Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Forty-Five.

I know it's been a while since I put one of these up. I've got the full 1001, more or less, but I also have to adhere to my self-imposed schedule for when I post things, and also I sometimes have to work and earn a living. So if you want to see more of these, send me, say, $2,000,000, and then I can retire and just post them all one after another.

(Sending me money is numbers 1 through 1001 on a different list, the list of "1001 Ways to Make Me Happy.

45. Create an Internet Superhighway, giving high-speed Internet access to everyone, everywhere.

One key role of government is to facilitate the exchange of information. Digging the Panama Canal, building the transcontinental railroad and then the Interstate Highway System, and other efforts like the US Postal Service and that cable across the Atlantic that carried telegraph communications that went something like Hello Stop This is America Stop What's Up Stop: all serve as examples of good programs fostered by government to equalize access to information and share communications across the country.

Now, though, the growth of the Internet has been largely left up to private companies, wiring up offices for cable and providing internet services through satellite or cell-phone efforts, in a patchwork of efforts that in some cases make it possible to get 3 or 4 different access points to the Internet in one location, while in others people are actually using something a little worse, seemingly, than dial-up. (Mail-In Internet: Coming to a rural route near you.)

Infrastructure is a valid thing for the government to concern itself with, and the Internet is infrastructure. More and more services are being offered online, more and more information is available online, more and more communications are taking place online, and fostering that can help reduce consumption of fossil fuels (why deliver letters when email is available) and natural resources (no need to print photos for Grandma, on paper, when you can email them and have them stored on her computer), and lower transactional costs. (Lawyers, inmates, judges, and clerks can all communicate via teleconference, reducing transportation costs and increasing efficiencies, for just one example.)

It's possible for some people to do almost everything online -- but in other places, it's difficult or impossible.

I'm not just talking about America, either. Access to the Internet in other countries should be a priority not just for those countries, but for America, too, which should be promoting the ability of everyone to get online. If blue jeans and Walkmen could bring down the Soviet Union, imagine what free access to social networking sites, online news sources, the ability to post communications and videos, and otherwise share will do to repressive regimes and poor people around the world. Giving them an outlet to the world, and giving Americans access to that world, can only help shape things for the better.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

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