Friday, December 05, 2008

Broadband Now! Broadband Everywhere!

With President-elect Obama getting ready to take teh big chair in 45 days, plans are being proposed to implement a stimulus package of needed overhaul and maintenance to our crumbling infrastructure. One of the plans that the stimulus package puts in place is to bring broadband to the entire country, similar to what was done to bring telephone service to rural areas in the 40's and 50's. According to CNBC, Speaker of the House Pelosi says that the new stimulus package will include an investment in broadband internet infrastructure as well as plans to improve the national power grid.

This stimulus package is vital to the survival of the economy of the United States. Yes, its deficit spending but its more than just spending money. This is all about taking charge for the first time of our progress, our responsibility to bring this country - albeit kicking and screaming - into the 21st century.

I too believe that we should balance the budget. That's the only way to sustain any real growth we may have in the near future. But we have to get to that point first. Everyone would like to be in the black, have no debts, live well within your means and have a decent, secure nest-egg to protect them from catastrophe. But reality is a real bitch. Times like these dictate a whole new set of priorities. We can't afford the 'luxury' of trying to balance the books right now. America needs to dip into the credit cards for these hard times. No one wants to but we have to. Once these stimulus plans start to bring us away from the ledge, we can then seek to bring the deficit under control. That task will be a whole lot easier when we are doing better and have a more stable economy that's anchored to a secure foundation.

Of course we can't spend it on any worthless crap. Every dime has to be monitored and scrutinized. I feel confident that Obama will get this done in the way that's best for the country. We will be watching though, no free rides here just consider it a trade. Do for us and we'll do for you.

Bringing broadband to every corner of the nation is vital to getting the needed information that will power the dawn of this new century. The global nature of today's reality dictates that success is only achievable to those who see things from all arenas. You can't be provincial any more. Bury your head in the sand and it'll get paved over. Universal Broadband Access isn't a luxury any more, it's as important as any highway, bridge or power grid.

Overlooked in this, however, is one very important factor of nation-wide access - consumer's cost.

How much will this new access cost each of us? Will this national broadband be available but for a nominal fee or will it be free, like the Wi-Fi at my favorite coffee place? Will we still have to fork out $50 bucks a month to Verizon, Comcast, or Time-Warner to see kittens burp on You Tube? The article linked above mentions a few ways to that the stimulus money will be distributed and how the access is accomplished but it doesn't mention how much consumers (as opposed to tax payers) will pay.

Personally, I feel that this access is part of our national discourse and thus should be free. Cable television, pay-per-view entertainment and the like shouldn't be included, though. That type of stuff we should have to pony up the ducats for. I mean I'll rent movies from Netflix, pay for HBO and cough up a buck or two for some new music. But the on-ramp to the Info Highway has to be toll free. The Internet has become the World's back fence. We have to be able to seek out news and opinion from everywhere, without censor. That's part of being an American in the 21st Century.

America has always been the Last Great Frontier. In the past, that meant a hard scrapple subsistence in the vast areas of wild that existed across this country. We scraped out a meager living, built our towns, started industries and flourished. Now, those places are tamed and settled. It took a lot of guts and sweat to put those places on the map. What we have to realize now is that the new frontier isn't a dusty shack in the Rocky Mts. or a lonely homestead on the Plains of Kansas; it's a laptop at a coffee shop in Manhattan, an IPhone at O'Hare airport, or on a desk in a student dorm in Boulder, CO.

Years ago in Seattle, the people had an opportunity to upgrade the local transit system by building a new commuter rail line. It was a radical offer, one that had lots of folks excited. People had been introduced to rail transit when they built the Monorail for the World's Fair a few years earlier. It was planned to accommodate a large increase in population that officials believed would happen in Seattle's near future. Yet, there were those who felt differently. They told folks that Seattle was a nice, quiet place to live and that this plan was way too big, too aggresive and besides, we wouldn't have that many people living here. They said it was a waste of money on something not needed. So, the people voted it down and sent the whole proposal packing. It left town and went south to San Francisco.

Thirty years later, San Francisco has BART, a decent commuter rail line and Seattle has to deal with the worst traffic and the most archaic transit system in the country. Not only did the prediction about the increase in population come true, it was woefully inadequate.

This should serve as a lesson to those who feel we should be cautious and hesitate before deciding on any radical changes to our way of life.

We need to learn from being too conservative when it comes to planning for the future of this country. Sitting in your cozy living room safe and sound is OK but if you want to grow and prosper you have to get out and do new things, stick your neck out a bit and show the Fates that you deserve to be trusted with good fortune.

I relish the thought of blogging, laptop in hand, while sitting in the forests of Washington, telling folks around the world about the beauty I see.

George Jetson, meet your new neighbor!

David A.
So Mote it Be

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Audacity of Hope - the Future approaches...

I hope Pres. Elect Obama pardons my outright theft of the title to his book but I feel it is apropos for this entry.

The future is coming. The future is always coming. It never arrives. The future is always a promise, a gift yet to give, a dream that still lingers in sleep.

The present is momentary. It arrives, smacks us on the forehead then leaves. It lights up before us like the bright flash of a snapshot. After the flash, the present no longer exists.

The past is everything. The past is who we are; which is to say who we were. We live in the past, rely on the past, make all of our choices based on what has happened before. When I say that humanity is history, I mean it quite literally.

The last eight years of our history have been, to say the least, some of the most tumultuous years in American history. One could find times in history that were more violent, more disastrous, perhaps even more tragic but given the level of global awareness and the vast amount of information, good or bad, current situations give these times a more drastic and severe immediacy. More people have an active part in this global awareness; more people are participating than before.

We need to look at this new chapter of our past as an opportunity. Everything we are, everything we expect to get from the future will depend on what we do now. We need to control the flash of the present by shaping what the promise will bring. This will give us the prescience to correct the mistakes made by the fools our countrymen put into power at the dawn of this century.

Our collective past will depend on the choices we make in this present.

David A.
So Mote It Be