Half of Virginians Lack Economic and Educational Safety - And Here's Why

I live in Virginia.  It is a wealthy state.  It is disproportionately well educated. It is politically influential.  Its potential is unlimited.

And yet half of Virginia citizens are discriminated against, and politicians seem to have no interest in remedying the problem.  This is the reason citizens are mad today.  They feel that politicians just can’t be bothered.  And they are right.

             * * * * * *

Two things became clear in the statewide broadband demand survey released this week by the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology.  First, 23% of Virginia homes are not served by fixed Internet service. 

Second, half of Virginians are relying upon technologies that are too expensive and/or too slow to support critical applications such as teleworking, health information technologies, distance learning and the like.

Thus 50% of Virginians are effectively being discriminated against.  They lack educational and economic safety.  Read the report yourself:

https://www.wired.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/RUOnline Virginia 2016 Report.pdf

            * * * * * *

I have some friends who live on a farm in the Virginia countryside.  They live a block from a local elementary school.  Thanks to the FCC’s Schools and Libraries support program, the local telephone company has delivered high speed internet access fiber to that school. However the telephone company has told my friends that to extend that capacity to them will cost $1,000 a month.  The local telephone company is simply uninterested in providing service to them. 

            * * * * * *

The mantra that has been adopted by the Republican party (and now by part of the Democratic party) over the last 20 years is that government is the problem; that it has no legitimate role other than lowering taxes.  This idea is by no means central to Republican or Democratic values.

This idea is wrong.  It is ahistorical.  It runs counter to the ideas that built this country.

            * * * * * *

We didn’t build roads only for those that are wealthy enough to pay for them. We built them for all Americans.  That resource in turn gave Americans the greatest ability to make do for themselves. The same is true of education, electricity, airports, trash refuse systems, water purification, law enforcement, sewer systems and the like. Look around your own life and you can easily spot aspects of your environment that are important to you that would not exist but for the role of government. 

Government has a proper role, and when you hear or read that government is only a problem, don’t suspend disbelief. 

            * * * * * *

Under our system Government is "by the people."  As such it is imperfect.  Always in the need of being improved upon.  By the way, the same is true for every business.  Every businessperson knows that every business is inefficient and always on the brink of underperforming, if not outright failing.  Businesses stay afloat only because of daily herculean efforts by ordinary people. Efforts by people like you.  And your neighbors. Imperfection does not equate to failure or uselessness. It reflects the human condition. 

           * * * * * *

Virginians should have access to the Internet.  If business cannot find a way for that to happen, our politicians should. 

"Geeking Out" at Senate Hearing on IoT and Transportation

In my spare time today I watched this CSPAN clip of a June hearing on Internet of Things and Transportation:  https://www.c-span.org/video/?411886-1/hearing-focuses-internet-things-selfdriving-vehicles

First point:  in contrast to heated political rhetoric, federal lawmakers and regulators go out of their way to try to figure out how to make U.S. businesses run better and more efficiently. 

The topic is equal parts unsexy and incredibly important.  Yet answers to the Senators’ questions will dictate how Americans live.  How safe are they?  How much time is spent in inefficient traffic?  How quickly will the goods they manufacture get to markets around the world and therefore support families here in the U.S.?

Listen to what the Senators are interested in. Does it seem like lawmakers are “getting in the way?”        

Second point:  Listen to what some of the largest companies in the U.S. have to say about the subject.  Intel, one of the richest companies in the world says that the Federal government should be spurring innovation by “creating sandboxes” in which companies like Intel can experiment.  “Sandboxes” is code for the fact that Intel would like the Government to pay for some development costs.

More generally, note that all of the panelists are urging the Senate to help create "public-private partnerships" to explore the role of IoT and data and transportation.  PPP refers to the fact that in some areas, government support is critical to private sector development.  That is one of the dirty rotten secrets of the American private sector:  we didn't always build it ourselves. 

Third point:  IoT and transportation seems arcane, but it isn’t. IoT refers to the ability to use some sort of communications mechanism (wireless spectrum in this case), to connect sensors on cars and trucks and trains to the Internet and data centers, where the information is analyzed. It’s really that simple. 

Or, as Carlos Monje, Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Policy said, “Data is as important to transportation as asphalt.”

Looking forward, Doug Davis, Intel’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of IoT, let the cat out of the bag when he said:  “Innovations in the transportation sector are at the heart of the global race for IoT leadership.” It is refreshing to hear Intel saying that federal government support is important to its future success in the market. 


Today's civics lesson is over, but I hope you start thinking about transportation from an IoT perspective.  It will lead you to what will be, in short order, a very exciting future. 



M&A Post Election - The New Industrialization

The fires have been lit and the knives are being sharpened.  The new Administration is perceived of as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape industries. This is particularly true in media and telecom. Soon after the inauguration it is expected that there will be a ferocious rush to announce mergers.  If this does not occur it will likely be because large economic interests are negotiating among themselves about preferred outcomes. This New Industrialization will be justified in terms of freedom. Partisans in and out of the Administration will articulate that the election was a mandate for change, thus justifying any change. Substantive policy concerns will be dismissed as political opposition contrary to the will of the electorate.  Voices are likely to be muted in any case due to general confusion about what the new Administration stands for or how to respond to it.  This will mirror the Media's year-long confusion in how to cover the D. Trump candidacy. Years later interested parties will look back with surprise about how much was accomplished in several years.