Fear of the Unknown Beyond Big Government


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?

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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.

  • Mike678

    Professor Cheit’s response was probably a quip–and not well thought out. Nor was Trillo’s blame game.

    Navionics and other map companies provide chart service to mariners–and these mariners can provide GPS assisted Sonarcharts for the boater–and boaters can upload these digital maps to navionics who, I assume, could use these to update their charts. After all, how often are NOAA maps updated? Given tech innovation, it won’t be long before NOAA will be obsolete in US waters–much like UBER is making the taxi industry obsolete. Faster and cheaper is better, though regressives like DeBlasio are trying to stifle better service and innovation in NYC. Why is that?

  • BasicCaruso

    Yes, and never mind that GPS itself was invented by publically funded research and testing at the US Department of Defense. But I’m sure absent that, we’d have had private industry spending billions and decades to bring the technology to market.

    • Mike678

      Thanks Russ. Good to see a regressive supporting the DoD. No doubt you also approve of President Trumps increased support of the DoD. And aren’t all Govt programs “publicly funded’? Ink Pen?

      On the other hand–NASA. Aren’t we glad Musk’s private company SpaceX (and the Russians) could support the International Space station when NASA couldn’t? That private companies such as Garmin and Navionics could leverage the GPS constellation for public use–and safety?

      Not sure what your point is–is it that you feel we think all Gov’t is bad? Let me disabuse you of that incorrect assumption, my friend.