August 19, 2008  ·  Lessig

A reaction to McCain’s recently announced technology policy. (Stupidly unclear in the video: the initial graph is U.S.’s global ranking in broadband penetration — so starting high (#5) in 2000, and declining to #22 by 2008. The rankings are based on OECD data.)

There’s also a version at YouTube (but please watch in “high quality”).

(I resisted the cheap shot “[sic]” at “and free to chose among broadband service providers.” Will someone please get them to fix this?)

[Update: Here’s a slightly edited transcript of the video (which steals Michael McDaniel’s brilliant title)

  • Pelle

    Great as usual.

    One request though. It would be truly great if your presentantions also would be accessable through Google Video or some other service that enables downloading to mobile devices (which You Tube doesnt).

    BR.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    [silenced :-(]
    [It's not worth it, it's not worth it, it's not worth it ...]

  • http://www.socialsecuritybullshit.com Steve Baba

    Nice graph, but one may want to look at a map or globe to see why the USA is 22 in broadband penetration. The USA is a big country compared to Europe and many other countries. Therefore, broadband costs more and in a free market, which broadband is not quite, people choose to buy less.

    Also, while McCain and many Republicans do not believe it is necessary to regulate network neutrality, McCain and most believe the same effects can be accomplished without any side effects of regulation (such as having to support pirates sharing video or limiting new pricing schemes).

    And, John McCain has been leading the political, unsuccessful campaign to have more choice on cable by a la carte pricing – so he not in cable’s pocket.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/25/opinion/oe-mccain25

  • http://blog.foxxtrot.net/ Jeff Craig

    In general, I agree with much of what you’ve had to say here regarding McCain’s policy on Technology, and I am incredibly disappointed in what has been published, having come to many of the same conclusions as you did. While I feel that network regulation has it’s place (namely in the workplace), it disturbs me greatly the level of interference that network operators have sought to perform upon consumers.

    I won’t argue that Obama has the far better technology platform, because on this issue, I greatly prefer Obama.

    I just want to say I don’t think it’s worth crediting Clinton with any of the growth of the Internet during the 90s, as if anything, Clinton’s actions were generally wrapped in a distinct lack of policy. This lack of policy which led to the investors crisis of 2000 (the “bubble burst”). However, I will agree that it was a better time, with more growth and better innovation. The current administration’s policies, while not directly related at the Internet per se, have much too far to restrict innovation.

    This is a difficult election for me. There are policies on both side that I like, and that I dislike. As we near the election, I’m going to need to think long and hard about what is most important to me. Before this report was published, that decision was much easier…

  • http://gabilgathol.amu.edu.pl/ SpankMe

    Who cares, he wont win the election anyway… Obama rules!


    http://gabilgathol.amu.edu.pl/

  • http://someofnothing.com slag

    Steve Baba clearly doesn’t see why it’s in the US’s best interest to have high broadband penetration (even if it costs us more). Odd for someone who visits this blog.

  • George

    Obviously the US needs to do something about ramping up Internet infrastructure to keep up with other modern nations. McCain on that:

    “However, where private industry does not answer the call because of market failures or other obstacles, John McCain believes that people acting through their local governments should be able to invest in their own future by building out infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet services. For this reason, Senator McCain introduced the “Community Broadband Bill,” which would allow local governments to offer such services, particularly when private industry fails to do so.”

    Not sure what else can be realistically done to get infrastructure modernized. That the US has gone from #5 to #22 in broadband penetration doesn’t really mean much. There are lots of rich small countries where it’s fairly easy to get the infrastructure updated. Aside from switching the US over to socialism, I don’t see how one can realistically expect the US to compete with much smaller more socialist countries when it comes to this.

    You shouldn’t compare apples to oranges.

  • John Fairley

    Looking up OECD data, it appears that the US has the largest broadband market in the OECD with 69.9 million subscribers. http://www.oecd.org/document/54/0,3343,en_2649_34225_39575670_1_1_1_1,00.html

    In addition, the OECD lists penetration of broadband and population density in a single graph. The U.S. has a population density of 32/km2. Compare that to France at 115/km2, the U.K. at 247/km2, Korea at 484/km2 or the Netherlands at 400/km2. For a country with such a low population density, we do quite well in broadband.

  • http://www.socialsecuritybullshit.com Steve Baba

    While it’s in the USA’s interest (a positive externality for those of you who went to college) for broadband, Slag and possibly Lessig fail to see that it’s also in the rest of the worlds interest to have broadband – equalizing the optimal subsidy. (I am not going to listen to the video again, but didn’t Lessig take a shot at McCain for an $8 Billion broadband subsidy – was Obama’s more, more efficient, or my memory off)

    Actually it’s also in the USA’s interest if Europe has better broadband since we can free ride on some of the added European products – such as European art films.

    Given the geography of the USA, I have not seed a reason why the USA should be number 1 or 5, any more than Luxemburg should be number one in road miles.

  • Tags

    John McCain is a cheerleader for the current Bush administration because he thinks all is well.

    Denial is a river that runs through the convoluted wrinkles in his brain.

  • http://googleearthdesign.blogspot.com Richard Treves

    Great content as usual but I think there are more problems with your graph than you identify. I’ve put comments in a post here

    http://googleearthdesign.blogspot.com/2008/08/graph-design-lessigs-video-chart-fails.html

  • http://markjaquith.com/ Mark Jaquith

    these again are simply policies to transfer money to corporations.

    How is a tax cut a transfer of money? Paying taxes is a transfer of money. Tax cuts are a non-transfer of wealth. Tax cuts are a step towards to the natural state, where you keep the money you earn.

    Now, in a country where everyone except the very poor are burdened with high taxes, tax cuts can certainly be seen as an incentive. But the only reason that is in any way objectionable is because of the disincentive forced upon the people who are still paying copious amounts of taxes.

    I’m with you: competition is good, and we don’t have much of it with broadband. But heavily taxing broadband companies doesn’t help competition. That’s no reason that tax cuts can’t work in concert with other things to allow for more competition. Honestly, the first part of the video just comes off as anti-business whinging.

  • goon

    http://pown.it/2111
    this is another awesome Mccain parody… check it out. Its hilarious…(actually it would be hilarious if the whole Mccain situation wouldn’t be that sad)

  • Shawn Jackson

    “Given the geography of the USA, I have not seed a reason why the USA should be number 1 or 5, any more than Luxemburg should be number one in road miles.”

    Connectivity equals productivity. Our rural communities are struggling and people are quite often underemployed. If we improved our technological infrastructure, primarily in the rural and urban areas, you would see the economic benefits in short order. There’s a great paper on this here:http://www.newmillenniumresearch.org/archive/Litan_FINAL_120805.pdf

  • David Templeton

    I am disappointed in the short sightedness and lack of perspective of most of the comments. Perhaps it stems from the youth of the participants. As one who has lived long enough to watch the family farms in this country forcefully overtaken by agribusiness, the Mom and Pop retail businesses destroyed by the Walmarts, the banking industry and telecommunications takeover, and the Federal government usurp the power of the citizen and even the individual states, I say no more. Having the CONTENT of the internet CONTROLLED by the same entities that FORCE FEED me THEIR messages (propaganda and advertising), their food (laced with poisons), their interest rates (usury), and yes, even THEIR morals is lethally dangerous to anyone who believes in democracy or freedom. Look to the core of where we are headed. Do nothing and you can next expect the next new agency to be the “Thought Police”. I say no way..no more..NO MCSAME. We deserve what we get if he is elected!