September 29, 2016

IT IS THE NATURE OF THE eND OF hISTORY...:

Cheer Up. History Will Forget This Dismal Campaign. (Tyler Cowen, 9/28/16, Bloomberg View)

When historians look back on our era, the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump campaign probably will be a modest footnote to broader and mostly uninterrupted positive trends. For instance, in a remarkably short time, America has gone from clunky, joke-worthy cell phones, to having most of its citizens connected to much of the world's information, and to most of the world's people, at a moment's notice. That is actually one of the greatest achievements of human history, even if we are far from realizing its full practical benefits.

Ours is sometimes called an age of gridlock, but the law and regulation of the internet has advanced smoothly, albeit imperfectly, to allow this all to fall into place. The rapid spread of online communications was aided by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which laid down some basic ground rules. Since that time, American government has assisted with domain name registration, cable regulation, applications of intellectual property law, spectrum allotment, the placement and regulation of satellites, international protocols for the web, and the maintenance of an open internet for most of the world, among other relevant issues. For all the mistakes that were made, the product is up and running.

Pushing for China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 made it possible to finish off iPhones efficiently in that market and then export them. And it is China that may produce the next generation of cheap smartphones to narrow the digital divide in this country.

None of those are the hot-button issues of politics or the front page, but that's the point. We're so caught up in emotional partisan symbols that we've been distracted from seeing and articulating the progress.


...that what historians will most note about the decades following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc is the complete conformity of the governing parties throughout the West.

Posted by at September 29, 2016 7:25 PM

  

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