America is Slow on the Uptake

We're lagging behind dozens of nations in everything from life expectancy to -- this is shocking -- internet speed.

The United States as a whole lags in speed, coming in 25th behind South Korea, which has the fastest speeds in the world. Even Romania clocks in ahead.

I'm not exaggerating when I say this is an effing outrage. We ought to be kicking ass with all things digital. After all, we're getting destroyed on manufacturing, healthcare and infrastructure (high speed rail, etc) and now we can't even compete online? The future of America is here: we're a continental shopping mall. Good morning!

  • MrDHalen

    This is not an excuse, but one factor is the geographic size of America compared to our population. We are spread out from each other here and connecting all of us is via high speed is a challenge.

    • dildenusa

      Electrons travel at the speed of light.

      • MrDHalen

        There is a little more to it than that. :-)

        • dildenusa

          There is a lot more to it than that. :-)
          But what it boils down to is the telecom companies ripping us off. It has nothing to do with distance.

          • MrDHalen

            I agree we pay more for less, but to say population density per square mile and distance between routing locations has nothing to do with it; I disagree. Laying down a 10 mile higher capacity line is cheaper than laying it down 20 miles. The electrons don’t care, but the price and man hours involved are a factor.

            Smaller more dense countries have an advantage.

  • dildenusa

    As a tired (not retired) telecom and computer tech I can speak from first hand experience. The reason the Europeans and Asians come in ahead of US in our internet speed is our lack of government regulation and insistence on free market economics with regard to telecom infrastructure. Basically the remaining big 3 telecoms (att, qwest, verizon) are guilty of price fixing and under utilization of resources. Further deregulation will make things worse.

  • mikecz

    Government is needed, a common misconception of what some tea party members believe. They are needed for things that enable business and safety, that don’t interest investment, it’s why we pay taxes. Things like, railroads, the grid, bridges and roads. Military and local safety and rescue. Businesses agree this is why we need to pay taxes.

    It’s all this bullshit about gov’t being able to create jobs that is a problem. They should enable companies to do their business more easily, improved communications/transit, lower costs of doing business through taxes and fees. That creates jobs, but the idea that gov’t can “invest” in the private sector to “spurn” growth is bullshit. If growth is shown this way, that is the short term stuff your talking about. The blow back is higher inflation and another dip in employment after the sugar buzz is over.

    We are seeing it now, and prices will only continue to rise. Obama the investor, how’s that solar company going for you. No accountability, no problem. Outsiders will say, well good intentions for the solar industry, bottom line, it was cronyism at it’s finest. Green jobs my ass.

    • Robert Scalzi

      Wrong again mike

    • Alan Fors

      How is investing in Green energy any different than investing in fossil energy (oil, gas, and coal subsidies), or investing in food production (farm subsidies), or investing in medicine (research grants)? There are probably hundreds of others.

      A Government should invest to grow industries and technologies to benefit the goverened. As those industries and technologies take hold and become viable and competetive, jobs are created.

      • mikecz

        Green energy has to be profitable or it won’t be sustainable. Ever notice how the government always invests in companies that also invest, in the gov’t campaigns. The well connected will always be those who get the “investment”. As for taking a “step back”, that just doesn’t happen, that’s when they set up committees, with more gov’t officials to oversee their “investment”. Guess who gets those high paying gigs, the well connected, those who “invest” in gov’t.

        That is pretty comical irishgrrrl, really, the US gov’t has a better vision and can more precisely identify profit and long term viability then those in the private sector in the US. That’s fucking lunacy.

        And no, it doesn’t work in every instance, but when it doesn’t, who pays for it.

        • Robert Scalzi

          Was Hoover Damn Profitable when they started building it or even shortly thereafter ?? Were the Nuke plants profitable when they started building them or even shortly thereafter ?? Or how about the Panama Canal, or local to me, The Golden Gate & Bay Bridges profitable when they started building them or even shortly thereafter ?? NO THEY WERE NOT !! And you know what else simple simon ?? they built ‘em anyway !! There were thousands of projects like this that were built by GOV’T $$ and private enterprise all over the USA. Why ?? Because it was good for the country and were the steps forward we needed to PROGRESS as a nation.

          Go Back to School nit wit

          • dildenusa

            Building Glen Canyon Dam was a mistake. It should have been built further upsteam on the Colorado River and not as high.

          • Robert Scalzi

            Agreed , many of the hydro projects should not have been built Nukes too, I’m not advocating pro or con on the projects just telling the truth to the NeoBagger above

        • dildenusa

          Before you can have vision, you need wisdom. Before you can have wisdom, you need knowledge.

          Duuuhh. We have the luxury of about 5 thousand years of written knowledge. Where has that gotten us? When you inject the profit motive, wisdom goes out the window. Then there is no vision. Not by the government, not by capitalists.

          And don’t tell me about human nature either. Prior to the written alphabet we had about 2 million years of human nature. That’s the kind of human nature and vision we need now. It’s called living in harmony with each other and with nature.

