Sunday, January 25, 2009

An open net means open opportunity

Some economic speculation, from a poetic economist:

Now is the perfect time for an open internet, one that is characterized by net neutrality and ready access to a wealth of content that is freely shared. Why? An open internet means open opportunity, for the new types of businesses that will thrive in the coming economy, an economy that will be much more green and serve the needs of the emerging knowledge economy and society.

With broadband and an open internet, anyone whose job or business have been lost in the current economic crisis, with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit, has a ready means of starting up a new business with a potential global market. Some of these businesses will thrive, and create local jobs for those who are not so entrepreneurial by nature.

What do governments need to do to kickstart the new economy? Enact strong net neutrality legislation, so that the citizens and votes in your area have an equal opportunity to get started in a new business. Provide as much free content as possible; for example, make the information produced through government dollars available for free, so that everyone can explore the potential for new business ideas, or adding value and reselling the information.

Work to make sure that such new businesses can get the credit that they need. Governments and the financial industry should especially look to microloans, as there are likely very smart people who have suffered financial losses, but have great ideas to get new businesses started, with just a little help.

Speaking of help, there is a lot that could be done to make it easier to get a business set up, and figure out how to pay taxes. Why not have a simple webform to let people get set up with a new business in just a few clicks, and an ombudsman to help anyone who cannot get a business started because the government doesn't understand how the taxes would work?

If the current economic crisis gives a great many people reason to try out a new business idea, this is a good thing. At the very least, it gives everyone hope and at least a possibility to move forward from a difficult financial position. It seems reasonable, though, to speculate that if a great many new businesses get started, while some will no doubt fail, others will sustain families and communities, and a few will emerge as economic drivers in the years to come.