Google's CEO says the search-engine company isn't planning to buy the New York Times. But the fact that a company that's only ten years old would even be mentioned as a candidate parent for a newspaper that's been around since 1851 is a testament to the remarkable power of what we call "creative destruction" -- the capacity of the new to replace the old as people in a market choose the things that work better. It's a sign that capitalism works.
The text-message-threat incident involving a victim at UNI this past week is an example of a story that couldn't have happened fifteen years ago. The technologies involved simply didn't exist -- or at least, didn't exist in wide enough use -- for any of the story to really happen. The incident, and the amount of change that has occurred in such a short time as to make it possible, is a good example of why we should insist that our political figures not be complete technological nincompoops. Technology is changing and evolving quickly, and laws that are being placed on the books based on the state of the art today may be sorely outdated soon -- or may even turn out to be harmful.
One of the few sectors of government showing any initiative in thinking about technological change is the military. The Air Force has set up a new "cybercommand" to counteract the new technological threats of the day. China, for instance, has already shown that it sees nothing wrong with attacking our computer networks, even when we're nominally at peace. Should we ever find ourselves in a state of open hostility, they could do colossal damage to our nation's economy and infrastructure without ever firing a shot. That's scary. And what's scarier is that it hardly seems as though anyone in Washington -- except perhaps at the Pentagon -- is paying any attention. Politicians too often think their job is to give people what they want, when their real duty is to lead us to what we really need.
As it happens, our infrastructure is already in trouble: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is finally holding long-overdue meetings to talk about how susceptible our electrical grid is to failure.
One more thing about China -- their government is thinking about changing its one-child-per-family rule, since it's going to start straining the country's entitlement programs. Aside from being an affront to human liberty, a government-mandated limit on the number of children allowed in a single family shows that the Law of Unintended Consequences won't die without a fight.
Today's weather word is drisk, our patented blend of "dreary" and "brisk".
Prediction markets are betting heavily on rising taxes on the way soon. Given the huge level of obligations sitting on the table that we taxpayers "owe" as entitlements, it's hard to imagine anything but rising taxes in our future.
John Chancellor wrote one of my favorite quotes some time ago, but it applies now more than ever:
A kinder, gentler America is an agreeable concept, but it is not a remedy for the ills that plague the United States today. What is urgently needed is a tougher, smarter America.Check out the Future Scale updates we discussed at length this week.
Keywords in this show: buyouts • capitalism • Chancellor, John • China • creative destruction • crime • cyber-warfare • electrical grid • emergency communications • energy • entitlement spending • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission • freedom • future • Google • liberty • New York Times • One Child Per Family • prediction markets • Schmidt, Eric • security • taxes • technology • text messages • University of Northern Iowa • US Air Force