The Supreme Court unanimously rejected efficiency as an excuse for industrial dictatorship when it ordered the breakup of Standard Oil despite the fact that the company had lowered the cost of a gallon of kerosene by more than half. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the efficiency argument again in 1935 when it ruled President Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. In every case, the American people embraced not efficiency but freedom and moved to protect that freedom through the erection of intricate systems of checks and balances designed to scatter power.
Moving From an Age of Internet Scarcity to Abundance
The Seattle Times has published an opinion piece I wrote about the need to move from Internet access business models based on scarcity to those based on abundance.
Many of us have grown accustomed to the speeds offered by modern cable networks. They aren't particularly speedy, but we are used to them. When we find ourselves stuck ong a slow DSL connection, perhaps at a friend or relative's house, we notice how long page loads take and we have to change the way we use the Internet as a result.
Some have said that the slowest network connection you will put up with is the fastest one you have become accustomed to. We can do better and we should. By embracing self-reliance and ceasing to rely on the national cable and telephone companies, we can build better, more affordable networks. Such networks will lead to more innovation, grow the economy, and improve quality of life.
CONSIDER your last electrical appliance purchase. Did you pause to think if your home could handle the increased electrical demand? No, because our electrical networks are built around the principle of abundance, not scarcity.
If the massive cable companies ran our electrical grid like they do their broadband networks, we would have to do without air conditioning, which puts a heavy strain on the grid during peak demand. In contrast, the cable networks get congested during periods of peak activity, failing to deliver the “up to” speed promised in their advertising.
Some new network builders are embracing a different approach, one that has major implications for the future of innovation: adopting a business model of abundance rather than scarcity.