I’m not normally one to support bureaucracy or big government in a big way but I was very happy to see today’s FCC Internet article in the New York Times: “F.C.C. Plan to Widen Internet Access in U.S. Sets Up Battle“.
The article states that: “The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation’s media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.”
Basically, they are going to try to mandate the growth of a much faster, more reliable, and more generally accessible broadband internet service – and that has to be good news for creative people everywhere!
I’ve been concerned for a while that the U.S. was really starting to lag behind a bunch of other countries in education quality and access to next generation technologies that enable and empower those with creative visions. I always thought that the economic growth connected with the U.S. interstate highway system last century was a great metaphor for how a policy to expand broadband telecommunications networks could do similar in the early part of this century. So, the news about the FCC internet plan was pleasing to me.
As an Australian-American (or is that American-Australian?) I have noted big gaps opening up between Australia and the U.S. in terms of general opportunity and quality of life. When I was in Australia in January I was really surprised by the economic wealth and great living standards that most aussies now enjoy. By contrast, most Americans I speak with are either out of a job, worried that they will be soon, or facing major challenges in their businesses. And no one feels too comfortable about where we are headed because we don’t know where that is.
Now, Australia is riding high on a wealth of primary products which it exports in major style – especially to China and as a result it is not invulnerable either. But the thing I think the Aussies have going for them is that they can make unified, country-wide decisions and make them stick – mostly. (They still haven’t figured out how to divorce themselves from the British monarchy however – so they ain’t perfect!)
A great example of this is the new Next Generation Broadband Network which they are just about to start deploying – basically they have mandated that the whole population is going to be up-scaled with fiber to the home and other super-high-speed broadband technologies. Why? Because they realize that it’s an important national foundation for future growth – especially if they need to rely less on primary produce exports at some point. Aussies (like Americans) are a smart bunch and access to technology and high-speed internet is spawning lots of start-up software and hardware businesses. If you take a look around online you will see that many new software applications are coming out of Australia and New Zealand.
In the U.S. by contrast one of our greatest advantages is now also our greatest weakness. The individuality and independence of Americas towns, counties, and states is a beautiful thing – it creates a truly living national organism unlike any other country on the planet – a place where anything is possible and true freedom reigns. I think I see that maybe more acutely than some natural born Americans because I know the difference.
The down-side though is when you can’t get agreement to do something important – and that seems to be where we are as a country right now on a lot of issues. In addition, as one commenter to the NY Times article said:
The open question is whether our political system is so broken, that even in a really obvious case like this, corporate lobbyists can derail progress.
I think that it is important for individuals, local communities, and states to be able to make their own decisions on what is best for them on pretty much all issues. But I also think that when it comes to infrastructure and economic growth we need to think like a unified country and get back to our global leadership position. Hopefully the FCC internet plan is a step in that direction.
Oh – and a last comment. For the first time ever, last week I emailed my state senator about a natural-health freedom issue I was very concerned about. So did a whole bunch of other concerned citizens – and it resulted in changes. So, if you have concerns on specific issues please remember to contact your congressman or senator – that is how they hear your voice and that is how government “by the people” actually works!