No, this isn’t about something starring Stormy Daniels. (That would be the grand jury case I haven’t bothered to comment on this far…)
No, this fantasy is less lurid, but probably more important in the long run. Basically, this post was originally a comment I wrote in reaction to one of bud and Doug’s usual arguments over public vs. private.
Then I started riffing a bit, and it led to something that was really more involved than a comment should be, so I’m raising it to post level.
Here’s what I wrote, in response to this and previous comments:
Well, bud already cited ONE example of something that was done right. I’ll leave it to him to answer your question further. I’m not going to take a couple of years off from life to become someone capable of parsing road contracts and passing judgment on their efficacy.
It’s a silly argument, anyway, talking public vs. private on a function that will only EVER be undertaken by government. The private sector isn’t going to build highways — except as contractors working for the government. That’s the way it is. I’d be fascinated to hear your alternative plan for providing the infrastructure that makes it possible to have an economy in which private businesses can thrive WITHOUT these danged, pesky governments….
It raises some interesting dystopian scenarios. If we ever do get to a scenario in which it economically feasible for a private entity to provide general infrastructure, that private entity will essentially BE the government, at least within that area. You know, like in the Middle Ages, when the local lord of the manor was over everything. The society in which we live is the product of several centuries of Europeans striving to disengage from that sort of system, and try to build a system in which the things upon which we all depend are controlled, at least indirectly, by all citizens.
Not that we haven’t moved that way a number of times as technology has progressed. In the 19th century, it was the railroads. And eventually, government stepped in to control the freewheeling mastery of the environment that the railroad barons wielded. Over time, other technologies have asserted similar societal dominance. (Anyone ever see “The President’s Analyst,” in which — SPOILER ALERT — the power behind everything was the Phone Company?)
Today, we’re engaged in debates about technology that plays a bigger, wider role in our lives than railroads ever did — dominating and reshaping not only how we communicate, but how we think (ones and zeroes). And of course, all that’s in private hands.
So maybe I should take back my comment about it being dystopian fantasy. We’re dealing with the fantasy now…
I was teetering there on the cusp of busting out on a bunch of topics that are as habitual to me as public vs. private are to bud and Doug, things that are all affected profoundly by the things that have been coming out of Silicon Valley:
- The Rabbit Hole.
- The way technology has exponentially increased the problem of political polarization in our society. It had been a problem for decades, but in the years since the development of “social” media and broader technology that makes everyone on the planet more powerful (in terms of ability to instantly communicate with every other person on the planet, without editors or fact checkers or any other sort of mediation) than any newspaper publisher in history ever dreamed of being, humans have been trained to think like computers, in binary terms — ones and zeroes. Everything is black and white (words that newspapers now capitalize, by the way). There are no degrees of gray; there are no subtleties or nuances. There is no tolerance of those who disagree.
- Of course, I include traditional media in this failure to cope with the problem. The new technology, having reshaped brains, distorts political events so that this madness is what the MSM have to cover, and tragically, they fall back on their old, comfortable love of conflict, covering politics like sports. And I don’t mean multilateral sports like golf or marathon running. I mean contests in which there are only two teams, and therefore only two ways of looking at anything. The deepest questions that get asked are: Who’s winning? Who’s losing? Which is profoundly tragic.
- The inability of Western-style liberal democracies to deal with such polarizing forces, causing elements of the public to turn, over and over, to more oppressive, far less liberal, figures and imagined solutions. (The latest victim being Israel, trailing behind the U.S., of course.)
- On a much deeper level than any of the above, the inability of Homo Sapiens to effectively cope with the change, since evolution takes millions of years longer than technological development.
- That last point alone, of course, is one we could worry over for the rest of our lives, and still not get anywhere close to a helpful answer.
Seeing all of it as too much for a comment, I brought it here…