Firebrand conservative and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Michelle Malkin tells the riveting stories of the relentless thinkers and inventors who made America what it is today in her new book, Who Built That. She joined Glenn on TV Tuesday night to share just a few stories of American ingenuity that should inspire anyone looking to blaze their own trail.
Glenn: I want you to go out and buy Michelle Malkin’s new book, Who Built That. It is cut from your cloth. If you’re a fan of this show, this is cut from the same cloth, really great stories that you didn’t know. I’m bummed that she beat me to the Nikola Tesla story. That’s one story I haven’t told, but now she’s told it in expert fashion. Would you please tell, because I love this, and most people don’t know what Tesla did when he went to Colorado Springs. It’s my understanding, Michelle, he freaked everybody out.
Michelle: He freaked everyone out, and he pretty much shorted the entire electrical generation system in Colorado Springs.
Glenn: For like a week.
Michelle: Yes, for the whole week. In fact, he was able to re-create lightning that was seen 30 miles outside of Colorado Springs, all the way up to Woodland Park. I mean, we’re talking up at 7,000, 8,000 feet altitude. So, I definitely felt like I had a hometown kinship with him as well because I’ve made Colorado Springs the home of our family for the last eight years now and actually went out to the little spot in Memorial Park where he had his little laboratory.
You know, it’s quite a shame, Glenn, that there is nothing more than a small historical marker. There’s no Tesla museum in the United States. There’s one in his hometown in Eastern Europe, but you know, among your audience and among many of my geeky scientific engineering type fans, he’s very well-known. You told his story in one of your books, and people know it that way, but the actual scientific breakthroughs and the incredible entrepreneurial partnership and friendship that he forged with George Westinghouse is almost entirely absent in the public schools today. It is a disgrace really, and that’s why I wrote the book, to fill in that vacuum.
Glenn: I will tell you this, I’m going to send your book to a professor who teaches history at Yale, because when I wrote my chapter on Tesla, he said it was the best chapter on Tesla that he had ever read and now makes it part of the course because no one has told the truth on him. So, I’m going to send your book so he also has that, because Tesla was—not only are we still present in his day, I think he saw this technology, you know, in some form or another that is now coming out, so we’re still present in his day, but also, the relationship that he had with Westinghouse that you highlight gave me hope because here’s a guy who was so far ahead. The government shuts them down because of collusion and corruption with Edison, and he loses everything. It’s a good guy, a good capitalist, one who believes in doing the right thing, that saves him.
Michelle: Yes, that’s right. I think restoring the reputation of ethical capitalism in this country is so important. It’s been so corrupted. You see so many of these big government cronies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce types who are so willing to jump into bed with the AFL-CIO and Barack Obama and the White House and all of these crony government contracts and venture socialism that’s overtaken Washington DC.
Well, there was a time, and of course, our kids don’t learn this nearly enough, when there were people of character, men of great character like George Westinghouse, who understood the value of protecting individual and intellectual property rights. That’s how that relationship was forged, because George Westinghouse knew that Nikola Tesla had something of value and that together they could team up and they were stronger as an entrepreneurial partnership.
That’s how the hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls was built, and I talk about that story. There was a prototype that was done in Colorado, of all places, Telluride, Colorado, and believe it or not, Oberlin College, which is my alma mater and is known as one of the craziest places on earth, the berserk-ley of the Midwest, actually produced the entrepreneur Lucien Hall, who created the prototype of the hydroelectric plant that went on to become Niagara Falls—amazing confluence of all of these individuals. I think it’s these friendships and alliances that really were magical to me.
Glenn: I think they’re happening again. I have to tell you, Michelle, we are two of the biggest geeks. I don’t know if anybody in the audience is loving this as much as I am, but we are just geeking out on these guys. Let me see, show me the Maglite. I was going to say the bottle cap, but show me the Maglite because I don’t want to run out of time. This is important that you talk about this, but you talk about this story in the book, which is fantastic, but it’s important to put it into context that the future has been harmed again by the federal government. Explain.
Michelle: Yeah, so the first chapter is about Anthony Maglica, the 84-year-old, spry entrepreneur who came here from a tiny little island off of Croatia called Zlarin, came here with nothing during the Depression but the hunger to make something of himself. He drove across the country in his beat-up Studebaker. He pushed his car up the Rocky Mountains and out West, settled in Ontario, California, and came up with a design for this beautiful, just aesthetically streamlined Maglite flashlight which is an iconic symbol. He is the torchbearer of the American dream, and in fact, there was an Apple Computer official who once said that they strove to become the Maglite of computers.
