Monday, July 23, 2007

Republicanism makes us weaker

This Krugman column in todays NYT really got me angry. It turns out that France and Japan have faster and cheaper broadband than we do:

The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here.

Grr! Having a lame health care system I can live with. But having slower Internet connections is absolutely intolerable. Why has this happened? According to Krugman:
Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation.

You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

Bush should declare a state of national emergency and appoint someone capable...oh forget it.

I'd be interested in a conservative take on how and why this Internet gap is developing, and what a conservative solution would be.

I'm tired of hearing how my country is getting its ass kicked on metric after metric of standard of living. It's especially worrisome to hear about this broadband discrepancy, because technological innovation has always been a core strength of the U.S. economy. But if the infrastructure isn't there to allow it to flourish, the next World of Warcraft could very well be a foreign product. Not that that would be the end of the world. Maybe the U.S. deserves not to be top-tier country. But I have enough American chauvanism to feel bad when I see my country falling behind the rest of the world.

Perhaps back in the olden days when it was concerned with fiscal responsibility and governmental restraint, the right-wing played an important role in generating and maintaining American prosperity. But now it seems their just an enormous economic and moral drag on the country. First they cripple American stem cell research, then their fear of regulation gives us shitty broadband.

If I was trying to hamstring the 21st century economy of a country, biotechnology and Internet connectivity might be two areas I'd try to sabotage. Oh, and I'd trick the country into an immoral, unpopular, and enormously expensive foreign occupation that accomplished nothing and inflamed the whole world against it, further decreasing its ability to perform economically. To top it off, I'd stoke native fear and xenophobia, so that foreign travelers felt very unwelcome and thus inclined to take their business elsewhere.

Bush and Cheney might as well be Al-Qaeda moles. At least then there'd be the possibility that they'd be discovered as such and thrown out. As it is, we're faced with the depressing reality that they are the face of America. Depressing.


Anonymous seaowl said...

I enjoyed your comentary and think you hit it right on the head when you say

"If I was trying to hamstring the 21st century economy of a country, biotechnology and Internet connectivity might be two areas I'd try to sabotage."

We need a policy that provides for high speed access at a reasonable cost for all Americans. Important applications like distance education and telemedicine are waiting to benefit all of us. The Communications Workers of America started a project called Speed Matters that addresses the issues, provides consumer protections and generates good jobs. For more information check out and let Congress know that we are serious.

1:58 AM, July 24, 2007  

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