Half-full, glass is.
BloombergBusinessWeek, 4 February 2013
Taking the podium in the State Department’s Ben Franklin Room one last time on Thursday before stepping down, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanked lots of people, offered reminiscences, and announced a flurry of last-minute initiatives. “We’re all like one millisecond away from just collapsing here, because of the emotion and the feelings that are coursing through all of us,” Clinton said.
One of those new initiatives, the Alliance for an Affordable Internet, barely got a mention in Clinton’s speech. But it merits attention. If successful, the project—a public-private partnership among the State Department, the World Wide Web Foundation, and tech companies such as Cisco Systems (CSCO), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and Intel (INTC)—could end up helping many people in poor countries get onto the Web. It could also cement long-term ties between the State Department and the companies—while opening new markets and reaching new customers for Silicon Valley. “We’re going to help the next billion people come online,” said Clinton, quickly announcing the project before going on to talk about clean cook stoves for women in the developing world.
Phi Beta Iota: This is a classic example of doing the wrong thing righter. Instead of getting with the program desired by the larger collective — an Autonomous Internet replete with Freedom Towers and Open Source Everything (OSE), Hillary Clinton unleashes a form of virtual predatory capitalism — kind of like the way US promoted pesticides killed off the bees. While there are good things that will come of policy, regulatory, and tax changes, the raw fact is that the five billion poor will not leverage the Internet to create infinite wealth until the Internet is completely free to them in their early years, and certainly free of the kind of predatory capitalism represented by Google and CISCO. Much more worthy would be a combination of select billionaires to do for the South what the North will never do: free lifetime access to cell phones and Internet and call centers that educate the poor “one cell call at a time.”
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