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Looney Tunes Revisited

He's baaaaack!

Yes, everyone's favorite Pollyanna Pundit, that lovable Paleo-Libertarian George Gilder, is back on the Wacky Predictions circuit, once again touting new technology as the answer to all of society's problems.

This time he's talking about blogs and how they will "redeem" civilization all by themselves. In remarks at an AlwaysOn conference this summer reported by Dan Farber and Francine Hardaway, Gilder also picked up on an old theme of his, once again predicting the imminent death of TV and Hollywood and all other mass-market entertainments he happens to find "stultifying" or otherwise not up to his elite taste standards.

Now you'll forgive me for not commenting sooner on Gilder's return to the spotlight after the lost years of the dot-com disaster during which he lost not only his shirt but his reputation as well. But at the time he spoke, I had not yet launched my blog. And besides, Gilder's predictions really do tend to get juicier and loonier with age.

In fact, let's go back in time and see what the Mad Hatter of techno-Utopianism said in 1994:

"Over the next decade, TV will expire and transpire into a new cornucopia of choice and empowerment ... Hollywood and Wall Street will totter and diffuse to all points of the nation and the globe.... [and] the most deprived ghetto child in the most blighted project will gain educational opportunities exceeding those of today's suburban preppie."

Well, more than a decade has now passed since Gilder made those remarks, so how do his predictions stand up against the test of time?

Yes, thanks to cable's growth and the emergence of on-demand programming opportunities, TV now offers many new choices to viewers (although one would be very hard pressed to call The Apprentice or Showdog Moms and Dads exactly "empowering"). Nonetheless, the most popular and critically-acclaimed shows continue to emanate mostly from the networks. Hollywood and Wall Street, meanwhile, have despite their many challenges just enjoyed their most profitable decade in history. And as for our nation's ghetto children, it should be obvious to anyone with basic common sense that new technology cannot by itself rewrite existing social and economic reality -- and that it will take a lot more than Internet access to overcome the institutionalized forces of deprivation that continue to cripple the educational and work opportunities of inner-city children.

You'd think Gilder would be too embarrassed to keep spouting this nonsense. But alas, I suspect his speaker's fees rise in direct proportion to the outrageousness of his remarks.

Consider, if you will, Gilder's remark about disgraced WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, sentenced to 25 years in the slammer for orchestrating the biggest corporate fraud in human history:

“He’s been made the scapegoat for the telecom crash …and for the appalling blunders of the [government] regulators who thwarted the [telecom] revolution.”

Oh, it's the government's fault, is it? How much did industry spin meisters pay for that one?


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Please go back and look at predictions made by enviromentalist in the last 10 years ago and make an equally scathing review.

Good idea. Can you quote some predictions that turned out wrong?

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