Give this to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: He thinks big -- big, but not well.
His immediate problem is that because of the West's embargo on Iranian oil and its other sanctions aimed at restraining Iran's nuclear program, oil and gas sales that have traditionally accounted for about 80 percent of Iran's export revenues are now at 45 percent and falling.
Not to worry, says Ahmadinejad, thinking big. He has a plan: Iran will invent its way out of the embargo-caused economic crisis that grows more critical by the day.
Iran's president may dismiss the effect of the sanctions as a passing nuisance, but the country's large merchant class has not. Traders vote "yea" or "nay" on government policy with foreign currency. The vote this week has been overwhelmingly "nay," and the people are about to be hit with a big increase in income taxes to make up for lost foreign revenues.
The Iranian rial has hit a record low against the U.S. dollar and other hard currencies. On Tuesday, the exchange rate on the street was 36,200 rials to the dollar, an increase of 2,700 rials just since Sunday. The rial has lost 40 percent of its value since last year.
Ahmadinejad's solution: Iran's universities, inventors and scientists will churn out vast quantities of moneymaking inventions and technologies.
The Iranian leader taunted the West, saying: "It's better if you don't buy ... Ten times more money will head to people's pockets through the inventions of our scientists."
He didn't say what kind of inventions -- time travel, teleportation, a flying family car, locally produced TV shows that Iranians will actually watch, easily programmable appliances?
The only suggested products are high-tech spacesuits for Iran's Aerospace Research Institute. But the suits wouldn't be ready for eight years, and buyers haven't been exactly lining up with fistfuls of rials to put down deposits.
Iran could end this embargo by agreeing to reasonable restrictions and inspections of its nuclear program. But, apparently, a mindless national pride precludes this solution.
We'll know if the invention program is working by watching late-night TV and a parade of Iranian pitchmen urging, "But wait! There's more! If you act now, we'll double your order of spray-on hair in a can ..."
Dale McFeatters is a senior writer for the Scripps Howard News Service.