For the Week of March 20, 2006
In chess, the end game is marked by few pieces on the board, and by a lot of moves which by themselves don't seem to mean much. Kings go back-and-forth, pawns are highly prized, and if both sides are at equal strength the result is usually a draw, then a new game.
On many levels America is now entering three end games. We are approaching the end of the Nixon era in politics. We are approaching the end of the present housing-led economic expansion. And we're approaching the end of the Bell era.
In the end game the King is in play, but protection of the King is actually more vital than ever. Thus in all these areas we have the Three Kings huddling ever-closer together. The Bells' multi-merger gives the Bush Administration an easier path toward Total Information Awareness and a Stalin-esque control over the people. Real estate and the Bush Administration display a perfectly symbiotic relationship, although it's most likely the collapse of that bubble which will trigger the end of these games.
No doubt the bubble is leaking. I can see it in my own neighborhood, with fewer street spam saying "let me buy your house" and more advertising "investment property for sale".
The Bells' bubble is also leaking. Kevin Maney of USA Today wrote a very Clued-in article recently calling the AT&T-BellSouth merger a sign of weakness, not strength. Their failure to meet past promises was not based on evil intent, but the markets' awareness of Moore's Law, where big long-term investments in property whose nature is changing rapidly just doesn't work.
Some 40 years ago many of these same trends were apparent:
- Politically, the New Deal coalition was collapsing in Vietnam and urban unrest, left-wing causes wanting to race ahead of the country. Today it's Iraq and right-wing causes wanting to race ahead of the country.
- The great post-war boom was ending, flooded by deficits, with "stagflation" just around the corner. Today we face the same danger, in spades.
- The technology revolution of the mainframe was ending with the development of the Intel chip. Big iron would be replaced by little iron. That, in a nutshell, is what is happening today in telecommunications.
We also know the results of the earlier crises. The era of Roosevelt was replaced by the era of Nixon. Manufacturing was replaced by asset management as the basis of the economy. What looked like a crisis in technology was actually just the start of a new revolution, the Moore's Law revolution that is now replacing wired telephony and packaged software with the Internet and open source.
The genius of America lay in how it embraced and even drove these changes, despite the cost. Free elections, creative destruction, and freedom to innovate enabled a new generation to re-assert America's leadership, taking it higher and further in every way than it had been. It is easy to see how much more prosperous we are now than we were a century ago. It's less easy to see how much better off we are than our parents were. But we are.
The solution to all these crises, in other words, lies in our own hands. We know the way forward is to embrace and direct the changes which now bedevil us.
We also know something just as important. If we don't take this opportunity to change, others will.
But there remain uncertainties:
- Will the Bush movement give up power in a free election? Will they even allow one?
- Will the housing collapse be manageable, or will efforts to keep the economy going through deficit-spending lead to a Depression?
- Will innovation be allowed, or will the Bells and copyright industries succeed in preventing it?
Stay tuned. This movie is just starting. It's called your life. And at its end lies your future.
I have made a big decision. I have moved my main blog, formerly called Mooreslore, to danablankenhorn.com under the name Dana Blankenhorn. (Hey, that's MY name.) The blog is written in Typepad and is also available at 200billionscandal.typepad.com
I'm continuing to produce a special blog on Open Sourcefor ZDNet. I am pleased to say it has grown into a real money-maker. I work as a freelance writer in Atlanta, and am on the development team for Voic.Us, which aims to become a political "super-site" and offer mobile marketing services. Please visit that blog as well.
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Best of the Week
The Broadband Gap is the difference -- in cost, versatility, and speed -- between the broadband Americans have and that our major economic rivals have.
Never again? What if we just stopped the Holocausts happening NOW?
Proof lies in a recent PFF report stating that open spectrum is dangerous, and it should all be auctioned off to the highest bidder, i.e., the companies which support the PFF.
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in is David Isenberg, whom I will soon get to meet at his Freedom2Connect Conference. Looking forward to it.
Clueless is the so-called Progress & Freedom Foundation, which is nothing but a front for the Bells and Luddism.
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