Photo by Amber Rhea

Photo by Amber Rhea

Most of the industrialized world pays less for it yet gets more.  There is a stark imbalance between the rich and the poor’s access to it.  Enormous and powerful corporations want the government to “reform” the system by delivering them lots of customers and goodies and then staying out of their way.

I speak, of course, of broadband internet.  America is 28th in average speed and 30th in average price (did you know you can get a 100-megabit connection for $13 a month in Hong Kong?), and so far Google seems to be doing more about it than the United States government.

True, broadband isn’t exactly a basic human right like health care, but it’s the same sad story of America falling behind the rest of the developed world because our government has become hopelessly captive to corporate dollars and conservative dogma at the expense of the public good.

If America is the best, most awesome country in the world, why is it that we’ve fallen so far behind so many others on health care, broadband, and education?  Why are we still in denial on global warming and evolution?  Why is our infrastructure underfunded and crumbling?  Why is our financial system an under-regulated free-for-all?  Why have we abandoned the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions?  Why are we one of the last industrial nations to cling to the death penalty and oppose gay marriage?

I guess this is what happens when any kind of government aid or subsidies are decried as socialism, when any attempt to separate church from state is an attack on the baby Jesus, when any attempt to raise taxes or rein in corporate abuses is an attack on jobs, when any criticism of authoritarianism is dangerously unpatriotic, and when junk science trades places with real science.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a fine philosophy, but only when everyone can see what’s busted.  Unfortunately, Upton Sinclair’s words still hold true: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”