“A Historical Mandate for Expanding Broadband Internet Infrastructure” (2010)

Photo of the cover of the Review of Policy Research.I wrote and published this piece in 2010 and have meant to come back to it. It looks at the arguments that were given on the issue of government postal roads and offices, when the Founders were drafting the U.S. Constitution. They believed that the immediate and free flow of information is essential to the proper functioning of a democratic government. You cannot get more immediate than internet communication.

The idea that the government would be involved in that, rather than only private industry, at least in setting the basic foundation for free-flowing communications, was thought essential. Otherwise it would be very cheap to communicate within a city, but very expensive for those who lived in rural areas, like where I live, in Mississippi.

Portrait of Senator Trent Lott.Check it out. Guess who makes an appearance in the paper — none other than a young then-Congressman Trent Lott (I work with the Lott Institute), who was the moderate voice in a discussion with American Enterprise Institute representatives. The AEI folks felt quite sure that private industry was all that was needed. Lott was forward thinking, even, suggesting in the 1970s (!) that the post office should be looking into electronic communication. They did not do that, unlike France, and look at where our postal services are compared to the French – or trust me, the latter’s faring far better. They’re even looking into drone delivery services.

The topic of this paper is important to me, as it attends to an area in which we might build up American infrastructure in a way that is enabling of business and democratic communication. Keep in mind that many private businesses — newspapers — wanted the post office mail for free! Yes, read the paper. Mailing letters, catalogs, and payments, enables business, even if it takes some government regulation of part of a market — postal communication — to do so.

When I delivered this paper years ago at the Policy Studies Organization’s Dupont Summit conference in Washington, D.C., a representative from the American Enterprise Institute, whom I won’t name, told me that I had convinced him, which was a nice compliment. “It’s in the Constitution,” he said. Indeed, there’s a Constitutional basis for public investment in improving our infrastructure.

Read the paper on Academia.edu

Citation

Weber, Eric Thomas. “A Historical Mandate to Expand Broadband Internet Infrastructure.” Review of Policy Research 27, Issue 5 (2010): 681-689.

“Try Charter Schools Experiment Where Others Failing” (2010)

Now that my new site is up, I’m slowly but surely adding to it the pieces I had up on my old site. This was my first op-ed published in The Clarion Ledger, published March 6, 2010, on 9A. I am grateful for permission to republish my pieces here and elsewhere.

Photo of my op-ed in the Clarion Ledger, which links to a PDF of the scan, though the full text is available below on the Web page featuring this image.

Here’s a scan of the piece, though the character recognition in the file didn’t work well. Therefore, I’m posting here the text from the piece.

Try Charter Schools Experiment Where Others Failing

In January, three University of Mississippi undergraduates advocated for charter schools before the Mississippi House Committee on Education out of concern for the crisis of education in the state. The Public Policy Leadership majors, Chelsea Caveny, Cortez Moss, and Alex McLelland, met resistance to partial measures for progress.

Aside from a few vocal opponents, the general response from Republicans in the room was positive and some Democrats were cautiously open to charter schools. The most vocal opponents of charter school legislation worried about the children who stay behind in traditional schools. One representative exclaimed: “Separate but unequal!”

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“‘Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism,’ Ep1 of Philosophy Bakes Bread”
by Eric Thomas Weber

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Philosophy Bakes Bread
March 14, 2015

PBB-Logo-1-itunesHere’s episode 1 of Philosophy Bakes Bread, titled “Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism.” You can listen to it here above or you can visit the podcast’s page for this episode here. You can subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed here. If you prefer, you can download the MP3 file here and listen to it later.

iTunes has it too, though for some reason as I post this the episodes are out of order.

“Acceptance & Happiness with Stoicism”

This first episode of Philosophy Bakes Bread presents a very personal story about how stoic philosophy can make a profound difference for the better in our lives when we encounter difficulties beyond our control.

The transcript for this episode is available here.

Check out the other episodes of Philosophy Bakes Bread here.

Finally, if you’d prefer to “watch” the podcast on YouTube, here it is:

If you prefer that format, here’s a playlist of the podcast episodes on my YouTube channel.

Interview on Practical Philosophy in Berlin

Professor Chris Skowronski, Associate Professor of Practical Philosophy in the Institute of Philosophy at Opole University, Poland, interviewed me at the Berlin Practical Philosophy International Forum conference on August 13, 2015.

I’m grateful to Chris and to Maja Niestroj for the interview, the video, and the hospitality while I was in Berlin. It was a great conference on a wonderful public philosophy, Dr. John Lachs, who has been my mentor in philosophy since around 1998 or 1999.

5 Reasons Scholars Need Facebook Author Pages

Scholars tend to be shy or humble, often going to great lengths to avoid anything that might smack of self-promotion or over-confidence. There’s good reason for this. The academy trains you to be skeptical, to demand evidence, and to be reserved about matters that you’ve not yet carefully considered.

Image of Bertrand Russell from 1951.

There are two troubling consequences of this phenomenon, however. The first is captured in one of Bertrand Russel’s famous sayings. In New Hopes for a Changing World, he wrote that

One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.

It’s a riff on William Butler Yeats’s “The Second Coming,” where he writes that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In other words, self-doubt and the training for skepticism, so vital to good philosophy, can lead scholars not to speak up, while so many ignorant voices cry. If scholars are waiting for certainty, we’ll never hear from them. This is one of the troubling dangers.

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Photo from 2015 graduate instructor training at the University of Mississippi.

Thanks to Graduate School Dean John Kiss for the photo. I enjoy meeting with the new graduate instructors each year at the University of Mississippi. Copyright John Kiss, 2015.

“‘Purpose in Life and Work,’ Ep2 of Philosophy Bakes Bread”
by Eric Thomas Weber

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Philosophy Bakes Bread
Thursday, May 21, 2015

PBB-Logo-1-itunesHere’s episode 2 of Philosophy Bakes Bread, titled “Purpose in Life and Work.” You can listen to it here above or you can visit the podcast’s page for this episode here. You can subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed here. If you prefer, you can download the MP3 file here and listen to it later.

iTunes has it too, though for some reason as I post this the episodes are out of order.

“Purpose in Life and Work”

This second episode of Philosophy Bakes Bread considers the challenge of envisioning and choosing the right purposes for oneself and for one’s organizations in life and at work.

The transcript for this episode is available here.

Check out the other episodes of Philosophy Bakes Bread here.

Finally, if you’d prefer to “watch” the podcast on YouTube, here it is:

If you prefer that format, here’s a playlist of the podcast episodes on my YouTube channel.

Logo for WREG channel 3 of Memphis, TN.I gave an interview in 2010 on the Day of Dialogue at the University of Mississippi on February 22nd. You can watch the interview here.

Date: February 22, 2010
Time: 09:00-09:15 a.m.
Appearance: 2010 Interview on Memphis’s WREG, Channel 3’s Live at 9 Morning Show
Outlet: Memphis's WREG, Live at 9 Morning Show
Location: Memphis, TN
Format: Television

If you'd like to invite me to come speak with your group, visit my Speaking page.

Gave a 2013 interview on SVT Nyheter, Sweden’s national TV news service, talking about corporal punishment in Mississippi. You can watch the interview here.

Date: August 29, 2013
Appearance: Interview in 2013 on corporal punishment for the Swedish National TV News Service
Outlet: SVT Nyheter, Sweden's National TV news service
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Format: Television

If you want me to come speak with your group, visit my Speaking page.