First, some guilt about that:
This is not a question of human rights abuse or scary environmental degradation--and there are plenty of such problems that I deem far worthier of your attention than this. This is something that affects me as a 21st-century, middle-class, rural American, and I KNOW that my life is pretty darn good compared to millions of others on this planet.
Still, when my country spends billions of dollars on bombs and bullets and doesn't invest in things that could help people (including me) grow and prosper, I get pissed.
I am one of a shrinking minority on this planet who doesn't know how to text message. Why not? In my part of the world, cell-phone coverage is still fairly sketchy. Service exists--if you stand in the right place, preferably on top of a nearby cliff.
You can't rely on cell phone service--and so I don't. I hardly use a cell phone, and when I have, I haven't always been able to actually reach anyone out there in the wireless universe. I also live in a part of the world where I can drive 150 miles and see just one other car the whole time. Not good news for breakdowns or safety.
The lack of wireless coverage is surprising, considering that I live in one of the world's richest countries as well as its only Superpower. And I pay the same federal taxes as those living in New York, Seattle, LA, and other well-wired (or, more likely, wireless) places.
In The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded], Thomas Friedman notes the problem with access and connectivity in the USA, citing it as an inhibitor to economic growth and ultimate global prosperity.
He reports that investment in and subsidies of this arena of communications have occurred to a great degree in other countries. The most "plugged-in" country on the planet (according to Friedman)? South Korea, where a stunning percentage (was it over 90%?) have wireless access.
So, for US readers (who are, I hope, also US voters), here is a little domestic activism opportunity, via Care2.com:
Right now, Congress and the FCC are considering telecom policy changes that would jeopardize much-needed funding for wireless access. This would be especially bad for rural areas that need wireless access for economic growth and the safety of residents.
Reliable wireless access is essential for businesspeople that spend time away from the office and on the road, and it will increase the likelihood that new businesses will open up in rural communities. This funding would also eliminate "dead spots" in rural areas.
Tell Congress and the FCC that Americans everywhere should have the same choice of services. Sign the petition today!