An Army of Magic Alexes
Given his ability to fill stadiums to this day, I think it's fair to say that Paul McCartney remains as popular as he ever was. Yet it's a daunting task for any post-Baby Boomer to really appreciate how pervasive and influential McCartney's band, the Beatles, was in the lives of those who came of age in the '60s. In fact, chances are that barely a week or even a day goes by during which some old Beatles song doesn't spontaneously pop into most Boomers' heads. For those who lived through those times, waiting for each new song, wondering what pop masterpiece the Beatles would create next (or which stuffed shirt they would offend next), the Beatles -- both their music and their public personas -- are branded into Boomers' consciousness. We will always remember them.
On the other hand, there was another, darker, side -- the business side -- of the Beatles phenomenon that perhaps even the "four lovable moptops from Liverpool" themselves would like to forget.
Does anyone remember "Magic Alex"?
For those who don't, or who have never heard of him, "Magic Alex" was the nickname John Lennon bestowed on Alexis Mardas, a young Greek inventor and child scientific prodigy. In You Never Give Me Your Money, a fascinating chronology of the Beatles' business dealings in the years leading into and following the Beatles' breakup, Peter Doggett describes Mardas as "[p]erfectly mannered and utterly persuasive." Persuasive enough to finagle himself a position, and salary, at the Beatles' newly formed Apple Corps Ltd., anyway.
As Doggett describes it, "Alexis Mardas had been delicately telling Lennon about the technological breakthroughs that would be available if only funding were available." And indeed, everyone in a position to know at the time acknowledged Magic Alex's ability to invent truly wondrous things. However, the ability to invent useful, commercially viable products would elude Mardas. And sadly, Magic Alex was only one of several misconceived business ventures that Apple and the Beatles funded -- all of which, until the fortuitous arrival of business-savvy Allen Klein, brought the company and the band to the brink of financial ruin.
Now substitute Barack Obama for John Lennon, Solyndra and General Motors for Magic Alex, and the Obama administration for Apple Corps Ltd., and I think you can see where this narrative is going. In Magic Alex's case, it was "force fields that could prevent car crashes and repel burglars, or a camera that could take X-ray pictures." In Obama's -- and, sadly, America's -- case, it's the Chevy Volt and "green energy."
There is also a lesson to be learned from the genesis of Apple Corps. Ltd. At its "core" (sorry, couldn't resist!), Apple was a tax shelter. Apple was created not to operate as a business, per se, but simply to avoid taxation on income from the Beatles' other businesses. But that soon changed as the Beatles, caught up in the euphoria of their generation in the '60s, with its utopian notions of creating a new type of...well, actually, a new type of everything, latched onto the idea of a new type of business entity. The goal, paradoxically, would not be to make money. Or, as Paul McCartney explained it in 1968, "Apple is mainly concerned with fun."
Fast-forward forty-odd years, and we now find some of these people running the U.S. government. And it's clear that, for these people, green-lighting "green" projects paid for with other people's money is fun, too. Or at least it is until the money runs out...which is happening just about now.
Unfortunately and eventually, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, and as the American people are coming increasingly to realize, the Socialists run out of other people's money. And however vehemently liberals might protest, at the end of the day, liberalism, at its core (no pun intended this time) is just slow-motion socialism. The only difference between the two is how quickly the money runs out.
But don't bother trying to explain that to a liberal. Liberals will never abandon their belief that the supply of funding for their utopian fantasies is endless -- that they cannot tax, borrow, or, if necessary, print whatever they need to fund their fantasies.
And as long as we allow these irresponsible social engineers to wield power, to spend and tax, and to borrow, there will always be an endless supply of "Magic Alexes" -- a whole army of them -- seductively cooing into credulous ears, as the original Magic Alex did to John Lennon, "about the [technocratical] breakthroughs that would be available if only funding were available."