        • Alan Fors

          If oil, coal, and gas did not have the subsidies and tax breaks they do today, then green energy would be much closer to being profitable now. Solar, wind, and other alternatives are much more profitable in other countries, because they are on a more level play field.

          Ever notice how the government always invests in companies that also invest, in the gov’t campaigns.

          That’s not always the case, you know, and it’s absolutely not exclusive to the current administration, or the Democratic party. In fact, the Bush admin approved the loans for that solar company you mentioned before Mr. Obama was elected. Yes, it wasn’t finalized, and could have been canceled by the current administration, but it didn’t start there.

    • IrishGrrrl

      mike, alan below is right. There are certain things that the Govt can help kickstart, that require longer vision than many business investors in the US are capable of or are motivated to fund. Once they get up and running, then the govt takes a step back and lets private industry run with it. That’s the way this country was built. There are so many instances of how a government can create real sustained job growth that this blog is inadequate to cover them all!

      Does it work in every industry and for every instance? No, of course not. After all what business, much less government, succeeds in every instance? However, it works best during an ec0nomic downturn with low inflation and a hesitant investor mindset which is EXACTLY what we are facing now.

      It’s just too bad that they don’t teach the truth in our schools or you wouldn’t be here making the argument that government spending doesn’t create jobs. That’s the real falsehood.

  • Bob Rutledge

    And you pay orders of magnitude more for what speeds you do get.

    All Hail Charter Communications!!! (they’re about the only one left, right?)

    • jjasonham

      THAT is what burns me up the most.

  • trgahan

    Our ranking in any of those categories are the result of 30 years of national thinking focused only on short term profit and stock price. American business is stuck in a “If you can’t turn a profit on it next quarter, don’t do it” and “Invest as little in your own business as possible” mindset. So anything that would be expensive up front but payoff down the road, like healthcare, infrastructure, internet speed, etc, is just a nonstarter. Hell, we call people who buck this model “visionaries” when their just being smart and toning down the greed for the long term good of their companies. And we are supposed to believe their going to save us from the mess we are in?!?
    Historically, gains in any of those categories required government involvement and spending. Think of how much the government had to “sweeten” the deal to get the Transcontinental Railroad built. If 19th century American had waited of the “private sector;” today the land between the Mississippi River and the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada would more resemble Afghanistan than American.

    • muselet

      Our ranking in any of those categories are the result of 30 years of national thinking focused only on short term profit and stock price.

      Sadly, all too true. I blame the Harvard Business School. (Seriously. It’s my understanding that HBS came up with the “only next quarter is important” strategy.)


      • Rick Janes

        I don’t know if the Harvard Business School came up with that ‘short-term profit is the only thing’ concept, but they, and other major business schools, have relentlessly pushed it on their students for the past 30 years. Another MBA trope is that all businesses are the same, whether you’re making widgets or candy canes, and the top executives need not bother to know what products they’re selling, nor have any personal pride is selling quality products — just get in, goose up the profit margin by any means possible, and bail out with your windfall. Incidentally, one reformed MBA told me the business ethics courses required by HBS and other universities were known by the students as ‘nap time.’

  • Broadway Carl

    Well, we all know that this is Obama’s fault. I’m sure we fell behind in the last 2½ years of his administration. We were number one in EVERY category up until January 20, 2009.

    Snark aside, has anyone else noticed, especially during the GOP debates (and of course on Fox News) that whenever they’re talking about the shitty economy and unemployment, they blame Obama’s last THREE AND A HALF YEARS for the trouble we’re in? They’re trying to muddle the line and blame Bush’s last year on Obama. Keep listening and you’ll hear it, especially from Romney.

    • Robert Scalzi

      Nothing like the lying and obfuscating of the tools on teh right…. they’re so desperate to muddle the facts now he’s been President since March of ’08 WTF !!! The crazy thing is that the ‘tards will believe them likm ethe y believe that BushCo kept us safe and 9/11 happened on Clintons watch…. I Wish they’ld all Die a slow a miserable death

  • Adam Millar

    You’re totally a shopping mall. Australia might not be able to export anything due to our artificially high dollar, but fuck me silly are we ever making hay with the USA’s low-low prices!

    • Robert Scalzi

      No Kidding I’ve been hearing that from my Aussie ski buddies. Please Come to Tahoe and Ski this winter ….Please , we need all the foreign $$ we can get . I guide two groups of Aussies one in Feb one in March , have great knowledge of the in bounds terrain at most resorts and can get you discounted lift tickets for everywhere but heavenly , and I work for cheap, buy me lunch and a few beers at the end of the day and we’re good.

      • IrishGrrrl

        Robert, I might take you up on that. I was thinking about going to Tahoe day after Christmas. Is Tahoe mobbed at that time of year (I assume that’s a yes)?

        • Robert Scalzi

          Yes it is, especially at resorts on the north shore, However Kirkwood (30 miles from the lake ) is rarely mobbed and the day after Christmas is one of my favorite days to go (unfortunately there aren’t discounts during that period, but I have some pretty good connects there and can usually swing something ) But please do come it would be a blast !!