Obvious Systemic Problems
So, in 2001 the Bush Administration cut the funding that NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab was using to investigate some promising nuclear fusion technologies. This guy's project is sitting around in need of $2M in funding to do a proof-of-concept which would demonstrate something we've never seen before: a controlled fusion reaction that produces a net energy gain.
Why can't this guy raise $2M on the internet? It seems totally possible, but there's a critical gap in expertise and entrepreneurial acumen. I'm a fan of the positive disruptive potential that this here world-wide-web offers, and if we can scrounge up tens of millions for a bunch of lag-ass politicians on a regular basis, why can't we start making strategic investments in things that Make Sense for humanity?
This would be cool, and essentially means dis-intermediating existing political systems as a means of shepherding the Public Good. It's an exciting prospect, both in this particular case (who wouldn't kick down $20 if it would get this thing off the ground?) and as a test case for how we might Solve Obvious Problems going forward. It would be nice if the State were more useful here, but it's priorities are fuxxored, and its ability to deal proactively with big problems that are associated with entrenched influences (global warming for $2000, Alex) is apparently quite weak.
Much own political activism has tended to be framed as an investment -- e.g. if it's worth some volunteer time and donations to get Universal Health Care -- or else oriented around decisions (War) which the government has more or less exclusive control over. Increasingly, my patience is wearing thin. Even as significant electoral gains are made, the static friction of "The Establishment" has not been overcome. Change is not happening. Things are not improving. I see a dark future ahead if we remain chained to these ossified, recalcitrant and massively inefficient institutions as a means of managing collective responsibility.
There are huge opportunities that are getting missed all the time, and also huge amounts of waste and corruption. Resetting priorities seems very hard. I mean, as an example, caltrans is talking about building a new highway interchange on the 101 between Arcata and Eureka, at a cost of up to $60M. That's a totally unnecessary enhancement to a legacy system that's double or triple the cost of getting a reliable redundant internet link into the area (and fund this fusion project on the side).
Now, it's not as if CalTrans can just decide to spend its money on fiber optic cables instead of asphalt, but this situation is an expression of our collective will and understanding, or at least the collective will and understanding that's been institutionalized into the state budget, where we get bogged down again in politics.
This is why one of the primary slogans of the New Freedom Movement is Move Lateral. While we can't ignore the stewardship of existing systems, neither can we afford to limit the scope of change to the reform and control of established institutions. Nothing succeeds like success, and it seems to me like the thing to do is just to start doing it.