Well, he hasn’t just come up with one patent, but 200 patents. He hasn’t taken a vacation in ten years. When I went to his headquarters, he showed me a lab where he was developing revolutionary incandescent light bulb technology. He had planned to hire hundreds of more workers to work on these innovations and bring them to market, but it was thanks to the federal lightbulb ban that he had to shut that completely down. It cost jobs. Who knows what else he could’ve come up with? And yet, he perseveres. He told me he will never give up, not until the day that he’s no longer on this earth, to try and improve his products and bring people things that they want and need.
That’s what the American dream is about. It’s not something that is decreed in Washington DC, and it’s these kind of people that make America a great place. He hasn’t given up hope, so neither will I.
Glenn: The amazing thing, Michelle, is most people don’t even know where food comes from anymore. They don’t even know how to grow food. We live in a society and say oh, it’s always been this way. It’s never been this way. In the history of man, it’s never been this way—the things that we have, the abilities that we have, the things that we can do. And what I love about your book is it goes to little things like toilet paper, which we talked about on the radio. You don’t think of toilet paper. To think that this is something that really came from here in America. Take America out of the world, we’re still wiping ourselves with wool or something else gross. But also, you go into bottle caps. Tell me about bottle caps and seals.
Michelle: So, the design of the bottle cap hasn’t changed since the turn of the century, and yet, the amount of intellectual capital that it took to come up with something so simple is absolutely amazing. William Painter was the creator of the modern-day bottle cap as well as many other pieces of technology that revolutionized the food and beverage packaging industry. His company is still in existence today, Crown Cork and Seal—there he is—a $9 billion business. I have included in the chapter on the bottle cap all of his patent drawings, his patent schematics, and the descriptions that it took. He never stopped perfecting this little piece of mundane technology that we absolutely take for granted.
Glenn: Think of this, $9 billion, $9 billion, in bottle caps. People just don’t have any clue. To me, this is the American dream, that you can have an idea. Before America, you had an idea, and the Lord of the Manor could take your idea and just make it. So, you could never get out of poverty. You were always a Serf. Now, because of the patent, again, an American idea, but even that is changing.
Michelle: It is, and it is just another extension of Obama’s radical transformation of America. You know, the idea of intellectual property rights was so revolutionary, and it’s something that’s embedded in our Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, but very few people in the mainstream American public outside of the sphere of law where they actually pay attention to these things realize that in 2011, Obama radically transformed and upended the idea that the inventor should be the one who’s rewarded, the one who was first to invent, rather than the one who’s first to file.
So, they passed something. Obama and the Congress rammed it through with very little debate in the mainstream public because it really is one of those kind of arcane things and globalized and harmonized American patent law with the rest of the world, in other words, abandoning those first constitutional principles that our Founding Fathers knew guaranteed success.
Glenn: Can I tell you something Michelle? And I hope I didn’t misstate what you believe in the last break when I said that you and I both, I mean, we’ll slug it out until the very end, but we both feel really impressed. There is something equally as important as uncovering the filth of restoring the truth and telling the stories of who we are and where we came from, because if we lose that, it doesn’t matter if we’ve uncovered the filth. If we don’t know who we are, we will chart a course that will take us back into slavery. Correct?
Michelle: Yes, absolutely. We definitely have an urgency and kinship there. The reason I wrote the book is not just to preach to the choir, but for children.
Glenn: Yes, so here’s the one thing, and I’ve only got a minute. There are a lot of libertarian kids who are saying we don’t need the patent. Everything should be free. That’s insane. That’s insane. Don’t you think?
Michelle: Yeah, I don’t agree with that, and I feel that conclusion comes from a lack of understanding of the need to have the fuel of interest for the fire of progress. Those were the words that Abraham Lincoln used, and it’s been a bedrock of American constitutional principles as well as entrepreneurialism that you should be able to profit from the fruits of your labor and the fruits of your mind.
Glenn: Michelle, if I called in sick, would you come in and host at least one show, maybe two, and just tell some of these stories and really take us through the book? Would you be willing to do that?
Michelle: I would love to. I’m there.
Glenn: Okay, I’m just a huge fan of Michelle Malkin. I know the audience is as well. Go out and buy this book today. You can find it now at GlennBeck.com/Malkin, or you can find it wherever books are sold, Who Built That by Michelle Malkin.