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Sam Asano's Let's Invent: Manufacturing our future

May 26. 2014 8:38PM

This column is to assist 99 percent inventors who have always thought of inventing something that solves a problem, and imagined they would become wealthy in that process.

That idea happens to be goal-congruent with this nation’s desire to bring back manufacturing to this country.

Starting around the 1960s, manufacturing has been steadfastly losing its activity to the low-wage nations such as China, and as of now we manufacture very little here in this country.

The term “99 percent inventors” comes from the definition of “Banana Republic.” In that fictitious country, 1 percent of people owns 99 percent of the nation’s assets, and 99 percent of the people shares just 1 percent of the assets.

The expression is meant to deride those South American nations controlled by dictators. I am afraid now our beloved country is rather quickly becoming one.

A few months ago I watched a TV show. The crew went into a household and tried to find any American-made product. They couldn’t find any.

All products were either made in China, Japan or some other Asian country. No wonder we have accumulated some $20 trillion in debt, which means we all individually carry some $65,000 in debt. That includes a baby just born as well as old retired individual, who have no earning power.

The result has been catastrophic.

The nation’s economy became monolithic. It is like a large mountain with a deep forest covering what once stood here.

This was the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. In the forest, a diverse ecology existed. Many different species of animals and plants thrived and prospered because of the deep tree growth.

Shipping manufacturing out to foreign countries was equivalent of cutting down the forest. In the end when all the forest that once covered the large mountain was stripped bare, nothing but few species could survive.

One of the few ways to solve this problem depends on the shoulders of you 99 percent inventors. If more inventors join the ranks of inventing manufacturable products, our country will benefit immeasurably. Instead of lamenting what happened to this country and getting depressed, let’s think of the ways to get out of this box, and regain the glory of America of ’50s and ’60s.

I would like our 99 percent inventors to invent aggressively. The problem inventors encounter immediately upon coming up with an idea if they want to patent the idea is the high cost of applying for the patent.

For those inquirers I will give my earnest advice. Just get the prototype made, either by you or someone who is in the model shop business. Through the building of the prototype, you would learn a lot of valuable knowledge.

Once the first working proto is made, you will see a dramatic change in people’s attitude. The potential buyers, potential investors, potential manufacturers etc. Like the Nike commercial — Just do it.

In searching for an appropriate model shop, which would work with you and your idea, I could provide names for the area in which you live. This newspaper or I would not be responsible for their performance, however. The list is provided just a reference point.


The Water Shortage articles that ran for four weeks received a lively group of readers’ comments. Most of them were surprised to hear that our nation is running out of water. But in general they were willing to believe the situation.

One reader, Peter Anania of Portsmouth sent in this email:

“Hi Sam,

I’m not a scientist but a person with a lot of common sense. I think your article is extremely exaggerated and another scare in the media. Maybe in the Southwest there’s a shortage, but that’s where civilization turned a desert into living quarters and nature could be winning there. In the rest of the country, the number one cause of damage and natural loss of life has been a result of too much water.”

— Peter Anania

Dear Peter, I suggest you spend just two hours to read/study all the scientific material available through the Internet on the subject of water consumption and resultant shortage. I too was surprised at the degree the danger is approaching so fast.

The Southwest indeed has been hit very hard. This month’s Popular Science magazine has a stark photo of Hoover Dam with its water level dropping by 100 feet in the past decade. They are now forced to dig an intake tunnel that is 200 feet below the current two intake drainage outlets.

The Earth recycles water, and the total quantity of water the Earth holds is constant. However, the key process of recycling, namely rainfall and snow, are not occurring at the right areas due to the climate change and other reasons. Our nation’s insatiable appetite for water is also aggravating the shortage.

Some decades ago, scientists predicted impending climate change — global warming. Many scientific camps deride the idea. Now the United Nations is issuing a report about global warming urging all nations to control CO2 emissions. I hope we take our actions early enough to stave off the water crisis. As you well know, no living organism can live with no water.

Next week: the graphene revolution

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. He also developed a data tablet used in the retail point of sale to capture customer signatures when credit cards are used. Write to him at

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