and many have been injured by walking into walls, posts and windows. One even fell into the ocean from the pier. The report states it is an epidemic. The borough of Fort Lee started putting padding around downtown telephone polls.

See it here:

Shintaro "Sam" Asano of New Castle, who speaks and writes English as a second language, was named by MIT in 2011 as one of the 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century who improved our life. He is a businessman and an inventor in the field of electronics and mechanical systems, who is credited as the original inventor of today's portable fax machine. Write to him at

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