Of all the corruptions during this decade, it's the Bush Administration corruption of technology that hit me the hardest.
When I use the word corruption, I am describing a deliberate policy of politicizing the development of technology, tearing at the process of change in order to put control into as few hands as possible, so as to control those hands.
This has been the pattern everywhere. The Bush Administration much prefers monopoly, or oligopoly, to real competition. Once such a goal is achieved, the few at the top can easily be manipulated, bribed, cajoled, or threatened into absolute support of the leadership.
I take the subject of technology personally, and have real-world experience with it. For nearly two decades, prior to this Administration, I watched technology change play itself out in successive waves. No lead was safe. Those who were Clueless, or became so, went under practically before I could proclaim the word upon them. It was Darwinian, it was brutally competitive. It was also wonderful, and highly profitable. The raw capitalism of the 80s and 90s brought the U.S. economy to the very pinnacle of success, producing nearly a third of the world's products and services by the end of the last decade.
Now those days are gone. What we have instead is nothing less than state-directed corporate welfare. Moore's Law has been overturned by the War On Terror.
A lot of funny copy was written a few years ago when it came out that the Administration had asked AT&T, Verizon, Qwest and BellSouth to turn over phone records willy-nilly, without warrant or even probable cause. The punch line was that Qwest did not cooperate, everyone else did. Anyone notice how Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio later wound up convicted on supposedly unrelated charges? The industry did.
In exchange for this cooperation, the industry has gotten everything it has wanted out of the government. Want subsidies for "fiber builds" you decide later not to do? You got it. Want to "consolidate" so consumers have no real choices for basic services? Not a problem. Want to game frequency auctions so you control all the spectrum in your region and don't really have to compete? Consider it done. Want to go into cable television without the hassle of filing for local franchises? Okily-dokily.
The result is that while technologies like WiFi and DWDM should be making it possible for all of us to have bandwidth through a firehose, for a pittance, we're still paying out the wazoo for the same service levels as 5 years ago, while telecom's top dogs (those who cooperated) ride off to 9-figure retirements.
The same thing has been happening in software. The previous Administration felt it was its job to fight monopoly, so as to keep change constant, even accelerating. The ideas behind its attack on Microsoft were as sound as those of its attack on AT&T a generation before, against IBM a generation before that, or against Standard Oil two generations before that. Where competition is dieing, which is a natural process, you force competition back into the system.
Now the U.S. government takes Microsoft's side. Why? Could it be because Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a "loyal Bushie?" Or is it perhaps because he can be pressured, one control point over an entire industry when "national security" demands it?
The result of all this is that our PC industry has moved to China, East Asia now has better broadband, while Europe and India are better places to develop software. Defying the nature of capitalist change, which is inherently messy and anarchic, in the name of order and security is a sucker's game, albeit a seductive one. It seduced a host of tyrants during the 20th century, all of whom wound up on the ash heap of history. Yet these American Idiots saw their weakness as strength, and insisted on the same sort of industrial policy. (Picture by Xanti from WD.Blogs.)
History will record they were no better, no smarter, no different.
The best industrial policy, and the best post-industrial policy,
insists on competition, on the most rapid-possible change, and doesn't
dictate winners or losers.
Only losers do that.