The Soapbox

This page written circa 7 April, 1999.

...and pipe fittings and...

Not just Socks and Maps and Drains, but pipe fittings. The copper bends, T-pieces, etc., with which water pipes are joined and installed are soldered to straight pipe sections. The common example of these fittings in Australia comes with a solder-filled groove built in, so that you need only clean and flux the pipe, then insert and heat, and magically the solder appears in a complete ring to seal the joint and tell you that the seal is good. This clever aid to good plumbing is unheard of here.

Surely cunning advances such as the self-soldering pipe fitting are the stuff of which fortunes are rightfully made? Where is the capitalist mechanism when it is needed most? Here is an idea that can improve the quality and reliability of plumbing at very little cost indeed, the ability to power beneficial ideas throughout the community is capitalism's main claim to glory, America is the land where invention and investment are supposed to thrive to the greatest extent, and it just is not happening.

As the photograph here shows, our new bath took a bit of bringing home. Large baths are another example of the strange failure of the market: We were quoted prices that varied from $x to $2.5x for baths with identical footprint and made of the same stuff (fibreglass).

We are still discovering things about life here. If I am a little disappointed with the weak action of capitalism, I am equally pleased to see that the ways of life here do discriminate against people who are not on the ball. You do need to shop around to get anywhere near the best deal, and the best deal can be very much better. If you do things yourself you do get ahead, and fast. (For the 30 minutes it took us with the Subaru to get the bath, we saved a hefty delivery charge, and it would take less time for a man with a decent truck.)

It may not be a time of making fortunes from single ideas well exploited, but it is a time where the bright and industrious can creep ahead.

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