Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Depopulation of rural Ceredigion - unconconcious social engineering

Imagine you were a local council member for a rural area, like say Powys or Ceredigion. Your budget has seen a substantial cut, you are having to make unpopular cuts to important services like health, refuse collection, social services, schools, etc. If someone came up with a novel solution that impacted few people, would you not consider it ?

Well I have it. A plan with no downsides. Here is an approach to a bit of social engineering inspired by the Highland Clearances but without boats or brutality. Reduce the number of people in the most rural parts of the county, I said it was simple.

All the council has to do for its part is put more and more services online and not pay any attention to getting the last few % decent internet connectivity and the rest will work itself out.

Younger people will move out of these areas as their friends are online and they are not, they are unconnected in a connected world. Anyone with kids will need to move as school work is increasingly online. Those wanting to work from home will have to move. Only older people are left and they will either die or won't be able to cope in the unbalanced communities composed only of the elderly and also have to move leaving the properties empty - result.

The blame can be placed at the door of a 3rd party, the incumbent telco provider who says it is uneconomic and they are not being funded to provide universal service. They can be vague about future plans, promising that technology will reach more and more remote areas which just need to wait, and wait until there are such a small subset they don't matter and their voice is dispersed that they carry no weight that when nothing is provided it does not matter.

Now the downside of all this is it would take years for the social movement to happen and houses to be devalued to the extent there would be abandoned, but social engineering always has been the long game, the highland clearance took over 100 years.

This satire shows how easy it is to sleep walk into this type of social engineering by accident by inaction and a lack of forward vision in just depending on the market to deliver.

I don't think it could happen, could it?

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