If you follow Rhode Island politics at all, you’ve probably heard that independent gubernatorial candidate Joe Trillo hit a rock while cruising his yacht very close to the shore in Westerly so beach-goers could see the campaign sign on its side when they looked up to see where the blaring marching band music was coming from. In response to Trillo’s blaming of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for faulty maps, Rhode Island Ethics Commission Chairman and Brown professor Ross Cheit tweeted:
In the land of limited government, who produces the navigation charts?
I suggested in reply that Professor Cheit should ask his students about Google Maps and consider whether people who buy expensive boats would create a market for a similar product. He pretended not to understand my meaning, but it’s pretty clear to me. People who spend hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars on boats have a substantial interest in avoiding things that might damage them of leave them swimming for their lives. Perhaps it wasn’t always true, but technology is such, now, that something like Google Maps for under the water would certainly be plausible.
It’s amazing how pervasive is this fear of the unknown, as if beyond Big Government there be dragons.