The world has no shortage of problems–disease, war, hunger, violence, just to begin. But as Thomas Picketty has pointed out in his influential book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the biggest problem may be income inequality. Or rather the way an unchecked financial rewards system produces so many millions of disenfranchised citizens that disease, war, hunger and violence become increasingly inevitable. What does this have to do with a toothbrush?
Well the new $4,000 toothbrush from Reinast may be a harbinger of a future world where only a certain select financial elite can afford premium healthcare tools and options–like organ transplants, innovative drugs, knee replacements, etc.–while the population at large must make do with old technology. Sure the $4,000 toothbrush is more about “design and beauty” than any real healthcare innovation. (It doesn’t take any better care of your teeth, besides the built-in incentive to use it more often, than a regulation toothbrush.) But you remember what T.S. Eliot predicted, right? The world ends not with a bang but with a whimper. Mr. Picketty might offer the updated not with a bomb, but with a toothbrush.