Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Dose of Promethean Policy, Part 1

First off, a definition of the word “Promethean”. Promethean means foresighted. It also means that if you act foresightedly, Republicans will chain you to a rock and eat out your liver. And as such, my doses of Promethean policy focus on infrastructure programs that Republicans opposed as excess spending or pork, but I feel are essential at “lighting the fire” to getting America on the right track.

Today’s topic: Rural broadband.
As you can see from this map, in many rural counties in America, less than half the population has access to high-speed internet, and in the Rustbelt and the South, that number is closer to a quarter. In a recent National Public Radio article, former FCC economist Michael Katz acknowledged that rural America is technologically and environmentally backward, but thinks that broadband is a waste of money. He is joined by many other Republicans, who ironically represent rural constituency. Here’s what I say to their criticisms:
  • It will promote innovation and curtail unemployment in rural areas. Decades ago under the New Deal and Fair Deal, the Tennessee Valley Authority extended electricity and phones to disaffected people in Tennessee and Alabama (ironically to some of the areas now least served by broadband). The result was the creation of thousands of jobs, the establishment of unions in an un-unionized area, and the building of libraries in a low-literacy area. The broadband initiative would likely do the same thing. Also, another part of the NPR article notes that, using the example of Ten Sleep, Wyoming.
  • Don’t just look at now; look at fifty years into the future. Fifty years ago, Temecula, CA, was a ranch. Today, 100,000 people live there. The same thing may be happening in Centennial, CA. Today’s farm is tomorrow’s megalopolis. When you think of only the immediate future, THIS is what happens:

    Yeah. And that’s today’s blogspot. By the way, if you want to want to read more about the myth of Prometheus, click here.

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