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May 22nd, 2009:

MINUTEMEN UPDATE: American capitalism alive and well

American capitalism has had a hard year of it.

The auto industry is going bankrupt. Retailers are shutting their doors. Our banks are run by the treasury department. Even Circuit City, the company that brought us such useful things as the DIVX video player (you remember that, don’t you?), is liquidating.

It seems like the Great Recession is toppling all the once-great pillars of American Capitalism.

But just when I thought all was lost, I saw a commercial on TV for a new product that renewed my faith in big business and American capitalism: the flat bottom taco from Old El Paso.

What makes this product beautiful is how utterly unnecessary it is.

No one sat around the kitchen thinking that tacos are a big pain to make because they don’t stand up straight. But the men and women at General Mills, the parent company of Old El Paso, realized that even staples that function perfectly well can be improved. More importantly they understood that people will buy the new-and-improved product even if they don’t yet know they need it. You just need to educate them.

So General Mills invented the flat bottom taco. Hopefully they will be rewarded handsomely for discovering and correcting this shortcoming in taco technology.

It is this kind of dedication to incremental improvements in products—coupled with massive advertizing investments to educate people about why they need the latest and greatest—that ensures that in America, tomorrow will always be a little bit better than yesterday.*

After all, a decade ago, who would have thought we needed flat-panel TVs?

*Unless you work for a taco-shell company like Bearitos, which does not have the latest taco-shell technology.

Check out the ad below.


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