Most of us with a few gray hairs can remember Edwin Land's invention. What an amazing development! We could take a picture and see it in a few minutes. It was very helpful if your memory was extremely short. Within about a minute or so of taking the picture, you could recall fond memories of what happened two minutes earlier. After you snapped a picture with the Polaroid Land Camera, the black box would spit out a piece of paper about the size of an index card. However, there was still no picture to be seen. When you removed the picture from the camera, you had to wait for a minute or so while the chemicals involved dried and the picture magically appeared. If a minute was too long to wait, and you were careful not to touch the surface of the picture to be, you could wave the picture back and forth to speed up the drying process. This was very different from having to send a roll of film to the secret Kodak plant and wait weeks for them to turn that roll magically into the pictures you had taken.
It was with Land's 1947 invention that we entered the world of instant gratification. Little did we know at the time that the path we had started down would become a runaway train and create a great deal of dissonance on many levels. It wasn't long after the instant photo machine hit the market that, in 1954, Ray Kroc took over the relatively small-scale McDonald's Corporation. He applied assembly-line techniques and gave us the instant meal, which became known as fast food. The irony is that it is often not close to fast and sometimes not even close to food. We have since added quick stops, instant grits/oatmeal, instant tax returns, drive-up windows for everything, instant messaging, quick car washes, quick as a wink laundry, and even speed dating to the list of hurry-up features in our daily lives.
This instantaneous society has all but eliminated deferred gratification. Young people now often believe that their entry-level position should be boss. Jim Morrison of the Doors stated it best in the song "When the Music's Over," as he sang, "We want the world, and we want it now!"
You might now be asking how this all relates to the 2010 midterm elections. Various factors have contributed to the current state of our economy. Much of what has happened has done so internationally. Greece and France are examples of countries suffering as much or more than the United States is. Central and South American countries face monumental challenges to simply provide some basic needs for their people. Many countries in Africa struggle to feed many of their people.
In America, we did not arrive where we are today suddenly. For the last two decades, we have slid in this direction. Politicians from both parties and business leaders from all over the spectrum have made mistakes and poor decisions. Some nearsighted short-term policies created some horrible long-term results. The foundation of many of those decisions was based in greed and a desire for power.
As all this came to a head in 2008, we decided to elect a new president as well as some new senators and representatives. Changes were made, and some new paths were immediately taken. In keeping with the Polaroid mentality and our desire for instantaneous results, the voters expected our lives to change almost over night. We have spent two years trying to redirect our economy and our country. Because of our Polaroid society, we can't understand why not everything is fixed yet. Challenges building for decades cannot be fixed in a year or two.
America has been through some bad times before, and we worked hard to overcome those tough stretches. In the past, as a country, we have pulled together and fought for the future, despite the cost. The good news is that the slide has ended, and the stock market is getting healthier. Manufacturing is starting to move forward, and domestic car sales are improving. We are making progress. We cannot afford to lose what we have gained. I am angry about the challenges passed on to us from past politicians, but casting an angry vote will not help. As you cast your vote, you need to make sure you base it on the truth, facts, and just one emotion -- love for your country. As you enter the voting booth, make sure you vote for America's future and that you don't base your vote on that Polaroid mentality.