Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Call For Socialism

I am no fan of socialism. But there are some non-individualist solutions I readily endorse: insurance companies. These work by spreading risk around so that no one person bears the entire cost of whatever hazard is being insured against. This works and it is in a sense a socialist solution even when the government isn't involved.

I am a big fan of tools. I like building things and finding just the right tool in my shop. At Harbor Freight I'm like a kid in a candy store. But there are tools I cannot afford, but would dearly love to own. And I wouldn't buy them even if I could afford them because I wouldn't use them enough to justify the expense. Like a laser cutter. I'd dearly love to own one of those. Or a 3D printer. Or a CNC milling machine. Or a 3D scanner.

I'm looking at using these tools for individual, onesey-twosy projects. Like a pinewood derby car. Or a wooden case for my Sony Reader. I can't justify the expense for a few, little projects.

I don't think I'm alone in this. There are a lot of guys and gals who'd love to have temporary access to some of these wonderful machines. Sometimes you can "know someone" at a company with a model shop, but if you don't, I have a proposal.

Someone either in the private sector, or in the public sector, can set up a public workshop and fill it with tools like I've just described. Given the moribund manufacturing sector in this region, such machines could be had cheaply. Then this workshop can be made available to hobbyists, entrepreneurs, anybody who can afford either a monthly membership fee or an hourly access fee. The workshop would hold classes on how to make simple projects using each tool and on safely using each tool. And after you've passed a safety course, you could use each tool.

This would put some expertise into the hands (and minds) of people who might not have marketable skills at present. It'd provide an interesting diversion for the hobbyist.

I don't think I'd be writing this if I lived in San Francisco. I think I'd just drop by and buy a membership at the TechShop.

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