Real Wealth Society

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “evangineers” By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Jan. 28th, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “evangineers.” Actually I’ve been thinking about the landfill hearings, etomology, medicine/healthcare, MBAs, intellectual property, retailing, and action. An “evangineer” is a blend of evangelist, "someone who tries to persuade other people to share enthusiasm for particular beliefs and ideals," and engineer. It was first popularized by Apple Computer evangelist extraordinaire Guy Kawasaki: "If I had to describe in one word the perfect person to start a revolution, it would be 'evangineer.'" (From "Rules for Revolutionaries," Harper Business, January, 1999.)

You see, I spent over 40 hours last week sitting in on (and listening to) the siting hearings for the proposed landfill expansion which took place at the Hickory Grove Conference Center in Rochelle. I learned a great deal about geology, aquifers, waste containment technologies, and engineering. The specialists/ experts from Shaw Environmental hired by the City of Rochelle were consummate professionals – they were knowledgeable, articulate, and ever-so-patient in responding to questions directed at them by the attorneys - and the public at large. It was totally open and very impressive.

In a conversation with one of the principal engineers after the conclusion of this phase of the hearing process, I was introduced to the word/ concept “evangineer.” Etomology is the study of the origin, history, and derivation of words. If you add the letter “n” (entomology), it becomes the study of bugs – but that subject will be left to some future column.

This was a completely new word/ concept and got me TH*NK*NG in the much wider/ broader concepts of the problems facing this nation. “Evangineering” need not be limited to landfills - or to the engineers who deal with them. An “evangineer” could be ANY person who seeks to change some aspect of society and who has the high level of technical expertise required to make that change. They might come from numerous disciplines and fields of study. The important thing is that they have knowledge/ expertise, they speak out, and they use what they know for the good of all in fixing/ solving a problem.

Medicine/ healthcare is a huge sector of our economy. That sector is growing far in excess of the rate of inflation. We as a nation are spending a bigger chunk of our budgets on medicines, healthcare, and medical insurance. We are less fit and popping more pills than any prior generation. The current generation of young Americans more-than-likely will face a shorter life expectancy than their parents. We need “evangineers” in medicine/ healthcare to come up with real fixes and cures. I mean… why cure anything when the goal of research and “solutions” is to make everything a “chronically treatable” disease requiring the daily intake of costly wonder drug medications? This doesn’t cure anything; it does guarantee the future profits and cash flows of the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry.

MBA’s, “das Wunderkinders” of the business schools, are the professionals of Wall Street, industry, and finance with their fingers on the pulse of our economy, our growth, our efficiencies, and our corporate cultures. Their focus/ solution of late has been on “the cheap.” Cut your costs by down-sizing, right-sizing, and shipping our manufacturing jobs to the countries in the third world which pay subsistence wages with no benefits and fewer worker protections. True, short term profits may soar and management can get eye-popping bonuses. Down the road, who here will have the money to buy things?
Our colleges and universities are the best in the world. Students come from all over the globe to study here and we welcome them – but sometimes at the expense of educating our own nationals. Some émigré scholars stay in the US; that is fine because we are after all a nation of immigrants. If they pack-up their knowledge and degrees and return home, they increase the future competition against US/us. Intellectual property – patents, trademarks, technology, and brands – have a huge intrinsic value – far more than we realize.

It’s true that inventors make some money, but the real profits (or the values added) accrue in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution. How many things and products that the world must have were invented here, but are now all made elsewhere? Does that really help our economy or long range situation in the broader scheme of things? We no longer have the option to “Buy American.”

We are at a critical juncture in the problems facing our community, our state and/ or our nation. In many cases, we must even backtrack to get on the right path. Let’s face it: it’s time for us to fish - or to cut bait. More graphically stated… or get off the pot. We face hard choices, but we are an inventive people with knowledge/ expertise unsurpassed. We must speak up and act accordingly. (Thank you, Devin, I needed that.) I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

(To be continued.) Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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