Gary Horton: Fidget spinners show America’s future


Recently overlooked in the lame-stream media were the profound implications of a small plastic object pinched between Barron Trump’s thumb and index finger.

As the First Family descended Air Force One, Barron grasped a “fidget spinner” – a small, three-pronged plastic device hooked up with ball bearings in the center and designed to allow the user to endlessly spin, twirl, gyro-scope, flip, and otherwise amuse – all while freeing one’s mind for clearer thought.

Fidget spinners have become all the rage in the toy world. And the software world. And the thinking world. First thought to be a focus device for the ADHD among us, they’ve proven an extremely engaging toy.

Haven’t heard of a “fidget spinner” yet? You’ve been left in the past, my friend – along with your hula hoop.

The youthful Barron was hip with his spinner. Dad Trump could learn something from the son. The son grasps the “now.” Dad hangs onto coal.

Hear me out on this: Trump, who made no small deal of his 71st birthday June 14, is fixated on an America that would still spin hula hoops, not manipulate fidget spinners.

An America that sends black lung coal miners miles into the earth picking and digging at chunks of coal to burn vs. an America that efficiently aims panels at the sun and blades into the wind to cleanly generate its power.

Trump hopes for an America where your toaster still comes from Chicago and your dress is sewn in southern mills, where your black-and-white RCA is assembled in Illinois, and you had to get up off the sofa with your Hamm’s beer in hand to change channels because remotes had yet to be invented.

It’s maybe a wistful thought, but Trump has us all fidgeting in the past.

Here’s the thing about fidget spinners. They’re almost all made in China. Me? I get ‘em online from a Chinese website. One buck or maybe two or three – or five bucks for the fancy brass ones that, if made here, would surely cost $30 or more.

Yeah, no doubt they’re pumped out at hundreds of different factories dumping god knows what into their rivers, with armies of machines and underpaid workers pumping ‘em out like America pumps out corn.

Still, I can buy ‘em for a buck or three, including shipping, all the way from China right to my mailbox.

The same for toasters or radios or TVs. The way they’re made, the way they’re bought, the way they’re shipped, the utter ridiculousness of the low price for which they’re obtained.

Fidgets and all the rest of low-cost comsumerism are where modern manufacturing meets modern logistics meets modern demand.

OMG. Manufacturing faces a rough, competitive, high-speed, highly automated road ahead. America, like other high-wage nations, either must further automate, move further up market, further innovate, or get swamped and shut down.

There never will be thousands of guys down at the fidget spinner factory in Van Nuys turning wrenches, installing ball bearings. High-labor-force manufacturing is gone for good and will never happen again.

The Chevy factory closed and ditto the RCA radio factory, Kenney shoe manufacturer, and just about every gadget factory you can imagine.

Still, America yet leads the world in manufacturing. We build jets. We build satellites. We build software. We build solar, wind, and renewable power.

We do science. We build homes, run farms, make movies, theme parks, service industries, design everything imaginable. We win building, feeding, housing, and entertaining – the future.

But our time to make fidgets or most anything low-cost and mass-produced is long, long gone. As is coal. As is war. As is a lot of stuff we used to do – in the past.

Trump made much of his 71st birthday this past June 14. He’s older than his age of 71. He admits he doesn’t read much. Not a whole lot of exposure anymore to where the world is going, but a good memory of where it’s been and what worked long ago.

To win, hockey players learn to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is now. The same is true in business. And so, too, with nations. Yet Trump skates to pucks from games 60 years back.

The past is in the history books. We must skate to our future if we intend to win.

Trump needs Barron’s spinner – to lure him into thinking deep, deep, deep into the future.

Because who wins competitive global races running backward to the past?

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