There are times when human ingenuity really does need to be applauded – that invention of fire, the noting that garlic added to stone soup works, the pet rock, marvels all. The thing is though, human ingenuity tends not to limit itself to things that are actually useful – vide Simon Cowell, Wonderbread and Wonderbras (the problem with all three being their misleading nature) – nor in fact to things that are legal or possibly even desirable. Crack pipes obviously are desirable given that some number of people do desire them.
Hey, economists will just insist that utility is an intensely personal matter as the existence of Simon Cowell proves. But that provision of crack pipes may well not be legal. Which is why this innovation, invention, of a vending machine for them is so wondrous:
Suffolk County locals in New York’s Long Island are on alert in the wake of the appearance of three potential crack pipe vending machines, with authorities trying to find out who planted them.
Beats the local police planting drug paraphernalia, obviously enough.
It’s innovation, that’s for sure:
The machines allegedly contained glass pipes and filters intended for smoking crack cocaine disguised as pens.
The officials said the machines were embedded in concrete without permission in public locations.
They said three had been found and encouraged locals to continue to report any more.
The machines required residents to insert $2 (£1.50) in quarters to dispense a product and were labelled with “pen”, “s-pen” or “sketch pen”.
Sure, we can look at this as just a bit of fun. But there’s an important underlying point here. Any static or planned system is going to be undermined by this. No, not crack pipes or their vending, but by that inventiveness and ingenuity. Start telling everyone what to do based upon today’s methods and abilities and by tomorrow your plan will be out of date. For we’ll have invented news ways to do a few things. Which is why planned systems always do have to become repressive, to stop people doing damn fool things like inventing unplanned methods of doing things. Quite how repressive we’d need to be to stop Simon Cowell is as yet unproven.