Prelude to The Future
Non-Profit Infrastructure: a collective investment in empowerment
Look, the free market it well qualified at distributing things when people are making rational informed choices in their own self interest and there is strict oversight to prevent cheating. But there are certain things are better done on a not-for-profit basis. This post will briefly outline the reasons we need a serious re-investment in infrastructure and a strong vision for the future of humanity.
There are many things that cannot be abandoned to profit-motive (greed) to operate and which a country should run for the sake of its citizens. A great example of this, and a good comeback to any conservative who wants to call me a communist for making the above statement, is national defense. Nation states learned long ago that relying on a for-profit army (a.k.a. mercinary forces) is not a good idea. Nor is making the army literally try to pay for itself through pillaging and looting. Both of these tracks lead to widespread instability and uncertainty, which is bad for both business and the general quality of life.
What tends to work much better is a non-profit defense force. In the old days and on the local level, that meant a "well-regulated milita" ala the second amendment. In todays world of specialization and high-tech killing machinery, that means having people who we all collectively pay via taxes who cover that stuff for us. The army is an exercise in socialism, and while it's plagued with inefficency and waste like any beauraucracy, and while I might personally believe we spend a little too much money on it, it's far better than the "free market" alternative.
It seems like in red-blooded America, the only way we can do anything collectively is through national defense. That's how we got the interstate highway system -- originally designed to move tanks and ICBMs around the nation in the event of World War III -- which was a big part of the postwar economic boom. Don't believe me? Try and imagine modern American industry without efficent long and short-haul trucking. Think we could be the world's biggest economy if we still relied on our rail infrastructure? Think again. The non-profit operation of well-maintained (read: expensive) roads and highways allows enormous amounts of economic activity.
Likewise, the founding technology that allows you to read these words was authorized and paid for as a matter of national defence. The internet began as a means to link major research centers and millitary systems with a network that would survive over 50% destruction due to nuclear attack. No lie: we built the original internet backbones to outfox those ruskies, and now it's ushering our economy into the 21st century, all because of some non-profit work back in the '70s.
What's the point here? The point is that socializied infrastructure (collectively paying for their development, implementation and maintenance) can lead to greater opportunity for entrepreneurialism. By removing obstacles to economic innovation at no cost to the businessman, our taxbase is enlivened, broadened and strengthened. It's unfortunate that the only time we seem to be motivated enough to do this is when we're fearing for our lives. Think of how many more small businesses and sole-proprietorships there would be if we unhitched healthcare from employment. Think of how many new entertainment and information-services companies would spring up if we made a serious public investment in solving the "last-mile" internet connundrum. Large corporations create and breed mediocrity: they will not lead us into the future.
The Future is not IBM, it's you
If America is to remain a preeminent commercial zone in the 21st century (and catch up with the rest of the 1st world in terms of standards of living) we're going to need to reinvest in our infrastructure, in ourselves. It's time for the pendulum to swing away from institutionalized greed and crony caplitalism and back towards opportunity and principles. It's time for high caliber individuals to seek positions of leadership under a new movement for improvement, for the betterment of ourselves, our communities, our nation and the world around us. It's time to become once again a nation of dreamers, of people who see the possibilities of a future so bright it outshines the lure of simple luxury, a future full of purpose and promise , prosperity and possibility, where things like love and peace and justice are worth believing in and acting for.
We need to lift the veil from our eyes, wake up from the prepetual nightmare of the evening news fear-factory, and realize that there's a lot of meaningful constructive work to be done on this planet. We may not have much money, and we may not have the guns, but I believe a positive vision that embraces the grace of human possibility will always gather the numbers. Government can be a tool for the people, in fact is must for if it is not then it is a tool used against the people. I say to those of my generation, and to freethinking life-loving people everywhere, we must awake to the calling of the times. We must take action. We me must stand against corruption, greed, averice, cynicism and dissolusion and inspire ourselves and others to believe in the power of the possible. We must invision another world, and work to make it real. If not now when, and if not us who?