Only in America is a cliché and like all clichés it is founded on truth.
Don’t get me wrong; I love America, I have lived here 32 years.
But having grown up in England then moving here in mid-life enables me to observe this county, and the people who live here, from a different perspective.
When I saw ElliptiGo Bike, (Above.) I thought, “Only in America.” I wrote about it yesterday trying to put a humorous slant on what I saw as the absurdity of it.
I realized that “Only in America” is made possible by the fact that this country is huge with a lot of people, over 300 million the last time I checked.
The other factor is that a great many Americans have a lot of money and too much time on their hands. The too much money part is changing rapidly.
What this has meant in the past is that anyone can come up with any harebrained idea or product, and because there are so many people with discretionary income to draw from as potential customers, there will always be a few who will look at this crazy product and say, “That is really cool, I have to have one of these.”
I really shouldn’t knock it; I now realize it is what led to my success in the United States as a framebuilder, after I had struggled for many years to make even a meager living at it in the UK. Most of the frames I built were bought by people who were attracted by fancy paint and glitter, and just had to have one.
But after riding it a few times realized it was a lot of work, their butt hurt and they never persevered to reach a fitness level where they could appreciate the full potential of such a bike.
So the bikes I built and sold with a certain amount of pride, are now languishing in garages and basements, and sadly many have ended up in landfills. How many ElliptiGo bikes are destined for landfills? I doubt they will become future collectables.
Back in the 1800s when America started to grow and people headed west; some grew wealthy and as soon as they did there were Snake Oil salesmen, con artists as well as legitimate entrepreneurs ready to relieve them of that excess wealth.
Snake Oil salesmen are now huge corporations who advertise medications on TV every night; cures for dubious ailments like Restless Leg Syndrome.
We even medicate our children for Attention Deficit Disorder. (ADD) When I was a kid if we didn’t pay attention we got a slap up the side of the head. That got our attention. Did it harm me any more than medication today? I don’t think so.
When money is easy to come by, people think it can buy happiness. Everyone is looking for a quick and easy fix. People are unhealthy because of poor diet and lack of exercise; with a little work they could fix it, but they would rather spend money on pills to make them slim, or cure what ails them.
I’ll except that I am probably wrong to criticize ElliptiGo and the people who buy it; after all it is a free country and it is their money. But I realize that the majority of people who buy these machines and indeed many who bought my bikes, their happiness was short lived.
After they were less happy, they had less money because they had wasted some of it. Money cannot buy happiness, but then again neither can no money. This recession means that many people will be even less happy.
On the other hand, many will make do, scale back and start living a simple life. They will start walking and riding a bike to get to places. This will lead to better health, which will lead to a sense of well being. It is a sense of well being that brings happiness, with or without money.
The key is not Wealth and Happiness, it is Health and Happiness; and that is true anywhere, not just “Only in America.”