The steadfast libertarian captain, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, is bidding farewell to Congress and has a call-to-arms for his legions of tech-savvy followers: The Internet is the savior of liberty. “The internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it’s essential that the internet remains free of government regulation,” he said, in his farewell address. After 23 years in America’s most esteemed body, Paul is leaving his work to a vocal minority of small government digital warriors.
“I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits,” he admitted. “History has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled.”
More importantly, he says, “reversing a downward spiral depends on accepting a new approach.”
The solution, he implies in the sober note, are digital tools that can substitute for government services. Perhaps in a strange irony, Paul’s Republican colleagues have embraced the philosophy. “Because technology has the potential of making government more efficient, less expensive to run, and more accountable, it’s not surprising that the Republicans are ahead of the Democrats in the use of technology in governing,” said Andrew Rasiej, publisher of Tech President.
Republican oversight Chairman, Darrell Issa, for instance, has proposed a bill to make federal spending transparent and traceable, through the DATA act. Majority Leader Eric Cantor has experimented with a direct democracy online tool for reducing government programs, YouCut, which allows citizens to vote down programs through SMS voting.
On a more local level, governments have begun cooperating with volunteer civil programmers, or “hacktivists,” to design cheaper and more efficient solutions. In San Francisco, hackers solved the city’s ongoing need for a public transportation software infrastructure.
“The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has every intention of spending a few years and untold dollars creating its own, more robust version of the tool. But the team hacked together the basic parameters of the SMART Muni app in a 48-hour stretch in late July, fueled by pizza and beer,” wrote the San Francisco Chronicle.
Technology substitution still exists as a relatively fringe idea by the geekier members of government, but is steadily growing support in high places.
Thus, in the-ever optimistic style that is Ron Paul, he concluded, “If you find this to be a worthwhile message, spread it throughout the land.”