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August 04, 2008



You make some very good points here. Something I have noticed here in America is that we as a culture have lost our way. We no longer dream of accomplishing the big goals anymore. Everyone seems to either be focused on the next quarter, or they want to come up with some gimmick they can sell to a large company and retire. To be sure, there are a few visionaries out there; Burt Rutan comes immediately to mind. Unfortunately, they get lost in the wilderness of financial noise.

I think this is one of the faults of the American version of capitalism. Capitalism harnesses the greed drive very well, but it warps company behavior. Widely held companies are forced to focus on the short term rather than on the long term. Toyota and some of the Japanese companies were relatively immune to this for many years because they were not widely held. That is changing, and you can see how Toyota has changed in the last few years.

Earl Mardle

Not just America Steve, although the US is the ACME of that model, it happens pretty well everywhere.

In desperately poor places it makes sense, you can't plan for the future because you can't spare the time from surviving tomorrow, but in wealthy places we have had the resources to work towards the long term and we have blown it.



I suspected that it was true over most of the industrialized world, but I have not traveled as extensively as you have, and the news media is poor second best source of real information.


the country.vs.city thing was made EXPLICIT in the original "corporate" mandate of Telecom (now Telstra) in Australia, when it was first set up: there was an explicit requirement for cross-subsidisation of the country by the cities, in order that there be NO difference in network access (then: "just" phones)

the objective there was primarily egalitarian in nature: a recognition that the work had to be done in the country but that that should not require country workers to be effectively excluded from participating equally in nationwide infrastructure of profoundly social impact.

this of course was discarded in favour of "user-pays" when it was privatised, as was the same principle re electricity (at which point mere residential customers had the power supply quality degrade dramatically). fortunately, as far as the phone goes, the infrastruture had all been paid for by then.

but with a new network infrastructure (broadband), it is interesting and saddening to see happen now exactly what was predicted around WWI.


side note: "user-pays" is nearly always applied myopically.
the "user", when looking at nationwide networks, is the whole nation/culture. any costs/benefits, any pricing regime, MUST be evaluated and established with this perspective.

the same mistake is typically made when (over)charging truckdrivers for "their" impacts on the roads, environment, etc, rather than stepping back and recognising that they are no more than the blood corpuscles in a much larger, critically-depended-on, multi-part transport infrastructure on which we all depend utterly daily for such fripperies as food. trucks work better than trains in low-density areas. penalising truckdrivers individually for an economy-wide choice/equilibrium is literally insane.

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