Tue 30 Nov 2004
DAMN! It’s 7 p.m. and I just remembered this is the last day to pay the fall instalment on my property tax. I settle in my home office, go online and transfer funds from my bank account to the city treasury — problem solved.
Then I decide to watch a first-run movie. I program the converter of my video-on-demand system and, bingo, I’m watching Tom Cruise.
Before going to bed, I test my blood pressure and, according to the results, self-administer a cocktail of vitamins as prescribed by my doctor.
As an individual and consumer, I’ve been empowered by innovation. But as a citizen? Well, sometime within the next five years — I know not when — I will be given an HB pencil and invited to mark an X on a piece of paper in a federal election polling booth. The advances made possible by technology elsewhere are almost completely absent in politics. Computer models that simulate public policy alternatives, electronic town hall meetings linking citizens with their leaders, constituency initiatives where voters develop solutions to their unique community problems, even voting machines connected to a central ballot counter — all are deemed too problematic to institute.