Rural Electrification in 1935; Broadband and Green Electricity Today

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Seen at the Wolfsonian in Miami Beach: great posters promoting the virtues of rural electrification, explaining what a difference it can make in people's lives.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art tells us about it:

The electrification of America was a national priority during the Great Depression, with special emphasis on improving rural areas. Seen as an essential step in raising the standard of living for millions of Americans struggling with economic crisis, a number of government agencies set out to provide rural Americans with electrical power. Lester Beall's posters for the Rural Electrification Administration, a federal agency dedicated to serving rural communities, illustrated in bold, graphic terms the advantages of electricity. In this poster, radio waves, depicted as arrows, are sending information into the farmhouse. Other posters in this series extolled electric light, plumbing, and washing machines, all examples of the improved quality of life made possible through electricity.

This is why it is so aggravating to see the green infrastructure investments and the expansion of broadband stripped out of the stimulus package. Old senators who barely comprehend email might not see the virtues of these investments, much like many people in the thirties had to be told what electricity might do for them. If we are going to rebuild our towns so that people can live and work all over the country, they are going to need access to the tools that people have in the big cities.

Imagine what it would be like if you had to live without electricity. Or phones. Or the Internet. But wait, I would rather have a tax cut.

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