Should we be getting ulcers over the “digital divide” — the tragedy that not every single American already has a computer and Internet access?
Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell and the new chairman of the FCC, doesn’t think so. Shortly after he started his new job, the press asked him what he thought of the so-called digital divide. Powell said, “I think there’s a Mercedes divide. I’d like one, but I can’t afford it.”
Powell also said that he thought the very concept of a digital divide is a bit misleading. That’s because it “suggests that the minute a new and innovative technology is introduced in the market, there is a divide unless it is equitably distributed among every part of the society, and that is just an unreal understanding of the American capitalist system.” Powell noted that the end-of-the-line of that way of thinking is pure socialism.
Every time something new comes along you’d have to make sure everybody has it or nobody has it, which would kill innovation and economic improvement. Just so the politicians can have something to do. After all, every big new thing on the market is expensive at first and only the few can afford it. Then it gets cheaper and cheaper and more and more widely available.
That’s been the pattern with cars, plane travel and TV sets, and certainly with desktop computers and the Internet. It’s not a terrible thing; it’s a great thing. More power to Powell. Instead of pandering, he made it clear that in America you aren’t supposed to get everything you want, just what you earn.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.