I can't argue with a lot of what you say, in the current climate it would be next to impossible for someone to invent a ground breaking product in their garage and have it brought to market.<quoted text>
HAD, man HAD. The current dominance of large corporations (to compete globally is the excuse) had eliminated the 'competition' between those trying to take second spot. There IS only one spot now. And the government is not spending enough to encourage innovation. In fact, when they do, they get a backlash from the 'free marketers'.
Four things have made the US an economic engine. One is position (on trade routes between EU and the Far East). Second is easy access to the interior from the Great Lakes and Mississippi water ways. Third was access to untouched high grade resources. Fourth is competitive spirit with many small businesses.
There are other factors thou and that is a global recession kicked in. So there is a tendency for everyone to play it safe.
However Capitalism in its purest form means the end goal that one corporation owns and controls everything. At this point there is no competition and government is totally in-effective. What Americans have to decide is at what point does the reset button need to be pushed so they can start over with healthy competition again. Do you leave it until there is only ONE Bank, One Grocery chain, One Media outlet etc. In my view one of the quickest ways to hit the reset button is to slowly make fossil fuels worthless.
Easy to do and that is tax them out of existence in a slow and deliberate way or another fuel product is invented that is clean.
Then Innovation kicks back in and its a whole new ball game. A government worth its salt would have to do this on a world scale, for those countries not willing to comply then their products get hit with a import duty. It's pure fantasy and never likely to happen but in your scenario for the US then its fall of the Roman Empire all over again if no course change takes place.