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  • Grinding the Government's Gears of Enterprise, Smithsonian Style

    Late last month, Smithsonian.com launched a “Department of Innovation” blog in hopes of reigniting President Barack Obama’s call for this generation’s “Sputnik moment”—in less glossy terms, that means taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to pursue the President’s pet projects.

    Fittingly enough, the “Department of Innovation” logo featured a series of cogs that, if put in motion, would grind to a halt. (We did our best to illustrate the likely results, above.) It seems that even when it comes to something as simple as putting together a logo depicting the gears of industry, government-funded enterprises like the Smithsonian can’t get it right. After being mocked for its ironic error, the blog’s author posted a retooled version of the logo (though its mechanics still remain unclear).

    Nevertheless, thanks are owed to the Smithsonian for helping to illustrate a fundamental truth: When it comes to innovation, government doesn’t know what it’s doing. And that’s because Uncle Sam is not the mother of invention. Individuals are. And when new ideas or new products are in demand and profitable, they find success in the free market.

    What happens when government gets involved? Take a look at the U.S. educational system. Despite a tripling of federal per-pupil expenditures and $2 trillion of taxpayer money spent since 1965, academic achievement and graduation rates have remained flat.

    How about the President’s green energy pet project? Obama’s plan to spend taxpayer dollars to create green jobs (and expand green energy) is already a loser. In testimony before Congress, Heritage’s David Kreutzer cited four examples of companies that received millions in federal loan guarantees for clean energy projects—three of which ultimately struggled to secure private financing. Why? They weren’t commercially viable.

    Rather than trying to force innovation with bigger government and more federal spending, President Obama should take a step back and let the free market do what it does best. And if the Department of Innovation wants to see new ideas, it should look to individuals who make the wheels of innovation turn.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Grinding the Government's Gears of Enterprise, Smithsonian Style

    1. Bobbie says:

      get government uninvolved where they are a waste of time, trouble and limitless costs. out of the private sector! having to go through government is not FREEDOM to innovate!!

      ps: catchy title!!

    2. Mike McKee says:

      Another fix would be software patent reform and patent reform in general. I would like to abolish software patents because they are often too broad, and, as a web developer, I know that when you try to optimize code you often find there are only like 4 or 5 best ways to implement something, yet many times one of those ways is already patented by software patent troll companies who serve no purpose except to sit on a software patent and sue companies that try to violate that software patent. If we want to create jobs in America, we need to abolish software patents — I agree with a recent blog post from Mark Cuban on this one.

      But in general, patent reform needs to occur. Even things like hyperlink clicking have been accidentally patented and then overturned eventually in the courts due to prior art. We shouldn't have to use the courts so much to fix these patent snafus — the patent office should get it right the first time. But the patent office can't keep up. If we make it tougher for a patent to even be made in the first place, yet make it still possible, then that lessens the load on the USPTO and protects everyone.

    3. Llolyd Scallan says:

      I always thought the Smithsonian was one of the "good guys". Is their not entity in this nation that Obama and/or the Dems has not either corrupted of manipulated?

    4. Randy Rieland says:

      Just to get the details right, the Department of Innovation blog (There is no Department of Innovation–the title is meant to be ironic) has very little to do with the federal government,despite what many have written. It's written for Smithsonian.com–the website of Smithsonian Magazine–and not Smithsonian.org–the website of the Smithsonian Institution. It's been suggested that the logo had to pass through many layers of approval at a government agency. Again not true. It was designed by someone who works on the Smithsonian Magazine staff. A few people on the magazine staff looked at it. Because this was meant to be a two-dimensional graphic element, we admittedly didn't review it closely enough to determine if the gears would turn. Also, if you read the intro blog closely, it does not praise Obama for his Sputnik moment speech…it simply says that he used this phrase in a speech earlier this year. It then goes on to say that the country didn't exactly rally around his call to action. The notion that this gear logo is a reflection of government ineptitude and waste couldn't be further from the truth.

    5. Larry S. says:

      more evidence that Ronald Reagan was right when he said that the only way to insure crime does not pay is to put government in charge of it

    6. TwoEyesToSeeWith says:


      You're an idiot. Did you even look at the logo? If you look at the logo a little more closely, you'll see that the two smaller gears would not touch. Thanks for taking a simple logo and blowing it 1000 times out or proportion. Please limit your yellow journalism to your own blog. You are an example of everything that is wrong with modern media.


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