Reality TV, and The Reality of the American Economy

I am not a fan of reality television, with two exceptions:  I love “Shark Tank” and “MasterChef”.  I consider most news programs (on any channel–network or cable) reality TV, since news is more talking heads, opinion, and speculation rather than facts.

I used to watch “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” (a guilty pleasure that left me as unsatisfied as a box of Little Debbies–the commentary on realitysteve.com was far more entertaining).  I even used to miss a favorite yoga class to watch it with my mom (not before the days of DVR, but we’re always behind the times about ten years when it comes to technology).

I enjoy “MasterChef” because I like to cook.  I love “SharkTank” because I love the entrepreneurial spirit–I hope to one day invent a product that makes me a millionaire.  Not sure about starting a business, though.  According to the Sharks, you should spend 16-20 hours a day on your business.  If I didn’t get at least seven hours of sleep a day, I can’t think clearly.  When Mark Cuban talks about how he used to eat ketchup and mustard sandwiches, well, all I can say is, “Really?!”

I don’t think you have to starve yourself or go without sleep to be successful.  I think you just have to be focused, work hard, and it does help to start small.  I am amazed at the number of people who go on there and they’ve mortgaged their house and went deep into debt.  I know what Dave Ramsey would say about that, but I also know he doesn’t believe you should go into debt to go to college (which I disagree with, to a certain extent–if you’re getting a degree in Art History, yes, but engineering, no).  I look at college as an investment in one’s future.

There was one lady who started her business with two hundred dollars–money she’d made one summer from cashing in aluminum from old windows her husband took out (he was some kind of contractor).  She even taught herself to sew (which I can’t even fathom because that was one of two classes I flunked in high school, that and geometry).

Now that admission segues me into talking about the product I’ve created.  However, I not only have to learn how to sew to make this work, but I would have to secure a patent (which would be very expensive).  I’ve made a very crude prototype (there’s a word I learned from the show) for myself that works great.  I think there is a market for it.  However, the uncertainty scares me.  I may not be too big to fail, but I am too poor to fail.  I am not a salesperson–I am an inventor.  Just like I love the creative part of writing, I hate the marketing/business part.  I would be totally fine with receiving a royalty off of every sale–just make me money!  I don’t want the headache of running a business.  I really don’t.  I believe in simplifying life, not complicating it.

That said, I know I would have to agree to have my product manufactured overseas to cut costs.  I am okay with that.  I’d prefer to have the label “Made in America”, but it just isn’t feasible when you’re just starting out.  There was a man who pitched his idea of some kind of pick-up truck add-on, but he was adamant about it being made in the USA to help bring jobs to his impoverished town.  I get that, but until you become big, you can’t afford to do that.  He made zero profit.  If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help anyone else.

The reality is that we’re a global economy.  Ninety-nine percent of people just aren’t willing to pay more for something of the exact same quality, just to get that “Made in America” label.  Most of them can’t afford to.

I’d love for all our goods to be made here, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.  We’re a consumerist society, a service-based economy.

Right now, I am focused on trying to make more money, to help give my family a better quality of life.  Sometimes, in order to achieve the American Dream, one must be flexible doing business beyond her borders.

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